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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 67  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 317-320

Indian Journal of Ophthalmology – The journey so far

Editor, Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, Centre for Sight, Road No. 2, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad - 500 034, Telangana, India

Date of Web Publication18-Feb-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Santosh G Honavar
Editor, Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, Centre for Sight, Road No. 2, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad - 500 034, Telangana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_303_19

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How to cite this article:
Honavar SG. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology – The journey so far. Indian J Ophthalmol 2019;67:317-20

How to cite this URL:
Honavar SG. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology – The journey so far. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 Nov 29];67:317-20. Available from: https://www.ijo.in/text.asp?2019/67/3/317/252422

As Indian Ophthalmology gets set to celebrate 200 years of its glory, it may be appropriate to recollect the history of Indian Journal of Ophthalmology (IJO) as well. A journal raises a toast to the society that it belongs to. IJO does exactly that to All India Ophthalmological Society (AIOS). A journal is an academic phenomenon of clinical research, hard work, talent, and creativity, skilfully showcasing the excellence of the science that it embodies. In addition, IJO is the chronicler of the classical clinical spectrum of Indian Ophthalmology and the distinct progress of Indian Ophthalmologists over the years. IJO represents the vision and rhythm of more than 20,000 members of AIOS and projects Indian Ophthalmology to more than 140,000 ophthalmologists from 87 countries that regularly access it online. IJO has had its own long but sweet journey, studded with significant milestones.

The thought process for a dedicated Indian Ophthalmology journal began as early as 1940 at the seventh AIOS meeting in Bangalore. However, World War II took a toll on the scientific atmosphere in the country. The meetings were irregular, making it difficult to reach any firm decision, reflecting the general chaos that the war created across the societal layers. Although AIOS was not the official publisher, there seems to have been an attempt to publish a journal called Indian Journal of Ophthalmology in 1940 by an editorial committee headed by Vaman D Sathaye from Pune. A reference to this effect has been made by Arnold Knapp in Archives of Ophthalmology [Figure 1].[1] However, no further information is available about the journal itself.
Figure 1: Editorial comments by Arnold Knapp in Archives of Ophthalmology in 1940, mentioning about the new journal – Indian Journal of Ophthalmology

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Indian Ophthalmology did have to wait for another 12 years before the publication of the first official journal of AIOS in January 1953, based in Mumbai [Figure 2]. This was possible under the spirited leadership of SN Cooper, who embarked on a 20-year long journey into posterity. In his very first editorial, Dr. Cooper appealed to the Indian Ophthalmologists “to take pride in this publication and consider it as their own.”[2] Among other articles, the first issue included a striking image of a family of four with Marfan syndrome and an impressive case of unilateral proptosis secondary to neurogenic sarcoma.
Figure 2: Cover page of the first issue of Indian Journal of Ophthalmology (recreated)

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“A new ophthalmic journal has appeared which gives promise of bringing us into closer relationships with our colleagues in the Far East,” wrote Francis Adler in his editorial [Figure 3] in the Archives of Ophthalmology about IJO, then known as the Journal of the All India Ophthalmological Society.[3] This was in August 1954, more than a year after the release of the first issue of IJO, and he further wrote that “issues are of a high standard, in both the material presented and the quality of workmanship.” Dr. Adler's editorial also emphasized the excitement of the Western world over the opportunities of learning more about “tropical ophthalmological diseases, such as amebiasis, leproma of the ciliary body, and toxoplasmosis.” IJO, at that time, the only ophthalmic journal from Asia and the East, had an unchallenged opportunity to represent this half of the World.
Figure 3: Editorial by Francis Adler in Archives of Ophthalmology in 1954, announcing the journal of the All India Ophthalmological Society

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The next few years for the journal were tumultuous as it stumbled into a lot of hardship which were more than just the teething troubles. Despite Dr. Cooper's relentless and vigorous efforts, not only were the submissions very few but also the quality of the submitted manuscripts was suboptimal, sometimes necessitating rewriting of the entire content. There were issues in author correspondence, a lack of a good printing press, and unforeseen financial constraints, all of which led to incessant delays in the journal issues affecting its quality and consistency.

