Indian Journal of Ophthalmology

: 1968  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 166--168

National symposium on injuries of the eye - Presidential speech

Sushila Nayar 
 President, National Society of Prevention of Blindness, India

Correspondence Address:
Sushila Nayar
President, National Society of Prevention of Blindness

How to cite this article:
Nayar S. National symposium on injuries of the eye - Presidential speech.Indian J Ophthalmol 1968;16:166-168

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Nayar S. National symposium on injuries of the eye - Presidential speech. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1968 [cited 2021 Jun 21 ];16:166-168
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It is with great pleasure that I note that the National Society of the Prevention of Blindness is holding its second Annual Conference at Ahmedabad. Along with this Conference, the Society is also holding its fourth National Symposium. The subject for this Symposium today is of far reach­ing importance from the point of view of this country. As you are all well aware we are going ahead with industrialization at a rapid rate, which is bound to result in increase of eye injuries. Our country is al­ready facing the problem of rehabi­litation of a large number of blind. Apart from untold human misery, high incidence of blindness is putting a big load on our economy. More­over, in spite of the efforts of the nation at improving treatment faci­lities for eye diseases and organize prevention programmes against small pox and trachoma, a fair number of blind is being added to our popula­tion every year. It can be easily un­derstood that the total problem of blindness is directly or indirectly re­lated to the socio-economic conditions of our population as the environ­mental hygiene and nutritional fac­tors play an important part in this respect. We have often heard that the main causes of blindness are tra­choma, malnutrition and small pox and efforts are being made to tackle them on a National scale. The nutri­tional factors and hygiene, however, can become satisfactory only through education of the people and improvement of their economic conditions. There are, however, other causes of blindness to which we have not given enough thought. The Society has already focussed the attention of the country to the problems of tra­choma and malnutrition by holding National Symposia on these topics and has submitted comprehensive plans to the Government of India for dealing with these problems in order to prevent blindness. This year the Society is organising the Symposium on the problem of ocular Injuries as an important cause of preventable blindness and to suggest measures to prevent the same.

The country is getting rapidly in­dustrialized, both heavy and small scale industries are making their ap­pearance almost every day. In our enthusiasm to establish these indus­tries and obtain workers for the same, we are perhaps ignoring a very im­portant aspect of the whole problem that is laying down of visual and illumination standards. In this con­nection, the work of the Society in its research Project of 'Early Detec­tion of Visual Defects' in the indus­trial complex of Ballabhgarh and Faridabad are interesting and thought provoking. Not only we find that the visual standards at the time of recruitment are not prescribed but there seems to be a complete lack of awareness on the part of both the employers and the employees as to the measures that should be taken for the prevention of ocular hazards from these industrial undertakings. The Government's enforcement ma­chinery too seems to be slack so that even the requirements laid down are often not observed. As reported by the Society, it is pitiable sight to see workers in front of glass blowing furnaces, steel furnaces, welding arc equipment and similar other work­shops without any protective mecha­nism for cutting out the harmful rays. It is, therefore, not surprising that some of these workers suffer from glass blowers cataracts and also suffer irreparable damage to their eves due to over exposure to these harmful rays. Similar apathy can be seen in grinding, turning, surfacing and other workshops. We can boast of a comprehensive legislation on industrial problems, labour employer relationships and protective mea­sures that should be provided in in­dustry, but their implementation is hopelessly inadequate.

Many a time I feel, that more and more citizens of this country are placing reliance solely on the govern­mental agencies for doing their work. This leads to a sort of a com­placency on the part of the popula­tion in general. The citizen today not only should realize that he has certain rights in a free independent nation but he should also think that there are certain obligations which he has to carry. No rights can accrue to any individual without any obli­gations. Yet the total dependence on the Government for any welfare ac­tivities is bound to create feelings of helplessness, frustration and restless­ness. It is the duty of voluntary organizations like ours to activise the conscience of the people, instil in them the feeling that they can look after themselves and that the Go­vernment is their agency for the im­plementation of the programmes that the public demands. This will ensure full and proper use of facilities created by the Government. Public education is necessary so that people can vocalise their needs and see that they are fulfilled. A spirit of self re­liance is necessary and general edu­cation as well as health education and mass contact programmes of the Society in particular can help a great deal. Mere talks and publishing of some relevant data may satisfy our egocentricity but it is not going to mitigate the problem of blindness in this country. What we have to do is to identify ourselves with the people and go out in the field to implement our programmes with the active co­operation and participation of the people in those areas. There is no reason why we should not have a branch of our Society in every in­dustry. It should be remembered that prevention of blindness is prima­rily a peoples programme in which the N.S.P.B. and specialists in eye diseases can help.

I am confident that this National Symposium on Visual Hazards of in­dustries and ocular injuries will not only focus attention on the pro­blems but will also suggest certain remedial measures for the same. I also feel that this Society will not only pass a pious resolution to be forwarded to the Government for implementation but will devise cer­tain active steps, which its members and other professional colleagues will be required to implement so as to avert this danger and lessen the inci­dence of blindness resulting from industrial injuries.

The total membership of the Society is not as large as it should be. This shows that we have not yet reached the masses and our roots are not deep. If we are to carry the message of prevention of blindness, to our people in an effective manner, we should have a large membership with branches of this Society in every city and, town as well as in villages and various specialised groups of people. We must stand united and work shoulder to shoulder with each other in order to raise the member­ship of this Society to a respectable figure and we must give our bran­ches, a programme which they can implement their own. I may stress here that large numbers of profes­sional colleagues are welcome as members but we need a still greater number of educated men and women with a social conscience to join this Society and make the programme of Prevention of Blindness a truly peoples programme.