Sankara Nethralaya News

‘An eye for safety’ Sankara Nethralaya’s drive towards ensuring safety on the road, kick starts on top gear

Chennai has the dubious distinction of being a city with one of the highest road accident rates in the world the head being the most vulnerable part of the body to be hit leads to brain injury, nervous disorders leading to vision impairment., a grave fact that the ‘Neuro-ophthalmology’ department wanted to be communicatd to the general publicthrough a series of initiatives culminating in a short movie on road safety to be screened at the ‘’Symposium in Neuro-Ophthalmology: Afferents plus Efferents -2019 ‘SYNAPSE-2019”. Dr N. Anhuradha,Assistant Professor, Elite School of Optometry, a veteran in awareness creation on children’s eye healthtook th challenge of reaching out the message of safety on the road while riding/driving with an emphasis on good vision and the need to wear proper helmet and seat belt while riding/driving. The first of a series of awareness creating initiatives was the installation of the special vision evaluating logMAR charts developed by the ESO at 10 major Hindustan Petroleum outlets across Chennai city. The inaugural of the same was held at the COMCO HP the company owned and operated bunk at Pantheon Road, Egmore, Chennai. The Vision chart was inaugurated and dedicated to the public by Mrs Subha Muthuraman, Senior Marketing Manager, Hindustan Petroleum. Dr Anuradha gave a brief on the vision chart, its easy usage and the need for healthy vision while driving/riding on the road. The inaugural was graced by Ms Akila Ganesan, Director Administration, Mr.Suresh, DGM-Administration&Projects and Dr.Viswanathan-DGM, Optical Services. Five teams of Sankara Nethralaya employees including optometrists spread themselves to 9 more petrol bunks in the city and carried out similar awareness creation activities including distribution of T Shirts with eye safety messages to the bunk employees, installing special vision charts and encouraging the employees and customers coming in to fill to have their vision checked and distribution of eye screening handbooks. The first activity in the ‘An eye for safety’ initiative was very well received by the general public.

A critical finding in preventive eye care of the nation’s future citizens wins high recognition

LASFIN Project

It was an interesting demonstration of reversal of sequence in acknowledgement and honour when SASTRA University a high seat of academia and research honoured a critical finding pertaining to the preventive eye health of children with a PhD. The trail blazing finding and recommendation by Ms Kalpa Negiloni, PLOS One, Senior Research Optometrist LASFIN Project, Sankara Nethralaya, titled ‘Environmental factors and Visual requirements in school classrooms and development of recommendations for classroom visual environment’a recommendation on lighting levels and seating ergonomics in school classrooms, which would not only enable better viewing of the blackboard and books leading to better academic results and also have a far reaching impact on the eye health of school children, was honoured with a Doctorate. While the transition of most scientific findings is from academia to real time application, a phenomena popularly referred to in clinical parlanceas ‘bench to bedside’, the finding by Ms Kalpa Negiloni had interestingly made headlines in ‘Times of India’ a mainstream newspaper as a human interest story and was also adopted as a benchmark in regulating classroom illumination and seating pattern by the Directorate of School Education, Tamil Nadu and shared with the heads of government schools in the State through a Government Order (GO) issued by the Director of School Education, Tamil Nadu.

The finding of mass impact cleared the highest scientific evaluation when Ms Kalpa successfully defended the same on the 31st of December 2018 before the doctoral jury at SASTRA University’s Thanjavur campus, consisting of  Dr Sudharsanam Manni Balasubramaniam, who serves as Manager -Evidence Measurement and Evaluation at Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, New Delhi (CIFF) the well known London Headquartered philanthropic organization, who was the chairman of the open defense viva voce examination and Dr Jayalalitha, Dean- Research, SASTRA University along with members of the faculty who were the evaluation team. The interactive presentation proved to be a good learning experience for the 2nd year BS Optometry students at SASTRA who had assembledas observers. Ms Kalpa Negiloni was guided in her doctoral work by Dr RR.Sudhir, Head of the Department, Preventive Ophthalmology and Senior Consultant, CJ Shah Corneal Services, Sankara Nethralaya and Dr Krishna Kumar Ramani, Principal Elite School of Optometry (ESO).

