; Hyderabad, India; October 16, 2005
The President, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, said ‘Vision for all’ should be the national mission, as he launched the second phase of Sight First campaign in Hyderabad on October 15, 2005, as part of the World Sight Day celebrations.
On the occasion, he declared: “We have the best of doctors and technologists in India. We have core competence in design and software engineering. Emerging technologies in virtual reality and micro machines will transform the healthcare scenario.”
He expressed happiness that the estimated number of blind in India during the last decade had fallen from 9 million in 1990 to 6.7 million in 2002. “We have to aim that in the coming decade this is brought down to less than 4 million,” he said.
Dr. Kalam underlined the need to screen all children for possible vision defects as eye problems in children can be corrected if diagnosed early. He also expressed concern over the rising number of diabetes-related eye disorders.
He suggested that organizations in India could promote a stem-cell research programme in based on the experience of the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad. Stem cell research has been found highly useful in the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Suggesting that there was need to spread tele-medicine, the President said major eye care hospitals in the country could establish a network through a tele-education network to share the experience of specialists in various fields of ophthalmology.
Dr. Kalam said there was need for a good ophthalmology centre in the north-eastern states. He suggested that mobile eye clinics should be set up by all eye centres in the country in order to reach out to the rural masses.
World Sight Day has been observed on the second Thursday of October every year since 1998. The celebrations in India this year were spread across three days, from October 13 to October 15.