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Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, former President of India's photos at the inaugural ceremony of the 9th General Assembly (9GA) of International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) on Monday at HICC


Speeches / Lectures

Address at the Inauguration of 9th General Assembly of International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness


Hyderabad, Sep 17 2012


Suggested missions for eye care up to the year 2020


What can I give to light the life?


I am delighted to participate in the inauguration of 9th General Assembly of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) here at Hyderabad . My greetings to all of you.  

Friends, Vision 2020 programme has created a unique awareness among the doctors, patients, and social transformers which has resulted in good impact on care giving and reduced the number of cases of unavoidable blindness in the country. Though, we have made substantial progress in the reduction of avoidable blindness in the country through the Vision 2020 programme, diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma are increasing very fast, for which we have to find cost effective solution, so that our aim of complete eradication of avoidable blindness within the next decade is achieved. When I am in the midst of healthcare giving community, I would like to share few thoughts on "Suggested missions for eye care up to the year 2020".

My experience with eye care institutions 

Friends, when I see all of you, the members of International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) participating in the 9th General Assembly and also members from Indian ophthalmic area who are working day and night to reduce the avoidable blindness in the country. I would like to share with you my experience of my visits and discussions with researchers and clinicians from all parts of the world. 

Brien Holden Vision Institute: On the 18th of May 2011, I was in Sydney where I visited and interacted with a team of doctors, ophthalmologists and vision experts from the Brien Holden Vision Institution at the University of New South Wales. Prof Brien Holden and Prof GN Rao are working together on many research activities. Both, Brien Holden Vision Institute and LV Prasad Eye Institute are conducting research and trials in the areas such as identifying and preventing genetic eye degradation, low cost and robust vision correction devices. 

Schepens Eye Research Institute, Boston: Subsequently, in September 2011, I visited Schepens Eye Research Institute, Boston where I saw unique work on image processing in relation to visual function and clinical psychophysics in low vision rehabilitation, image understanding and evaluation of display-vision interaction. They are also working on oculomotor control and binocular vision. 

LV Prasad Eye Institute: When I visited LV Prasad Eye Institute, both at Hyderabad and Bhubaneswar, one research area yielding good results in treating burn care cases by taking stem cell from the patients eye itself and administer on the patients for curing burn injury or spillage of acid.

Aravind Eye Care Centre, Madurai: In Aravind Eye Care Madurai, the Venkataswamy Eye Research Institute, researchers are working on better treatment and prevention of diabetic retinopathy through gene therapy and developing medicines for treating cornea affected personnel with fungal infections.

Sankara Netralaya: Sankara Netralaya Medical Research Foundation has organized South East Asia Glaucoma Interest Group Conference where the thought of retinal neuronal dysfunction through glaucoma was discussed. They also provided a future direction for glaucoma therapy by prevention or delay or reverse decay of the retinal ganglion cells and axons. The organizers found that results of genomics and proteomics will play a vital role in early detection of glaucoma. Stem cells may help restore vision in patients who have glaucoma, by repopulating or rescuing damaged cells. Stem cells can also be used for terminal stages of glaucoma. A few of our ophthalmologists are already working in stem cell therapy. Gene therapy approach is applicable to either lower the intra ocular pressure or protecting retinal ganglion cells. This approach could reprogram the target cells by transferring genetic material into them, so that they lower intra ocular pressure physiologically. 

Increase in research infrastructure and human resource: Visits of 12 ophthalmic institutions in India and abroad, brought out one aspect clearly, that is, intensity of research and clinical treatment has to get enhanced by increasing the research scientists, clinical doctors and paramedical staff who are exclusively involved in research. I suggest IAPB to make suitable recommendation as a part of 9th General Assembly, so that adequate research capacity measure for ophthalmic care can be built both by government and private eye-care institutions.

World Knowledge Platform

IAPB may consider to evolve a World Knowledge Platform for ophthalmology which can bring together the expertise available in eye-care in all parts of the world in a single platform with three missions;

 (a) Glaucoma research for evolving innovative and cost effective diagnostic and treatment processes.

