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May 2024 Newsletter From ISPB & PBIL



Eyes on Capitol Hill

Prevent Blindness will be hosting the ASPECT Patient Engagement and Advocacy Summit, May 14-16, 2024, at the Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C. The Summit will bring together ASPECT (Advocacy, Support, Perspective, Empowerment, Communication, and Training) Patient Engagement Program graduates (eye health patients and their allies), and program sponsors.

As part of the event, Prevent Blindness will also hold its 19th Annual Eyes on Capitol Hill legislative day, providing participants with the opportunity to meet elected officials and their staff to discuss important public policy and federal funding requests.

For more information visit HERE


Prevent Blindness and ISPB have designated May as “Inherited Retinal Disease (IRD) Genetic Testing Awareness Month,” expanding its previous IRD and Genetic Testing Awareness Week initiative. We are providing a variety of tools to promote awareness and education for IRDs and the importance of genetic testing, including a free webinar, expert and patient videos, shareable social media graphics, and fact sheets in English and Spanish. IRD Genetic Testing Awareness Month is supported by funding from Johnson & Johnson, and Spark® Therapeutics.

For more information visit HERE


Pathway to Diagnosis: Genetic Testing for Inherited Retinal Diseases
May 29, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm ET.

In this 90-minute webinar, you will gain a deeper understanding of genetic testing as it contributes to diagnosis for an IRD. Topics include when and how children may receive genetic testing; benefits of receiving results for diagnosis, registries, clinical trials, and treatments; strategies for providing information and support to families and children; and patient testimonials about their IRD journeys.

This webinar is tailored for families of children with inherited retinal diseases and visual impairment, patient support organizations, school nurses, early childhood program staff including Head Start, Early Intervention and special education professionals, teachers of students with visual impairments, and healthcare providers.

Register HERE


Community Happenings

Our staff, team of interns, and volunteers provide eye health education and outreach at all types of community events – including health fairs, presentations and screenings!

We will be continuing our efforts during these dates:

July 9, 2024
1:30pm – Carillon Clubhouse: Plainfield, IL

August 9, 2024
11:00am – RUSH’s 9th Annual Community Health Fair:      Chicago, IL

For more information, please contact rbarraza@preventblindness.org


BEING SEEN AND HEARD: July 10-11, 2024

2024 Focus on Eye Health Summit, a virtual interactive event

This year’s event emphasizes the importance of a person-centered approach to vision health interventions, research, communications, and care. Being seen and heard by providers, policy makers, researchers, public health experts and other stakeholders allows an individual’s complex health issues to be addressed while taking into consideration their preferences, cultural background, and social context. And ultimately, it leads to the most ideal outcomes for all involved in the interaction.

The free event attracts a global audience of patient advocates, community-based organizations, vision and eye health organizations, researchers, public health experts, health-care providers, educators, early childhood education professionals, senior- and child-care professionals, government agency staff, corporate partners, health program professionals, legislative staff, and other stakeholders.

Register HERE


Be a Voice for Vision: Sign Up for Advocacy Alerts from Prevent Blindness

Prevent Blindness regularly issues email alerts when there is an opportunity for advocates to contact legislators in Congress with sight-saving policy and legislative updates. Advocates who are interested in making their voices heard can register with their email address at the Prevent Blindness Legislative Action Center. Advocates who register will also receive bi-monthly advocacy news and policy updates from Prevent Blindness.

If you have any questions, please email advocacy@preventblindness.org. Thank you for your commitment to preventing blindness and preserving sight!

Copyright © 2017 Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness

Contact Us
Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness | https://eyehealthillinois.org/
Prevent Blindness Illinois https://preventblindness.org/contact-us/




April 2024 Newsletter From ISPB & PBIL



Women’s Eye Health & Safety Month

Prevent Blindness and ISPB have declared April as Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month. According to Orbis International, globally there are 112 million more women than men living with vision loss, including blindness. Prevent Blindness is offering free resources, including fact sheets, shareable social media graphics, educational videos, and web pages, on a range of eye health issues that predominantly affect women.

Women have a higher prevalence of age-related macular degeneration, cataract, dry eye, glaucoma, refractive error and thyroid eye disease. According to The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health: vision beyond 2020 report, the gender imbalance can be attributed to demographic factors (women living longer than men) and social factors (women having reduced access to care).

