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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 57  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 252-253

Nostalgic journey of Regional Institute of Ophthalmology-Government Ophthalmic Hospital, Egmore – Bicentennial celebrations (1819–2019)

Department of Ophthalmology, National University Hospital, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Date of Submission10-Oct-2019
Date of Acceptance12-Oct-2019
Date of Web Publication11-Nov-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Gangadhara Sundar
Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Orbit, Oculofacial Surgery and Ophthalmic Oncology, National University of Singapore, 119228
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/tjosr.tjosr_87_19

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How to cite this article:
Sundar G. Nostalgic journey of Regional Institute of Ophthalmology-Government Ophthalmic Hospital, Egmore – Bicentennial celebrations (1819–2019). TNOA J Ophthalmic Sci Res 2019;57:252-3

How to cite this URL:
Sundar G. Nostalgic journey of Regional Institute of Ophthalmology-Government Ophthalmic Hospital, Egmore – Bicentennial celebrations (1819–2019). TNOA J Ophthalmic Sci Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Jul 15];57:252-3. Available from: http://www.tnoajosr.com/text.asp?2019/57/3/252/270709

It is always a pleasant and nostalgic feeling to write about our – Regional Institute of Ophthalmology-Government Ophthalmic Hospital (RIO-GOH), Egmore, which traces its origin to 1819. Even as an undergraduate student while at the Madras Medical College, the short-term posting at RIO-GOH was exciting and stimulating, as it was the first time in medicine that we had an opportunity to view “pathology” with our naked eye, assisted by various scopes and cameras. The interest the assistant surgeons and postgraduates showed toward undergraduates was the beginning of my interest in ophthalmology.

However, the true experience of “living and working” at RIO-GOH was during my postgraduate days treading the hallowed walkways and dimly lit clinics on the either side of the road. Back then, it was an honor and privilege to even “wield” the slit-lamp biomicroscope, the indirect ophthalmoscope, and the Goldmann applanation tonometer (when the Schiotz tonometer was still being used). Although now considered simple, the ability to perform good clinical examination with a good old-fashioned torchlight and direct ophthalmoscope has held us in good stead, especially when we travel to parts of the world away from established ophthalmic setups and even now or when we perform bedside examinations today at general hospital wards.

GOH is where our fundamentals in ophthalmology were established with the development and honing of clinical examination skills, critical thinking, and basic surgical skills. Although there were several teachers who inspired us, of note both in terms of clinical skills and personalities, some of them had left indelible marks on us. Personalities varied from the extremely humble and simple teachers like Drs. Guhanandan, Muthiah, and J E Abraham; the interesting and exciting personalities like Drs. V M Loganathan (who had frequently labeled and admonished me as a “lateral thinker”!), E C Narasimhan, Salahuddin, and Rammohan; the skillful surgeon–teachers like Drs. Vasantha (who initially taught me the art of excellent “knife sections” for intracapsular cataract extraction); Velayutham and Anandakannan; and the friendly assistant surgeons/teachers like Dr. V R Vijayaraghavan, in addition to several more.

GOH also promoted the culture of mentorship with professors, assistant surgeons, and senior postgraduates, each playing their important roles in teaching the junior postgraduates like us. Some of them who personally inspired me were seniors like Drs. Kalyanasundaram, Ramesh Durairajan, R. Krishnakumar, and Vijayakumar to mention a few, all of whom I still consider as my gurus till date.

There are several unique and memorable aspects of GOH that still linger in our minds. These include the historic and beautiful buildings like the Lady Lawley ward where patients were admitted post cataract with patches on their eyes awaiting daily review until fitness for discharge; the Elliot School of Ophthalmology, where the great lectures of basic and clinical sciences were delivered, matched by the stimulating and beautifully preserved ocular and ophthalmic specimens in the museum from the yesteryears, the one of a kind leech pond which was historically used to treat acute glaucoma; and the dark examination rooms with patients waiting in line to see the professors. On the other side of the road were the postgraduate hostel, the assistant surgeons' rooms, the other clinics such as uvea/retina, strabismus/neuro-ophthalmology, emergency room, and the operating theaters, not to forget the well-stocked library and common room where the table tennis brought all the postgraduates and teachers together. It is here that we built the bonds that we still remember today, where assistant surgeons were easily accessible for teaching ophthalmology, counseling, and mentoring. The frequent trips we made for cataract surgery camps were another great opportunity for bonding, teambuilding, leadership, and organizing skill development while delivering needy eye care in the remote areas.

While I initially had reservations when I left GOH, having observed the numerous advances that have been made and practiced elsewhere – both in India and abroad, I still warmly remember the great learning experience and launching pad that the institution and our teachers offered us, which has paved the path for each one of us who graduated from there.

I am very pleased to note in the year of its bicentenary celebrations (1819–2019) that successive generations of our teachers and leaders have preserved a good deal of the great history and legacy of ophthalmology in GOH, and the current team, ably assisted by the leadership and members of the Tamilnadu Ophthalmic Association and All India Ophthalmological Society, have and continue to restore the institution to its former glory as a leading ophthalmic training institution, with refurbishment of the Elliot School of Ophthalmology and the one of a kind museum of ophthalmology. Here's wishing our alma mater a great legacy, forever.

Some of the pictorial memories from then, 1990–1991, are depicted in [Figure 1] and more recently during the visit with Prof. Richard Collin, Moorfield Eye Hospital, London, in September 2019, in [Figure 2].
Figure 1: Batch of 1990–1991 with some of our teachers.

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Figure 2: Visit to Elliot Museum of Ophthalmology, September 2019, with Prof. Richard Collin, Drs. Raghavan Sampath, Mohan Rajan, and Prakash, along with some young and bright postgraduate students

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There are no conflicts of interest.


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


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