The national convention of Retina India, retinAwareTM 2011, was well received by the attendees. It was held on September 24 & 25 2011, at the Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, India.
The national convention of Retina India managed to get all the stakeholders with an interest in retinal care together in one room, where patients and their families could listen to the latest in available treatments, as well as get to know of the latest progress in research, possibly for the first time in the country.
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, was the Chief Guest for the inaugural ceremony, in presence of national and international dignitaries.
The other dignitaries on the dais included Dr V M Katoch, Secretary, Health Research & Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi; Mr K Desiraju, Addl Health Secretary, Dept. of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India; Dr W Selvamurthy, Chief of Life Sciences, DRDO; Dr Lalit Verma, Hon Secretary, All India Ophthalmological Society; Dr G L Verma, President, Vitreo-Retinal Society of India; Adv. Rungta, Founder & Chairman, National Federation for the Blind; Mr K Ramkrishnan,Secretary-General, National Association for the Blind, and Dr Rajat Agrawal, Founder & Managing Trustee, Retina India.
The inauguration ceremony began by welcoming and introducing the dignitaries on the dais by Ms Rupali Gurav, Mumbai, who spoke at length about the importance of each of those on the dais to the work and objectives of Retina India.
With this convention bringing experts and patients together for a close interaction and sharing of information, he mentioned that this was probably happening for the first time in the country.
After the lighting of the lamp by the Chief Guest, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Dr V M Katoch, Secretary, Health Research, Mr K Ramkrishna, Adv Rungta & Dr Rajat Agrawal lit the lamp, to signify the tag line of Retina India, from darkness unto light.
All the guests were felicited with an angavastram.
One of the central themes of the convention was to highlight to patients and their families that while it is important for a patient to reach out to the best possible and available treatment in the country, it is equally important that an affected person should also be able to lead a normal life. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam gave a stirring speech, appreciating the work of Retina India, and hoping that it can bring much needed treatments for Indian patients.
Rehabilitation and use of technology has enabled many people in this country to improve their quality of lives and become worthy contributors to their societies, which was highlighted in the souvenir that was released during the inauguration ceremony by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
Retina India has been striking a balance in these activities –paving the way for cure in future, whilst also enabling and empowering patients. This had been the underlying theme of the conference, which was divided into medical and non-medical sections, with day 1 focusing on medical and day 2 on nonmedical issues.
Mrs Sudamani Venkatesan, Chief Operating Officer, Retina India, proposed a vote of thanks at conclusion, which was followed by the singing of the National Anthem.
The first day began with a comprehensive look at diabetes, with the session being moderated by Dr Ramesh Kumar from New Delhi and Dr S Natarajan from Mumbai.
Experts presented talks on topics ranging from diabetes care (Dr Ritesh Gupta, New Delhi), to care of the kidneys (Dr Ramesh Kumar, New Delhi) that tend to get affected in diabetes, to care of the feet that may get damaged due to the disease (Dr Ramesh Mahajan, New Delhi), and finally an overview of the issues that one can potentially have in the eyes due to diabetes (Dr Shobhit Chawla, Lucknow), was presented. Adequate time for an interaction between the attendees and the faculty was given at the end, with significant interaction between the two being the common feature of this convention.
The later two were deemed plenary sessions, with one focused on retinal diseases, while the other was on treatments. The first Plenary Session on Retinal Diseases was chaired by Prof Robin Ali, London & Dr Cyrus Shorff, New Delhi, and moderated by Dr Saurabh Luthra, Dehradun. Dr Cyrus Shroff started the proceedings with a focus on retinal detachment, while Dr R V Azad, New Delhi, spoke on Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), Dr S Natarajan from Mumbai on Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), with Ms Christina Fasser, President, Retina International, speaking on Retina International’s efforts in finding a cure for retinal degenerative diseases. She described how the organization has been working with various patients-driven bodies across the globe, reiterating the need for patients to get a stake in research and clinical trial initiatives. She applauded Retina India’s work in creating the conditions in the country for bringing in research and clinical trials.
The second Plenary Session was on retinal treatments. Chaired by Ms Christina Fasser, President, Retina International and Dr R V Azad, New Delhi, the topics ranged from gene therapy and stem cells, both being highlighted by Prof Robin Ali from London, while Dr Gopal Lal Verma, Jaipur, spoke on newer drugs and devices in retinal treatments, with Dr Rajat Agrawal, Los Angeles, speaking on the Bionic Eye. The highlight of this session was the presentation by Dr. Robin Ali, a pioneer in the field of Gene therapy, from London’s Moorfields Hospital (University College of London), who spoke on various trials currently on-going for the RPE65 gene for Leber’s Congenital Amorosis (LCA). He also spoke at length about the plans the institute has in extending their research to other forms of retinal disorders prevalent in India and other developing countries.
The second day was divided into breakout sessions, with a clinical and a non-clinical session being conducted simultaneously. The first session was on common Retinal Diseases, chaired by Dr Lalit Verma, New Delhi, and moderated by Dr Surbhit Chaudhury, New Delhi, with talks ranging from Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA) by Dr Subhadra Jalali, Hyderabad; Retinal vascular occlusions by Dr Hemanth Murthy, Bangalore and Macular conditions by Dr Ajay Aurora, New Delhi. The other simultaneous session was titled “Live your dreams: How visual impairment is no constraint to achieving your goals”, which was organized under the aegis of Youth of Retina India, chaired by Mr K Ramkrishnan, Secretary General, National Association of the Blind, Mumbai, and moderated by G Vamshi, Tirupati. Topics ranged from ‘Technology & Youth: Connecting to the World’ by Mr Dipendra Minocha, New Delhi; Mr George Abraham, New Delhi, speaking on ‘Sports for the visually challenged’; Mr Prateek Agarwal, Jaipur, speaking on ‘Dream to Reality: How I started my own company’; and Mr Vishal Jain, IIM, Lucknow, speaking on “A Professional career: How you can achieve your goals’.
