I am grateful for the opportunity that I had to serve AIOS in various capacities over the past 25 years.
As I take the reins to steer this society over the next year, I would like to share my vision for AIOS with all of you.
I have summarized it as follows –
- T.O.P Blindness – Nationwide Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program with the theme Jyot Se Jyot Jalao
- Eye Research Consortium of AIOS under DBT
- Celebrating 200 Glorious Years of Modern Ophthalmology In India
- Exhibition on the 200 Years by The Science Centers
- AIOS Connect Platform
STOP BLINDNESS INITIATIVE
Screening through Tele-Ophthalmology for Prevention of BLINDNESS
India is home to the world’s largest number of blind people. As many as 8.8 million people in India were found to be blind in 2015 and another 47.7 million people had moderate and severe vision impairment, according to a study published online by The Lancet Global Health journal. Worldwide, there are an estimated 36 million people who are blind and this is set to grow to almost 115 million people by 2050, with the highest number in developing countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate in the developed as well as the developing world. Every person with diabetes is at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy, and the risk increases with the duration of diabetes. Therefore, it is crucial to diagnose and treat diabetes both at individual level and for the nation’s health and productivity. Over 70 million diabetics need to be screened across the length & breadth of India. In order to overcome practical challenges like remote locations, transportation and poverty, there is a need for a concerted effort by AIOS to improve the practical aspects of remote ophthalmic diagnosis and care.
Smart phone based retinal screening by a non-skilled technician is an efficient and cost effective method to identify patients with mild and sight threatening symptoms in community settings. The retinal images acquired using this smart phone- based imaging device can be evaluated remotely for diabetes related changes. Every AIOS member should be a part of this nation-wide drive and AIOS can provide resource support in the form of training, protocols for implementation, image reading facilities etc. Ophthalmologists throughout the country can take pride in this service to the country which will reduce the economic burden due to diabetic blindness in the country.
I have coined the theme for this initiative as JYOT SE JYOT JALAO – let each of us pledge to spread the light of vision! We have also initiated discussions with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to roll out this mammoth project in association with AIOS members in every district of the country.
Eye Research Consortium of AIOS under DBT
Research in vision sciences has not received the importance it deserves in India. Diverse groups are working in isolation and a concerted effort under une umbrella is the need of the hour. As a member of Task Force, Human Genetics & Genome Analysis, I envision a consortium for vision Research in AIOS working under DBT with a separate budget allocated for it and thereby bring it under one roof.
CELEBRATING 200 GLORIOUS YEARS OF MODERN OPHTHALMOLOGY IN INDIA – TAKING PRIDE AS AN INDIAN
The first eye hospital in Asia was founded in Madras in 1819 as the “Madras Eye Infirmary”. It is one of the few hospitals that also hosts one of the oldest museums of Ophthalmology, the Elliot School and Museum in Ophthalmology.
Maharshi Sushruta (600 BC), in his work, “The Sushruta Samhita”, wrote 18 chapters dedicated to the eye and described 76 different eye diseases. He was the first to perform cataract surgery by couching. King Serfoji II (1798-1832 C.E) of Thanjavur from the Maratha dynasty was an expert ophthalmic surgeon. Researchers have found case studies of at least 44 patients he had treated, whose age limit varied from 5 to 60. As ophthalmologists, let us celebrate our rich past when our ancestors pioneered techniques and treatment for various eye diseases. Let us bring back our glorious past as we unite to take our country to an era of unprecedented progress in the field of eye care.
EXHIBITION ON 200 YEARS BY THE SCIENCE CENTERS
Our specialty boasts of a rich past which gives us a unique place in the world. It is our treasure which we should share with society. It should give every ophthalmologist the pride of having such an illustrious ancestry. I propose that our rich scientific past should be highlighted to the common man through exhibitions on the achievements of our predecessors. It is a way of emphasizing the importance of ophthalmologists and other health care providers in the society and appreciates them for the hard work they put in to protect vision. I have initiated this task in cooperation with Nehru Science Centre in Mumbai to have an EXHIBITION ON 200 YEARS OF MODERN OPHTHALMOLOGY IN INDIA. THE SCIENCE CENTERS all over country can organize similar exhibitions showcasing the glorious history of modern ophthalmology.
Along with these, special scarves, ties & stamps will also be made to mark 200 glorious years of modern ophthalmology in India.
AIOS CONNECT PLATFORM
My vision is connecting people and I have envisioned the world’s 1st Integrated & Interactive Destination For Ophthalmologists Registered with AIOS
There is a huge repository of content generated from day-to-day experiences like commentary on individual cases, videos and results from treatments etc. within the 20,000+ strong AIOS family and there is a need for distributing this content and creating engagement. Most of the google searches on ophthalmology from an Indian perspective land on pages like American Academy of Ophthalmology and specific queries, direct to global websites other than India. This could be due to the fact that there are no organic optimizations for Google to pick up and display India- based ophthalmology content.
With a complete change in engagement patterns of individuals, it is necessary to create the content and deliver it in a manner and format that can be accessed and consumed on the devices of daily use. In essence, this is a platform to Create, Engage and Network.
As I don the mantle of Presidency, I invite you all to join us as we march towards our goal, the realization of this vision for the betterment of the nation and professional fulfillment. I am sure that we will take inspiration from our glorious past, provide service to our society and march to greater heights.