In 1971, SRK Mallik from New Delhi took over as the editor of the journal. As a mark of a new chapter in its history, the name of the journal was changed to Indian Journal of Ophthalmology as it exists today. Dr. Mallik regularized the issues of the journal and established a steady system of peer review. He passed on the reins to Madan Mohan of Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, New Delhi, in 1980. As Dr. Mohan recollects in the IJO Golden Jubilee Video, most academically oriented Indian Ophthalmologists still preferred international journals such as British Journal of Ophthalmology or American Journal of Ophthalmology to publish the best of their research work, and hence quality submissions to IJO continued to remain low. As a result, the IJO issue in 1980 contained the proceedings of the AIOS conference of that year instead of any scientific content. Even until then, the issues of the journal were slim, consisting mainly of case reports. In the mid-1980s, liberalization of the policies led to a substantial increase in the advertisement by multinational companies in the journal giving a much-needed financial impetus that facilitated better production quality.

Tony Fernandez, the next editor (1987–1992) from Little Flower Hospital, Angamaly, Kerala, recalls that the journal at this point was not purely scientific in its content, sometimes containing news of relevance to the ophthalmologists. This was the time when the young and dynamic director of LV Prasad Eye Institute and a strict taskmaster Gullapalli N Rao stepped into the shoes of the editor in 1993, after a very brief stint by TP Ittyerah (1992), spurring an unprecedented academic interest among the Indian Ophthalmologists in IJO.[4],[5] During the next 6 years of his editorship, he restructured the design and the scientific content of the journal with an aim to garner greater readership, the primary objective being dispersal of information that would be useful in day-to-day practice to all ophthalmologists. Dr. Rao nursed the ambition to make IJO rise to the quality of contemporary international journals. IJO got the much-needed facelift incorporating aesthetic design elements, and it was printed in one of the best printing houses of India. This was also the time when Pratibha Rao volunteered her time and began polishing the language of the contents, until Usha Raman took over as the first formal language editor of IJO.

Taraprasad Das continued the legacy of Dr. Rao when he became the editor from 1999 onward to 2004.[6] With the turn of the millennium, IJO galloped toward standardization of the scientific content. The journal now sported a steady look, the submissions had gained momentum, and the issues were published at a regular interval. IJO celebrated the Golden Jubilee (1953–2003), and a special commemorative postal cover was released by the then President His Excellency APJ Abdul Kalam [Figure 4]. IJO came of age with the submission process becoming online and the appointment of a dedicated professional publisher.
Figure 4: The special cover released on January 19, 2014 commemorating the Golden Jubilee of Indian Journal of Ophthalmology and signed by His Excellency APJ Abdul Kalam, then President of India

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The next editor of IJO, Barun Kumar Nayak (2005–2010), introduced the IJO e-book that helped the readers access the IJO articles with great ease online and made IJO an open-access journal.[7] In these 6 years, author submissions increased from about 300 to 700 per annum. The time from submission to publication of the accepted articles considerably reduced. In 2007, the quarterly journals became 2-monthly. Dr. Nayak shouldered the increased editorial burden with aplomb. The AIOS-IJO awards too were introduced in 2009 to recognize the contribution of talented authors toward IJO. By the time the reins passed over to the next editor, the IJO funds were in a positive surplus, purely due to astute financial management of Dr. Nayak.[8] The next editor S Natarajan (2011–2016) had a tremendous positive impact on the journal, during which time 50% submissions were being contributed by international authors.[9],[10] IJO ranked 38 in the list of ophthalmic journals of the world. In 2013, IJO publication became more frequent with a jump from six issues in a year to being a monthly academic feast.

The current editorial board of IJO that took over in 2017, gave a makeover for the cover design by including a stunning ophthalmic image in every issue of the journal.[11] The hand-picked editorial team have continued to drive IJO into higher realms. While taking over the office, the current team pledged to put the journal on fast track, and through sheer hard work and talent, the journal issues are now made available in time with the online version appearing right at the dawn of every month. In less than 2 years, there has been a massive rise in the number of submissions, from around 800 in 2016 to a whopping 2000+ in 2018, indicating the emerging confidence of the authors in IJO. Special issues for subspecialties are brought out with contributions from the finest authors from across the world. The editorial team is also diligent in keeping up the momentum avoiding delays in the final editorial decisions.

