Sankara Nethralaya News

16th edition of popular oration n Pediatric Ophthalmology unravels a critical syndrome in children

16th Dr Nagamani Dharmapuri Oration

The 16th edition of the Dr Nagamani Dharmapuri oration got off to a melodious and auspicious start at the Sri VD Swami Auditorium with a soulful invocation by Dr Mihir Girish, invoking Allah and Eashwar, in keeping with the Sankara Nethralya spirit of service to all. Dr Sumitha Agarkar got the proceedings started with a quick brief on the genesis of the award, the deep friendship between Dr Vidyasagar Dharmapuri and Dr SS.Badrinath, the objective of the oration and how it has acted as a bridge between pediatrics and ophthalmology and enriched and complimented the multidisciplinary approach adopted by the pediatric ophthalmology department through profound lectures by experts from diverse fields. This was followed by an introduction of the distinguished Chief Guest and star speaker of the day Dr Anthony Moore highlighting the senior positions held and his achievements as a clinician, researcher and pediatric ophthalmologist by Dr Meenakshi Swaminathan, Senior Consultant, Pediatric Ophthalmology dept and Director of Academics

The oration on the topic ‘Childhood and developmental Macular Dystrophies’ was a demonstration of Dr Moore’s mastery over his specialization, it brought out the similarities and variables of the disorder in terms of manifestation, symptoms and progression. The world famous pediatric ophthalmologist took his audience across continents to highlight incidences and case studies of the ailment which underlined his point that it manifested itself in manifold ways. The learned professor advised simple steps like protecting the eyes from direct sunlight and nutritious food as good preventive steps. The expert highlighted that major work is happening today in the field in terms of clinical trials, gene replacement, stem cell therapy, leveraging inhibitors and administering vitamin A

Sankara Nethralaya partners with Google to create, validate and implement advanced vision screening algorithms

It came as a feather in the cap for an institution in the forefront of embracing medical and non medical technology and constantly improvising and innovating its ophthalmic and non ophthalmic processes to find solutions to emerging ophthalmic challenges and enhance quality, reach, speed and convenience in dispensing eye care, when Google the global technology and communication giant engaged in the pursuit of solutions to social and humanitarian issues chose the institution as its preferred partner in developing an Algorithm to detect diabetic retinopathy a major ophthalmic issue threatening to deprive the vision of millions around the world and macular oedema caused due to myriad contributory factors, a condition which could lead to permanent vision loss if not detected and treated early. The collaboration involved conducting real time validation of the deep learning algorithms and implementation of the same.

Senior Ophthalmologists from the institution provided the vital ophthalmic/biological inputs in terms of markers/indicators to the Google team who leveraged artificial intelligence, exhaustive neural networks and complex mathematical systems to develop a deep learning algorithm which can detect diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular oedema with amazing accuracy, speed and perfection. The algorithm was put to real time test at the Sankara Nethralaya’s main campus at Chennai and at Thailand and its findings were evaluated by a team of senior ophthalmologists. It was a moment of great jubilation for the Google-SN team involved in the exercise when the specialists adjudicated the accuracy of the findings as being on par or even superior to findings by a qualified ophthalmologist. The institution credited with landmark technical innovations like developing and implementing one of the earliest Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems, the DNA macro chip in ophthalmology, internet aided tele-ophthalmology camps and the one of its kind in Asia Mobile Eye Surgical Unit (MESU) will now be leveraging this most advanced screening algorithm combining exhaustive neural networks and complex mathematical systems to detect diabetic retinopathy.

Encouraged by the success of the DR detecting algorithm the Google-Sankara Nethralaya team is now working on developing a similar algorithm to detect the progression of diabetic retinopathy and macular oedema.

The Eye donation pioneer leverages youth power and creativity to drive home its critical message

World Tamil Chamber of Commerce

Sankara Nethralaya joined hands with the Nethra Sevak Sangh (NSS) cadre at the Dwaraka Doss Vaishnav Doss college, known for their commitment and service to social causes, to drive home the critical message of ‘Eye Donation’ as part of its city wide celebration of ‘National Eye Donation Fortnight’ (August 25th to Sept 8th). The event witnessed in-depths talks on the various facets of eye donation by senior members of the institution including Mr SVG Subramanian, Senior Manager Administration, gracing the occasion as the chief guest, Mr Hari babu, Manager-CU Shah Eye bank and Mr Ganeshan, Principal, DG Vaishnav College. An entertaining and informative skit by the students, dispelling myths and highlighting facts of eye donation followed by a vibrant exhibition of youth power in terms of a rally with participants holding aloft placards espousing the day’s theme and raising their voice for its cause followed by a most artistic assembly of students in the formation of the human eye were the key highlights of the event.

