Sankara Nethralaya salutes is founding father on his birth centenary

Shri Chimanlal Ujamshibhai Shah is among the foremost of independent India’s philanthropists, educationists and visionaries, a man who is credited with the founding of a large number of educational, healthcare institutions, charitable trusts serving the needy across Gujarat, Mumbai and Chennai. A man who not only helped in the creation of these institutions but also took active interest in their operation and growth.  He is referred to with reverence as the ‘Founding Father’ by the Sankara Nethralaya family as an acknowledgement to the faith he imposed on a young Dr SS.Badrinath and contributed a large sum of money which became the ‘Seed Capital’ for the initiative which would bring back th light of vision and smile to millions, a seed which would become a large banyan tree of relief and pain alleviation. The Sankara Nethralaya family joined thousands all over India in paying their homage and expressing their gratitude to the great man to whom they owed their inception. The presence of his Mrs Minal Shah his daughter  and torch bearer of his noble deeds who was keeping his legacy alive made the event momentous, the invocation compose by her describing him as a ‘Karmayogi’ and ‘Paropakari’ summed up his personality and the admiration of a beloved daughter and set the tone for the day’s proceedings. Recalling the man who quietly joined a queue of members from the general public to make his donation in response to an appeal made by the then Chief Minister Dr MG Ramachandran, Dr TS Surendran,Vice Chairman Sankara Nethralaya and a man associated with it almost since inception described him as an epitome of Gujarati hospitality and charity and the seed he sowed having grown into a large banyan tree. Speaking on the occasion Dr Girish Rao described him as a ‘Karmayogi’ who made a difference to the world he lived through his massive funding of healthcare and educational institutions a man who lived life in his own terms, eminent educationist and advocate Lion Haridas described him as a man who went about his charity with humility and silence.

Real time tribute came in the form of a large number of students receiving their Fellowship in their chosen areas of specialization, a fulfillment of his dream. A highly moved Minal Shah expressed her joy at her father being referred to as ‘Founding Father’ describing her father as a strong willed, benevolent, sincere intellectual who had the highest faith and confidence in Dr SS.Badrinath and his dream of eradicating blindness, which resulted in the divine alliance, the illustrious daughter of an illustrious father emphasized to the graduating Fellows that they were torchbearers of this rich legacy of selfless service which thy should imbibe and uphold.

The day also witnessed the presenting of the Ram Dhingra Educational scholarships to children of deserving employees.

Stalwarts join the SN family in recalling the greatness of a great friend and supporter of the institution

Members of the Sankara Nethralaya gathered in large numbers at the Sri VD.Swami auditorium to pay their homage and express their gratitude to one of the institution’s greatest friend and supporter, admirer and well iwher, a man whose generous contribution has special significance to its knowledge dissemination initiatives as it laid the foundation for many young minds to acquire knowledge,skills and grow, the contribution also assumed significance as it was the life time saving of an upright civil servant, almost all that he could manage to set aside from his personal income. Dr Lily Therese and Dr Angayarkanni Senior Scientists and Researchers from the institution’s research wing spoke in glowing terms of the man who did not give lengthy sermons but translated his dream through actions a man who embodied the adage ‘Simple living and high thinking’ a man who helped in creating and operating an educational institution (VIBS) which would create the building blocks of future India by imparting education and skills to a large number of students every year, an instititon which has the rare distinction of creating 60 PhD scholars, they recalled the qualities of humility, meticulousness, punctuality.

The presence of a diverse range of eminent personalities like Shri N.Ram, Managing Director, ‘The Hindu’, Mr AR Venkatachalapathi from the Madras Institute of Management studies, Shri Tiruppur Krishnan, Editor, Amudhsurabhi, Swami Vimurthanandaji, Head-RK Mutt, Shri Venugopal, Chief Trustee, RK Mutt was a sign of the multifaceted personality and great man that late Iravatham Mahadevan was. The distinguished speakers who shared their time spoke high about different facets of his character, they hailed him as a intellectual with a scientific temperament, open to new ideas, a man who believed in evidence based approach a researcher, administrator, philosopher, extraordinary litterateur a fearless commentator whose period was a golden age in Tamil journalism and above all a man who found great joy in the act of giving.

A healthcare pioneer and his landmark institution find their pride of place at niche ‘Science outreach program’

The Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc), founded by world famous Mathematician Alladi Ramakrishnan in 1962, is an autonomous national institution for fundamental research in the areas of Theoretical Physics, Mathematics, Theoretical Computer Science and Computational Biology. The highly prestigious Chennai based research centre engages itself in a niche exercise of demystifying complex scientific algorithms and equations by presenting them in a lively, illustrative narration to anyone with a passion to science. The 4th edition of this immensely popular annual ‘Science Outreach’ initiative named ‘Science at the Sabha’ will be held at the Music Academy’ TTK Road, Mylapore, Chennai between 4:30pm – 7:00pm on Sunday the 24th of February 2019

While the knowledge dissemination proceedings at the auditorium would showcase the complex algorithms and equations of Science and its wonders in its multiple facets, in a most alluring manner, the organizers have decided to showcase the human side of Science, Science in the service of man and how exemplary men and women of Science leveraged it to alleviate pain and suffering of mankind, by holding a photo exhibition at the lounge, showcasing this great city’s glorious tradition in Science, Mathematics, Education and Public Service along with the great visionaries and architects and their landmark institutions that helped in defining them.

