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.

Aditya Birla Sankara Nethralaya Consultant’s Paper on the surgical management of complex ophthalmic disorder wins high honours at prestigious meet

Dr Aditi Ghosh Dastider

The 70th Annual Conference of the Delhi Ophthalmological Society (DOSCON) was held at New Delhi between 12- 14 of May 2019, it was a great honour for the Sankara Nethralaya when a white paper on the surgical management of a complex ophthalmic condition authored by Dr Aditi Ghosh Dastider serving at the Aditya Birla Sankara Nethralaya won high honours at this most prestigious meet organized on the theme ‘Cutting edge technology,’ with a focus on showcasing the latest technology and ophthalmic processes from the world over and featuring the best works in the fields of Cataract, Refractive Surgery, Cornea, Glaucoma, Strabismus, Neuro-ophthamology and Occuloplasty attended by a large number of ophthalmologists from all over India.

The white paper titled “Bulbar Oculosporidiosis with Staphyloma and its Surgical Management :Case Series” presented by Dr Aditi Ghosh Dastider, Consultant at the Cornea Department, Aditya Birla Sankara Nethralaya, Kolkata was adjudged as the ‘Best Paper in Cornea and Ocular Surface’ at this most prestigious meet.

The Sankara Nethralaya family expresses its hearty congratulations and rich compliments to Dr Aditi Ghosh Dastider for emerging as the winner in a highly prestigious meet and wishes her many more accolades and awards in her professional journey.

The pioneer in ‘Myopia’ care takes a far sighted view of the malady emerging in threatening proportions

Light and Vision

As an institution which has several water shed initiatives in better understanding, controlling and preventing ‘Myopia’ like starting an exclusive ‘Myopia Control Clinic’, the role played in the launch of ‘Myopin’ an effective drug against the ailment in the country and the pride of its head of optometry and optical services being conferred with a PhD by the Anglia Ruskin University, UK for his in-depth findings on ‘Myopia’, the optometrists and Ophthalmologists of the ‘Myopia Control Clinic’ at Sankara Nethralaya’s main campus rose gloriously to the occasion of ‘Myopia Awareness Week’ being declared by the ‘ World Council of Optometry’ as the period between 13th – 19th May 2019.

Long time crusader against Myopia and champion of the Myopia Control Clinic at the institution, Dr Rizwana Hussaindeen summed up the purpose of the event succinctly as 1. To educate and create awareness on an ailment which is a lifelong financial burden which one has to bear on changing one’s spectacles periodically 2. The negative effect that wearing of glasses can have on one’s lifestyle and most importantly 3. The loss of vision that uncontrolled Myopia can lead to. The Assistant Professor at the Elite School of Optometry with an enduring interest in children’s eye health and an active player in the institution’s school screening camps shared alarming statistics on the impact of the ailment according to which ½ of the world is likely to become Myopic by year 2050, with close to a billion being in the category of ‘Highly Myopic’, she cited Japan, China and South East Asian nations as showing signs of this threatening epidemic with a majority of their citizens being bespectacled at a very early age, she quickly reassured that in comparison India was in a safer position but still cannot afford to treat the threat mildly and take steps on a war footing. Dr Rizwana underlined that myopia was not a simple open and shut problem which could be addressed by simply wearing a pair of glasses that the optometrist prescribes but an ailment which calls for a more serious approach.

It was day of extraordinary edutainment, the interns from the ESO and optometrists from the Myopia Control Clinic spread the word on the topic of the day through a series of fun games and brain teasers, brilliantly conceptualized by Ms. Aparna, Chief Optometrist, Myopia Control clinic, currently working on her doctoral thesis on the challenge of better understanding the risk factors contributing to Myopia progression. Ms Aparna combined her subject matter expertise on Myopia and remarkable creative skills to mentor the interns of the Elite school of Optometry and the Optometrists of the Myopia clinic (Ms. Anusha, Mr. Sourabh, Ms. Sangita Das and Ms. Aishwarya) who rose to the occasion with extraordinary skills and creativity which reflected through Myopia book marks, Fun memes and Skit show.

Senior Consultant, Paediatric Ophthalmology Department and Director Academics, Dr Meenakshi Swaminathan, an expert and veteran in the field blended her talk on Myopia with the spirit of the day with a racy, humour laced and interactive session that opened the eyes of the audience to the common follies they have ignored. The senior consultant whose services have been sought by ORBIS to train paediatric ophthalmologists in China in ensuring children’s eye health shared a lot of food for thought and simple but far reaching solutions to the ailment which largely affects children. Dr Meenakshi Swaminathan strongly underlined that the best route to good physical and mental health of children would be for them to get outdoors and play under the Sun, as natural light reduces the onset of Myopia, she urged parents to ensure that their child’s ‘screen time’ was limited to optimum levels and suggested that this time could be made less harmful on the child’s eye if the images/content received on the hand held phone or laptop could be beamed on to the big screen of the TV at home which the child could see and decipher from a healthy distance, instead of holding the screen of the device close to the eyes and straining it continously. The senior ophthalmologists cautioned that ‘Myopia’ is not a light thing as it is perceived to be and if left unchecked could lead to retinal lesions/detachment.

