In what could be construed as an unmistakable sign of its growing relevance the Dr. Nagamani Dharmapuri Endowment Lecture the high level talk on pediatric ophthalmology conducted annually by Sankara Nethralaya found a prestigious co-sponsor for its xi edition in the Madras Ophthalmological Association the eminent ophthalmic body. Delivering the welcome address Dr. Jameel Rizwana Hussain from the Elite School of Optometry underlined that visual morbidity is increasing in children and the lecture would certainly help in addressing this alarming trend. Dr Sumitha Agarkar, Deputy Director, Pediatric Ophthalmology traced the formation of the endowment lecture to the close relationship between Dr Vidyasagar Dharmapuri and Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya. She observed that according to the WHO there are 12 million children who are partially or fully vision impaired on account of refractive errors but the good news is that ambylopia is curable if treated properly and at an early stage. Speaking on the occasion Dr R.Srikanth, Senior Consultant, Pediatric Ophthalmology Dept recalled the contribution of Dr TS.Surendran, Vice Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya who single handedly started and operated the pediatric ophthalmology department for almost two decades, he reiterated that the Amblyopia Clinic was a highly specialized clinic which worked in tandem with the Low Vision Clinic, orthoptics dept and the electrophysiology department. He highlighted that the 15 month Fellowship programme in pediatric ophthalmology, the weekly journal club, small group discussions and special clinic for special kids were major steps in the advancement of pediatric ophthalmology at Sankara Nethralaya.
Felicitating the Guest of Honour Dr J. Radhakrishnan, State Health Secretary, Dr T.S.Surendran thanked him wholeheartedly for accepting his telephonic request and gracing the function in the midst of his busy official schedules, he described the popular Civil Servant as a man who rises to great heights of service during calamities and a Collector who has been consistently recognized as ‘Best Collector’ for 4 times.
Delivering the guest of honour speech Shri Radhakrishnan, Health Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu observed that in an overpopulated country like India the sheer volume became a reason of anxiety in visual impairment as in most problems. He rued that while the country had a staggering 8 million visually impaired 83% of its ophthalmologists chose to serve in the cities leaving such care out of bounds of the villages. He had a high word of praise for Sankara Nethralaya’s partnership with the government in collective public-private partnership health programs. He made an emphatic appeal to members of the Media assembled at the venue to create awareness on health issues by giving prominence to health news and make their coverage more credible by publishing news from authentic, peer reviewed sources and not hearsay or unfounded sources. The function witnessed the honouring of Dr. Shanmugasundaram, veteran Pediatric Ophthalmologist from the Child Trust Hospital along with the Chief Guest and the Guest of Honour
Dr Kavitha Kalaivani introduced the Chief Guest and Speaker Monte Del Monte, Director of Pediatric ophthalmology & Adult strabismus, Skillman Professor of Pediatric ophthalmology and Pediatric and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan and Director of Pediatric ophthalmology at the Mott Children’s Hospital, as a man with 25 years of rich experience in teaching and training, an expert in complex strabismus surgery, researcher in biology and recipient of the Best Doctor of America’ award. Chief Guest of the day Dr Monte Del Monte gave a most educative and enlightening talk on the topic ‘Ambylopia Diagnosis’ highlighting the various kinds of ambylopia, he observed that ambylopia was the single largest cause for childhood blindness in the USA. The experienced doctor and professor enriched his talk with diverse case studies of ambylopia and the inferences made. He spoke on the need for special screening methods for childhood ambylopia in view of the fact that the patients were young children and their responses may not be consistent or confirmed. He explained how advocacy and education with mandatory comprehensive eye examination, legislation and regulation and the role of bodies like the American Academy of pediatrics, American academy of ophthalmology and American Association for pediatric ophthalmology had helped significantly in the battle against ambylopia. The expert on the subject formulated an FAQ on ambylopia and answered each of them for the benefit of his audience.
The highly interesting and informative session ended with a Q&A session which helped the senior consultants and students clear their grey areas and share their views with the expert and a warm vote of thanks by Dr.S.Meenakshi, Director, Academics, Sankara Nethralaya.