Monday, June 24, 2013

Sankara Nethralaya

                                  Brief Profile of Sankara Nethralaya

 Sankara Nethralaya is one of the leading super speciality institutions for ophthalmic care in India. Sankara Nethralaya, meaning “The Temple of the Eye”, was founded in 1978 as a unit of Medical Research Foundation. It is a charitable, not-for-profit institution.


 Located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Sankara Nethralaya has grown tremendously since its commencement— thanks to the unconditional and generous support received from all quarters of society — and has gained international excellence for its quality and affordable eye care services. Its goals include providing quality ophthalmic care at affordable cost to patients, free eye care treatment to indigent patients and teaching and training an army of personnel to combat blindness affecting the population of India.


 Today, the institute has over 75 eye care professionals examining around 1,800 patients and performing around 140 surgeries every day. About 50 % of the out-patient department and 35 % of the surgeries are done free of cost to the underprivileged. It offers state-of –the-art facilities and has 32 operation theatres equipped with the latest equipment.


 We have a team of dedicated consultants who strive to ensure quality eye care to patients in all sub specialities of ophthalmology including cornea, glaucoma, neuro ophthalmology, ocular oncology, orbital oculoplasty, paediatric ophthalmology, uveitis and vitreoretinal.


 Sankara Nethralaya is a one-stop referral ophthalmic institution adhering to the strictest norms of quality. It is also the FIRST eye hospital in Asia to get an ISO quality certification.


 Community Services  

 In a developing country like India, the rural population still has difficulty in accessing quality eye treatment. 70% of the population lives in rural areas whereas 70% of the ophthalmologists are based in urban and semi-urban areas. At the heart of every endeavour of Sankara Nethralaya is a strong focus and emphasis on COMMUNITY SERVICE, which has been vehemently pursued over the years. The community service initiatives include conducting eye-camps in rural areas, conducting free surgeries to those with an income of less than Rs. 3,500 per month, through the Jaslok Community Ophthalmic Centre — a 75 bedded hospital with five operation theatres — and successfully and relentlessly taking mobile teleophthalmology benefits to the door steps of the poor in rural India.  Sankara Nethralaya also conducts screening camps at schools and holds awareness programmes. The pride and hall mark of Sankara Nethralaya’s community initiative is the cost free eye care service that it extends to the Jawans and army personnel at all levels. Protecting the eyesight of those who are engaged in the protection of the nation is a service we extend with our heads held high with pride and patriotic fervour.

 Sankara Nethralaya is the pioneer in mobile teleophthalmology practice in the country. Teleophthalmology holds great potential in improving the quality, access, and affordability in health care for rural patients. Taking medical services to the doorstep of the underprivileged in rural India, a fully equipped van with all medical and telemedicine facilities visits the rural areas where patients are screened thoroughly by a team of optometrists for various eye disorders, including cataract, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. A glass dispensing unit ensures that those in need of spectacles are provided one at the campsite at a very nominal cost. Based on their diagnosis, the patients are brought to Sankara Nethralaya for further treatment, which is provided free of cost. Our efforts are whole heartedly supported by social service organizations such as the Tulsi Trust, the Lions Club, the Singvi Charitable Trust, the Sai Trust, to name a few.


 We began our teleophthalmology project in 2003 and so far nearly 3 lakh patients have benefited from the rural teleophthalmology camps that Sankara Nethralaya has held in four States in the country.


Quality Initiatives

  Sankara Nethralaya strives for continuous quality improvement and complies with international standards to implement quality systems.  

All patients — both paying and non-paying — receive the same care at our hospitals. The hospital introduced the Total Quality Management policies at its institution. Trained dedicated personnel and ophthalmic nursing assistants provide twenty-four hour nursing care. Our in-patient services are fully supported by a drug counter and canteen facilities for the patients as well as their attendants. The Main Campus has received NABH accreditation


Spreading our wings


Apart from having five branches in Chennai and one in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, we also offer our services at Mukundapur in Kolkata (West Bengal), Tirupathi and Sri City (Andhra Pradesh)


Every year we receive a significant number of patients from across the world. In recent times, Sankara Nethralaya has forged ties with the Sultanate of Oman and Mauritius to offer quality eye care treatment to their citizens.