The findings assume special significance in view of the fact that children spend an average of 6 to 7 hours every day at their classrooms for almost 10 years of their life and thecost benefit ratio of implementation of the recommendations which makes it a highly feasible step that could be implemented across a large number of rural schools.

The Sankara Nethralaya family conveys its hearty Congratulations! to Dr Kalpa Negiloni on her constant pursuit of improving the typical classrooms in Indian schools and her findings which would have a significant impact on the vision and visual comfort of a highly delicate group and wishesher many more laurels and accolades in her academic and professional journey.

An institution dedicated to Service honours a lifelong dedication to Service

The evening of the 26th of December 2018 would remain etched in the minds of the large number of Sankara Nethralaya family members assembled at the Sri V.D.Swami Auditorium, located at its main campus, a colourful and joyous moment when the legendary ‘Pune Pagdi’ the bright turban which adorned the heads of Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak the fiery freedom fighter and Gopal Krishna Gokhale the moderate freedom fighter and social reformer, the bright headgear which had become a proud symbol of India’s nationalism and fight against foreign rule adorned the humble persona of the man who had been fighting all his life for freedom from blindness of his people, leading to a self reliant and independent life. The occasion was the awarding of the first ‘Pune Netra Seva National Award’ instituted in honour and memory of Late G.M Shetty of  Modern Cafe, Pune, a philanthropist who supported social causes generously, by the Pune Seva Netra Pratisthan a unique and pioneering service institution engaged in bringing back the light of vision and joy totally cost free to thousands of visually impaired in the rural parts of Maharashtra, for the past 40 years. The award was instituted to recognize and honour an outstanding personality working in the field of ophthalmology, as part of the Pune Seva Netra Pratisthan’s 40th anniversary celebrations and the members of the executive committee of the organization chose Dr SS. Badrinath, Founder & Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya unanimously for the same. The fact that the award was being conferred by an institution governed by the same philosophy and values, an institution that has been serving a large number of indigent visually impaired in the backward regions of the country for the same number of years as the institution started by the recipient of the award and the fact that it was being conferred by the first citizen of the state made it a very special award.

Dr. Madhusudhan Jamwar, Founder, President and moving force of the Pune Seva Netra Pratisthan set the tone for the evening with a dash of nostalgia with his fond recollection of meeting the illustrious recipient of the award for the first time, at the All India Ophthalmic Congress (AIOC) at Amritsar in year 1979 when Sankara Nethralaya the institution started by him was a fledgling, one year old, 20 or so bedded hospital. Dr Jamwar’s compliment that no one was more deserving of the award than Dr SS.Badrinath, in view of his pioneering role in alleviating the suffering of the visually impaired both rich and poor, by leveraging a high level of knowledge and infrastructure of his institution was a clear indication that the humanitarian doctor had been a keen observer of his counterpart on the other side of the Vindhyas, who became his mentor and idol in the years that followed. Dr Madhusdhan gave a most absorbing account of how his dream institution the ‘Pune Purva Seva Pratisthan’ operated without a physical address, as an NGO of Doctors that relied on its team of service oriented consultants for the treatment dispensed and the local community for technical and infrastructural support. Dr Jamwar hailed Dr Prema Padmanabhan, among Sankara Nethralaya’s oldest and most versatile and accomplished surgeons being honoured on the occasion, as a most distinguished Cornea and Refractive services Consultant, a humble, soft spoken teacher and guide who has the pride of serving as the Honorary consultant to the President of India.

Responding to the honour a visibly moved Dr Prema Padmanabhan hailed Dr SS.Badrinath as the Patriarch and Matriarch of the institution, she paid rich compliments to the Pune Purva Seva Pratisthan for its 40 years of glorious service to society. Declaring with pride that she had spent 1/3 of her life at Sankara Nethralaya under the mentorship of Dr SS.Badrinath whom she described as a sagacious mentor, chastising father, tender mother and guiding teacher all in one day, she added that he was a man who not only taught his team on how to treat patients but fellow human beings as a whole. The learned Doctor hailed the award recipient as a man who redefined outreach programs beyond boundaries, she expressed amazement on how many of his future plans which had a larger than life canvas and seemed like castles in the air would evolve as real, impactful initiatives with the passage of time, she cited the Mobile Eye Surgical Unit (MESU) and Tele-ophthalmology supported outdoor eye camps as case studies of the same.

