Allie Stryker 0000-00-00 00:00:00
SightFirst Prevents Blindness in New Ways Lions are leaders in sight. From funding cataract surgeries and diabetic retinopathy projects to providing medication for river blindness and trachoma, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has been preventing avoidable blindness on a global scale for more than 20 years through the SightFirst program. As announced during Campaign SightFirst II, SightFirst seeks to combat existing and emerging threats to sight through research initiatives. In August, the first SightFirst research grants were approved. By focusing on priority eye diseases (cataract, trachoma and uncorrected refractive error), SightFirst will evaluate eye care delivery and needs, blindness prevention strategies and barriers to services through these grants. “Funding research priorities related to operations and evaluative components will add significant value to all of the future SightFirst projects,” says Dr. Gullapalli N. Rao of the LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India, and a member of the LCIF SightFirst Advisory Committee. “These research projects will provide better evidence on which future projects can be formed and built.” One of the first LCIF research grants focuses on trichiasis, an eye disease that turns the eyelid inward, causing the eyelashes to painfully rub the eyeball and scar the cornea, potentially causing blindness. To combat this disease, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a new, post-surgery medication to treat people in Ethiopia who undergo surgery for trichiasis; the medication should help reduce the risk of disease recurrence. The first of its kind, the study is highly relevant to global trachoma elimination efforts. It is closely linked to SightFirst investments in trachoma surgeries and potentially groundbreaking in its attempt to improve trichiasis surgery for patients. Continuing efforts in trachoma research, a second LCIF research grant examines methods of finding and encouraging patients with trachoma to undergo trichiasis surgery in Tanzania. This will improve access to care for those in need. The study, led by Johns Hopkins Dana Center for Preventative Ophthalmology, will also examine if the methods for finding trachoma patients will help eliminate the backlog of trichiasis surgeries in areas of Tanzania. Two other projects funded under SightFirst’s research program are rapid assessment of avoidable blindness (RAAB) initiatives. These RAABs will help Lions and their partners properly plan and implement future SightFirst projects by determining the prevalence and causes of eye health issues and the barriers patients have to accessing eye care. As part of the two grants awarded for RAABs, the Centre for Eye Research Australia, in partnership with Sudirohusodo General Hospital and Hasanuddin University, will conduct a RAAB in Indonesia to provide information on the causes of vision loss in Sulawesi. In Bolivia, the Instituto Nacional de Oftalmologia Bolivia, Sociedad Boliviana de Oftalmologia and other organizations will complete a RAAB to define the eye care needs in Cochabamba, La Paz and Santa Cruz. By researching vision loss and eye care needs in these regions, SightFirst and LCIF will have a better understanding of eye care needs and priorities. Together with the trachoma research initiatives, these grants will lead to more effective treatment and blindness prevention in the future.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Visionary+Work/1204644/129809/article.html.