For more information visit HERE


Be a Voice for Vision: Sign Up for Advocacy Alerts from Prevent Blindness

Prevent Blindness regularly issues email alerts when there is an opportunity for advocates to contact legislators in Congress with sight-saving policy and legislative updates. Advocates who are interested in making their voices heard can register with their email address at the Prevent Blindness Legislative Action Center. Advocates who register will also receive bi-monthly advocacy news and policy updates from Prevent Blindness.

If you have any questions, please email advocacy@preventblindness.org. Thank you for your commitment to preventing blindness and preserving sight!


The Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness (ISPB) offers unique grant opportunities supporting mentored pre-clinical or clinical research programs designed to foster junior investigator development while advancing clinical care in ophthalmology and optometry

The primary mission of ISPB is to reduce preventable causes of blindness by educating the public on the necessity for and the methods of preventing blindness. ISPB annually awards grants to support research in eye and vision health, with priority granted to areas of inquiry with direct clinical relevance (translation research). Please keep this in mind when filling out your application.

Grant applications are due by Wednesday, May 8, 2024 at midnight. Reviews will take place in June, 2024.
For more information visit HERE


Community Happenings

Our staff, team of interns, and volunteers provide eye health education and outreach at all types of community events – including health fairs, presentations and screenings!

We will be continuing our efforts during these dates:

April 18, 2024
2:00pm – Bickford of Champaign: Champaign, IL

April 30, 2024
1:00pm – Centennial Activity Center Presentation: Park Ridge, IL

July 9, 2024
1:30pm – Carillon Clubhouse: Plainfield, IL

August 9, 2024
11:00am – RUSH’s 9th Annual Community Health Fair: Chicago, IL

For more information, please contact rbarraza@preventblindness.org


Yoan Moncada in his Prevent Blindness Eclipse glasses               
Image curtesy of @WhiteSox Instagram
Prevent Blindness Eclipse Watch Party 

Total Eclipse

The Solar Eclipse was this past Monday. Prevent Blindness hosted a viewing party at 225 W. Wacker Drive in Chicago. Hundreds gathered to view the Eclipse! We hope everyone had a safe viewing! For more information on the eclipse visit HERE

Copyright © 2017 Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness

Contact Us
Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness | https://eyehealthillinois.org/
Prevent Blindness Illinois https://preventblindness.org/contact-us/




March 2024 Newsletter From ISPB & PBIL



Workplace Eye Wellness Month

ISPB and Prevent Blindness Illinois (PBIL) have declared March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month to encourage employers and employees to make eye safety and eye protection a priority on the job. We offer a variety of free resources including WORKPLACE EYE SAFETY FACT SHEETSSHAREABLE SOCIAL MEDIA GRAPHICS, and, to help employers educate workers on eye protection and safety, Prevent Blindness also offers the Workplace Safety module in the HEALTHY EYES EDUCATIONAL SERIES. 

According to a recent report from the U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, workers suffered 18,510 eye-related injuries and illnesses in 2020. Contact with objects or equipment led to the majority of eye injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work in 2020. Of these cases, close to 60 percent resulted from the worker rubbing or being abraded by foreign matter in the eye. Another 35 percent resulted from the eye being struck by an object or equipment. The AMERICAN ACADEMY OF OPHTHALMOLOGY recommends eye safety gear that protects eyes from hazards such as:

  • Flying shards of metal or glass
  • Tools that slip or malfunction
  • Particles such as wood splinters, metal shavings or crystalline silica
  • Spattered chemicals
  • Any combination of these or other hazards

For more information visit HERE


Community Happenings

Our staff, team of interns, and volunteers provide eye health education and outreach at all types of community events – including health fairs, presentations and screenings!

We will be continuing our efforts during these dates:

March 06, 2024
3:30pm – Bridle Brook Assisted Living: Mahomet, IL

March 10, 2024
2:00pm – Prairie Winds of Urbana: Urbana, IL

March 17, 2024
1:00pm – Pop Up Farmer’s Market: Chicago, IL

March 19, 2024
2:00pm – Evergreen Place: Champaign, IL

March 25, 2024
1:00pm – Waukegan Township Presentation: Waukegan, IL

April 04, 2024
1:30pm – Carriage Crossing Senior Living: Champaign, IL

April 09, 2024
1:30pm – Skokie Low Vision Support Group Presentation: Skokie, IL

April 30, 2024
1:00pm – Centennial Activity Center Presentation: Park Ridge, IL

For more information, please contact rbarraza@preventblindness.org


The Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness (ISPB) offers unique grant opportunities supporting mentored pre-clinical or clinical research programs designed to foster junior investigator development while advancing clinical care in ophthalmology and optometry

The primary mission of ISPB is to reduce preventable causes of blindness by educating the public on the necessity for and the methods of preventing blindness. ISPB annually awards grants to support research in eye and vision health, with priority granted to areas of inquiry with direct clinical relevance (translation research). Please keep this in mind when filling out your application.