Beginning his address in a lighter vein by referring to the man being honoured as a ‘son-in-law’ of Maharashtra,  the Chief Guest of the function His Excellency Banwarilal Purohit, the Honourable Governor of Tamil Nadu gave a most detailed account of the services rendered by the honouring organization, the  man being honoured and the institution started by him. He cited their service, financial model technology adaption etc. The first citizen of the State appealed to doctors to synergize allopathic treatment with various indigenous forms of treatment like Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha for a holistic approach to treating diseases.

Delivering the acceptance and thanks note on behalf of Dr SS Badrinath, Dr Vasanthi Badrinath, Director, Clinical Services, Sankara Nethralaya thanked Dr Madhusudhan Jamwar and his team for conferring the award and taking the trouble of travelling all the way from Pune to hold the function at Chennai. She expressed deep gratitude to the Governor for gracing the occasion in the midst of his busy schedules and for his kind words. Dr Vasanthi Badrinath used the opportunity to highlight Sankara Nethralaya’s pioneering role in introducing trail blazing concepts and practices in ophthalmology like group practice, treating all sub-specialties of ophthalmology under one roof, teaching and training initiatives, advanced community outreach facilities like the Mobile Eye Surgical Unit, developing ophthalmic technology, Electronic Medical Record, exhaustive ophthalmic research etc. Dr Vasanthi Badrinath expressed deep appreciation for the great work done by the ‘Pune Purva Seva Pratisthan’ towards eliminating blindness among the less fortunate sections of society in rural India and  appealed to them to extend their services to places beyond the state of  Maharashtra.

Dr Prema Padmanabhan’s description of the lofty ideals and qualities of the man being honoured as the ‘Quintessence of a Karmayogi’ summed up the spirit of the day in a single sentence.

ESO’s ‘Occupational Optometry Services’ take optometry optimization to the next level, with an insightful study into occupation based vision challenges

The institution credited with having brought optometry, the art and science of combining the elements of light, vision, and refraction to the country and giving it its rightful place in overall eye care, embarked on yet another critical exercise of taking the finer nuances of optometry to where it was most needed. The Occupational Optometry Services attached with the Elite School of Optometry and Sankara Nethralaya joined hands with Vision Impact Institute to carry out a detailed analysis of the specific visual acuity, light demand, and challenges of the large number of artisans/workmen who come under the unorganized sector titled “VISION CORRECTION IMPACT STUDY (VCIS) AMONG THE UNORGANISED SECTOR”. Enabling quality vision, lighting and ergonomics as demanded by their profession to workmen from the unorganized sector who did not enjoy any kind of institutional care or inputs was a natural next step and ‘Walk the Talk’ for an institution committed to serving the socially and economically backward and leveraging its knowledge for the common good. The unorganized sector accounts for a staggering 93% of the nation’s workforce, comprising of the men who light up our homes and attend to faults (electricians), chisel our furniture (carpenters), keep us presentable (hairdressers), design our ornaments (goldsmiths), ensure our smooth mobility and mobile connectivity (automobile mechanics & mobile handset repairers). The unsung heroes who touch our lives every day and make it better, touching them back with concern was the ESO’s way of saying ‘We care for you”. Ensuring optimum visual acuity, brightness and right posture in the workplace became indispensable for their occupational safety, quality of their produce and quantum of their production which contributed significantly to their income and the nation’s GDP, so the study was both a humanitarian and economic necessity.

The study helped in ascertaining the right visual acuity of the professions which it went into, helped in determining the right sitting, work postures, illumination, overcoming eye fatigue, enhancing vision, quality of production, spectacle usage and would be remembered as a landmark initiative in the history of vision care. 45% of the workers screened were provided free glasses matching their specific visual demand at work and the visual ability of the individual. Results of the follow-up carried out to ascertain compliance of spectacle usage, two months after prescription of the same showed a highly encouraging 88% compliance of spectacle usage both at the workplace and for other activities. Another significant if rather unexpected value addition to the study was the finding of a  significant 76% of those screened to be needing eye care at varying levels and referring them for screening to nearby eye hospitals. The highlight of the study was the positive impact of the vision correction/enhancement on the vision-related quality of life of the workers.

