You can make a difference

Mail :
Call Us :
+91 81 29 311 899

The Subramania Sharma Memorial Eye Research Foundation

The Subramania Sharma Memorial Eye Research Foundation (SSM Eye Research Foundation) was founded in memory of one such visionary – Sri Ayalur Harihara Iyer Subramania Sharma. For Dr. A. Giridhar, it was not a difficult choice of name for a Trust he established with the primary aim of reaching out to the less privileged with the objective of eradication of avoidable blindness. His grandfather was a towering personality whose values and spirit were in sync with those of the charitable organisation in his name that has touched a great number of lives in the past 12 years.

Shri Subramania Sharma lived in an age when agriculture was considered a profitable profession, and Gandhiji’s words “India lives in her villages” still held true. He was born a good 13 years before the Mahatma wrote that inspired line in an essay in 1921. After completing his school education from the Nenmara Government High School, near his native village of Ayalur, Sharma did his intermediate from the Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam. Ayalur, 25 km off Palakkad town, was known for its temples and colourful festivals, but Sharma was drawn to one particular colour – green. Not really surprising because Palakkad, along with Kuttanad, was known for its paddy cultivation till the workforce disappeared, making agriculture cost-intensive. Sharma enrolled at the Agricultural College and Research Institute in Coimbatore, one of the oldest agricultural education institutes in India when the institute started a bachelor’s degree in agriculture in the 1920s. Upon graduation, he entered the agricultural service of the Madras Presidency as a demonstrator, and by the time he retired in 1962, he was Professor of Agronomy and Director of Agriculture.

He inspired generations of agriculture students, but one of his biggest contributions in the field was not academic. Sharma, along with his father, pioneered rubber cultivation in the Nelliampathy Hills in Palakkad. Today, rubber is one of the major cash crops of Kerala. Till his death in 1989 of natural causes, Sharma was very active in the Planters’ Association, and always went out of his way to help people in need. He was a generous philanthropist and helped many in employment, education and religious functions. He died in the year 1989, at Coimbatore. Thus, it was only fitting that a charity to assist the less privileged bear the name of Shri Subramania Sharma. Started in 2005, the SSM Foundation (operated by Giridhar Eye Institute) has been focusing on community interventions among populations with poor access to eye care. Identifying the target population, screening, diagnosis, investigations, management and awareness creation have been identified as the six main stages of community ophthalmic care.

Quietly and with minimum publicity, the Trust has been doing pioneering work not only by way of conventional screening programs but also by collating data from the target population through extensive and continuous surveys and by training of healthcare professionals throughout the state. With increased prosperity come related ills and Kerala – a state scoring very high on positive social indices – has fallen prey to lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension and age-related degenerative conditions. The number of elderly individuals is set to increase in the state because of negative population growth. These combined factors have raised fears of eye diseases and avoidable blindness cases further rising in the changing scenario.

The Activities We Do?

  1. Free cataract surgery with intra ocular lens implantation for BPL patients
  2. Eye screening of primary school children on a regular basis
  3. Diabetic retinopathy awareness and screening camps
  4. Rotary Club of Cochin has initiated a Global Grant from Rotary Foundation of Rotary international and donated a fully-equipped ophthalmic mobile unit to the SSM Trust for comprehensive eye examination in the remote areas.
  5. Establishment of a low vision and visual rehabilitation program
  6. Senior citizens eye care initiative of Cochin
  7. Running three free eye clinics in Ernakulam district – one at the Gurudwara in Thevara, the second at the Rotary Bal Bhavan in Panampilly Nagar, and the third at Abhayam Trust, Tripunithura.
  8. Launch of an intensive awareness program to educate patients and General Practitioners on diabetes-related eye disease. A project in this field, which involved a door-to-door survey in Changamanad Panchayat, won the prestigious XOVA Excellency award in 2010.
  9. Cochin Shipyard Ltd. has granted a CSR fund to the trust to purchase a mobile van equipped with a non-mydriatic fundus camera to screen premature (pre-term) infants for Retinopathy of Prematurity, which is a potentially avoidable cause of blindness in children
  10. Conduct of CME (Continuous Medical Education) Program every year
  11. Encouraging education among the weaker sections by extending financial help to bright students
  12. SSM Oration Award honours an eminent Ophthalmologist, Medical Teacher or a Medical Scientist to acknowledge their contribution in the development and progress of Ophthalmology and allied sciences.

These are but a few of the community initiatives pioneered by the SSM Foundation and GEI to realise the goal of effective community intervention in the area of eye care. Over 100 eye screening camps have been conducted in a year under the SSM Foundation and Giridhar Eye Hospital’s community outreach programme and over 1000 free cataract surgeries are performed in a year.