Virtual address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President after inaugurating the Anant Bajaj Retina Institute - A Centre of Excellence for Retinal Diseases, from Udhagamandalam in Tamil Nadu on May 18, 2022.

Tamil Nadu | May 18, 2022

“Sisters and brothers,

I am very happy to virtually inaugurate the Anant Bajaj Retina Institute, a Centre of Excellence for Retinal Diseases, formed with the collaboration between L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) and the Bajaj Group. My best wishes for a fruitful partnership between the two reputed institutions in bringing affordable, accessible, and quality retinal eye care services to all those in need.

Sisters and brothers,

The World Health Organisation reports that globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a near or distance vision impairment. This alarming figure suggests that in at least 1 billion – or almost half – of these cases, vision impairment could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed.

Studies indicate that among these issues, retinal diseases are an emerging cause of visual impairment in the developing world. As you are well aware, the human eye is a very complex organ of which the retina plays a critical role for us to see the world around us. Once damaged, it may cause serious and irreversible vision loss. Examples of a few such vision-threatening retinal problems are Diabetic Retinopathy, Macular Degeneration and Retinal Detachment, among other grave conditions.

It is heartening to know that LVPEI has also specialised in retina care and more than 100,000 patients are seen by the retina faculty in the clinics, and more than 20,000 retinal surgeries are performed at LVPEI every year. I am sure this collaboration with the Bajaj Group will make retina care in India even more advanced and bring state of the art treatments available to people – not only from India, but from abroad too.

Sisters and brothers,

It is an undeniable fact that awareness about preventive and curative eye care and particularly a specialised field like retinal health is low among the common people.

Therefore, the need of the hour is to increase awareness among people about the importance of eye health. Multimedia campaigns in local languages should be utilised involving celebrities and icons from different fields. The message should go to people that vision impairment is preventable and curable too.

Sisters and brothers,

Along with awareness, there is an urgent need to devise a multi-pronged strategy for strengthening preventive and curative eye care across the country. Particularly in rural areas, where the access to ophthalmologists and optometrists is relatively low, there is a huge scope to curtail preventable blindness.

We must equip and integrate our primary health centres in all villages with primary eye care facilities. Given the relative ease with which basic eye tests can be administered, our community health workers (ASHA workers) should be trained in initial screening for eye diseases and patients can then be referred to secondary or tertiary care centres. 

Complementing the government efforts, private hospitals must also open satellite centres of their facilities in the villages or at least mandal headquarters. Corporate organisations should prioritise their CSR funds on causes such as these and support hospitals in opening eye-care and screening camps in villages. Community awareness is critical in a rural setting and therefore, awareness programmes must be organised at a community level by healthcare institutions and NGOs, periodically.

Sisters and brothers,

Modern lifestyles and work requirements have increased the average screen time for many people. But spending too long looking at screens can create strain on our eyes and cause other eye diseases. We must regulate the use of these gadgets, particularly among children, who run a higher risk of technology addiction.

Additionally, we must rest our eyes sufficiently and take a healthy diet. It is also recommended that people undertake regular eye exams to keep their eye health in check.

Sisters and brothers,

Once again, I am happy to have inaugurated virtually the Anant Bajaj Retina Institute today. I am happy to know that the Institute will not only enhance access to high-quality retina care for people, but will also train ophthalmologists and eye care personnel, promote and enhance research capacity, scale up community eye health programmes and utilise technology for better care of retinal diseases. This is a laudable initiative.

I compliment the vision and efforts of the management and staff of both the organisations – LVPEI and the Bajaj Group for this important collaboration. My best wishes for the success of the Institute and for it to reach new heights in eye care and specifically, retinal care in India.

Thank you. Namaskar.

Jai Hind!”