Sankara Nethralaya News

SN and Social Responsibility…. Beyond Duty during Pandemic Second Wave

A 10 – member team from Sankara Nethralaya braved the Second Wave and volunteered alongside the doctors and staff of Stanley Government Medical College and Hospital for two weeks.

The New block in Stanley Medical College Hospital (SMCH) in Chennai, along with four other blocks, serving with 1,700 COVID beds, were intimidating yet filled with rays of hope for the locality and beyond.

The second pandemic wave has thrown us many challenges, with our healthcare system struggling to cope. Shortage of oxygen and medications, urgency in vaccine coverage, infodemic that dents the efforts of public health, and undermines the humongous efforts of health care workers are among the challenges. One such challenge is healthcare manpower, which can never be enough in a population such as ours.

Sankara Nethralaya, while going through these challenges with responsibility during the lockdown, responded with eleven of its volunteers, helping the staff of SMCH in various stages of patient care at zero delay rooms, triage wards and IMCU care. The doctors, nurses and social workers in the SN team put forth their skills and knowledge in triaging, helping to treat and manage care for the suffering patients in a small yet significant way, thus, reducing the burden of the hospital staff.

Donning their PPEs everyday from 8 am till 2 pm, the never ending wave of patients were helped at this COVID war zone by our volunteers from 13th May 2021 for two weeks. Effective protocols in place, the hospital staff managed these patients in four shifts. Our brave warriors wished it was possible for them to help in all of the hours but they had to keep human endurance as a reality check.

The volunteering efforts were spearheaded by Dr Suganeswari Ganesan, Senior Consultant, Retina & Oncology Services; Dr Baskaran Mani, Senior Consultant and Deputy Director Glaucoma Services; Dr. Gajendra Kumar Verma, Consultant Community Ophthalmology; Dr Sivaranjani P and Dr Radhika Sriram, Post graduates; Nurse Leela Bai R and Nurse Uma K, Hospital Infection Committee Executives; Kanagaraj and Vinoth kumar B, Ophthalmic Nursing assistants; Arun Kumar, Diabetic Retinopathy Project Manager; and Saravanan M., Multimedia Services.

It is heartening to note that in-kind and cash donations have come in from SN Alumni and other well wishers, seeing the efforts of our volunteers. This is used to get essentials such as portable O2 delivery systems, adult diapers and N95 masks to better equip our staff in the fight against this pandemic.

We wish this scourge recedes to bring us back to normalcy as quickly as possible. However, it is but reality that it will stay for a while and thus there is a need for help in kind as well as in manpower to volunteer in such ‘war’ zones. Let humanity prevail in helping our fellow citizens.

Media News

TSNA Netra Vidya Series

The Netra Vidya learning platform was launched and initiated by The Sankara Nethralaya Academy in 2014 to impart knowledge and skills to budding optometrists, optometry students, and experienced practitioners to up-skill and reskill themselves and keep themselves updated about the best evidence-based practices in clinical practice. During the pandemic situation in 2020, it was restructured as a virtual lecture series to deliver Optometry programs. The Sankara Nethralaya Academy and the BV/VT team of SN ushered in the Netra Vidya series on 16th September with a four-part series of online lectures and tutorials aimed at educating and upgrading young and upcoming optometrists on the nuances and best practices to successfully run an Orthoptics practice.

The chosen topics intended to cover basic binocular vision, vergence and accommodation assessments, interpretation, a correlation between the clinical parameters and diagnosis in NSBVA (non-strabismic binocular vision anomalies) along with management and vision therapy practices. On 16th September 2020, Dr. Rizwana initiated the BV series with a motivational talk to youngsters on the topic “To the Optometry class of 2020”. The talk was well-received and set the tone for the subsequent academic sessions that commenced on 19th September 2020 and concluded on 17th October 2020.

On 19th September, the first part of the four-part series began with a two-hour session by the Binocular team of SN headed by Dr. Rizwana, in which they took the participants through an interactive case discussion in which the participants were asked to analyse and solve various problem-oriented cases that are common in strabismic practice. The trouble-shooting skills were enhanced for the 100 plus participants who found the systematic approaches to problem solving very helpful.