The fact that the study was conducted by members who were not only expert optometrists but also members of the Indian Association of Occupational health gave the study a broad spectrum scope. We take great pleasure in sharing the name of the researchers who conducted this most novel and impactful study.

Dr. P P Santanam, Dr. R. Krishna Kumar, Dr. Rashima A, Ms. Raajamaheswari. KC, Dhanlakshmi.S, and Janani.S

A ray of hope to those living in a world of darkness

Low Vision Clinic

As an institution committed to service and alleviation of suffering, Sankara Nethralaya has often ventured outside the confines of diagnosis and clinical care of ophthalmic ailments. Initiatives like starting a computer syndrome clinic, developing the Train your eye software, Low Vision Clinic, Customized eye shell fabrication etc are relief measures that may not fall directly in the ambit of ophthalmology but nevertheless help the in enhancing vision and adapting to  a normal life. The institution inaugurated the Vision Enhancement Clinic (VEC) at the Smt Lakshmi Ammal &Smt Alamelu Ammal Sankara Nethralaya complex at Shenoy Nagar as a major step towards alleviating pain and handicap of the visually impaired by rehabilitating them through enabling, educating and empowering in association with leaders in the field across the counter The centre would strive towards enabling the visually impaired lead an independent and safe life through a combination of well planned intervention processes consisting of counselling, education/vocational guidance, skill imparting, special skills training for students, assistive technology training. The intervention process is tailor made not only to address the challenges of the visually impaired but to help their families in making their life more comfortable. A major highlight of the Vision Enhancement Clinic is the ‘Early intervention services’ for children in the age group of (0-30 with congenital neurological conditions and developmental disabilities where children are assessed for intervention through a play-way method, vision stimulation, visual skills development therapy for preventing further deterioration, a continuing process where the child is carefully assessed until she/he attains 3 years.

The facility equipped with State of the Art infrastructure and manned by an expert in training and guiding the visually impaired, offering comprehensive services to this section including educational and vocational guidance in sync with the Low Vision Clinic (LVC) at the Sankara Nethralaya main campus was inaugurated by Shri Ramakrishna Raju and Mrs Revathy Ramakrishna founders of ‘Vision Aid’ a Boston based charity engaged in serving the visually impaired through various measures.

Proud moment to share from the Sankara Nethralaya’s Occupational Optometry Services

Dr RashimaAsokan, Assistant Professor – ESO and Optometrist was awarded the Golden Jubilee medal during the 67th state Indian Association of Occupational Health (IAOH), Tamilnadu chapter. The State IAOH has selected the scientific paper titled “Impact of vision correction on the quality of life and productivity among automobile mechanics” presented by Dr Rashima at the National level IAOH conference (OCCUCON2018) held at Pune, 2018. She was awarded the Best paper presented from Tamilnadu.

This research was a part of Vision Correction Impact Study done by the department of Occupational Optometry Services under the able guidance of Dr PP Santanam and Dr R Krishnakumar. The study assessed the impact of vision correction in different occupations among the small-scale industries. The team of occupational optometry services (Dr R Krishnakumar, Dr Rashima, Ms RaajaMaheswari, Ms Dhanalakshmi and Ms Janani) were appreciated by the doctors and the occupational health experts who attended the meeting.

It has given the team an inspiritment to continue the occupational optometry services across all the sectors.

Sankara Nethralaya’s head of Binocular Vision becomes first Indian to be conferred with a ‘Diplomate’ in her niche field by the AAO.

AAO

In a development that placed Sankara Nethralaya’s head of Binocular Vision and her institution right at the top slot, the American Academy of Optometry(AAO) the world leader in the field conferred its coveted ‘Diplomate’ in Binocular Vision, Perception and Pediatrics on Dr Rizwana, Assistant Professsor, Elite School of Optometry.The high academic recognition comes as yet another major milestone covered and a bright jewel in the crown for a passionate researcher, student,teacher and irrepressible explorer who has such diverse credits as, being chosen by the Department of Education & Training, Australia High Commission, as ‘Australia Award- Endeavour Ambassador’ to spearhead collaborative research and education between the two nations, a Doctorate by the BITS Pilani for her exhaustive paper on ‘Binocular vision care for children’, the clinician who played a pivotal and pioneering role in the creation of TRYe (Train your eye) a first of its kind vision therapy software for amblyopia and the establishment of a ‘Special Children’s clinic’ for children who need special attention and functional assessment, at the Sankara Nethralaya main campus.