It was an evening of fun and entertainment with a message, talks by veterans in the field of ophthalmology and optometry coupled with distribution of awareness materials and WHO’s technology guidelines released on the occasion providing a lot of take home messages on Myopia.

As an institution which has several water shed initiatives in better understanding, controlling and preventing ‘Myopia’ like starting an exclusive ‘Myopia Control Clinic’, the role played in the launch of ‘Myopin’ an effective drug against the ailment in the country and the pride of its head of optometry and optical services being conferred with a PhD by the Anglia Ruskin University, UK for his in-depth findings on ‘Myopia’, the optometrists and Ophthalmologists of the ‘Myopia Control Clinic’ at Sankara Nethralaya’s main campus rose gloriously to the occasion of ‘Myopia Awareness Week’ being declared by the ‘ World Council of Optometry’ as the period between 13th – 19th May 2019.

The Champions of Light and Vision get a hands on feel of darkness and despair!

Light and Vision

There is a popular adage in the Tamil language that only when one goes out into the sweltering heat of the hot sun does one realize the pleasure of the cool shade and shelter, it was an extension of this adage when the US gave its classic tribute to the man who leveraged the power of electricity to light up the world.  The President of the USA appealed to every citizen to pay his/her last tribute to Thomas Alva Edison the inventor of the electric bulb when he died in year 1931, not by brightening up the nation by flooding every nook and corner with ‘Light’ through the electric bulb which he invented, as one may have anticipated, what the President emphatically appealed was just the opposite, he requested that every bulb in the homes, streets and offices, commercial establishments be switched off! and the nation be plunged into absolute darkness for two full minutes to remind/demonstrate to the people how the world looked before the discovery of the electric bulb! by the great inventor

Students of the Sankara Nethralaya Academy the academic arm of Sankara Nethralaya the pioneer and champion in dispelling darkness and reviving the joy of vision took part in a novel exercise of experiencing what vision impairment and the despair of darkness in real time by depriving themselves of sight, just as the US President had deprived light to his people many years ago. The novel experiment was conceptualized by Dr Anuja Singh, Vice Principal, TSNA, planned Ms Sarika- Head, Low Vision Clinic and executed by Ms RS.Saranya Head, Vision Enhancement Clinic with amazing support from Mr Srinivas, a trained in independent mobility skills undergoing intensive training in ‘assistive software’ at the Vision Enhancement Clinic, as part of ‘World Optometry Day’ celebrations. To quote the words of Ms Saranya, the idea was to empathize with the visually impaired and understand the pain of blindness and the uncertainties and fear that the visually impaired faced every minute by literally getting into their shoes, by experiencing what ‘not seeing’ is all about.

Light and Vision

The setting for the experiment was seemingly very simple, a group of students had to simply stroll a couple of yards to a make shift tea shop, take their seats and help themselves to a sip of water and some tea which they had to pour into their glasses from different jugs, a strip of cloth over their eyes keeping the light out and making them blindfolded momentarily underlined the power of ‘Vision’ and ‘light’ to the champions of vision and viewers alike in a manner nothing else could have. It was an eye opening spectacle as the participants walked with unsure steps, clinging to each other’s hands for security and an all pervading fear of the unknown, tripping against obstacles as they made their way to the wayside cafe, a distance which took an inordinately longer time to cover than it would normally do. Coffee the caffeine drink is supposed to brighten the drowsy and make them bright but this ‘Blind ‘coffee in the dark’ party’ was a different affair with the guests fumbling for the water jugs, tumblers and coffee mugs and spilling generous quantities of the fluids on themselves, their friends partying with them and the table cloth.

The ‘coffee in the dark’ party’ had some surprise lessons too, participants realized after a while that their other faculties became sharper and rose to the occasion when their main partner was missing in action and students could gauge the environment better with the surrounding sounds and smells but what came as a big surprise to them after the exercise was when they learnt that the man who held them and guided them from tripping and falling was himself a vision challenged person from the Vision Enhancement Clinic. The observations and feedback by Ms Sarika and the participants came as a great learning and strengthened the resolve to serve the visually impaired even more. The eventful evening came to an end with a warm vote of thanks to the students, organizing faculty and spectators for their presence and participation, by Dr Anuja Singh the person behind the drama with a strong lesson.

