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    A STEP TOWARDS ERADICATING BLINDNESS
The making of an Optometrician In a move to make an indelible impact on the eye-care scenario in the country, the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) has established the School of Optometry, with financial assistance from Bausch & Lomb Inc. LVPEI is one of the country's premier medical and research institutes for eye care. The school of optometry offers a four-year degree level course in Optometry and a two-year diploma course for Ophthalmic Technicians with international standards in the country. The school was formally inaugurated on 17 January 2001, by Mr. John M. Loughlin, Senior Corporate Vice President and President of Asia-Pacific, Bausch & Lomb Inc.

The school premises Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Loughlin said, "This initiative from Bausch & Lomb complements the company's ongoing efforts at various levels to promote eye care in India. Baush & Lomb Inc. would also like to reiterate its long term commitment to the Indian region." He further explained that Bausch & Lomb is associated with LVPEI, since its inception, and conducted several clinical studies and research programmes to upgrade eye care products and services. "We readily agreed to offer financial assistance to the Optometry School project, when Mr. G. N. Rao, Director, LVPEI, approached us with the blue print. Till now, we have spent $1 million dollars on this project, and I am happy that this school would help to reduce the occurrence of blindness due to non-availability of expert advise at village level," remarked Mr. Loughlin. Adding to this, Dr. G.N. Rao said, "The LVPEI, being synonymous with quality eye care for the past 13 years, is uniquely placed to offer rich hands-on experience in this new program. The school marks another step in our endeavour to provide international standard eye care to the people of India and the developing world."

Loughlin lighting the lamp The 5-acre campus, located at Kismatpur near Gandipet, is endowed with the state-of-the-art equipment and support facilities, essential to provide world class training to the students. The school's program, for the first time in the country, offers a multiple entry and exit options to the students. The students can exit the program at different levels to enter the work arena, ready to render eye-care services, and after a period of time, they can re-enter the course to complete the four-year baccalaureate in Optometry. This feature helps in shortening the lead-time between a student joining the course and the time he can begin offering eye care services in the country. The school of optometry is the third of its kind in India, the other two are located at Chennai and Pune.

LogoThe school, affiliated to Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, started its first academic session in September, 2000 admitting 10 students each in 2-year and 4-year courses based on an all India level entrance test. Mr Rao said, "From 2001 onwards the intake will be doubled in both the courses. The students who finish the two-year diploma course will be called as 'Vision Technicians', and would be capable to give advice on eye care at Primary Health Centre (PHC) level. The aim of these courses is to bring the Optometrician and Population ratio to 1:50,000 from the existing 1: 2,00,000 by the year 2020."

Mr. Brian Levy, Global Head (R&D), Bausch & Lomb Inc., Mr. John Goughs, Surgical Head, Bausch & Lomb Inc. and Mr. J.P. Singh, Managing Director, Bausch & Lomb Eye care (India) were also present on the occasion.

'Read more' on LVPEI in Health & Medicine
-Mohan G Jagan

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