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Lighting Up Lives Through New Vision

Providing the Vision of Education

An image of a patient

Little did 12 year old Mohana living in the small village of Agaram, off Gummidipoondi on the Chennai Andhra border realize that her weekend visit to a cousin’s place would turn into a nightmare which would haunt her for the reset of her life, a bubbly 12 year old she had gone over to her cousin’s home for a nice holiday, the little girl completed her daily chore of washing her clothes and went up to the terrace to dry it out on the clothesline. As a new comer to the house she was not quite aware that danger was lurking in the form of a high tension electric wire which ran very close to the clothesline. As ill luck would have it the wet cloth that she was attempting to hand over the clothesline came into contact with the high voltage line supplying power to the neighborhood.

The damage was swift and terrible, the high voltage current that ran through the child had a crippling effect on her internal and external organs, the impact throwing the charred and almost blinded girl off the terrace, the steep fall to the ground floor resulting in bruises, causing more misery to the little one already under unbearable pain and shock.

It was only after 3 years of acute care and multi-pronged treatment that Mohana could be brought back to near normalcy, the only silver lining in the whole episode was that being in her adolescence it did not take long for the replacement of her old charred skin by fresh skin cover. Although the long treatment had borne fruit and Mohana had come a long way from the terrible condition that the electrocution had left her, the impairment to her vision caused by the accident caused by the accident continued to be a cause for concern and an obstacle to continuing her education. Mohana and her parents walked into the Jaslok Community Ophthalmology Clinic the community service wing of Sankara Nethralaya with little hope of gaining her eyesight and a sense of despair writ large on their face.

The team of doctors examining her diagnosed the cause of vision impairment to be a complex case of trauma and accident triggered cataract. Vision impairment was reversed after intensive treatment including surgery and total vision was restored to the utter joy and disbelief of the child and her parents, the restored vision helping her to continue her schooling which was interrupted by the terrible accident.

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Twin Surgical bus brings back the joy of Vision and Light to farmer!

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Rajendran being helped down the surgical bus by Sankara Nethralaya staff

Name of patient – Rajendran

Place - K. Erukampet –Tribal hamlet located in the hilly region off Vellore.

Rajendran hails from Erukampet, a backward tribal hamlet in Vellore District, Tamilnadu. Like many in this small hamlet he is a landless farmer who makes his living by toiling in the nearby fields under the scorching sun as a daily wager right through the day. The area is not connected by even a mud road and being located amidst hillocks makes it even more inaccessible. Bereft of any transport facility, the villagers especially people with ailments needing Medicare find it extremely hard to connect to the nearest town.

Sankara Nethralaya’s twin Mobile Surgical Eye unit that reached Chunampet the nearest village to conduct an outdoor eye camp in the neighbourhood naturally turned out to be a Godsend for the villagers. Residents from the surrounding areas cutting across age groups made a beeline to the eye care and operation theatre on wheels to get their eyes checked. Rajendran was among the large gathering of people assembled at the camp site with lot of hope and faith that the two large buses parked adjacent to each other would bring the light back into their lives. Rajendran had been experiencing diminishing vision because of advancing cataract which hampered his normal life and work. A detailed eye examination revealed that he needed to undergo cataract surgery. The following day, after surgery fitness tests, Rajendran underwent surgery for cataract removal on his right eye, in the mobile surgical eye unit, the theatre on wheels. The cataract was removed using the latest surgical process on par with a surgery performed at a base hospital and intraocular lens was fixed giving him back his failing vision.

Examination at the post surgery review camp conducted after a week indicated that Rajendran’s eye sight was perfect and his vision was completely restored. The real testimony and joy of his recovery however manifested in the form of a gleaming, smiling Rajendran who had difficulty even to walk just a week ago, reporting to the review camp jubilantly riding his moped, his eyesight good enough to traverse the bumpy terrain with confidence. With joy overflowing the poor farmer wholeheartedly thanked Sankara Nethralaya for not only reviving his vision but also bringing it right to his door step, and helping him to resume his occupation and daily chores, which were rudely interrupted by the cataract caused vision impairment.