The taste of the coffee in terms of the lessons learnt would linger in the minds of the organizers, participants and viewers for a long time to come, which was its very objective.

Music for a noble cause warms hearts and raises hope on a cool Dallas weekend

Mrs Sudha Ragunathan

On a cold day of Spring on the March 31, 2019 Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission (OM) Trust joined forces for the third time with the Indian Fine Arts Association (IFAA), Dallas to present the 2019 concert by Padma Bhushan, Mrs Sudha Ragunathan for Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex, Texas, USA.

Approximately 500 Dallas musical rasiga’s were warmly welcomed by Mr. Santhanam Mullur, Former Trustee, Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust, USA and the objectives to raise funds for providing free surgeries to the indigent at home.

The new SN OM Trustees Dr Narasimha Reddy Urimindi and Nani Iswara were introduced to the DFW community by Mr. Mullur.

This was followed by a brief Video presentation of Sankara Nethralaya’s community service activities.

Dr Sujatha Subramanian, President, IFAA, Dallas warmly welcomed the community as well and introduced the profile of Padma Bhushan, Mrs Sudha Ragunathan and upcoming eminent youngsters Kamalakiran Vinjamuri on the violin, Akshay Anantha Padmanabhan on the Mridangam and Soumiya Narayanan (Trustee of Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust) on the Ghatam.

Mrs. Sudha Ragunathan rendered songs that MLV Amma used to sing, Muthuswany Dikshithar and a vast collection of other songs to treat the Carnatic Music rasigas with a brilliant demonstration of her skill, versatility and unique style.

Vote of Thanks was presented by Dr Narasimha Reddy Urimindi, New Trustee of Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust thanking the IFAA committee members, IFAA volunteers, SN OM Trustees and volunteers and Donors that supported the event by their warm attendance and donations to support the needy at home with free eye surgeries.

The poster exhibits on Sankara Nethralaya activities in India was very well received by all the Dallas Rasiga’s

A veteran and pioneer is honoured with the gold standard in her specialty

APSICON-2018

We take great pride and pleasure in sharing the great news that Dr Nirmala Subramanian one of our senior most Consultants and Professor Emeritus, Oculoplastic Surgery and Senior Consultant at the Department of Orbit, Oculoplasty, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery has been honoured with the highly prestigious ‘APSI – Plastic Surgeon for the Year-2018 award’ instituted by the Dr KS. Shekar Endowment. It was a moment of crowning glory for the veteran and highly respected figure in the field with an international exposure and several ‘Firsts’ to her credit as she walked up to the dais to receive the award considered as the gold standard in the field of plastic surgery from Professor RP Sahi, Retired HOD-Department of Surgery and Professor ML Bhat Vice Chancellor King George Medical College and University Lucknow, to the thunderous applause of the Surgeons fraternity assembled in large number at the ‘APSICON-2018’ the ‘53rd Annual Conference of Association of Plastic Surgeons of India’ held at Lucknow in November 2018. The citation of the award describing the distinguished recipient as a ‘Dedicated Surgeon, Excellent Teacher and Avid Learner’ reflected the qualities of excellence in clinical care, knowledge acquisition and dissemination and research, the founding principles of the institution where she pioneered the ‘Orbit, Oculoplasty, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Services department almost 4 decades back and serves with utmost sincerity and compassion to this day.

The Sankara Nethralaya family puts its hands together for a thunderous standing ovation to its beloved Dr NS and wishes her many more years of service to society, accomplishments and recognitions.

A white paper detailing the creation of a critical vision evaluation utility developed by the institution and its accuracy win the highest recognition for SN team from a most prestigious body

AIOS-IJO Platinum Award

AIOS-IJO Platinum Award

Development of the LogMAR visual acuity charts in various Indian languages and installation of the same in public places to enable the general public do a self check of their visual acuity, a first of its kind initiative by the Elite School of Optometry made headlines when it was implemented a couple of years ago. A white paper detailing the creation and accuracy of this critical vision evaluation utility, authored jointly by the SN team of Dr Kalpa Negiloni, Deepmala Majumdar, Dr Krishna Kumar, Dr Ronnie George and Biman Sen with assistance from Dr Aditya Neog, Dr Medhi J and Choudhary Mitalee which was published in the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, was awarded the AIOS-IJO Platinum Award for the ‘Best Scientific Paper’ for year 2018 at the 77th Annual conference of the All India Ophthalmic Society (AIOS) held at Indore.

The SN family congratulates the authors for their intensive work being acknowledged with the highest award by a most prestigious body