 (b) Early diagnosis and treatment of retinopathy. 

(c) Working out a donor friendly law for organ donation, particularly eye, so that large number of donors will come forward and reduce the gap between the cornea needed for transplantation and cornea availability through the present legal environment. 

Learning from an event organized for honoring families of eye donors 

Friends, I have visited a number of eye hospitals in India and abroad and has also attended many functions organized by Eye Hospitals. Let me share with you a typical function where an Eye Hospital honoured and felicitated the donor families. On the invitation of my friend Dr Umang Mathur of Dr Shroff?s Charity Eye Hospital Delhi, I participated in a function where the Hospital honoured the donor families. I saw 100s of families who are responsible in arranging donation of their kith and kin?s eyes to people needing cornea implantation. When I saw such good hearted families, I saw in them "they are giving a nutrient to the society". That nutrient of giving, gives a light to the needy person, resulting in a new way of bright life. I am giving this experience to bring a point to the international audience. In the meeting of givers, there was one reference about a unique case. A carpenter lost his life due to an electric shock. His parents readily agreed to donate the eyes of the carpenter which was used for two youths who were waiting for cornea implantation. These two boys got cornea implantation by Dr Shroff?s Charity Eye Hospital. The whole experience is a beautiful phenomenon for the two boys. Whereas, for the donor?s family, their grief subsided by giving light to the two needy patient. 

When I heard this real life experience, I asked the hospital authorities, why you didn?t bring the recipient boys, to this gathering of honoring donor's families so that they can share greater happiness. Also, I suggested that they can make a short film depicting the action, response and the happiness of both donor family and the beneficiaries and beneficiary?s families. The answer I got from the authorities of Dr Shroff?s Charity Eye Hospital was, as per existing law, the donor family is not supposed to know to whom cornea has been donated and the recipient and the recipient's family is not supposed to know whose cornea, he or she received. I would like IAPB members and national authorities present here, to discuss and evolve a donor family friendly, recipient friendly and hospital friendly law which will bring happiness to all and motivate many families to come forward and donate in large numbers which is vital to bridge the cornea need and availability gap. 

Research Areas

Since I am in the midst of experts from multiple countries, I would like to suggest some path breaking research areas which can change the course of eye care. Nanotechnology is finding large-scale application in drug delivery systems, biomedical application and nano structure and devices. The low dimensionality of many nano-structures, in which electrons are free to move in only two, one or even zero dimensions, has a profound effect on their chemical, electronic and optical properties. The practical application of these effects is only just beginning to be realized in such devices as lasers based on quantum wires and quantum dots. By using quantum behavior, researchers can tailor the basic characteristics of the materials and devices to achieve greater efficiency, faster speeds and high packing density devices for electronic, photonic, catalytic, magnetic and biomedical applications. For example, a neural stimulatory micro-system requires fairly uniform nano-sized electrode arrays for focal stimulation of neural tissue for the treatment of blindness. Using nanotechnology research, ophthalmologists can find innovative treatment methods for glaucoma. 

As you may be aware, there are some leading research initiatives in the world, which give promising hope in the treatment of glaucoma, where convergence of technologies plays a major role: - 

1. Applied nanotechnology aimed at the regeneration and neuroprotection of the central nervous system (CNS) will significantly benefit from basic nanotechnology research conducted in parallel with advances in related biological sciences. (Surgical Neurology 63 (2005) 301- 306) 

2. People with colour blindness induced by damage to the optic nerve have had their vision partially restored with the help of an implanted nanoscale scaffold that has encouraged nerve tissue to regrow. (The New Scientist 13 March 2006) 

3. Optic nerve regeneration is the key to partially reverse blindness from glaucoma. Intensive research is needed. 

4. Approach through the traditional medicine route is another method to find a treatment regime for glaucoma. For example; the extract of the leaves of the Chinese tree Ginkgo biloba, while Indians lay their hopes on Ashwagandha of Ayurveda for treatment of glaucoma. We need in depth work on these and similar approaches.