On 25th September Prof. Mitchell Scheimann, celebrated author and currently ‘Dean of Research, Director of Graduate studies and renowned faculty at Salus University, USA, conducted the second session in which he deconstructed the Clinical testing of Strabismus into a simple two-step frame work. He also dealt with understanding the prognosis for strabismus treatment based on clinical assessment in great detail. The session had close to 170 participants from various parts of India and abroad. Seeing the enthusiastic response from the participants, the BV core team Dr. Rizwana, Mr. Praveen Kumar, Ms. Ayisha Atiya, and Mr. Amit Bhowmick took the participants through a special session on basics of Vision Therapy on 10th of October 2020. This session was open only to those participants who had registered for all the three core sessions.

The much awaited concluding session by Dr. Susan Cotter was conducted on the topic “Prescribing prisms in primary eye care practice- Tips and Tricks”. Dr. Cotter, a Professor of Optometry at Marshall B Ketchum University and author of many peer-reviewed publications on Paediatric Optometry and strabismus, simplified the art of prescribing prisms and encouraged the young optometrists to prescribe prisms for strabismic patients. More than 170 participants attended the concluding session by Dr. Cotter.

Some Testimonials from the participants

“Excellent lectures”
“Lectures were very easy to comprehend”
“Got all doubts clarified”
“Videos and pragmatic lectures made the sessions more interesting”
“I really appreciate the session, the way it was conducted as it was interactive and gave opportunity for case discussion as groups using Zoom breakout rooms”
“It is an excellent platform, great group, please keep continuing in making us learn happy”
“The lecture series was really a great opportunity for learning, thank you – the entire team and their hard work behind it”.

Dr. Rizwana Becomes President of The Optometric Association of Tamil Nanbargal (OATN)

The Optometric Association of Tamil Nanbargal (OATN) has unanimously nominated and chosen Dr. Jameel Rizwana Hussaindeen (Head, Binocular Vision clinic, Sankara Nethralaya) as the upcoming President for the next tenure.

The OATN, established in 2011, aims to strive for the recognition and regulation of the Optometry profession & education. It has been established as the legal association for Tamil Nadu Optometry since 2012. The association has 500+ members and counting, including life members and student members, from across Tamil Nadu. OATN has served as a great source of support to the Optometry community through dissemination of knowledge, and hands-on training through conferences, seminars, and workshops. The association also volunteers to support NGOs to provide eye and vision care to the needy, deserving, and for individuals with vision impairment. The association conducts strong lobbying to facilitate the passing of the AHP bill that would immensely benefit the Optometry community.

OATN also provides support to young graduates and job seekers through its massive networking channels. The legacy of this association was greatly supported by its Founding President Mr. Singaravelu, who was then followed by Mrs. Poongothai and now Dr. Jameel Rizwana Hussaindeen, Sankara Nethralaya will step into this illustrious position.

The Sankara Nethralaya family congratulates Dr. Rizwana wishing her and the association to reach greater heights under her leadership.

Kurai Ondrum Illai Humble Tribute to Sankara Nethralaya’s Frontline Warriors

48 talented vocalists and instrumentalists gave a soulful rendition of Kurai Ondrum Illai song as a tribute to our frontline heroes of Sankara Nethralaya Chennai team.

‘Kurai Ondrum Illai’ is one of the famous Tamil devotional songs, which was tuned by Shri Kadayanallur Venkatraman, who was a close associate of Shri Semmangudi. Governor General of India Sri C. Rajagopalachari has weaved those beautiful words into an amazing song and popularized by Bharat Ratna M. S. Subbulakshmi amma who has made this lively song divine and immortal with her soulful voice.  The song is an expression of thankfulness to the divine without any wants left unfulfilled.

To mention the raagams, the whole song is not based on just one raagam but is a Raagamalika. The pallavi and anupallavi are sung in Shivaranjani while the charanam is rendered in Shivaranjani, Kapi and Sindubhairavi.

All the 48 artists are carefully selected and this project was started in July and completed on Sep 7, 2020.   The concept, execution and the direction is by Sowmiya Narayanan, Kamalakiran Vinjamuri and Somanath Dhandibotla. The video, audio, editing, mastering and mixing were done by Somanath Dhandibotla.  All the participants are from various states in US.

Many prominent figures from the world of Carnatic classical music gave positive reviews and this Youtube video is getting lot of positive acclamations.

Kalaimamani  Sri Unnikrishnan appreciated the efforts of youngsters for arranging a precise orchestration. “Must have been quite a task. Everybody has sung and played very well. In unison. Convey my Best wishes to the entire team,” he said.

