TAMILNADU OPHTHALMIC ASSOCIATION GENESIS – GROWTH – MATURITY – FUTURE

Past – Present – Future

History of TNOA (erstwhile MSOA) Post Independence India :

Eye Care Services in rural areas were being tendered by a few private ophthalmic surgeons in some parts of Madras State in a sporadic manner for some years. A few eye surgeons activated with generous spirit of taking ophthalmic help and advice to the door of dwellers, were doing yeoman service, and their services were frowned upon and their activities were discouraged by doctors in Government service who looked upon doctors engaged in private practice as belonging to a lower stratum of creation. This tendency was a heritage from the British I.M.S. days and doctors in Government service studiously avoided to be associated with private medical practitioners. Even medical certificates issued by private doctors were not accepted by various government departments.

Genesis :

It was in such an atmosphere in 1951, a senior ophthalmologist Dr. G. Joseph Gnanadickam invited a few ophthalmologists in Tiruchirappalli for an informal meeting and placed before them the suggestion that the eye surgeons of Madras State should organize themselves into a state ophthalmic society with the limited aims and objectives: (1) to bring in eye surgeons of Madras into close contact, holding lectures and conferences thus promoting fellowship and fraternity among them, regardless of whether they are in Government or private service (2) organize eye camps in rural areas with due precautions and (3) to educate the rural masses on the care of the eyes.

With the wholehearted enthusiasm and dedication of the Founders Dr. G. Joseph Gnanadickam, Dr.T.V.Renganathan and Dr. Shankar Rao, the Madras State Ophthalmic Association came into being in 1952. Veterans like Dr. S. Gurupatham, Dr. P. Siva Reddy, Dr. A. Abdul Sathar, Dr. Pitchai Robert, Dr. Muthiah Pandian and few others joined early and the Association began to function and the first Madras State Ophthalmic Association Conference was held in Trichy in 1952.

Later Dr. G. Venkatasamy, Lt. Col. Rangachari, Dr. Balasubramanian, Dr. Adikesavan, Dr. Desakavalan, Dr. Valeeswaran, Dr. Bhaskaran and many seniors joined the association and subsequent annual conferences began to be held at various places in the State. Many Eye Surgeons in Government service joined the association as members and began taking active interest in all the activities of the Association. Within 10years, the membership grew from 25 to start with to 125, a commendable growth when compared to the number of Ophthalmologists in Madras State at the time.

Growth :

This phenomenal growth and momentum of the association was kept active by the enthusiastic and zealous live wires like Dr. A. Govindarajan, Dr. M. R. S. Ramakrishnan and Dr. A. Kalaikkovan with ardent support from Dr. C. P. Gupta, Dr. Agarwal, Dr. E. T. Selvam, Dr. G. Natchiar, Dr. Tony Fernandez, Dr. K. R. Moorthy, Dr. N. S. Sundaram, Dr. P. Namperumalsamy, Dr.SS Badrinath, Dr. Babu Rajendran, Dr. Anandakannan, Dr. Nelson Jesudasan, Dr.SS Sukumar, Dr. Velayutham and Dr.Radhakrishnan, whose active participation contributed much to enhance the quality of the deliberations of the scientific sessions of the conference.

From a very humble beginning, this vast growth was brought about by the whole hearted service and tremendous enthusiasm of the founders, their associates and equally enthusiastic second and third generation whose contributions were enormous.

The new generation, to mention a few, Dr. Arulmozhi Varman, Dr. N. Madhivanan, Dr. D. Ramamoorthy, Dr.K. Premraj, Dr. V. Siddharthan and Dr.Nirmal Fredrick has taken over the mantle and is striving to raise the organization of the Conference to the National level and sometimes bordering International level.

Several awards have been instituted – Gold Medal Oration, Best Paper Presentation and Best Video Films awards. Trade exhibition is an added attraction and now as many as 100 companies are participating at the conferences which are most beneficial not only to the delegates but also to the traders.

The uniqueness of MSOA/TNOA lies not only to the uninterrupted holding of conference for 61 years, it also goes beyond Tamilnadu territory. TNOA has lead the way to the birth of all Ophthalmic Associations of south India, first the Karnataka State Ophthalmic society, later the Kerala state ophthalmic society and then Andhra Pradesh Ophthalmic Associations. The MSOA can be proud of the fact that it was the mother and sponsoring association for ophthalmic fraternity in South India.

Inaugural Ceremony :

The Inauguration function of the conference is an event that sets the tone of the conference. The President elect takes over as President, by adorning the collor and Past President is given a medal for the the meritorious service rendered to TNOA. Important dignitaries are invited as chief guest to inaugurate the conference and guest of honours. Great Leaders, visionaries & dignitaries have inaugurated the conferences and given memorable speeches. The VIPs who have inaugurated the conference include, Governors, Chief Ministers, Health Ministers, District Collectors & Judicial officers. Past President Hon’ble Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam, Dr. Bhakthavatchalam & Honble. Justice Chandru were the chief guests for the last three conferences.

Conclusion :

Tamilnadu Ophthalmic Association is now a 2000 member strong association. The annual conference is a mega event involving more than 1500 delegates from all over the country and abroad. With over 500 Associate delegates and about 1000 trade people, the Annual conference is one of the important medical conference in the country.

Prepared by Dr. Nirmal Fredrick, Hony. Secretary TNOA based on a talk of former President of TNOA late Dr. J. Rajasekaran, S/o Dr. Joseph Gnanadickam, founder member of Tamilnadu Ophthalmic Association & excerpts from Past Presidents and Senior Members of TNOA.