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USAID Blindness Program Assists One Million Children in 23 Countries
Date:3/4/2009

WASHINGTON, March 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the past year, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Child Blindness Program assisted over one million people through eye health education, comprehensive vision screening, refractive error correction, sight-restoring surgery, and education for blind children.

USAID has supported programs to reduce childhood blindness since 1991. This year, 31 projects reached over one million people in 23 countries. Together, these projects screened 950,000 children and 61,000 adults -- many of whom are teachers in school-based eye health programs. In countries like Niger, India, Nepal and Tanzania, USAID grantees are expanding access to eye care and improving vision for thousands in hard-to-reach communities.

There are 17 million children in the world with low vision or blurred eye sight. Children with inadequate vision often drop out of school when they cannot see the blackboard or letters in a book, and suffer the lifelong consequences of low education. The majority of these children experience refractive errors that can be corrected with glasses. This year, USAID supported programs in 10 countries that have distributed over 11,000 pairs of eyeglasses to children.

USAID Global Health Bureau Deputy Assistant Administrator Gloria Steele highlights the role of USAID's partners: "From supporting global leaders in eye care like Aravind Eye Care System in India to community-based screening programs like that of Seva Foundation in Nepal, USAID and our partners are leading the way in expanding access to social and educational opportunities for children with vision impairments in the developing world."

One of USAID's grantees, VisionSpring, is innovating approaches to delivering eye glasses to people with refractive error. VisionSpring trains vision entrepreneurs to screen adults and children and sell a variety of low-cost glasses. In
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SOURCE U.S. Agency for International Development
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