January 2019

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

Sankara Nethralaya’s team ‘AMMA’ leads the premier league at major meet with their tender touch


If ‘AMMA’ the name chosen for the SN team to represent Tamil Nadu at the 3rd Annual Conference of the ‘Women’s Ophthalmology Society’ being held at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre between the 21st-23rd December 2018 seemed most appropriate a name for a team representing an institution committed to treatment with love and a personal touch and a most advanced Pediatric Ophthalmology department, ‘Tender Vision’ the theme chosen by the team added its own flavour to the name.The team consisting of Dr Kavitha Kalaivani, Senior Consultant, Pediatric Ophthalmology department, Dr Vasumathy Vedhantam, Senior VR Surgeon and Medical Director, Radhatri Nethralaya and Dr NissarSonamPoonam, Associate Consultant, the Department of Orbit, Oculoplasty, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Servicesled by Dr Niveditha Narayanan, Senior Consultant, Cornea Department was adjudged as the ‘Best Team’ in the ‘Ophthalmic Premier League’ State level competition held at the meet.

We take pleasure in sharingthe winning presentations made by each of the team members


Team captain Dr. Niveditha Narayanan presented a most informative and interesting video on Protected PK technique.

Dr. Kavitha Kalaivani presented an insightful video providing critical inputs on Iris handling and pupilloplasty in Pediatric traumatic cataract

Dr. Vasumathy Vedantham’s most poignant dream come true story on ROP screening and how she was able to reach out to remote villages for the screening  moved the heart and soul of the viewers

Dr. Nisar Sonam Poonam presented agripping video on the most advanced process of USG guided intra lesional Bleomycin in treating orbital lymphangiomas.

The ‘AMMA’ team expresses its sincere thanks for the support extended by Mr Mohan, Team Leaderand the Multimedia team without which the winning videos may not have been possible.

Sankara Nethralaya family conveysits hearty congratulations to thecaptain and members of the ‘AMMA’ team for keeping the SN flag flying high at a most prestigious meet and wishes them many more laurels and accolades in their professional/academic journey