Mobile Surgical Bus – The next level in outdoor community ophthalmology


As an eye care institution with a strong orientation on reaching out high quality eye care to the poor and needy right at their doorstep, we are proud to say that our outreach programmes have kept pace with the technological advancements in our laboratories and wards and have become more sophisticated in nature and offer a larger coverage of patients and reach out to the most inaccessible regions. We started our outreach programmes 3 decades ago in the form of regular vans that cover the rural and semi-urban areas screening the locals for cataract with those found needing surgery being transported to the base hospital for surgery, this moved to the next stage of mobile tele-ophthalmology units aided by advanced INSAT communication which made it possible to do more advanced eye examinations with the help of a remote operated Fundus camera whose images could be viewed by an ophthalmologist at the base hospital.

We are happy to bring to your notice that we have evolved to the next stage in community outreach service through the Mobile surgical bus or the twin bus a Medico-engineering marvel, a State of the Art, first of its kind in Asia operation theatre on wheels developed in collaboration with IIT-Madras, which facilitates the carrying out of cataract surgeries incorporating recent advances like implanting of Intraocular lens and phaco-emulsification as ambulatory surgery right at the doorstep of the rural and tribal patient, totally cost free. It was most heartening to note during our pilot run and subsequent campaigns of the mobile surgical units in the remote regions of Vellore, Pernambut, Thiruvannamalai and Chunampet that the old, feeble, handicapped and those who did not have the means to make their way to a base hospital due to socio-economic reasons even if cost free surgery was available turned up in good numbers to avail the facility when it was brought to their door step.


Sankara Nethralaya Diabetic Retinopathy Project (SNDRP)

SNDRP was initiated in 2003 to combat rising prevalence of diabetes related-blindness. The six major components of SNDRP were rural diabetic retinopathy screening program, urban epidemiological & molecular genetic study, tele-screening, urban incidence study of DR and rural epidemiological study of prevalence of DR.

Rural Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program

An important objective was to create a comprehensive diabetic retinopathy screening model for rural population. Between 2003 and 2006, 458 awareness meetings were conducted to spread the message on diabetes and diabetic retinopathy; over 150,000 people were benefited. In 77 diabetic screening camps, 25313 self-reported individuals were examined. The prevalence of diabetes was 5475/25,313 (21.63%).




Education, we believe, is a powerful tool to empower individuals. Sankara Nethralaya is a recognised academic institution, conducting graduate, postgraduate, research, fellowship and continuing medical education programmes. The institution has trained more than 300 Ophthalmologists all over India.


It also publishes books to share scientific practice in eye care.  One-third of all ophthalmology research publications, from India, come from Sankara Nethralaya.  Sankara Nethralaya also has collaborations with academic and research institutions around the world.


    While providing quality and affordable eye care service to all sections of society is our area of focus, the back-up for eye care delivery comes from the constant innovative research undertaken by yet another arm of the group – the Vision Research Foundation.


In January 2010, Sankara Nethralaya decided to scale up the Academic activities through setting up of “The Sankara Nethralaya Academy”. The Sankara Nethralaya Academy would function as a unit of Medical Research Foundation. The SN Academy is avowed to employ a system of educating people imparting knowledge through instruction courses, training classes, and usher in newer training/teaching methodologies including the use of IT. The objective is to teach courses that deal with A to Z in healthcare services. 


As part of the SN Academy, Certificates and fellowships program’s of various durations would be awarded at the end of successful completion of different courses. Importance to practical training would be of utmost importance definitely necessitating smaller number of students per class and longer duration of courses. Both Distance education program and residential form of education would be imparted.


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