The Vice President of India, 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), organised 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 brain child 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 vitriolage (acid attack), the cruelest 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.