The exciting awareness creation exercise culminated with distribution of certificates to the participants and a heartfelt vote of thanks by Mr Janakiraman, Social Worker at the CU Shah Eye Bank, Sankara nethralaya

Senior vitreo-retina surgeon from Sankara Nethralaya gets high level exposure and certification in cutting edge technologies of the future

World Tamil Chamber of Commerce

‘Ocular Imaging’ in its broad sense could possibly be cited as the most significant advancement in the clinical evaluation of ophthalmic diseases. The versatile and highly advanced nature of this technology enables the ophthalmologist to ascertain a host of critical parameters like dimension, thickness, qualitative and quantitative measures, values and micron level changes which makes its role critical in the accurate diagnosis and treatment of the entire gamut of retinal diseases. It was a significant forward step for Sankara Nethralaya, an institution in constant pursuit of acquiring the latest ophthalmic technology, know-how, skill sets and hands on training when Dr Aditya Verma, Senior Consultant, Shri Bhagwan Mahaveer Vitreo-retina services, located at its main campus in Chennai, was conferred with a Fellowship in this most niche area by one of the foremost ophthalmic institutions in the world. Dr Aditya Verma completed a most eventful and exciting year (2018) pursuing research in ‘Ocular Imaging’ both as a technology and process in all its manifestations at the Doheny Eye Centre, University of California, Los Angeles, at the end of which his knowledge and skills in the field were acknowledged by awarding of a ‘Fellowship’. He also gained rich experience in Medical Retina at the UCLA clinic where he was involved in patient management as well as treatment.

World Tamil Chamber of Commerce

The exposure and learning of emerging diagnostic modalities involved gaining experience in newer technologies like ultra wide field (FFA&ICT/Color Fundus), OCT angiogram, (spectral domain OCT) which would prove to be a great value addition to the institution’s endeavours in diagnosis and treatment of patients. It is noteworthy to mention here that the Fellowship provided Dr Aditya Verma the hands on skills in working in some of the top global brands like Zeiss, Topcon, Optos etc and machines and processes which are still at an experimental stage in clinical practice, as some of them are awaiting FDA approval.

The Sankara Nethralaya family expresses its hearty congratulations to Dr Aditya Verma on being awarded a Fellowship in such a niche area by a non-profit, service oriented ophthalmic institution with a standing of more than 70 years, an institution not only considered to be among the foremost in the world in clinical research and medical education but also one which shares Sankara Nethralaya’s service orientation through its philosophy of conservation, improvement and restoration of human eyesight and wishes him many more significant milestones in his pursuit of knowledge.

VR team from Sankara Nethralaya bring home the Oscar in showcasing innovation in complex retinal surgery

World Tamil Chamber of Commerce

Endophthalmatis could be the nightmare of a surgeon performing any intraocular intervention, occurrence of this painful and highly infectious condition has been found to be higher in cases of Keratoprosthesis than other surgical processes. Hence it is a matter of great pride and joy to the SN family that an audio visual presentation demonstrating the successful overcoming of this daunting and highly prevalent challenge by a team of Consultants from the Shri Bhagwan Mahavir Department of Vitroretinal Services, being recognized with one of the most coveted awards in the world of Retina, at one of the most prestigious topical meets.

World Tamil Chamber of Commerce

We take great pleasure in sharing that the video on the above titled ‘Salvaging an eye with endophthalmatis and permanent Keratoprosthesis’ prepared jointly by Dr Ekta Rishi and Dr Pukhraj Rishi was awarded the ‘Rhett Buckler Award’ considered as the Oscar of the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS). The award assumes special significance because video presentations at the annual ASRS meet assume the scale of participation and competition on par with a film festival and high emphasis is given to clarity of image and presentation, flow and narration as much as to the depth of knowledge/skills shared.

It was a moment of triumph and joy to the SN family when Dr Ekta Rishi consultant at its Bhagwan Mahavir department held aloft the highly impressive 8 pound 24 carat gold plated, Oscar like statuette at the 37th Annual meeting of the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) held at the Hyatt Regency, Chicagoi, Illinois, on the 30th July 2019, to the thundering applause of the select audience from the across the world. The Sankara Nethralaya family conveys its hearty congratulations and good wishes to Dr Ekta Rishi and Dr Pukhraj Rishi for this high honour conferred on their impactful demonstration of overcoming a most challenging condition in VR surgery and wishes them many more achievements and accolades in their professional journey.