The second session were on “Technological Aids for people with visual impairment”, chaired by Mr Dipendra Minocha, New Delhi and moderated by Mr Pranav Lal, New Delhi, with talks on ‘Technology for education and entertainment’ by Mr Dipendra Minocha; Mr Ram Agarwal from Mumbai speaking on ‘Technology & office Environment’, Mr Prateek Agarwal, Jaipur, speaking on ‘Internet: a magic tool for visually impaired’, and Mr Srinivasu C, Bangalore speaking on ‘Internet & GPS accessibility for the visually challenged’. The other session was on “Genetic Counseling: Questions regarding marriage and expanding your family”, which was co-chaired by Prof Shubha Phadke, Lucknow and Dr Meenakshi Bhat, Bangalore. Prof Phadke spoke on the topic ‘From DNA to Disease’, while Dr Chitra, Hyderabad, spoke on ‘Genetics of Retinal Diseases’ and Dr Bhat spoke on ‘Genetic Counseling’.
The third set of sessions were on “Education for the visually challenged” and “Low Vision Aids (LVA)”. The education session was under the aegis of Parents of Retina India, with talks ranging from ‘Primary education’ by Mr Sudip Dube, New Delhi, ‘Inclusive Education’ by Mr L Subramani, Trustee, Retina India from Bangalore, ‘Higher education’ by Mr Apoorv Kulkarni, New Delhi, and ‘Preparing for competitive exams’ by Mr Vishal Jain, IIM, Lucknow. The LVA session was chaired by Dr Krishna Kumar, Chennai, with topics ranging from ‘General Perception of LVA’ by Dr Krishna Kumar to ‘Optical LVA’ by Ms Sonia Srivastava, New Delhi, ‘Non-Optical low vision devices’ by Ms Sachu Ramalingam, Mumbai, and ‘Assistive technology devices by Mr Deepak Bagga, Hyderabad.
The fourth group of sessions focused on “Living with visual impairment: Life Style & Environmental adaptation”, chaired by Mr George Abraham, New Delhi, with the simultaneous session on “Retinitis Pigmentosa” organized by RP Connect of Retina India, which was chaired by Dr Subhadra Jalali, Hyderabad and moderated by Dr Manisha Agarwal, New Delhi. The first session had talks by Mr L Subramani, Bangalore on ‘Facing up to the bad news’, Ms Sachu Ramalingam on ‘Adjusting to environment with loss of normal sight’, Mr Sudip Dube speaking on ‘Mobility training’, and Mr Rajesh Parekh speaking on ‘Marriage and raising a family’. The session on Retinitis Pigmentosa began with an overview of the current treatment options by Dr Subhadra Jalali, with Dr Chitra, Hyderabad, speaking on Genetics of RP, Dr Meenakshi Bhat, Bangalore, talking on Genetic Counseling for RP patients, and Ms Christina Fasser, from Zurich, speaking on Retinitis Pigmentosa – hope in the near future.
The fifth and final sessions were on “Barriers to social inclusion for women with visual impairment”, organized under the aegis of Women of Retina India, with Ms Shalini Khanna, New Delhi, chairing the session, and Ms Veena Verma, Ms Madhubala Sharma and Ms Ajanta Pokhrel, joining in the discussion. The other session was a special session, sponsored by World Health Organization – India, on “Healthy Aging and Preventable Blindness”, with Ms Sujaya Krishnan, Joint Secretary, Dept of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of India, in the chair. Dr Kumar Rajan, of WHO-India, spoke on ‘WHO perspective on preventable blindness’, while Dr NK Agarwal, DDG (Ophthalmology), Dept of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of India, speaking on ‘Newer Initiatives under the National Programme for Control of Blindness” and Dr SR Aggarwal, CME, Dept of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of India, speaking on ‘National Programme for Health care for the Elderly’.
The exhibit area showcased products from the following companies:
1. Allergan India, Bengaluru
2. INTAS Pharmaceuticals, Ahmedabad
3. Roche Pharmaceuticals, Mumbai
4. Karisma Enterprises, Mumbai
5. Index Assistive Technologies, Mumbai
6. Shroff Charity Eye Hospital, New Delhi
7. Saksham, New Delhi
Retina India thanks the following sponsors and supporters:
1. National Insurance, Kolkata
2. Allergan Eyecare India, Bengaluru
3. INTAS Pharmaceuticals, Ahmedabad
4. Canara Bank, Bangalore
The convention was supported by the following:
1. DFM Foods Ltd., New Delhi
2. Ms Asha Pandey, Bengaluru
3. Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co. Ltd., Mumbai
4. General Insurance Corporation, Mumbai
5. AMRI Hospitals Ltd., Kolkata
6. Ramco Systems Ltd, Chennai
7. Globarena Technologies (P) Ltd., Hyderabad
8. Smt. Ratnadevi Bhageria Charitable Trust, Mumbai
9. Premsukh Shyamsukh, Neemuch (MP)
10. Loyalka Foundation, Kolkata
11. Didwania Ratanlal Charitable Trust, Mumbai