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Home Resource Center SightFirst FAQ

SightFirst FAQ

What is the SightFirst program?

Lions Clubs International Foundation’s SightFirst program funds the efforts of Lions, nongovernmental organizations, government agencies and others to fight the major causes of preventable and reversible blindness, and provide services to persons who are blind or have a visual impairment. This is accomplished through the support of eye health care delivery systems, training and infrastructure development.

How does the SightFirst program battle global blindness?

The SightFirst program builds eye care systems, fights blindness and vision loss and assists blind and visually-impaired persons in underserved communities throughout the world. It serves as a leading member of IAPB, a coalition of organizations dedicated to the elimination of the the main causes of avoidable blindness and to prevent the doubling of avoidable vision impairment. Since the program began in 1990, SightFirst has helped save the sight of more than 30 million people worldwide.

What kind of projects does SightFirst support, and is funding available for projects in developed countries?

SightFirst helps Lions and their partners address the world’s leading causes of preventable or reversible blindness, as well as provide services to persons who are blind or have low vision. The program focuses on large-scale projects that address cataract, trachoma, river blindness, diabetic retinopathy, and uncorrected refractive error. SightFirst also funds research projects that directly support SightFirst objectives, with an emphasis on projects that seek to better deliver cataract, trachoma and uncorrected refractive error services. Requests for individual surgeries or eyeglasses are referred to local Lions.

Funding is available for developed countries through projects that address low vision, diabetic retinopathy, uncorrected refractive error and education/rehabilitation projects. These conditions and needs are prevalent in both developed and developing countries. SightFirst criteria and applications can be found online.

Does LCIF offer grants for individual assistance (i.e. scholarships, personal medical expenses, etc.)?

LCIF supports large-scale projects that address unmet humanitarian needs for entire communities. These projects are led by local Lions who identify the need, develop the plan of action and carry out the project. LCIF does not have a grant program that supports individual assistance. These requests are more appropriately directed to the local Lions who often have programs in place to support these types of requests within their communities. Use the club locator to find a club in your area to contact.

Who may apply for an LCIF SightFirst grant?

Lions' districts (single, sub or multiple) work with their regional SightFirst technical advisor and the (multiple) disrict SightFirst chairperson and committee to assess local eye care needs and develop SightFirst grant project proposals. Completed applications must be signed and certified by the Technical Advisor, the district/multiple district's SightFirst chairperson and the district governor (or council chairperson in the case of multiple district-initiated applications). A list of Technical Advisors worldwide is available for reference. Read the SightFirst Executive Summary for information on the types of projects SightFirst supports.

What is the difference between a SightFirst project and a sight-related project?

Projects that receive LCIF SightFirst grants focus on the major causes of blindness at national, regional or international levels. These projects reach populations that are underserved or that have limited or no access to eye healthcare services. Sight-related projects focus on community needs rather than national or regional needs. Those projects, such as purchasing equipment for an eye clinic, for example, may qualify for an LCIF Standard Grant or International Assistance Grant. Other sight-related projects might include those which focus on a disease or program that is not a SightFirst funding priority (i.e. glaucoma or eye banking) or in which Lions in a developed country carry out programming in a developing country.

Who serves on the SightFirst Advisory Committee (SAC)?

The SAC is comprised of Lions leaders and global blindness prevention experts. The committee reviews and approves projects that may receive LCIF SightFirst grants and establishes policy for the program. The SAC reports all actions to the LCIF Board of Trustees.

When does the SAC meet?

The committee meets two times each year in conjunction withe the Lions Clubs International Executive Committee meetings in January and August. Contact the Sight Programs Department for specific dates. Grant applications are due 90 days prior to the meeting.