Videos showcasing Sankara Nethralaya’s medico engineering marvel and impact of its community services steal the show at high level meet.

World Tamil Chamber of Commerce

Larsen & Toubro Technology Services (LTTS) is the engineering services subsidiary of Larsen & Toubro, the multinational conglomerate. The Vadodra headquartered champion of digital transformation held its Annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) partners meet at Bangalore on the 1st and 2nd of August 2019. The idea was to give an opportunity for its diverse CSR deployment partners to assemble, interact and demonstrate their social service initiatives and impact, both to the CSR Principal and among themselves. The L&T group has a long history of support to Sankara Nethralaya, both monetary and through their professional services, construction of the massive 8 storied research block at the main campus, the CU Shah Sankara Nethralaya and the Elite School of Optometry at St. Thomas Mount on a ‘at cost basis’, overseeing the civil and structural work of the large exclusive community hospital coming up at St.Thomas Mount, donating towards setting up the L& T Microbiology Centre at the Kamalnayan Bajaj Institute for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology are a few glorious chapters in this long association. LTTS has been extending support towards conducting Sankara Nethralaya’s cost free outdoor surgical camps with the help of the Mobile Eye Surgical Unit (MESU) in remote regions of the country since year 2016 and has also presented a 51 seat bus towards transporting its patients as part of its CSR initiative and was an invitee to the meet.

World Tamil Chamber of Commerce

Sankara Nethralaya was represented at the meet by Mr. T.S Parthasarathy, Head of its CSR department and Mr. S.Alagiri, DGM Fund Raising. The senior members of the institution’s awareness creation and resource mobilization wings leveraged the opportunity to showcase its cost free services by screening a highly absorbing video on the MESU, the ‘One of its kind in Asia’ operation theatre on wheels, a medico-engineering marvel developed jointly with the IIT-M, the institution’s flagship initiative against ‘Cataract’ the largest cause of blindness in the country. A utility which travels to the most remote and inaccessible areas and performs the most advanced vision reviving Cataract removal surgeries right at the doorsteps of the most socially and economically backward patients. A poignant short movie titled ‘Vidiyal’ meaning ‘The Dawn’ or ‘New Hope’ capturing the impact of the institution’s cost free community services was also screened at the event

The two audio-visual presentations on Sankara Nethralaya’s community services were extremely well received by LTTS the CSR Principal and drew a round of applause from the large gathering of senior officials representing the other CSR partners, at the high level meet. LTTS acknowledged its appreciation of its CSR partner Sankara Nethralaya’s vital role in fighting rural blindness through ‘Mobile Eye Care’ dispensed by MESU, by presenting a memento which was received on behalf of the institution by Mr. T.S. Parthasarathy.

Activities for children with visual impairment and multiple disabilities

visual impairment and multiple disabilities

Like flowers, every child is special and unique. They bring a magical bliss and happiness like how a variety of flowers make a heavenly garden. This has been well proven through the group activities program for the children with visual impairment and multiple disabilities (VIMD) at the “Vision Enhancement Clinic (VEC)” located at the Shenoy Nagar campus of SankaraNethralaya, Chennai. The clinic which works for the empowerment of patients with visual impairment strives to provide all possible services beyond the regular rehabilitation routines, as the patients received here are not seen as individuals with impairment but as a part of their families who struggle to shoulder the loss.

And particularly for the children with VIMD, the clinic offers a wide range of individualized therapy programs such as visual developmental therapy, sensory integration therapy, special education, behavior modification and fine motor stimulation therapy to enhance their functional level as much as possible. But the VEC team wanted to push the line beyond that therefore initiated the group activities sessions for the children with VIMD to experience socialization, group learning, creative art, sharing, taking turns, listening to instructions, winning and losing, music and movements, a bunch of socio-emotional elements to which they are not exposed because of their developmental disorders. On the other end, the parents of such children have been provided with a supportive platform to learn, share their experiences, and strengthen themselves to manage the condition of their children.

