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United States to host World Sight Day celebration October 10

More Americans than ever are facing the threat of blindness from age-related eye disease. More than one million Americans aged 40 and older are currently blind and an additional 2.4 million are visually impaired. These numbers are expected to double during the next 30 years as the Baby Boomer generation ages.

With the goal of making vision a public health priority nationally and globally, the National Eye Institute (NEI), one of the Federal government's National Institutes of Health, joins the Lions Clubs International, Lighthouse International, and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness to host World Sight Day with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. on October 10, 2002.

Eve Slater, M.D., assistant secretary of health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, kicks off the celebration at a noon (EDT) event to highlight the Department's dedication to the goals of World Sight Day and its commitment to improving eye health for all Americans.

"World Sight Day is an annual observance that showcases global commitment to prevent vision loss and blindness through early detection, treatment, and rehabilitation," Dr. Slater said. "Promoting vision health and care is the motivating force for the World Sight Day partners. We stand with our partners here, and around the globe, to demonstrate our determination in making vision a public health priority."

World Sight Day was launched by Lions Clubs International in 1998 to recognize and reinforce the importance of eradicating preventable blindness. In the five years since its inception, World Sight Day events, including cataract and glaucoma screenings, collection of used eye glasses for recycling, and distribution of educational material, have been held on six continents.

"Few Americans realize that blindness is a major and increasing problem in the United States," said J. Frank Moore III, chairman, Lions Clubs International Foundatio
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Contact: Michael Coogan
mjc@nei.nih.gov
301-496-5248
NIH/National Eye Institute
8-Oct-2002


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