Nestled deep within the four walls of the historic city of Amritsar lies an ultra modern eye hospital founded by Sardar Bahadur Dr. Sohan Singh, at a site originally purchased as a family haveli in 1916. The hospital is named after Dr. Sohan Singh who was a gifted teacher of Ophthalmology and an exceptionally talented eye surgeon, apart from being a philanthropist, educationist, sportsman, connoisseur of music and a lovable a family man.
Those were the days of British rule in India. The British government of the day conferred upon him the personal title of Sardar Bahadur and appointed him honorary eye surgeon to the Viceroy of India in recognition of his outstanding professional services and achievements. His eagerness to see Indian Ophthalmology come upto world standards made him travel far and wide to places such as London, Vienna, Berlin and Paris to make himself familiar with the latest advances in the treatment of eye diseases.
Sardar Bahadur Dr. Sohan Singh passed away in 1961 and his Ophthalmologist son Dr. Ranbir Singh stepped into his father’s shoes in the hope of being able to maintain the standard set by his illustrious father.
Dr. Ranbir Singh received part of his post-graduate training in the Moorfield’s Eye Hospital, London where he specially concentrated on the subjects of squint and contact lenses. He retired as head of the department of Ophthalmology at the Medical College, Amritsar, in 1974, but maintained the tempo of his professional activities. Today at the age of 90 he is still active as a consultant.
Dr. Ranbir Singh’s two sons, Dr. Rajbir Singh and Dr. Preetam Singh, are also highly qualified Ophthalmologists in their own right. The elder of the two (Dr. Rajbir) joined him in practice in 1978 after completing his training in vitreo-retinal surgery at the University of California, San Franscisco. The younger one (Dr. Preetam) joined him full time in 1991 on completion of his specialist training at the prestigious Sankara Nethralaya Eye Hospital in Chennai.
Although the hospital offers medical and surgical care for all kinds of eye ailments, it is specially known for surgeries involving the retina – the highly sensitive and delicate film which lines the inside of the back wall of the eye. It is the function of the retina to perceive and register visual impressions reaching it from objects outside the eye. If, for any reason the retina gets detached from its bed, it begins to degenerate and lose its ability to perceive and register visual impulses reaching it from objects outside the eye. Irreversible visual damage may result if the detachment remains untreated for a long time. The required retina surgery in such cases involves delicate surgical procedures aimed at restoring eye sight by putting the detached retina back into its normal position. The hospital is a pioneer in this particular field of eye surgery in Northern India, having initiated it as long ago as March 1979.The first Retinal Detachment procedure in the hospital was done in March 1979 and the first Pars Plana Vitrectomy in October 1983. In the words of Dr. Preetam Singh, retinal conditions that were considered intractable a few years back, have now become treatable, thanks to the revolutionary advances in the knowledge and technology made during the course of past two decades.
And now, true to family tradition, Dr. Rajbir Singh’s son Dr. Ajay Singh, has also emerged as a highly qualified and promising young Ophthalmologist who has joined the hospital as a junior consultant after doing his Retina Fellowship at the UCSF.
Both Dr. Rajbir Singh and Dr. Preetam Singh have their favourite hobbies, despite their heavy professional commitments. Dr. Rajbir Singh is an avid wood worker and has a neat little workshop of his own where he sits at weekends and enjoys carving out of beautifully designed and finished models of dainty toys and curios. Dr. Preetam Singh is a keen aviator and linguist. He is equally proficient in spoken and written German. He is also a talented artist and a painter, a facet unknown to most.
The hospital has grown over the years. One of the earliest associates have been Dr. H. L. Khanna a medical specialist par excellence who takes care of the systemic medical conditions of the patients who have to undergo surgery.
Other highly qualified consultants have joined the hospital in recent years are – Dr. H.P.S. Migalni who runs the squint clinic, Dr. Sophia who is a specialist in retinal medicine, Dr. Jatinder Singh who is a vitreo-retinal specialist with a remarkable academic bent of mind, Dr. Kanwardeep Singh who is in charge of laboratory services. And not the least, the hospital has a set of highly experienced optometrists – Mrs. Neelam Sharma, Mrs. Sawinder Kaur and Miss. Kusum Lata. This is the only hospital in North-Western India which has Retinal Consultants who have been formally trained in prestigious institutions like the University of California, San Franscisco, Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai and Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai.
The hospital offers a special year long fellowship training program in Vitreo-Retina and has already imparted training to doctors from various parts of the country, as well as those from places as far away as Tashkent in Uzbekistan. The hospital enjoys the privilege of hosting visiting Ophthalmologists from other countries such as USA, UK, Pakistan.
Personal comforts and conveniences of patients receive special attention at the hands of the hospital staff. In the words of the hospital administrator, Sh. Mohinder Pal, it is made clear to everyone who takes up service in this hospital that the patients needs and comforts must receive maximum attention to the exclusion of every other consideration. The hospital has special provisions for poor patients who cannot afford the usual cost of treatment.
In the light of ever growing needs and demands of its patients the hospital is planning yet another up-to-date set up at a suitable place outside the walled city.