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Sankara Eye Hospital celebrates ‘the spirit of Helen Keller’ by reaching out to the hearing impaired through the “Nanna Kannu” programme.

To screen 155 hearing impaired children from a leading school for the hearing impaired in the city

Bangalore, India, June 25, 2009: Sankara Eye Hospital, Bangalore in association with GE Money, on Hellen Kellar’s birthday (June 27, 2009), is organizing a vision screening program for the children from Shiela Kothavala Institute for the deaf, Bangalore The programme is part of the, “Nanna Kannu”, initiative which aims to reach out to 300,000 children from the vulnerable population for vision defects over the next 3 years. It is estimated that there are more than 425,000 deaf-blind children in India.

Children with visual impairment and hearing impairment face difficulty in performing daily activities. Early identification and specific rehabilitative efforts will improve the quality of life of such children. Around 155 children from the Sheila Kothavala Institute (Bangalore first school for the hearing impaired) would be screened by the team from Sankara Eye Hospital. The Children would undergo a comprehensive eye examination and those requiring correction in the form of spectacle correction, surgeries or low vision aids would be provided the same with support from Sightsavers International and GE Money.

Shankara Eye Hospital-GE Money through this structured screening programme for the hearing impaired will be celebrating Helen Keller’s 129th birthday and the indomitable spirit and staunch determination she displayed to help the world’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Dr.Ramani, Founder & Managing Trustee, Sankara Eye Care Institution, said, “Deaf children are heavily reliant on the sense of vision in order to develop efficient communication skills and explore the world around them. Any ophthalmic disorder may thus negatively impact on this process, especially if it is unrecognized in the early years of life.”

He added, “These ophthalmic disorders may be correctable (such as myopia) or treatable (such as cataract), and their early identification is of the utmost importance to optimize language development (spoken or sign, or both) and develop social cognition. Those children with non-correctable and non-treatable visual disorders, like retinitis pigmentosa in Usher syndrome, require multiple environmental adaptations and appropriate support services and information. Sankara Eye Care would like to extend their support in identifying and treating impaired children with such screening initiative.”

The prevalence of ophthalmic problems among deaf children in India is very high (approximately 40% to 60%) and these problems may remain undetected for years although they may have a serious impact on children's acquisition of communication skills, screening for ophthalmic problems in deaf children should be encouraged and specialist ophthalmic examination should be carried out as soon as the diagnosis of deafness is confirmed irrespective of age, and may need to be repeated at intervals following diagnosis.

Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind American author, political activist and lecturer to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. She devoted her life helping blind and deaf-blind people. She appeared before state and national legislatures and international forums, traveled around the world to lecture and to visit areas with a high incidence of blindness, and wrote numerous books and articles. She met every U.S. president from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon Johnson, and played a major role in focusing the world's attention on the problems of the blind and the need for preventive measures.

About Sankara Eye Care Institutions: With 8 state-of-the art eye hospitals in Coimbatore, Guntur, Krishnankovil, Bangalore, Shimoga, Anand, Pammal and Silvassa, Sankara Eye Care Institutions deliver quality eye care through the “Gift of Vision” rural outreach eye care programme. So far the programme has conducted 7,594 free weekly eye screening camps, and performed 525,000 free eye surgeries. For more information you can visit www.sankaraeye.com.

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