Sangita Kalanidhi Padma Bhushan Smt. Sudha Raghunathan gave her appreciation and observed, “Wonderful effort ji! Joara paadi vaasitchirka!”

Please watch this rendition at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEdmK49Iyhc

Walk for Vision with SN Family and Lions Club!

World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. Dr. Veena Bhaskaran of Sankara Nethralaya backed by Lions Club International, organized a World Sight Day 2020 walkathon on Sunday, 11th October, 2020.

The Charity walkathon “Walk for Vision” aims to create awareness about preventable blindness. Participants went on a 5 km walk/cycle/run in the comfort of their home environments as per their fitness. Participants get an e-certificate and their selfies published on our social media wall on registration. Send us your selfies at walkforvision@snmail.org by 18th October, 2020 and your photo too will go up on our wall!

The Charity walkathon was met with enthusiastic participation from Sankara Nethralaya’s ophthalmologists, students, and the general public. More than 160 participants walked, ran, and cycled to help spread awareness of “Hope In Sight”, which is this year’s clarion call.

Among those who supported our “Hope for Vision” walkathon were Dr. Girish Shiva Rao, Dr. Geetha Iyer, Dr. L. Vijaya, Dr. R. Sujatha, Dr. Lingam Gopal, Dr. Jyotirmay Biswas, Dr. Jeyalakshmi Govindan, Dr. Elizabeth Sonu John, and Dr. Veena Bhaskaran. Many of our staff, a SWAN volunteer, and patients also participated in the walkathon on Sunday.

Once again, our long-time champion – Lions Club of Central Madras, District 324 A1 supported Sankara Nethralaya’s 4 decade long crusade against preventable blindness & organized a “Walk for Vision” walkathon at Natesan Park, T. Nagar.

Lion members led by President Ln Dr. T Elangovan, walked around the park in small groups following all the COVID-19 protocols and distributed pamphlets to the general public to create awareness about Diabetic Retinopathy.

President Ln Dr T Elangovan addressed morning walkers regarding the ill- effects of uncontrolled diabetes, which can result in Diabetic Retinopathy (DR). People living with diabetes should visit their Ophthalmologist at least once a year for a comprehensive Eye Examination.

Walkers present during the address thanked the club members for talking about this significant complication of Diabetes.

Sankara Nethralaya thanks our staff, patients, Lions Club team and everyone who participated in the Walkathon and spreading the message about Universal Eye Health.

Elite School of Optometry 35 years of excellence

Elite School of Optometry fondly called as ESO, is India’s first college offering a four year professional degree in optometry. This institution has been run by Sankara Nethralaya, a tertiary eye care center in collaboration with SASTRA deemed university since 2017. The college is best known for its intense clinical training to the students along with a superior foundation in optometry education and research. Students of ESO are also educated on social accountability and responsibility. Adding a gem to its crown, the institution holds records in serving the community through various community activities.

ESO was established on the 18th of September 1985 by Dr. S S Badrinath, Prof. S R Govindarajan and Prof. Jay M Enoch and completes its 35 years of excellence in 2020.

To celebrate this landmark event, the graduate optometry students and team of ESO planned a virtual event with the objective of bringing all alumni to reminisce their days at ESO and also keep the current students updated about the legend of ESO. The celebration was held on 30th of September and 1st of October 2020 between 10.00 and 17.00 IST.

Dr N Anuradha, the Principal of ESO welcomed the august audience. Dr. Girish Shiv Rao, President- Medical Research Foundation and Dr. T S Surendran, Vice- Chairman- Medical Research Foundation addressed the students and alumni. Drs P P Santanam, R Krishna Kumar, Sumathi Narayanan, S Meenakshi, Prof. Seshasayee, Prof. Pichaimuthu and other faculty of ESO shared their fond memories with ESO. As the alumni are from different time zones from across the world different times were allotted on two days and every alumni were excited to be a part of the grand event. They shared their current position, their journey in the field over the years and fun moments from their college days.

There were 365 alumni and students who participated in the virtual celebration via Google Meet. There were representatives of alumni from the first till the last batch. The present students were thoroughly motivated from hearing the success stories of their seniors. The event was highly appreciated by all and recommended to have such an event yearly as ‘ESO day’.

