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2020 Winter Newsletter

2020 Winter Newsletter from ISPB and Prevent Blindness IL


January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

Today, there are more than an estimated 3.7 million older adults in the United States with glaucoma, according to the report, “Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems.” In an effort to help save vision from glaucoma, Prevent Blindness has joined other leading vision and eye health groups in declaring January as National Glaucoma Awareness Month.

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes loss of sight by damaging a part of the eye called the optic nerve. This nerve sends information from the eyes to the brain. When glaucoma damages the optic nerve, patches of vision may become lost, usually side vision (peripheral vision). Most sight loss from glaucoma is gradual, which is why it is often referred to as the “Sneak Thief of Sight.”

According to the National Eye Institute, women account for 61 percent of glaucoma cases. Additionally, black Americans age 40 and older are at the highest risk of developing glaucoma. By age 69, nearly six percent of black Americans have glaucoma, with the risk rising to nearly 12 percent after age 80. And, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that because Hispanics and Latinos are the largest and fastest-growing minority group in the United States, by 2050, half of people living with glaucoma will be Hispanic or Latino.

To help educate the public on glaucoma, including risk factors, symptoms, treatment options and more, Prevent Blindness, in partnership with Responsum Health, has launched the new resource, “The Glaucoma Community.” This comprehensive resource, accessible online or through the mobile app, provides users with a variety of features including:

  • A personalized Newsfeed
  • A Community Chat function
  • Dedicated Facebook page 
  • Glaucoma content in seven different languages
  • A Patient One-Sheet, which allows patients to easily collect, maintain, and print their key medical information in a secure format.
  • Access to extensive patient resources, including financial assistance programs and glaucoma support groups.

In addition to volunteers from Prevent Blindness, the Content Advisory Council for The Glaucoma Community includes representatives from the BrightFocus Foundation, National Medical Association (NMA) Ophthalmology, and The Glaucoma Foundation. The Glaucoma Community was made possible by a grant from The Allergan Foundation.

For more information on glaucoma, including factsheets (available in English or Spanish), and sharable infographics, visit the Prevent Blindness glaucoma webpage. Information is also available under the Eye Health Resources section of the ISPB website.

Vision Care Financial Assistance
For those in need of financial assistance, “The Glaucoma Program” from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeCare America, provides a glaucoma eye exam at no cost to those who are eligible and uninsured. For additional financial assistance information in English or Spanish, including Medicare coverage, visit the Prevent Blindness vision care financial assistance webpage.  


Extended Statewide:  Friedman Place Rent Assistance Program for Adults Who are Blind or Visually Impaired

Friedman Place is a non-profit that primarily provides housing and supportive services similar to what is found in an assisted living to adults who are blind or visually impaired on the Northside of Chicago. The agency also provides case management services to people who are blind throughout Illinois.

After a successful first year of offering rental assistance to people who are blind in Cook County, Friedman Place is now extending the rental assistance program to all of Illinois! The Rent Assistance Program financially supports Illinois residents eighteen years and older who are blind and have low incomes, so that they may remain and succeed in the community in their own rented apartments, houses, or rooms. 

Learn more about the program and eligibility requirements here.


How Your Gift to ISPB is Making a Difference

ISPB and Prevent Blindness IL were humbled to receive this heartwarming letter from a third-year optometry student at the Illinois College of Optometry who works at the Alfred and Sarah Rosenbloom Center on Vision and Aging at the Illinois Eye Institute. ISPB’s low vision aid reimbursement program continues to impact our community in so many amazing ways, and we hope you will join us in making a difference by contributing to the program.


2021 Jenny Pomeroy Award for Excellence in Vision  and Public Health

Submission Deadline: Friday, February 5, 2021 – noon ET

The Jenny Pomeroy Award for Excellence in Vision and Public Health is presented annually to an individual, team, or organization that has made significant contributions to the advancement of public health related to vision and eye health at the community, state, national and/or international level.

Among the highest honors Prevent Blindness bestows, this prestigious award consists of formal acknowledgement and a commemorative plaque to be presented at the Focus on Eye Health National Summit a virtual event on July 14, 2021. It further comes with an invitation to present on this work as a speaker of the Summit. 

The award serves as a living memorial to Jenny Pomeroy, who served as the CEO of Prevent Blindness Georgia from 1996 until 2013 and brought a passionate understanding of public health to her work and our mission. 

Criteria and information on submitting a nomination for this year’s award can be found here.


 2021 Prevent Blindness Rising Visionary Award

Submission Deadline: Friday, February 5, 2021 – noon ET

The Prevent Blindness Rising Visionary Award is presented annually to an optometry student or resident, ophthalmology resident, primary health care, nursing, or other health professional student or resident in the United States who has the best essay based on the 2021 Focus on Eye Health National Summit theme: Our Changing Vision.

This esteemed award consists of formal acknowledgement and a commemorative plaque to be presented at the Focus on Eye Health National Summit virtually on July 14 or 15th, 2021. It further comes with an invitation to present this work as a speaker at the Summit. Application information and criteria can be found here.

Araba Otoo, a third-year optometry student at The Ohio State University, was selected as the first recipient of the Prevent Blindness Rising Visionary Award in 2020.

FUN FACT:  Araba was a community outreach volunteer with ISPB and PBIL before beginning optometry school in Ohio.


SAVE THE DATE!  National Vision Webinar on Gene Therapy

Join the Foundation Fighting Blindness on Saturday, January 23rd, 2021, at 12:00 pm EST for a webinar featuring a discussion of how gene therapies can be used to address retinal degenerative diseases, as well as the latest updates on gene therapy research and clinical trials.

Registration information is available here.


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