A typical IJO issue now consists of original research, review articles, letters to the editor, surgical techniques, case reports, one-minute ophthalmology, and photo essays. IJO continues to publish case reports with a view to educate about even the uncommon diseases and throw light on newer diagnostic methods or to highlight a different form of therapy. A complex series of repetitive activities transpires behind every issue of IJO that finally lands in the mailbox. Every week, scores of articles are submitted online. The editor assigns each article to a subspecialty assistant editor who preliminarily screens them for technical and basic content review. If an article is deemed unfit for publication in IJO, an editorial rejection is made which allows the authors to submit the article elsewhere without undue delay. If an article is of high quality carrying a relevant message, it is routed for peer review. Based on the combined opinion of the reviewers, the editorial team takes a final decision on the article. Once accepted, the manuscript is edited for scientific content and style, marked up for the printer, followed by pagination and getting the authors to approve of the final proof. Finally, the editor schedules the article for publication. The journal is currently published by the international publishing giant Wolters Kluwer. An elaborate process takes place for pagination which includes formatting the images alongside the text in the manuscript. Twenty-thousand crisp copies are sent out to various individuals and institutions in India and abroad.

Despite changing editors [Table 1] and editorial policies, IJO has only evolved for the better over the years. The goal is to publish only the highest quality manuscripts that will be of interest to every ophthalmologist. Due to the increased submissions that incorporate complex data, the journal now requires statistical review of all potentially acceptable papers. Strict policies have been introduced to avoid plagiarism and data falsification. Instructions for authors have been revised to help authors avoid technical errors and speed up the submission process. With time, IJO hopes to include more translational research papers. Due to enormous number of submissions, there is an ever-mounting burden on quick peer review and publication. Despite this, the editor must ensure a just and correct decision on the submitted manuscripts. This dedication will go a long way in making the journal a grand success.
Table 1: Editors of Indian Journal of Ophthalmology

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IJO has currently hit an all-time high in terms of its readership (monthly circulation of around 20,000 and more than 140,000 online access a month or 3.5 hits every minute). The number of downloaded articles has exponentially increased. In addition, IJO can proudly state that it has produced several landmark papers over the years. Arnold Knapp quoted in his editorial of Archives of Ophthalmology in 1940, “a great country like India, which gave birth to ophthalmic surgery, should have a journal of ophthalmology of its own.” We can now walk with our heads held high because not only have we created such a journal but also take an absolute pride in it. So, let us all raise a toast to our beloved IJO!


Grateful to Dr. Taraprasad Das and Dr. Usha Raman for access to the IJO Golden Jubilee Video archives and Dr. Raksha Rao for help with research into IJO history.

  References Top

Knapp A. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology. Arch Ophthalmol 1940;24:614.  Back to cited text no. 1
Copper SN. The first number. J All India Ophthalmol Soc 1953;1:1-2  Back to cited text no. 2
Adler FH. Journal of All-India Ophthalmological Society. Arch Ophthalmol 1954;52:173.  Back to cited text no. 3
Rao GN. Changing times. Indian J Ophthalmol 1993;41:1-2.  Back to cited text no. 4
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Rao GN. A satisfying six years. Indian J Ophthalmol 1998;46:183.  Back to cited text no. 5
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Das T. Changing times. Revisited. Indian J Ophthalmol 1999;47:1-2.  Back to cited text no. 6
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Nayak BK. Changing times, evolving responses. Indian J Ophthalmol 2005;53:1-3.  Back to cited text no. 7
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Maniar RH, Nayak BK. The IJO journey: Learn, educate and evolve. Indian J Ophthalmol 2011;59:1-4.  Back to cited text no. 8
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Natarajan S. My strategic vision for the IJO of tomorrow. Indian J Ophthalmol 2011;59:183-4.  Back to cited text no. 9
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Natarajan S. Every ending is a new beginning. Indian J Ophthalmol 2017;65:263.  Back to cited text no. 10
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Honavar SG. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology – New beginning, new aspirations, new trajectory. Indian J Ophthalmol 2017;65:333-4.  Back to cited text no. 11
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]

  [Table 1]

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