Click here to view ESO 35 Celebrations

Head of the academic institution of Optometry contributes to implementation of the ‘World Report on Vision’ through the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness

India Vision Institute conducted a virtual conference between 2nd and 4th October, 2020 on the
theme ‘Eye Health in the changing world’. This was a virtual conference with delegates from across
the globe. The International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) that is instrumental in
ensuring eye and vision across countries had conducted a panel discussion in the conference on the
“Role of Optometry in delivering World Report on Vision” Ms Jude Stern, Head of Knowledge
IAPB invited Dr N Anuradha, Principal, Elite School of Optometry, India to be a part of the panel to
share her expertise on implementing World Report on Vision(WRV) through targeted initiatives from
optometry with respect to India.

The session held on 3rd October is a crucial initiative globally aligning with the two major themes of
the WRV on refractive errors and cataract and hence witnessed a great response from the
participants of the conference.

The session was moderated by Mr Yuddha Sapkota, Regional Coordinator, International Agency for
Prevention of Blindness and the panelists included Ms Jude Stern, Head of Knowledge IAPB, Dr
Daniel Ting, Singapore Eye Research Institute, Dr Andreas Mueller, Advisor to the World Health
Organization along with Dr Anuradha Narayanan, Principal, Elite School of Optometry, India

Session discussion was on two key themes namely Integration and Advocacy. Details included
opinions on integration of eye care into health care, importance of integration of Optometry care in
this changing world in terms of service coverage and technology and how optometry is integrated
into eye care services in different countries. Ms Jude also shared about IAPB Vision Atlas and IAPB
advocacy documents that would be shortly released. Dr Andreas briefed on how national optometry
organization work with local or regional WHO to advocate for an implement WHO recommendations.
He gave details on e-modules on cataract and refractive errors released by WHO.

Dr Anuradha shared specifics about the India context in terms of integrating optometry
within broader health services and the ways optometry, ophthalmology and other eye care providers
work together in the eye care system. She also shared about the challenges and lesson learned in
advocating Optometry in the context of India and the role of World Report on Vision focus on
integrating optometry. This is the first time an optometry expert from the institution is invited by the
IAPB on advocacy of eye and vision care.

Sankara Nethralaya Eye Care Professionals Receive Accolades in International Conference

‘Eye health in a changing world’, an international virtual conference and trade fair was conducted by the India Vision Institute (IVI) between the 2nd and 4th October 2020. It covered a wide array of areas in Optometry and Vision science. The main agenda of the conference was to explore the future of eye care and eye health, especially after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic globally.

Dr. Rizwana- HOD, Binocular vision/ Vision therapy clinic; Assistant Professor- Elite School of Optometry; and Research Coordinator – Srimathi Sundari Subramanian Department of Visual Psychophysics, Sankara Nethralaya – represented the scientific committee of the conference involving in planning and reviewing abstracts, and also served as a panel member for the Public health – children section. Sankara Nethralaya was represented by 18 eye care professionals including optometrists and graduate optometry students. They submitted abstracts and presented them in the conference.

Team Sankara Nethralaya gave a rocking performance at the conference and won laurels. Ms. Mehal Rathore, Ms. Aparna G, and Ms. Alisha Regmi won the award for best paper presentation in the oral category in ocular diagnostics, paediatric optometry, and binocular vision and public health respectively. Ms. Jannet Philip won the award for best case report in the oral category.

The conference included discussions on recent developments, innovations, practice trends, and way forward in eye care for community, clinic, and private practice services. It hosted participants from 37 countries around the world. There were 1,330 registered delegates comprising eye care professionals and students. The plenary and parallel sessions saw 199 speakers.

Report on ‘Eye Health in a Changing World’ -Virtual International Conference… Read more.

A Woman of Substance: Mrs. Leela Krishnamurthy, Past President

We are pleased to announce that Mrs. Leela Krishnamurthy, past President of Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust, has been nominated as a Woman of Substance, for her work in the local community; the virtual gala will be held on Nov 6th 2020. The money raised at this gala will benefit the Mission of Yahweh, a shelter for homeless families. Mrs. Leela Krishnamurthy is the only woman of Indian origin to have nominated for this award.

