Prevent Blindness America Applauds Federal Funding to Expand Sight-Saving Programs for Adults and Children Across the Country

CHICAGO (Oct. 27, 2010) Prevent Blindness America applauds the announcement of up to $335 million for existing community health centers through the Expanded Services (ES) initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). For the first time, vision and eye health services have been included in the funding, as announced by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  This funding is made available through the Affordable Care Act, which will provide $11 billion in funding over the next 5 years for the operation, expansion, and construction of health centers throughout the nation.

Prevent Blindness America has been working with community partners to lead the charge for inclusion of vision and eye health services in community health centers.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has made increased access to vision care services for underserved populations a priority for FY 2011 and is offering this opportunity to establish or expand vision care services.  Prevent Blindness America encourages community health centers across the country to take advantage of this important opportunity to improve access to vision and eye services for those most in need, and to partner with community eye care professionals to ensure this availability of care.

“We encourage HRSA and participating community health centers to expand services to provide critically important screenings for at-risk adults to identify potential indicators of vision problems such as age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and refractive errors, and to advance these individuals for appropriate care,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America.  “In addition, we want to ensure our nation’s children receive the necessary and appropriate eye health services – including vision screenings and eye exams – to help them enjoy a lifetime of healthy vision.”

Community health leaders who are interested in applying for these funds may submit applications from now through January 6, 2011.  Additional information on the application process may be found at: hrsa.gov/grants/apply/assistance/expandedservices/.

“More than 29 million adult Americans are currently affected by vision problems.  And vision disorders are the most prevalent disabling childhood conditions in the United States,” added Parry.  “Through the ES initiative, we can help to protect the vision and eye health of communities across the United States.”

For more information about the ES initiative and the Affordable Care Act, how to contact your government representative to request additional vision program funding, or for general information on eye health, please contact Prevent Blindness America by visiting preventblindness.org or call (800) 331-2020.

About Prevent Blindness America

Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness America is the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight.  Focused on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness America touches the lives of millions of people each year through public and professional education, advocacy, certified vision screening and training, community and patient service programs and research.  These services are made possible through the generous support of the American public.  Together with a network of affiliates, divisions and chapters, Prevent Blindness America is committed to eliminating preventable blindness in America.  For more information, or to make a contribution to the sight-saving fund, call 1-800-331-2020. Or, visit us on the Web at preventblindness.org or facebook.com/preventblindness.

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