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Guest Editorial

Fifty glorious years of Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre

Kumar, Atul

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Indian Journal of Ophthalmology: February 2017 - Volume 65 - Issue 2 - p 83-84
doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_170_17
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We have completed 50 glorious years at Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, with surmountable contribution in ophthalmic practice. Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre has the world's largest residency training program with over 150 residents in training including 109 junior residents, 53 senior residents, 20 postdoctoral students, and various long-term and short-term trainees in different fields of ophthalmology at a given time. The center is equipped with state-of-the-art technology for patient care, teaching, and research. Various innovative techniques and practices in different disciplines have been described which have made path-breaking contribution in the management of ocular disorders. Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre works in collaboration and coordination with AIIMS which is the apex institute of the country. This augments the comprehensive care of patients who have ocular afflictions with systemic disorders.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre is a WHO-collaborating center for the prevention and control of blindness and has been working relentlessly with organizations such as Wellcome Trust, Sightsavers, SightLife, ORBIS, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Operation Eyesight Universal, Lions Club International Foundation, and Christoffel Blind Mission (CBM). Prof L. P. Agarwal, the founder chief of Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre, was instrumental in making India the first country to have a dedicated national program for the Prevention and Control of Blindness (NPCB).

Ours was the first teaching institute in the country which started training in ophthalmic subspecialties such as vitreoretina, uvea, refractive surgery, cornea, cataract, glaucoma, strabismus, neuro-ophthalmology, and oculoplasty. The concept of in-house basic sciences departments with sections such as ocular biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, radiology, and community ophthalmology to improve patient care services and augment translational research was conceived by our founder, Prof. L. P. Agarwal. All other premier ophthalmic institutes in the country which mushroomed out subsequently follow similar organizational pattern. Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre is the mother of most reputed ophthalmic centers in the country, and over 746 illustrious alumni work at coveted positions in many ophthalmic centers of excellence not only in India but also globally.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre caters to an average of 1400 patients each day. The institute runs about 15 subspecialty clinics per day which provide state-of-the-art care for patients. We have a 302-bedded, well-equipped hospital with 16 main operation theaters and 2 minor operation theaters wherein over 40,000 surgical procedures are performed yearly. Round the clock casualty services have been available since its inception for the management of ocular trauma and emergencies providing care to more than 39,000 patients annually.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre was one of the first institutes in the country to acquire the latest investigative and treatment tools such as microperimetry, wide-field digital fundus angiography, spectralis ocular coherence tomography (OCT), OCT angiography, adaptive optics imaging, video angiography, high-resolution OCT, multifocal electroretinogram, PASCAL laser, photodynamic therapy, and microscope-integrated intraoperative OCT. Small gauge (23/25/27) sutureless vitreoretinal procedures have revolutionized the outcomes of retinal surgeries at par with the best in the world. Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre is the apex referral center for the management of retinopathy of prematurity and has a dedicated round the clock pediatric high dependency unit for providing support to preterm babies. Further, active research in the use of stem cells is ongoing for retinitis pigmentosa, macular hole, and other retinal degenerative diseases.

We have acquired the latest platforms for refractive surgeries (including bladeless femtosecond LASIK, phakic intraocular lenses, and small incision lenticule extraction) and cataract surgeries based on femtosecond lasers which are provided at a nominal cost to patients of every strata of the society. The concept of “Component surgery of Cornea” was initiated from our center which has revolutionized the field of corneal transplantation. New automated microkeratomes have helped in achieving high-quality donor tissue providing vision to two or three recipients from a single corneal tissue.

The National Eye Bank (NEB) is well versed with novel methods of eye banking including a transition to the Hospital Cornea Retrieval Programme along with Voluntary Eye Donation. Over the past 50 years, the NEB has collected over 23,000 corneas which have been utilized to perform over 16,000 corneal transplants with a utility rate of 70%. The major milestones achieved by the NEB while working toward the target of eliminating corneal blindness include 10,500 pledges in North India and 22 corneal transplants performed at Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre in a single day. The Eye Donation Fortnight Programme is conducted every year to spread awareness about the importance of eye donation to eliminate corneal blindness. In addition, translational research into cell-based therapy for ocular surface reconstruction and corneal bioengineering is ongoing. The Department of Ocular Pharmacology has been instrumental in the initiation of the formulation of McCarey–Kaufman corneal storage media which is provided to 44 eye banks across 21 states in the country free of cost.

State-of-the-art glaucoma services are available in the center with the latest equipment for clinical research and diagnosis. Fiberoptic-guided filtration surgeries have greatly improved the long-term survival in congenital and other refractory glaucomas. Significant research in genetics of various glaucomas in our center has shed light on their inheritance patterns in Indian population.

New horizons are being explored in strabismus surgeries including the use of imaging modalities to aid in the diagnosis and novel surgical techniques to correct complex strabismus and regain ocular alignment and stereopsis.

Pioneering work has been done in the field of oculoplasty services at our center using novel methods of treatment of eyelid abnormalities, reconstruction of contracted socket, and advanced orbital surgeries. Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre has collaboration with medical oncology and radiotherapy department for the treatment of pediatric as well as adult tumors. The National Retinoblastoma Registry has been started in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research. Plaque brachytherapy unit is set up at Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre and is the first of its kind in North India.

The Department of Community Ophthalmology has 15 vision centers which provide comprehensive community-based eye care, school vision screening, and diabetic retinopathy screening for early detection of these diseases. Reach-in programs for cataract surgery are conducted free of cost using the best machinery and intraocular lenses. Currently, 2 of the largest surveys including the National Blindness Survey in 30 districts and the National Trachoma Survey in 24 districts in the country are being conducted with the support from the NPCB, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which enrolled over 45,000 and over 80,000 participants, respectively. Further, a nationwide assessment and evaluation of diabetic retinopathy is ongoing which is the first of its kind on this massive scale. The inauguration of the National Research and Training Centre for Low Vision and Rehabilitation Services in our center in association with CBM has optimized the management of cases with very poor vision. Further, visual assistive devices are being distributed free of cost to the poor and needful.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre has a dedicated round the clock library for residents with over 1200 books and journals. The Ophthalmic Research Association Library is equipped with the latest edition of books, free high-speed internet facility, and multiple computer working stations for the residents and faculty with free access to full-length articles. Over 163 international and national collaborative research projects have been completed or they are ongoing in our center with 116 peer-reviewed publications from our center alone in the last 1 year.

The National Ophthalmic Surgical Skills Development Centre (NOSSDC) was started in the year 1996 to help the residents learn the techniques of extracapsular cataract extractions, phacoemulsification, trabeculectomy, keratoplasty, and other intraocular surgeries. The skill center has been upgraded in 2015 with the latest phacoemulsification machines and a high-end virtual reality simulator for intraocular surgical training, both in cataract and vitreoretinal procedures. Many workshops have been conducted in the NOSSDC attended by numerous trainees from all over the country.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre has come a long way since the time of its inception and is the highest level of eye care in the country. We here at Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre continually strive to work for our motto “From Darkness to Light” for eliminating avoidable blindness.

© 2017 Indian Journal of Ophthalmology | Published by Wolters Kluwer – Medknow