Leela Krishnamurthy came to the US to get a master’s degree and was offered a full scholarship to do her Masters in Library Science by the Clark University , Atlanta, GA. While at Clark, Leela worked closely with Coretta Scott King at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Leela was recruited by the Los Angeles County Library System and accepted a position as the Head Librarian for the Bell Library. She arranged programs of interest to all library patrons bringing best-selling authors such as Ray Bradbury, Vincent Bugliosi (Charles Manson prosecutor) and brought exotic animals: lion cubs, orangutans, chimpanzee, reptiles and puppet shows. The programs quickly became standing-room only events and resulted in commendations from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent, Mayor and City Council of Bell and culminating in receiving a key to the City of Bell. In addition, she devoted her personal time as one of the founding members of the Malibu Temple – one of the largest temple in the US. She organized the first-ever fund raising event with Srimathi Vyjayanthimala who was their house guest along with her husband Mr. Bali and their son.

Her husband, Nat was transferred from Los Angeles to Houston and Leela joined the Harris County library system as head librarian at the Barbara Bush Library the largest county library located in Spring, TX. She continued her author’s program bringing best-selling novelist Stephen King and others as guest speakers. Later, she moved to become the Research Assistant at Pannell Kerr Forester and was the co-editor of the magazine Trends. Her fundraising activities had a broad range. She organized an event benefitting UNICEF with the famous sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar. She is a Steering Committee member of the Sri Meenakshi Temple and did a similar fundraiser featuring Sri Ravi Shankar for the temple. She participated in Mayor Bill White’s initiative “Expectation Graduation” giving high school students an incentive to complete high school by giving them all the supplies for college including a new computer.

Leela moved to New Orleans where she worked at the Second Harvester Food Bank. Subsequently, at the Children’s Bureau as the Director of Development, she hand-delivered a proposal requesting funding for the prevention of domestic violence and abuse to the well-known basketball player Michael Jordan. The proposal was funded by his foundation. She organized a Bharat Natyam dance program to raise funds for The House of Ruth for the homeless. She received a commendation from the Governor of Louisiana, Mike Foster.

Leela returned to Houston and continues to remain active in numerous social programs. As a board member and president of the Indo American Charity Foundation, she facilitated the building of two-homes for Houston Habitat for Humanity’s deserving families. Her numerous accolades include: Congressional Recognition from Pete Olson, Easter Seals ”Hats Off” to Mothers, and the Top 20 Impact Maker Award from CKW , presented by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. She has received numerous awards from Indian associations such as Indo American Charity Foundation, India Cultural Center, Meenakshi Temple Bharathi Kalai Manram, and Telugu Association.

She is currently on the board of UNICEF, and is the past President of Indo American Charity Foundation, Bharathi Kalai Manram and board member of several organizations including Houston Habitat for Humanity.

Heartiest congratulations Ms. Leela

Sankara Nethralaya Thanks The Kannan Family

In 2017, a 12 year old boy in Suburban Washington DC in the USA, happened to see a video about Sankara Nethralaya in one of the local fundraising events. The plight of blind people in India and the activities of Nethralaya inspired him so much, he decided to do whatever he could to raise funds. His parents, Amuthan and Vidya, encouraged him to host a fundraiser at the basement of their house in the form of a youth talent show. His friends and family supported his cause and the event raised upwards of $2000.

Encouraged by the success of the previous event, Jay and family hosted another fundraiser in May of 2019. This time the event moved to a local school auditorium as more number of people came forward to support the cause. They raised about $3,000 for Sankara Nethralaya, which funded 46 cataract surgeries for the economically underprivileged in our society.

This year’s Charity Night, held on 8th August 2020, is the Kannan Family’s fourth annual fundraiser. Due to the Covid19 scare the entire event was virtual. Jay put together a 1 hour 30 minutes show where all participants performed from their respective homes. Whole show was beautifully planned and organized by Kannan family using the Zoom video platform. Over 20 performers of varied age groups from all across the United States showcased their talent. This year’s virtual event has raised over $4000 for Sankara Nethralaya’s mission to bring vision to indigent blind people. Krishna Raj Bhat, trustee & joint treasurer, SN OM Trust introduced Sankara Nethralaya’s mission for vision and thanked the Kannan family – Amudhan, Vidhya, Hari and Jay, for organizing the Virtual Charity Night.

It is heart-warming to see Indian American youth showcasing their talents for the cause of bringing sight to the poor visually challenged people in our Society. Sankara Nethralaya thanks the Kannan family for their generosity in raising money to fight blindness among the poor in society.

The efforts of these young Indians in America to help the visually challenged Indians during the pandemic is truly awe-inspiring. Just $65 goes towards helping a poor Indian receive free cataract surgery and follow-up care. By contributing towards Sankara Nethralaya’s mission to bring vision to the poor, you enable one poor blind person to regain their place in society.