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The World Optometry Day events that I was a part of this year shall remain indelible to me. As a whimsical person, I always loved to be a part of uncommon, adventurous and fun filled events and experiences. This event was one such an experience.  Being a part of India Vision Institute, an Organization working for the holistic development of Optometry in India with a multi-pronged approach, I got an opportunity to be a part of the team to handle the Community Vision Screening. We organized a vision screening camp for the inmates of Puzhal Prison at Chennai which is claimed to be one of the biggest prisons in Asia.



Sandhya Shekar in action

Sandhya Shekar with her team


The very thought of getting inside a prison that mammoth drove immense excitement through my veins. I mean, how many of us would get a chance to walk the corridors of a Prison without getting arrested? Scenes from the various con movies and shows ran past my eyes and I was completely lost in imagination and anticipation. 23rd March, the big day arrived and we all set forward for the most anticipated event of this year at work. 


A small team of about 5 optometrists including me entered the gigantic gates of the Prison.  After going through the tight security check we proceeded towards the auditorium to start our screening. After making brief arrangements we set up our vision charts, reading charts, retinoscopes in position. I had a small presentation prepared on general eye care to share it with the inmates. It was highly welcomed and immensely appreciated.  As a trainer I had delivered sessions to a variety of eye care practitioners such as optometry students, educators, Ophthalmologists, opticians etc. but this was disparate.


Discipline was an absolute code of conduct. It was the most organized screening I have ever been to. We were under the assumption that making the inmates read the distance and near vision charts would be a herculean task, but their literacy levels were pretty good and all of them were able to read at least one language and thanks to my clinical experience at L.V. Prasad, I remember the N6, N12 and N36 lines of every language in the book by heart even now. It was surprising how neither I nor my team members encountered a single non-compliant inmate. All the inmates underwent a complete vision assessment, objective and subjective refraction and torch light examination.


Free spectacles were given to those with refractive errors and those with an Ocular condition were referred to secondary and tertiary eye care centers. As I have been dealing with other areas of optometry over the last few years, this experience helped me jog my memory about the clinical skills I learnt during my internship. I got nostalgic about my internship days at L.V. Prasad Eye Institute and Bausch & Lomb School.


It has been a wonderful professional journey I have had so far. My work experiences have always been a mixture of education and my fantasy put together, which according to me is quite an interesting blend. I end this note with a hope of being a part of many such unique experiences and thank the Alumni page admins in giving me this opportunity to pen down a few thoughts.

Sandhya Shekar with her dedicated team

About the author:

Sandhya Shekar is a graduate from Bausch and Lomb School of Optoemtry (2009). Currently she is the Program Manager for India Vision Institute, she is also a certified trainer. Previously she was a Senior Varilux consultant for Essilor India Pvt Ltd.

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