Vision impairment especially in remote inaccessible areas could mean loss of livelihood and sustenance, a grim situation which the twin Mobile surgical bus was engineered to eliminate and revival of Rajendran’s vision was a fulfillment of this objective.

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Sankara Nethralaya extends special care to a special child

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Born deaf, dumb, partially blind, mentally not agile and with multiple disabilities. Treated at JCOC for congenital cataract on both eyes

Sophia Edward Thoni, 7, is the only child, born with special needs, to parents whose economic strata fall far behind decent living. Her father is a helper at a Printing press and mother, a housewife, blinded in one eye.

As Sophia grew up to a one year toddler, when she had difficulty in swallowing food or having a drink, she underwent a corrective surgery on her palette at the Government Children’s Hospital, Egmore, Chennai to ease her difficulty.

Sophia, being both dumb and deaf was admitted to the Special School for children with disability at KK Nagar, when the little girl travelled all the way, a distance of over 20 kilometers from Villivakkam where she resides, along with her mother, each day, for speech therapy.

At her learning centre, the Principal Secretary & State Commissioner for the differently abled Shri VK. Jeyakodi, IAS was alarmed by the fact that the child was losing her vision and promptly referred her to the Jaslok Community Ophthalmic Centre. The doctors at Sankara Nethralaya acted quickly and stopped further damage from being caused by the congenital cataract coupled with an internal bleeding. A complex surgery was performed on both eyes by senior ophthalmologists, absolutely cost free, and the little girl’s vision was restored. Today Sophia is a bundle of energy and smiles her way to the speech therapy and special needs school with her most important faculty restored by timely intervention.

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Avowed to allay blindness

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Hemavathi hails from Nazarathpet, a village at the outskirts of Poonamallee. She lives with her husband Munusamy, a son and her mother-in-law. Her husband Munusamy makes a living as a security guard in a warehouse situated nearby. A chronic alcoholic, Munusamy never brings home his hard earned money to run the family, thus pushing Hemavathi to earn a livelihood and support the family. Not till long ago, Hemavathi found a small time job, a few kilometers away from home, to engage herself as a casual labourer in a workshop, “Mica” company, as she puts it, earning a meager Rs.100/- a day. The strain of labour, at 49 had a severe impact on her eyesight, diminishing her vision, day after day; Hemavathi subsequently lost her job and has no means to live.

The Sankara Nethralaya Eye camp at Nazarathpet proved to be a god send, learning the good news about an eye camp being conducted in the neighbourhood, she soon made her way to the same, once at the camp her eyes were thoroughly examined and she was diagnosed for Cataract. I have to go back to work soon to support my family” said a choked Hemavathi, the sole breadwinner of the family to the Sankara Nethralaya team. Hemavathi was subsequently taken to the Jaslok Community Ophthalmology Centre and operated absolutely free of cost “I am able to clearly see everything now” beamed a gleaming Hemavathi with gratitude, ready to be back on her active feet…!!

Sankara Nethralaya Eye’s outdoor community eye camps such as these where patients are examined in their own neighbourhood and those found needing surgery are transported to the base hospital where State of the Art cataract surgery is performed on them totally cost free are a boon to the downtrodden, a salient feature of these camps is that besides the surgery the patients are also transported to and fro to the base hospital and back and provided with food totally cost free.

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Community Ophthalmology - Dispelling darkness and pain, bringing smiles

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Saroja, now 53 years old, unfortunately both deaf and dumb, was found abandoned on the streets of Nallur, in Ponneri Taluk, where the girl stood thoroughly disarrayed, she was found by the good hearted Jeevarathinam, employed at a local college lab on his way to work about 35 years ago, he took the little girl in his care and protection and she grew up along with his three tiny tots as a member of the family.darkness and pain, bringing smiles

A few days ago, Saroja gesticulated about her splitting head ache coupled with watering red eyes and her ever so caring foster siblings brought her to the Jaslok community ophthalmic Center just on time. The doctors diagnosed it as a case of glaucoma and increased eye pressure, not losing a moment; they treated her for controlling the optic nerve damage subsequently operating on her opacified cataract.

Choked with emotion, expressed through tears, with glittering eyes, Saroja independently walked through the corridors of the hospital saluted her doctors and guardian, in whom she saw divinity, personified in human form.