With Dr. John Tassinari (chair of the BVPPO section), and Dr. Ronald Gall (One of the examiners)

It was the glorious culmination of an eventful three year journey for Ms Rizwana who enrolled into the Diplomate process at the AAO in 2015, as she was declared a ‘Diplomate in Binocular Vision, Perception, Pediatrics and Optometry’(BVPPO) at San Antonio, on the 8th of November 2018.It is noteworthy to mention here that she was guided by the legendary Dr Mitchell Scheiman, Dean of the Salisbury University. The award highlights the recipient and her institution’s pioneering role in the fields of recognition in the certification and promises to take awareness creation and collaborative learning in these fields to the next level!

The Sankara Nethralaya family expresses its hearty congratulations and puts its hands together for a standing ovation to its dynamic member!

It was a touching moment for the SN family and the winner when Professor Dr B.R.Natarajan an alumnus of BITS Pilani shared her journey and achievements in a passionate one page write-up.

We take great pleasure in sharing the same below
Dr BR Natarajan’s write-up

It was the glorious culmination of an eventfulthree year journey for Ms Rizwana who enrolled into the Diplomateprocess at the AAO in 2015,as she was declared a ‘Diplomate in Binocular Vision,Perception,Pediatrics and Optometry’(BVPPO) at San Antonio, on the 8th of November 2018.It is noteworthy to mention here that she was guided by the legendary Dr Mitchell Scheiman, Dean of the Salisbury University. The award highlights the recipient and her institution’s pioneering role in the fields of recognition in the certification and promises to take awarenesscreation and collaborative learning in these fields to the next level!

Jubilation and Joy mark the ‘D’ Day at an institution committed passionately to knowledge dissemination and character building

The 30th Graduation Day of the Elite School of Optometry was celebrated with pomp and pageantry at the VD Swami auditorium to a packed hall of employees and proud parents. The presence of former Chairman of the Medical Research Foundation Shri V.Vaidyanathan, Dr TS Surendran, Vice-Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya, Dr PP Santanam, First Principal of the ESO and one of its greatest well wishers and generous benefactors, Dr Girish Rao and Dr Pramod Bhende, Medical Directors, MRF, Dr Krishna Kumar, Principal ESO, Dr Viswanathan, DGM Optical Services, Dr Anuradha and Dr Rajeswari Mahadevan, faculty members at the ESO, all of them in their ceremonial gown added color to the event, receiving their certificates from the senior members and their role models and listening to their spirited talk made it a memorable graduation ceremony to the students. Speaking on the ocassion Dr Anuradha, Assistant Professor, ESO gave a lively account of her doctoral thesis submission, highlighting the pitfalls and challenges in lighter vein, she utilized the opportunity to give a highly impressive note on the great work being carried out by the ESO in terms of school children screening in terms of both volumes and quality of screening. The day witnessed the awarding of Fellowships, Institutional Awards, Research Awards, Best Optometrist Award, Contribution to Indian Optometry, Best Project award and Communication and Public Relation Award, to the thunderous applause of the large gathering.

Global leader in optical aids crowns SN researcher with a coveted title

IVI Essilor optometry wizard of the year

We take great pleasure and pride in sharing that Ms Mehal P.Rathore, Research Assistant at the Cornea Department has been awarded the coveted title of ‘IVI Essilor optometry wizard of the year’. The competition conducted on a national level by the optical aids major drew participation from all over the country; contestants had to clear a web-based round, phone-in round to qualify for the final face to face round. Ms Mehal demonstrated her deep understanding and clear subject matter expertise in a keenly contested final round held at the Sri Prakash Institute of Optometry, Chennai on 8th November 2018, covering a broad spectrum of topics as diverse as Clinical Ophthalmology, Ocular Diseases, Clinical Optometry, Contact Lens, Low Vision Aids. Binocular Vision and Dispensing Optics to walk away with the title of ‘optometry wizard’ the award included a cash prize of INR 10,000 and the results were covered by leading dailies like the Times of India, Business Standard, Hans India and Daily Hunt.

