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Financial Aid for Eye Care

Blindness Questions


EyeSearch is a Guide to Vision and the Eye, including information on glasses, contact lenses, eye diseases, eye surgery, laser surgery, including laser vision correction, and directories of eye specialists nationwide, including ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians and low vision services

Vision 2020

Up to 80% of Global Blindness is Avoidable According to the World Health Organization.  EyeSearch will Donate 5% of our Contact Lens' Profits to Blindness Prevention Organizations.

Scenario for the future per the World Health Organization:

Because of present weakness of eye care delivery and population increase and ageing, blindness will continue to increase by 2 million cases a year unless more aggressive intervention is taken.

Trachoma:  Still the main global cause of preventable blindness.
        Estimates: 146 million persons with active disease
                           10 million trichiasis
                            6 million blind
Trachoma is caused by infection with the organism Chlamydia trachomatis. The initial stage lasts several weeks and then is followed by a chronic stage in which the lids remain very swollen, the cornea becomes eroded, scarred, and vascularized. The lids develop contractures and may turn outward, pulling away form the eye. Secondary bacterial infections may cause blindness.

CATARACTS are a leading cause of blindness worldwide, but fortunately cataracts can most always be treated with modern surgical techniques.

Types of Cataracts

Human Onchocerciasis is caused by the filarial parasite Onchocerca volvulus. The infective larvae are normally transmitted by the bite of Simulium flies.  Accordingly onchocerciasis and the blindness it can lead to are associated with fast flowing rivers with rapids and onchocerciasis is often referred to as 'river blindness'.

Childhood Blindness  

Present situation:


1.5 million blind children in the world
                                                                               5 million visually disabled.

Eliminate Vitamin A deficiency and Measles Blindness.
Control Blindness from Congenital Cataract, Glaucoma and Retinopathy of Prematurity

Choroideremia is a rare inherited disorder that causes progressive loss of vision due to degeneration of the choroid and retina.  Choroideremia, formerly called tapetochoroidal dystrophy, occurs almost exclusively in males. In childhood, night blindness is the most common first symptom.  As the disease progresses, there is loss of peripheral or side vision and later a loss of central vision.  Progression of the disease continues throughout the individual's life, although both the rate and the degree of visual loss are variable among those affected, even within the same family.

Juvenile Retinoschisis is an inherited disease diagnosed in childhood that causes progressive loss of central and peripheral (side) vision due to degeneration of the retina.   Juvenile retinoschisis, also known as X-linked retinoschisis, occurs almost exclusively in males. Although the condition begins at birth, symptoms do not typically become apparent until after the age of 10. About half of all patients diagnosed with juvenile retinoschisis first notice a decline in vision. Other early symptoms of the disease include an inability of both eyes to focus on an object (strabismus) and roving, involuntary eye movements (nystagmus).

Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA) is an inherited retinal degenerative disease characterized by severe loss of vision at birth.  A variety of other eye-related abnormalities including roving eye movements, deep-set eyes, and sensitivity to bright light also occur with this disease.   Some patients with LCA also experience central nervous system abnormalities.

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is the name given to a group of inherited diseases that affect the retina. They are characterized by a gradual breakdown and degeneration of photoreceptor cells, which results in a progressive loss of vision. It is
estimated that RP affects 100,000 individuals in the United States.

Refractive Errors and Low Vision
Refractive Errors magnitude not accurately known and it varies from country to country.  35 million people worldwide in need of low vision care will rapidly escalate because of ageing.

Trauma is also listed by the World Health Organization as a leading cause of blindness in the world.

Enlarged Cup

Almost all patients with GLAUCOMA have no symptoms until the late stages of the disease.  Thus glaucoma can only be detected by regular eye examinations, and it remains a leading cause of blindness in the U.S. because of its insidious nature.  However, most patients diagnosed with glaucoma can be treated with eyedrops alone to prevent vision loss.

Glaucoma Diagram

Drusen and Distortion

MACULAR DEGENERATION is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 65.  It affects approximately 10% of senior adults, but fortunately the great majority of those with macular degeneration  have the milder form of the disease, which usually does not cause substantial loss of vision.
Stargardt Disease is the most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration. It is characterized by a reduction of central vision with a preservation of peripheral (side) vision.  Stargardt disease, also known as fundus flavimaculatus, is usually diagnosed in individuals under the age of 20 when decreased central vision is first noticed.
Best Disease, also known as vitelliform macular dystrophy, is an inherited form of macular degeneration characterized by a loss of central vision.  Best disease affects the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for fine visual detail and color perception.

Financial Aid for Eye Care

Many state and national resources regularly provide aid to people with vision problems. The National Eye Institute, which supports eye research, does not help individuals pay for eye care. However, if you are in need of financial aid to assess or treat an eye problem, you might contact one or more of the following programs.

The National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, is the Federal Government's principal agency for conducting and supporting research on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of eye diseases and disorders of the visual system. Inclusion in this resource sheet does not imply endorsement by the National Eye Institute or by the National Institutes of Health.

The National Eye Care Project, coordinated by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), provides free and low-cost eye exams for U.S. citizens 65 and older who have not had access to an ophthalmologist in the past three years. Telephone: 1-800-222-EYES

VISION USA, coordinated by the American Optometric Association (AOA), provides free eye care to uninsured, low-income workers and their families. Screening for the program takes place only during January of each year, with exams provided later in the year. Telephone: 1-800-766-4466

Lions Clubs International provides financial assistance to individuals for eye care through local clubs. There are Lions Clubs in most localities, and services vary from club to club. Check your telephone book for the telephone number and address of your local club. The telephone number for the national office is (630) 571-5466.

Mission Cataract USA, coordinated by the Volunteer Eye Surgeons' Association, is a program providing free cataract surgery to people of all ages who have no other means to pay. Surgeries are scheduled annually on one day, usually in May. Telephone: 1-800-343-7265

Celebrate Sight: Do You Know Your Glaucoma Risk? coordinated by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is a program offering free examinations and treatment for glaucoma to people who do not have medical insurance. Telephone: 1-800-391-EYES

The Medicine Program assists people to enroll in one or more of the many patient assistance programs that provide prescription medicine free-of-charge to those in need. Patients must meet the sponsor's criteria. The program is conducted in cooperation with the patient's doctor. Mailing Address: P.O. Box 4182, Poplar Bluff, MO 63902-4182. Telephone: (573) 996-7300. E-mail: [email protected]. Website: http://www.themedicineprogram.com .

Sight for Students, a Vision Service Plan (VSP) program in partnership with The Entertainment Industry Foundation, provides eye exams and glasses to children 18 years and younger whose families cannot afford vision care. Telephone: 1-888-290-4964. Website: http://www.sightforstudents.org.

You may also contact a social worker at a local hospital or other community agency. Social workers often are knowledgeable about community resources that can help people facing financial and medical problems.

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