I understand that research is going on for evolving therapeutic vaccine against glaucoma. New innovative ideas of this kind should be encouraged by IAPB through the World Knowledge Platform. 

Suggestions based on WHO Zero Draft

Friends, I have studied the WHO Zero Draft which brings out the action plan for reducing avoidable blindness during the next 8 years. The study indicates that though India has done well, the visual impairment in the last 6 years has gone down only by 10% and the blindness has reduced by 12%. Also, the report aims at reducing the visual impairment by 14% and blindness by 20%. I am of the opinion that this is a very small target. With the development of technology, sharing of knowledge through World Knowledge Platform, advocacy missions by social and government organizations, and the improvement in infrastructure, both physical and human resource, we should aim at reducing visual impairment and blindness by 50% each within the next 8 years by the year 2020. Keeping this in mind, the countries should take up population surveys once in two years to understand the present state of impairment and blindness and work for reducing the gap in a proportionate manner. Simultaneously, there is a need for enhancing the availability of ophthalmologists and eye surgeons. For improving the availability of eye surgeons, I would recommend IAPB to bring forward a proposal for making surgical simulator for eye in every medical college. This will facilitate training of even general practitioners to get trained in cataract surgery and they can be authorized for carrying out cataract surgeries which is constantly increasing in all the countries. 


Friends, in conclusion, I would like to discuss about the role of doctors and social workers in faster realization of Vision 2020 goals. There was a meeting of cured patients, their doctors and a few social workers. One important result was discussed. The relationship between the patient and doctor extends to patients' families and doctors in medical care. This in turn, transmits effective messages from one family to another family on advice on how to prevent eye diseases, necessity of periodic checks, dietary habits and need for life style changes including eye exercise for good eye health. Actually, I believe this good contact between doctors and patients is comparable to that of a teacher and student. I request every doctor to play the role of a teacher in advising every family on eye disease prevention particularly glaucoma and methods to maintain a healthy vision. I hope you all will find time for this noble action. 

With these words, I inaugurate the 9th General Assembly of the International gency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). My best wishes to all of you for providing light to the needy.

May God bless you.


I would administer an oath to the participants of 9th General Assembly meeting organized by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).


Oath for Ophthalmology community

1.    I, as an eye care professional, I realize, by removing the darkness and giving the light to the patient is indeed the God?s mission.

2.    I will always give part of my time for treating patients who cannot afford.

3.    Based on the experience and my core competence as a Doctor, I am capable of diagnosing the exact disease at right time.

4.    I will treat at least 30 rural patients in a year by going to rural areas.

5.    I will encourage the development of nano-technology based medicines, quality indigenous equipments and consumables by making use of them and assisting in enhancing the quality and reliability of the products.

6.    I will follow the motto "Let my brain remove the pain of the suffering humanity and bring smiles".

By, Dr. APJ Abdulkalam



Dr Kalam Supports Eye Care Assembly

IAPB 9th General Assembly – linking eye health, poverty and development.


Hyderabad, 17th September, 2012: Dr A P J Abdul Kalam will give the Key Note Address at the Opening Ceremony for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)9th General Assembly (9GA) taking place in Hyderabad from 17-20 September 2012.  Shockingly, blindness affects 12 million Indians and an additional 456 million require vision correction.  This week, 1500 eye care professionals and people working in blindness prevention from around the world have congregated in Hyderabad to discuss the latest developments and cutting edge research to combat this tragedy.  

Following his Keynote Address, Dr Kalam will release a special issue of the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology.  Dr Kalam will be joined by a panel including: Dr Gullapalli N Rao, Chairman, L V Prasad Eye Institute and Past President of IAPB; Professor Hugh Taylor, Chair of 9GA Scientific Committee; Ms Sujaya Krishnan, National Blindness Control Programme; Ms Maryanne Diamond, World Blind Union; Lord Colin Low, International Council for the Education of the Visually Impaired; Mr Christian Garms, President of IAPB; and Professor Brien Holden, Chair of 9GA Organising Committee.   

