World Optometry Day

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.

‘World Optometry Day’ observed in a befitting manner by the Elite School of Optometry

As part of World Optometry Day celebration 118 students of Elite School of Optometry, the world renowned academic arm of Sankara Nethralaya accompanied by 4 faculty members and an administrator visited a tribal village named Karumanthurai, in the inaccessible Kalvarayan hills in Salem district. The team spent a total of 4 days from the 28th of February to 2nd of March 2016, engaging in various eye care related activities at the remote location, with a socially and economically backward population and little access to quality Medicare.

1. The experts in eye screening of children with a wonderful record in the same screened a total of 3,666 students across 13 schools in a single day (29-02-2016) between 9.30 am and 4.15 pm. A total of 12 student teams comprising 122 members successfully completed the entire operation under the leadership and guidance of Dr. R Krishna Kumar, Principal and N Anuradha, Lecturer and Vision Screening Coordinator. The team was pleasantly surprised to note that only 5 children (0.1%) were found to have refractive errors and 44 children (1.2%) were found to have other eye problems.

2. The ESO team also installed a self testing, illuminated chart in the main market area of the village for creating awareness among the public about their vision status and enabling them to test their eye power with ease. It is noteworthy to add here that the Logmar eye chart used to measure vision acuity was developed in the local language (Tamil) by the ESO, a simple but revolutionary step towards enabling eye check-up of those who were not familiar with the English language. As a next step the ESO began to install such charts in public places to spread its benefit to the masses for whom it was developed. The chart installed at Karumanthurai is the 9th such chart installed by the ESO in a public place and the first one in a remote tribal area.

3. In a unique initiative of raising awareness about Presbyopia, a bank and the local post office were provided with three sets of reading glasses with instructions for the public to use the same whenever they visit these places to check if they had symptoms of this ailment.

4. Awareness on eye health and vision care was imparted by the ESO team to the selected students of Saraswati Vidhya Mandir.

5. Posters on eye and vision care to be displayed prominently at the campus were provided to all the schools where screening was conducted.

6. A motivation talk was given by Dr. Sumathi Narayanan, ESO’s communication faculty to the students of two schools, Prabhavati Matriculation School and Saraswati Vidhya Mandir.

7. A survey on the activities of the children including indoor and outdoor activities was done in a school to understand the relationship between the low prevalence of refractive errors and day to day activities. A Knowledge, attitude and Practice (KAP) study was done among the teachers and students to understand the awareness about refractive errors among them.

8. The entire initiative was planned and carried out as a real-time learning and exposure to public health and community optometry, an important chapter for the third year UG students.

In conclusion it could be said that the diverse activities carried out and stay in a village school were a unique initiative and enriching experience for the students of the ESO. Interacting and playing with the kids at the school hostel and trekking their way to a water falls were fun filled and adventurous moments which the students would carry in their minds for a very long time. As a gesture of their love and kindness the ESO donated comic books to the Saraswathy Vidya Mandir School Library. Shri Nandakumar, Joint Commissioner, Income tax inaugurated the event and gave a motivational talk to the ESO students on 28th Feb 2016

The ESO takes this opportunity to convey its gratitude to Dr. PP. Santanam, Former Principal and Professor, Occupational Optometry and DAASYA, the NGO for their support of this most commendable community health activity.

The Elite School of Optometry captures the spirit of World Optometry Day

World Optometry Day has always been an occasion for the Elite School of Optometry (ESO-run by Sankara Nethralaya in collaboration with Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani) to demonstrate its concern care for society. Right from its early days, ESO has taken small steps to create awareness about eye care among the public, through […]

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