The session comprises meet and greet for social skills; creative art therapy for multi-sensory stimulation and sharing; visual skills and eye-hand coordination activities; circle time game for turn taking, listening skills, behavior correction, concept of ‘win & lose’; music & movement for auditory, vestibular, proprioceptive coordination, spatial awareness and recreation. The VEC team has conducted 2 such group activities sessions successfully in the month of July, 2019 and going to conduct the sessions on weekly basis with the overwhelming and encouraging responses from the parents and the children.

visual impairment and multiple disabilities

visual impairment and multiple disabilities

Adults’ supportivegroup

Empowerment of persons with visual impairment defines the complete functional independency and self-reliance in all aspects of their life. The whole process doesn’t come to end without enabling them to compete in the society and to become successful contributors of the nation. In this way, the “Vision Enhancement Clinic” of Sankara Nethralaya is conducting weekly adults’ supportive group meet for the young adult patients with visual impairment. The motto behind this initiation is to promote accessible technology, communication skills, personality development, knowledge sharing, resource exchange, confidence level, leadership qualities, volunteering and awareness on Government concessions. The young adults with visual impairment are getting the opportunity to overcome their depression by interacting each other and able to explore themselves into carrier building options. The participants expressed their pleasure in means of laughter, applauses during the meetings and by volunteering to motivate the new patients who comes with depression.

The meeting is conducted as three sessions as follows:

  • Update on accessible technology – to share and learn about computer and mobile assistive software,
  • Knowledge sharing – to share and discuss about the options for higher studies, job fairs, talking books, educational devices, and learning materials for competitive exams,
  • Quiz and debate – to keep them updated on global events, current affairs, constitutional policies, scientific facts, general knowledge and to develop group communication skills which are essential for professional competency.

Sankara Nethralaya’s largest annual topical meet takes a multidimensional view of eye care to a delicate target group

Retina Summit 2019

The curtains went up to a packed house of most distinguished international and national dignitaries on the 12th of July 2019, at the grand Clive Hall, The Taj Coromandel, Chennai. The venue of the ‘Pediatric Retina’ (Retina Summit-2019) the 4th Summit on the retina, presented by the Bhagwan Mahaveer Vitroretina Services, Sankara Nethralaya. The proceeding got off to an auspicious start with a melodious invocation by Dr Meenakshi Swaminathan, Senior Consultant, Pediatric Ophthalmology department and Director- academics and Dr Mihir Trivedi, Senior Vitroretina Fellow, Sankara Nethralaya, followed by the lighting of the traditional lamp by Shri V.Vaidyanathan, President Medical Research Foundation, Mrs Seetha Vaidyanathan, and senior national and international dignitaries and a quick felicitation of the artists of IndoSoul the popular live group led by Karthik Iyer entertaining the participants, by Shri V.Vaidyanathan. It was little wonder that the event was of a massive proportion since it was being held on a most predominant part of the eye, by one of the largest vitro retina departments in the country, it was also most appropriate that an institution in the forefront of Pediatric ophthalmology was conducting the summit on the theme ‘Pediatric Retina’.

Delivering the inaugural address and welcome note Dr Girish Shiva Rao, Medical Director, Sankara Nethralaya observed that the day marked the culmination of a dream, a goal set long ago and is the fruit of meticulous planning and execution, he added that hosting the event was a good learning by itself. Dr Girish Rao highlighted that the host institution had embarked on a massive study of Diabetic retinopathy much before it became a buzzword and had dwelt in depth on retinal detachment and ocular trauma in the previous meets. He recalled Dr SS.Badrinath’s role in creating a robust model of teaching and training at Sankara Nethralaya which helped in mentoring, stimulating, engaging and hailed him as a tough task master who inculcated knowledge and discipline on an army of ophthalmologists serving the world over.

The preconference of the high power meet focussed on the latest screening/diagnosis technologies and a demonstration of the latest equipment relevant to Paediatric ophthalmology. The two day conference that followed was a most enlightening session touching upon every challenge and aspect of diagnosis and treatment in paediatric ophthalmology, challenges ranging from simple Retinopathy of Prematurity to a host of Paediatric infections like retinitis, endophthalmitis in the paediatric age group, complex VEGF driven, inherited and acquired retinal vascular diseases and paediatric retinal detachment to name a few. The conference witnessed lively debates on differing approaches and perceptions to specific paediatric issues and exchange of real time experience leading to a lot of learning and exposure to latest treatment modalities involving stem cell therapy and prenatal screening.

Retina Summit 2019

Dr Muna Bhende, Deputy Director, Shri Bhagwan Mahavir Department of Retinal Services,, Sankara Nethralaya and Organizing Secretary ‘Pediatric Retina Summit’ expressed her most sincere thanks to her co-organizers Dr Pramod Bhende, Dr Parveen Sen and Dr V.Jaya Prakash and members of the conceptualizing, planning and implementation teams at every level, the men and women within and outside of the institution, in front and behind the screen who worked hard and long and contributed to the grand success of the event.