Mr Peter Ackland, CEO of International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) stated, “The IAPB 9th General Assembly (9GA) brings together global experts and delegates with a common goal, to eliminate avoidable blindness.  Among the delegates, ophthalmologists and optometrists from across India will be exposed to a wealth of information that they can take and implement in their home state.  We are delighted to welcome so many Indian delegates from across the eye care profession.  The knowledge shared during 9GA has the potential to prevent millions of people from suffering a life of unnecessary blindness.”   

During the Closing Ceremony on 20th September 2012 the ‘Hyderabad Declaration on Promoting Eye Health and Eliminating Avoidable Blindness and Visual Impairment’ will be signed by the President of IAPB, Mr Bob McMullan, on behalf of the newly elected IAPB officers.   

 “The Hyderabad Declaration endorses the commitment we have to ending avoidable blindness.  Eighty per cent of blindness is avoidable and we call upon governments, the private sector, professional organisations and the international donor community to also support VISION 2020: The Right to Sight through a variety of specific means.  We need to collaborate to train the hundreds of thousands of eye care professionals necessary, develop the infrastructure required and to deliver eye care to the millions of people in India and around the world who are in need”, commented McMullan. 

VISION 2020: The Right to Sight is the global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness, a joint programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) and IAPB with an international membership of NGOs, professional associations, eye care institutions and corporations.

We are delighted to recognise the Global Sponsors of the 9th General Assembly:

The Brien Holden Vision Institute believes in vision for everyone...everywhere. The Institute is a global multidisciplinary research, development, commercialisation, education and public health organisation, focused on developing breakthrough vision correction and eye care solutions that will improve the quality of vision people experience, prevent blindness and deliver equity in eye care access worldwide.

Mectizan Donation Program is the longest-running disease-specific drug donation programme and public/private partnership of its kind, MDP is widely regarded as one of the most successful public/private health collaborations in the world. 

CBM is one of the leading international development agencies for people with disabilities, CBM supports services for persons with visual, hearing and physical impairment in more than 113 developing countries

Carl Zeiss, Optometry Giving Sight and Sight and Life are International Sponsors and supporters.  ORBIS, Lions Club International Foundation, Appasamy Associates, Essilor and SightSavers are Regional Sponsors and supporters. mivision is the Global Social Media Sponsor; and Touch Ophthalmology and the Indian Optician are the event’s media partners.  Kuoni Destination Management, India is the travel partner.


Notes to Editors:

About 9GA

  • Theme: Eye Health – Everyone’s Business
  • Conference dates: 17-20 September 2012
  • Venue: HICC, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India –
  • For more information on the 9GA please visit:


About IAPB General AssemblyL IAPB General Assemblies are held every four years, rotating among IAPB’s seven world regions. The 8th General Assembly (8GA), held in 2008 saw close to 800 registrants from 60 countries attend keynote lectures, short presentations from invited speakers, clinical and administrative courses and symposia, over four days in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


About IAPBL The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) was established in 1975 as a coordinating, umbrella organisation to lead international efforts in blindness prevention activities. Its first major achievement was to promote the establishment of a WHO programme for prevention of blindness, with which it has remained strongly linked, and which is now embodied in the global initiative, VISION 2020: The Right to Sight.


For more information, please visit: and

Global Facts – please visit for latest statistics

·         An estimated 12 million people are blind and an additional 456 million require vision correction across India. 

·         80% of all visual impairment is avoidable (i.e. can be prevented, treated or curedthrough known and cost-effective interventions)

·         About 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 have low vision

·         90% of the world's visually impaired people live in developing countries

·         Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of visual impairment but in middle and low-income countries cataracts remain the leading cause

·         The number of people visually impaired from infectious diseases has greatly reduced in the last 20 years

For further information, please contact: 9848042170







Updated on September 17, 2012