It is a matter of great pride to every one of us that the organizers have recognized ‘Chief’ and Sankara Nethralaya as part of the glorious Science legacy of the city and the exhibition would include proud images of both.

Please make it convenient to attend this most enlightening and enjoyable session, entry is free but pre-registration is mandatory so do remember to register online as an attendee by clicking the link below

http://www.imsc.res.in/triveni
Happy learning!

The grandmaster of Uvea scales another glorious peak in his long uphill climb

AIOS-Adenwala award-2018

It was a proud moment for every member of Sankara Nethralaya as its internationally acclaimed expert in Uvea, a great teacher as much as a great clinician and researcher, Member International Uveitis study group and executive council member, International Ocular Inflammation Society, Dr Jyotirmay Biswas was awarded the highly prestigious ‘AIOS-Adenwala award-2018’ for his invaluable contributions to ophthalmology and the AIOS, at the 77th annual conference of the All India Ophthalmological Society held at Indore between the 14th to 19th February 2019. The scientific committee of the AIOS acknowledged and commended the veteran’s ‘Journey in Uveitis through 28 years’ which witnessed clinical care of the highest order, mastery over the subject exhibited through an astonishing number of publications and white papers on the subject and its related areas in highly prestigious peer reviewed journals and outstanding teaching and training endeavours in the field.

The Sankara Nethralaya family salutes and congratulates Dr Jyotirmay Biswas its simple, unassuming Director of Uveitis and Ocular Pathology, known fondly as Dr JB, for this outstanding recognition in his field which makes him a member of a select group of ophthalmologists that includes Dr G.Venkatswamy, in the ‘200th year of Indian Ophthalmology’.

We are proud of you Sir!

In-depth talks by renowned subject matter experts open the floodgates to better understanding and management of ophthalmic disorders

In-depth talks by Dr Mohamed javed Ali eminent Dacrylogist heading the Govind Sekasria Institute of Dacrylogy at the LV Prasad Eye Hospital and Dr Carlos Pavesio, Medical Retinal Director,MoorfieldsHospital, UK helped in a broader understanding of the subject for participants from Sankara Nethralaya and external attendees. Mirage-The Myth of Watering a conference organized by the Department of Oculoplasty proved to be an oasis of knowledge with the world renowned expert on dacrylogy especially the lacrrimal drainage system sharing his views on the subject. The eminent ophthalmologist underlined the need to be a good clinician and scientist to make an impact. The guest lecture by Dr Carlos Pavesio the highly acclaimed authority on the Retina began with a fulsome praise to one of the the host institution boasting of one of the world’s largest and well equipped and manned by experts Vitreo-Retina department in the world, hailing Sankara Nethralaya as an amazing institution the eminent ophthalmologist observed that coming to the institution has always been a great learning and adding to his experience, The expert gave an elaborate talk covering topics like gluco therapy in treating uveitis, the reservation that purists in the field had to the usage of drugs which they termed as ‘toxic’, macular edema,modalities for ocular dry syndrome,VEGF in Uveitis, anti VEGF perceoptions, AMD etc. The talks helped in a healthy exchange of views and dissemination of knowledge.

The Sankara Nethralaya academy conducts an extensive health check of the health care industry

Healthcare Management

As an academic institution committed to dissemination of knowledge for the common good of society and adopting a holistic view to healthcare delivery, the Sankara Nethralaya Academy conducted a high power seminar titled ‘National Seminar on Emerging Paradigms in Healthcare Management’ on the 9th of February 2019. The objective and goal of the exercise was summed succinctly as an attempt to enhance healthcare service leading to a better and healthier society through collaboration between the science of healthcare and art of management by Shri G.Senthil Kumar, Assistant Professor, TSNA and active organizer of the event. The seminar could possibly termed as first of its kind as it dwelt in-depth into both the operational challenges of dispensing healthcare in terms of attrition of resource, branding, marketing and on the other hand on the healthcare delivery vis a vis the apportioning of costs, roles of the service provider, government bodies etc. Describing ‘Health’ as nothing but the absence of ‘ailments’ Dr S.Ramani, Principal TSNA highlighted that in the olden days man lived in perfect alignment with nature but today we are challenged by health issues disrupting life in spite of technological advancements and only disruptive technology can address the same and the challenges that lay ahead in healthcare dispensing are quality and affordability. Dr Anuja Singh, Vice Principal, TSNA leveraged the opportunity to showcase her institution and highlight its achievements to the distinguished audience and attendees.  Speaking on the occasion Dr R.Chandrasekhara Menon, Dean, Kalasalingam University, Srivilliputur went into the basics of healthcare dispensing in terms of who should profit out of the entire operation the beneficiary, hospital the government, the insurance firm? Delivering the keynote address Dr TS. Selvavinayagam, Additional Director, Tamil Nadu health System project an arm of the Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of TN emphasised the advantages of preventive care over curative care in terms of cost and avoiding human suffering leading to better quality of life. The senior bureaucrat underlined the high advantage of scale when the government procures healthcare (drugs, diagnosis and clinical care) from the private healthcare providers and dispenses it to the public which would drastically reduce the cost of consumption per patient. Dr Selvavinayagam concluded his keynote address with high word of praise for the TSNA in terms of its infrastructure, trailblazing courses and quality of knowledge dissemination. The highlight of the seminar was a panel discussion by experts from different fields on the topic’ Healthcare – Quality Vs affordability’

‘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