The Sankara Nethralaya family conveys its hearty Congrats! to Ms Mehal for this high recognition by a leader in optics and for keeping the SN flag flying high in a highly prestigious knowledge exposition. We wish her many more laurels and accolades in her academic and professional journey.

News Digest

The ‘Temple of the Eye’ starts a new chapter in ‘Maanava Seva’ in a sacred temple town

A close look at the inception, growth and 4 decades of service by Sankara Nethralaya would make it apparent that if something has been the consistent moving force for all the above, next only to the blessings of the Kanchi Acharyas, it is the boundless love to mankind, a strong sense of service, a no strings attached generosity and utmost faith in the institution exhibited by its donors and well wishers. It was a beautiful demonstration of this faith that was being showcased on the 20th of September 2018 in the small town of Chetpet in Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu, as the curtains went up on yet another major step in Sankara Nethralaya’s battle against blindness, in a semi urban area. The day’s proceedings got off with a warm welcome note to the large gathering by the visionary founder and Chairman Emeritus presiding over the inaugural of his institution’s 7th unit in the State and 12th in the country, his passion and involvement in the event taking one back to the day the journey began 4 decades ago. Hailing Chief Donor Shri Surajmal Jain, Philantrophist, Visionary, Educationist and Chairman of Acharya Sri Hasthi Aradhana Foundation (ASHA) a long time friend and well wisher, for his massive social service in the region, he underlined that his philanthropy, vision and persistence in doing good were instrumental in the inception of the new unit. The head of Sankara Nethralaya thanked district collector Shri KS Kandaswamy and Rajayogini B.K. Uma of the Brahma Kumari movement for gracing the function, he reiterated the institution’s avowed principle of dispensing high quality care without disparity to both paying and non paying patients and urged the gathering to make the best use of the facility coming up in their locality and fulfil the dream of the generous donor who had envisaged such a service for them.

A typical trait of all Sankara Nethralaya’s endeavours is the blurring of the line of difference between the beneficiary and benefactor and it was evident in great measure at the inaugural with the involvement and efforts to make it a grand event by Shri Surajmal Jain and his family by attending to every little detail with love and ensuring the comfort of the members of the Sankara Nethralaya family and other invitees.

It was a noble event, with noble people participating in it and noble messages filled the air quite naturally, eminent philanthropist and educationist Shri Surajmal Jain whose contribution of the premises for the institution was instrumental in its formation observed that if DrSS.Badrinath had any commercial motives there would be no Sankara Nethralaya today and his consent to start a unit in Tiruvannamalai came as a boon to the people of all the 6 taluks of the district. Guest of Honour Rajayogini B.K. Uma hailed the unit as a contribution of two great Mahans, Shri Surajmal Jain and Dr SS.Badrinath, she persuaded every individual in the gathering to stop thinking for a minute on how to take or receive and concentrate on how to give back to society, which would be for the spiritual and material well being of the world. The public spirited collector of the district Shri K.S.Kandaswamy presiding as the Chief Guest declared that it was the blessings of his birth that he was sharing the dais with a legend like Dr SS.Badrinath, he thanked Shri Surajmal Jain and Sankara Nthralaya for starting an advanced eye care unit that would serve the paying and non paying patients in his district. The collector joined Rajayogini B.K. Uma in making a passionate plea to set aside something from one’s income to the society, adding that philanthropy was not an exclusive prerogative of the wealthy and everyone should exhibit kindness and the spirit of giving within their capacity.  Dr Girish Rao, Medical Director hailed the infrastructure of the new unit as being on par with the main hospital, he had a high word of praise for Shri Surajmal Jain, his wife and sons Shri Kamal and Shri Sunil for their persistence and steadfastness which helped in overcoming several legal and procedural hurdles and made the centre a reality. The crowning glory of the day was the message and blessing by HH Vijayendra Saraswati Swamigal, the Pontiff of the Kanchi Mutt, made through a virtual appearance. The Seer explained that it is only by constant pursuit of how, where and when we can be of help and service to fellow human beings that we can fulfil the purpose of our avatar as human beings. He expressed his joy at the opening of a Sankara Nethalaya unit at Tiruvannamalai and blessed the unit for its success and to serve a large number of patients from the region and the noble couple who had contributed to its creation.