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Vice President Venkaiah Naidu addresses OSKON 2018 in Chennai

The Vice President appreciated the Mobile Eye Surgical Unit, a brainchild of Dr. Badrinath, the founder of Sankara Netralaya, and IIT Madras and said that such systems would take operation theatre to the doorstep of remote rural India.


Vice President Venkaiah Naidu addresses OSKON 2018 in Chennai
I am aware that enormous research is being done worldwide to address the issue of corneal blindness which accounts for the majority of blindness the world over. (Image Credit: Twitter)

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that the Eye donation is the noblest act after death and such voluntary effort can alleviate blindness and restore vision in those with corneal blindness.

He was addressing the OSKON 2018 (Ocular Surface and Keratoprosthesis Conference), organized by Shankara Netralaya, in Chennai today.

The Governor of Tamil Nadu, Shri Banwarilal Purohit, the Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Tamil Nadu, Dr C. Vijaya Baskar, the Minister for Fisheries and Personnel and Administrative Reforms, Tamil Nadu, Shri D. Jayakumar and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

The Vice President said that main cause of blindness include cataract (62.6%) refractive error (19.70%) corneal blindness (0.90%) and glaucoma (5.80%), among others and added that blindness from glaucoma can be prevented if diagnosed and treated early.

He called for affordable eye care facilities to treat cataract, glaucoma and other ophthalmological problems. The need of the hour is to ensure that these services are available in rural areas, particularly the remote parts of the country, he added.

The Vice President appreciated the Mobile Eye Surgical Unit, a brainchild of Dr Badrinath, the founder of Sankara Netralaya, and IIT Madras and said that such systems would take operation theatre to the doorstep of remote rural India.

This concept should be replicated in other parts of the country and private eye care services should take a lead in this regard, he added.

The Vice President said it was painful for him to learn about a lot of freak accidents with the chuna used in Pan. It is unfortunate that chemical injuries to the eye form an important cause of severe corneal blindness, he added.

The Vice President also stressed on the need to take up promotional campaigns in every nook and corner of the country to make sure that chuna is no longer packed in flimsy polythene packets.

Ensuring the safety of our country's children should be our utmost priority and all measures will have to be taken to ensure safer packaging of the chunambu, he added.

The Vice President said that the psycho-socio-economic burden is unimaginable as also the burden on the ophthalmic fraternity in rehabilitation which he was given to understand is enormous with the need for multiple ocular surgeries.

He further said that the worse still is the social stigma – which is even more horrendous when these youngsters have endured the ordeal of vitriol (acid attack), the cruellest crime that can be committed.

I salute the bravery of the girls and boys who have decided to fight against all odds and the advancements in technology have made it possible to give them back some semblance of normalcy, he added.

Following is the text of Vice President's address:

"At the outset, I wish to express my sincere thanks to Dr S.S. Badrinath, Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya and the members of the organizing committee for inviting me to this highly prestigious academic event.

To me, the state of Tamil Nadu and the city of Chennai have always stood apart as a confluence of purposeful intellectualism and constructive thought leadership. No wonder it has produced some of the sharpest minds in the country and not just that, these people have also contributed significantly to improving a lot of society.

Sankara Nethralaya is undoubtedly among the foremost institutions which are the training and nurturing grounds for such minds. And the founder Dr S S Badrinath is a living example of what a doctor, teacher, and mentor should be. As a dedicated facility, Sankara Nethralaya has few parallels in research and clinical services.

I must commend Dr S.S. Badrinath and Sankara Nethralya for the unswerving passion and commitment to eradicate blindness.

I am told that Sankara Nethralya is built on a self-sustaining model where revenue accruing from patients who are able to pay, takes care of the operational costs and is partly utilized to serve the poor with free care. The revenue generated through donations and grants supports research and expansion projects.

I once again congratulate Sankara Nethralaya for its pioneering and trailblazing role in the fields of optometry, neuro-ophthalmology, pediatric-ophthalmology, ophthalmic anaesthesia among others, earning it its rightful pride of place in the national and international arena.

Sisters and brothers, cataract, glaucoma, and diabetes remain the leading cause of treatable blindness across the globe and in our country too.

From time to time, medical and surgical camps are being conducted all over the country. I am happy that a unique idea such as the Mobile Eye Surgical Unit called MESU, a brainchild of Dr Badrinath has been implemented in partnership with IIT Madras, to take the operation theatre to the doorstep of remote rural India.

This concept should be replicated in other parts of the country and private eye care services should take a lead in this regard.

Treatment of corneal blindness, which is another important cause for the visual loss, has seen advancement by leaps and bounds over the last decade.

Eye donation, the noblest act after death, can alleviate blindness and restore vision in those with corneal blindness.

And among these, I understand, are a specific group of conditions that are termed as ocular surface disorders. With a spectrum ranging from dry eye to diseases that cause blindness, I am told tMSUthe brainchild OSKON meeting is on artificial corneal transplants which are performed with the donated eyes.

I am aware that enormous research is being done worldwide to address the issue of corneal blindness which accounts for the majority of blindness the world over.

It is unfortunate that chemical injuries to the eye form an important cause of the severe corneal blindness.

It is quite painful to know that lot of freak accidents with the nobles that we take with vettalai or pan is such a devastating cause of blindness, most of the innocent victims being school going children, for whom their entire future becomes a question mark.

With the support of the State Governments as well as the Central Government, ensuring the safety of our country's children should be our utmost priority and all measures will have to be taken to ensure safer packaging of the chunambu.

There is a need to take up promotional campaigns in every nook and corner of the country to make sure that chuna is no longer packed in flimsy polythene packets.

People also need to be educated on safety measures while handling hazardous substances at workplaces and in homes-- for instance, the handling of common household items like chunam and cleaning acid. This is even more critical in India because many of these accidents happen in economically weaker households. The choice is between these precautions and a lifetime of blindness.

Also, the psycho-socio-economic burden is unimaginable as also the burden on the ophthalmic fraternity in rehabilitation which I am given to understand is enormous with the need for multiple ocular surgeries.

Worse still is the social stigma – which is even more horrendous when these youngsters have endured the ordeal of vitriol (acid attack), the cruellest crime that can be committed.

I salute the bravery of the girls and boys who have decided to fight against all odds. The advancements in technology have made it possible to give them back some semblance of normalcy.

Seminars and conferences like OSKON-2018 provide an ideal opportunity for experts to come together, exchange their experiences and views.

I am glad that many international and national specialists in the field are participating in this meet to find solutions and move towards the healthy and happy world.

I once again thank the organizers for the opportunity and wish OSKON-2018 all success.


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