The Conference Opportunity
Conferences often delight me as there will be an air of knowledge sharing, new possibilities, innovative ideas, networking, etc. They serve as a platform for the professional networking, and budding researchers to present their ideas and innovations, capacity building through workshops and so on.
I was so glad to be part of one such conference, a three-day Optometry conference between 13 – 15th October 2022, organized by India Vision Institute on the premises of IIT Madras Research Park.
The Conference saw a participation of 350 in-person delegates apart from many others who participated virtually. The delegates comprised of optometry students, practitioners, educators, institutional heads, industry experts like spectacle lens-making companies, engineering students and researchers, etc.
Presenting the Smart Vision Glasses
A key focus area of this conference was Artificial Intelligence. At the exhibit, Vision-Aid was joined by Smart Health Global (SHG) Technologies, and we determined the scope of the Smart Vision Glasses (SVG) presentation. We were expecting a large audience.
While the SHG Technologies Team presented the SVG at the Exhibit, the activities and programs of Vision-Aid were also highlighted to the audience. Mr. Ibrahim and volunteer Mr. Ashok from the SHG team did an excellent job in presenting the salient features of the device. About 100 delegates visited the exhibit, and we were able to demonstrate the same to nearly 60 interested delegates.
The 3-day Rendezvous
Day-1: SVG presentation and demonstration to delegates
Pre-conference sessions included expert talks and workshops. Mr Deepak Bagga of LVPEI , talked about “Vision less than 20/40” and approaches to low vision care and management. This was one of the highlighted sessions.
Day-1 delegates comprised mostly students, and faculty members of Optometry colleges from Chennai, Bangalore, Coimbatore, Salem, etc. There were also enthusiastic participants from institutions like Dr. Agarwal’s, Vasan Institute, MN College of Optometry, Vittalla International Institute, IIVM College of Optometry, Acchudha Institute, and Karunya Institute.
Among the delegates who visited the exhibit, a few of them were quite interested and shared their contact information with the SHG team. It includes a few heads of educational Institutes of Coimbatore and eye care practitioners who are involved with primary low-vision care. A few more hospitals and Institutions of Coimbatore, Salem of Tamil Nadu, etc. were interested in the activities of Vision-Aid and took brochures and contact information.
Day-2: Research Paper presentation and Interview
Day 2 saw back-to-back sessions of expert talks, research paper presentations, and poster presentations. I was invited to be a judge for paper presentations for the category of “Low vision rehabilitation”. It was delightful to watch students’ eager participation in the selected topics of
1. Ergonomics Assessment in Optical and Assistive devices among Patients with Low vision
2. Preference pattern of low vision services in glaucoma and its impact on individuals’ quality of life
3. Impact of visual skills developmental therapy in children with Neuro-Developmental Disorders [NDDs]
4. Augmented Reality technology for facial recognition and reading performance in low vision patient
The exhibit was visited by many Primary eye care Optometrists of hospitals / private practice/ community practice.
The SVG device was demonstrated to Mr. Vinod Daniel, CEO of India Vision Institute (IVI) by Mr. Ibrahim. SHG encouraged many participants to try it on themselves and experience the device.
SHG technologies were interviewed by Mr. Madhur Gupta, editor of optician India magazine. It was one among the conversation series on the side-lines of the conference. Mr. Ibrahim explained how SVG tries to solve the issues of the visually impaired and the support of Vision-Aid India to help the underprivileged visually impaired community by donation and distribution of the SVG through its partner locations all throughout India.
Day-3: Professional Networking
Mr. VL Narasimhan, Executive Director, Vision-Aid India, visited the conference on Day-3 and also met Mr. Vinod Daniel, CEO, and Mr. Abhishek, General Manager of the IVI Team. An exchange of respective core activities, ideas and scope & possibilities of referral, support, and capacity building to the optometrists involved with IVI screening activities were discussed during a brief meeting held among both teams of Vision-Aid (VA) and India Vision Institute (IVI).
The activities of the VA and an overview of all the VA programs were given.
With respect to the field of low vision care and rehabilitative services, lack of awareness and knowledge among eye care practitioners are found to be the main factors for the reduced uptake of these services into practice (1,2,3) Thereby many visually impaired are not being able to access these services. The platforms like conferences and events help in mitigating the gap or limitations to knowledge and motivate any practitioner to explore at low vision care as one of their specialties, and upskill their current practice by gaining knowledge about newer devices, a timely referral system, and access to support services.