Update: House Resolution 366 passed, and photos and other news from the event are available on NEI's Web site.
Oak Brook, Illinois, USA, June 17, 2009 – Lions Clubs members today join in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the National Eye Institute in Washington, D.C. Lions Clubs International President Al Brandel and Vice President Sid Scruggs will take part in a Capitol Hill event to mark the anniversary and Lions’ partnership with NEI since its inception.
This AEVR event is being held under a new initiative established by the Alliance, the Decade of Vision 2010-2020, which is a sustained program to educate about the beneficial impact of federally funded vision research. AEVR-affiliated organization National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) has worked with Representatives Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Pete Sessions (R-TX), who have introduced H. Res 366, which recognizes the NEI’s 40th anniversary and supports designation of 2010-2020 as the Decade of Vision.
Commenting on this event, Brandel stated that, “Since Lions Clubs in all 50 states coordinated the 100,000-plus telegrams and letters that flooded Capitol Hill in support of the creation of the NEI, I am honored to participate in this celebration of 40 years of federally funded research to save sight and restore vision. As a non-profit, international organization that works closely with the NEI, LCIF can attest to the global impact of the Institute’s work.” LCIF, along with the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), serve as sponsors of the event.
In addition to helping spur the creation of NEI, Lions have led community efforts at increasing awareness of eye health and the need for timely and regular treatment of eye diseases. In 1991 and 2005 both organizations collaborated to initiative a survey to benchmark the American public’s knowledge, attitudes, and practices toward eye health and disease. The results of the first survey led LCIF to develop the Lions Eye Health Program (LEHP). NEI’s National Eye Health Education Program was able to provide LEHP with standardized key eye health messaging that the Lions, with concrete ties in local communities, were then able to directly disseminate.
Lions and NEI are planning a focus group for fall 2009 in order to create co-branded eye health education materials. The two organizations share a mission of preventing blindness and increasing community education on eye health.
Lions join AEVR President Stephen Ryan, M.D. (Doheny Eye Institute), who also serves as host of the event and NEI Director Paul Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., who has led the Institute since 2001, as well as a number of senators and eye health organizations in supporting House Resolution 366. Lions Clubs International Foundation is a member organization.
Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational foundation composed of stakeholders in vision research – including ophthalmic and optometric professionals, consumer and patient groups, and industry – that educates about the value of federally funded eye and vision research. AEVR’s Web site at www.eyeresearch.org has a section dedicated to the NEI’s 40th anniversary linked from the home page. This section has posted a number of congratulatory letters from the vision community to the NEI.
Lions Clubs International Foundation is the charitable arm of Lions Clubs International, the world's largest service club organization with nearly 1.35 million members in approximately 45,000 Lions clubs in 206 countries and geographical areas around the world. Since it was founded in 1968, Lions Clubs International Foundation has awarded more than 9,300 grants totaling more than $660 million dollars. Lions began the SightFirst program through LCIF in 1990 and have saved or restored the vision of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. For more information, visit www.lcif.org/sightfirst.