The two day high power meet came to a close on a warm note with the hosting of the Sankara Nethralaya Alumni Dinner, which brought old members of the Sankara Nethralay family from abroad and India into a warm get together.

The champion in preventive and curative eye care for children is honoured with a prestigious award

VIBS 2019

The Indian arm of  Vision 2020, the global initiative towards eliminating avoidable blindness instituted the ‘Sri SN Shah Award’ for Equity:  to provide comprehensive primary eye care screenings with a focus on women and children, in year 2013 towards recognizing ‘equity of eye care services to women and children’ and to honour institutions dispensing excellent eye services to this vulnerable group. The award for year 2019 was conferred on Sankara Nethralaya in recognition of the significant contribution to preventing and treating childhood blindness by the Elite School of Optometry, its academic arm. The ESO-SN community outreach teams under Dr Anuradha Narayanan Program in-charge – School Children Eye Health, Sankara Nethralaya and Vision Screening Coordinator – Elite School of Optometry carry out massive cost free eye screening of children from the socially and economically backward sections of society living in remote villages by conducting a large number of eye screening camps in rural schools. These camps are a boon to children living in the backward regions of the country to whom school screening is the only access to quality eye care, children found with refractive errors are dispensed with cost free glasses and those needing ophthalmic intervention are referred to the base hospital for cost free treatment.  It would be noteworthy to mention here that the SN-ESO joint effort towards screening this delicate group has found its pride of place in the ‘Limca Book of Records’ for the largest number of school children screened in a single day.

The Sri SN Shah award for equity, consisting of a cash prize of INR 10,000 and a citation were presented by His Excellency Banwarilal Purohit, the Honourable Governor of Tamil Nadu, at the 15th Vision 2020 conference held on the 8th of June 2019, at the Arvind Eye Hospital, Chennai and received on behalf of Sankara Nethralaya by Dr Anuradha  Narayanan.

VIBS – Hands-on Summer Training programme (13th -31st May 2019)

VIBS 2019

The annual Hands-on-summer training programme (13thMay and 31st May 2019) was conducted by the Vidyasagar Institute of Bio-Medical Science (VIBS), a unit of Medical Research Foundation (MRF) with an objective of imparting real time knowledge and experience on advanced techniques in their chosen fields of Microbiology, Genetics and Biochemistry. A total of 19 candidates, (7 in R.S. Mehta Jain Department of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, 6 each in SN ONGC Genetics & Molecular Biology and L & T Microbiology Research Centre) underwent training under this program. The  participants were from Stella Maris College, Chennai (5), Women’s Christian College, Chennai (2),Vels University, Chennai(1),Rajalakshmi Engineering College, Chennai (5), Jeppiaar Engineering College, Chennai (1), V.O.Chidambaram College, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tuticorin (1), Bharath Institute of Higher Education and Research (BIHER), Chennai (2), Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) University, Vellore (1) and Chettinad Hospital and Research Institute, Chennai (1).

The Valedictory function was conducted on 31st May 2019 at 3pm at the Lecture Hall, Ist Floor KNBIRVO Building.  Dr.H.N.Madhavan, Director of VIBS was the Chief Guest for the function. Dr.K. Lily Therese ( VIBS – Co-ordinator) welcomed the participants and the function started with a prayer song by Ms.Harshavardhini from Genetics department. Dr.H.N.Madhavan addressed the participants and appreciated the interest of the participants in learning the various techniques. Dr. K Lily Therese updated the attendees on the activities of VIBS till May 2019 in a detailed manner, she gratefully acknowledged the faculty scientists and technical staff involved in training the students and the management of Vision Research Foundation & Medical Research Foundation for providing the facility and the Founder of VIBS, Late Padmashri Iravatham Mahadevan, IAS, for providing the wonderful opportunity to train the Post graduate students from various Science & Arts Colleges & Research Institutions. The HODs from the respective departments who imparted the training shared their experience and appreciated the enthusiasm and involvement with which the participants learnt the techniques they were taught. The participants performed well in the evaluation conducted at the end of the program by all three departments.  They (one representative from each dept) gave a good feedback on the training programme and assured to impart the knowledge and skills they acquired to their juniors and colleagues in their respective colleges. Dr.Sinnakaruppan Mathavan, Dr.N. Angayarkanni and Dr.H.N.Madhavan, distributed the certificates to the successful candidates.

The function came to an end with a warm Vote of Thanks by Dr.K. Lily Therese, Programme Co-ordinator, VIBS. The function ended with high tea and a group photograph at the entrance of the KNBIRVO building.