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B+L, Lions award grant

January 1, 2013

Bausch + Lomb and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) awarded the Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital a $150,000 grant to support a training and local capacity building initiative in West Bengal, India. The hospital will use the money for a dedicated early detection and treatment program for pediatric cataract and children’s eye health. The grant is made possible through the Pediatric Cataract Initiative (PCI), a collaborative between Bausch + Lomb and LCIF which identifies, funds and promotes innovative methods for overcoming visual impairments caused by pediatric cataracts and other pediatric eye disease.

The World Health Organization estimates there are 1.4 million blind children in the world, of which 1 million live in Asia. India has the highest number of children with blindness. Childhood cataract — congenital, traumatic or developmental — is the most common treatable cause of childhood blindness, responsible for 10 to 30 percent of all childhood blindness.

The Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital was chosen among a number of applicants in South Asia based on its comprehensive action plan. The capacity grant will provide training to local eye doctors, as well as education to local teachers, primary care givers and other community health workers to train how to accurately identify pediatric cataract and other eye disease in Jalpaiguri district, as well as follow-up care and low vision counseling. The hospital will also invest in new optical equipment and conduct a variety of outreach events in the area to screen 130,000 underserved children in West Bengal. The institution will also perform sight-restoring cataract surgery and long-term follow-up care for 200 children from Jalpaiguri district and neighboring states.

“Identifying children afflicted with pediatric cataract requires close partnership between community health officials and ophthalmologists because children often cannot realize or report when they have any visual problems,” said Kamalesh Guha, chief executive officer, Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital. “This grant will make a huge difference in the lives of children afflicted with cataract and other eye disease, since there is no other dedicated child eye care service in North Bengal, India.”

“We’re pleased to provide the Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital with funds that can help them realize their vision of a comprehensive outreach and training program to help reduce the prevalence of pediatric cataract,” said Joseph Barr, O.D., vice president, clinical and medical affairs at Bausch + Lomb. “This grant will continue the mission of PCI in India by bringing greater awareness, treatment and high-quality eye care services to this area of need.”

Proposals were collected through an invitation-only process focused solely on South Asia. The PCI Global Advisory Council, which is composed of leading eye health experts from around the world, reviewed grant applications received from nine institutions located in Nepal, Bangladesh and India before selecting the Siliguri Greater Lions Hospital in West Bengal, India.

“LCIF is proud to partner with Bausch + Lomb through the Pediatric Cataract Initiative. Together we are improving eye care for underserved children and their families,” said Wing-Kun Tam, chairperson of LCIF. “This grant will further improve the expertise and the quality of treatment that the facility is able to provide for local children who depend on us to ensure that they have the best sight possible.”

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