Grant applications are due by Wednesday, May 8, 2024 at midnight. Reviews will take place in June, 2024.
For more information visit HERE


Total Eclipse is April 8, 2024

The next total solar eclipse in North America will occur across most of the United States on April 8, 2024, including a small band of total solar eclipse stretching from southwest to northeast across much of the continent. Prevent Blindness hopes you enjoy taking part in this important astronomical and cultural event. Before you do, please take the time to learn about the dangers to your vision and how to protect your eyes from injury during the eclipse.

 To learn more visit HERE


Copyright © 2017 Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness

Contact Us
Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness | https://eyehealthillinois.org/
Prevent Blindness Illinois https://preventblindness.org/contact-us/




February 2024 Newsletter From ISPB & PBIL



CONGRATULATIONS to the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health (NCCVEH) as they celebrate their 15th year of service! Please visit them for more information and to stay up to date.


AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month

ISPB and PBIL have once again declared February as Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Low Vision Awareness Month. We offer a variety of free educational resources to the public and professionals, including fact sheets and social media graphics in English and Spanish, as well as dedicated online resources and informative videos.

AMD is a retinal disease that affects part of the back of the eye called the macula. When AMD damages the macula, the center part of a person’s vision may become blurred or wavy, and a blind spot may develop. According to the National Eye Institute, 11 million people in the United States have AMD.Low vision is defined as vision loss that cannot be corrected by medical or surgical treatments or conventional eyeglasses, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. More than 7 million Americans have low vision.

For more information visit HERE


Community Happenings

Our staff, team of interns, and volunteers provide eye health education and outreach at all types of community events – including health fairs, presentations and screenings!

We will be continuing our efforts during these dates:

February 24, 2024
10:00am – Boys + Girls Club Health Fair: Freeport, IL

March 17, 2024
1:00pm – Pop Up Farmer’s Market: Chicago, IL`

March 25, 2024
1:00pm – Waukegan Township Presentation: Waukegan, IL

April 30, 2024
1:00pm – Centennial Activity Center Presentation: Park Ridge, IL

For more information, please contact rbarraza@preventblindness.org


Total Eclipse is April 8, 2024

The next total solar eclipse in North America will occur across most of the United States on April 8, 2024, including a small band of total solar eclipse stretching from southwest to northeast across much of the continent. Prevent Blindness hopes you enjoy taking part in this important astronomical and cultural event. Before you do, please take the time to learn about the dangers to your vision and how to protect your eyes from injury during the eclipse.

 To learn more visit HERE


Welcome Jessica Babu!

Jessica Babu is joining the PBIL/ISPB team this Spring as our Community Outreach Intern for Urbana-Champaign! Jessica is graduating this May with a Bachelor’s of Science in Community Health with a minor in Business and Health Administration. Welcome to the team, Jess!


Copyright © 2017 Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness

Contact Us
Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness | https://eyehealthillinois.org/
Prevent Blindness Illinois https://preventblindness.org/contact-us/




January 2024 Newsletter From ISPB & PBIL



Glaucoma Awareness Month

ISPB and PBIL are once again participating in January’s National Glaucoma Awareness Month to provide patients, care partners, and professionals with a variety of helpful resources to educate on glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. In addition to a dedicated webpage at PREVENTBLINDNESS.ORG/GLAUCOMA, we offer a variety of downloadable FACT SHEETS, including a listing of glaucoma financial assistance resources, shareable SOCIAL MEDIA GRAPHICS in English and Spanish, and EDUCATIONAL VIDEOS. These awareness month efforts are supported by funding from GLAUKOS.


Call for applications/nominations: 2024 Jenny Pomeroy and Rising Visionary Award

Prevent Blindness is requesting nominations and applications for the 2024 Jenny Pomeroy Award for Excellence in Vision and Public Health and the 2024 Rising Visionary Award. Please share with your colleagues and partners. The deadline is Monday, February 5th at noon ET. Contact Nita Sinha with any questions.

Community Happenings

Our staff, team of interns, and volunteers provide eye health education and outreach at all types of community events – including health fairs, presentations and screenings!

We will be continuing our efforts during these dates:

January 18, 2024
1:00pm – Embrace Living Community Presentation: Chicago, IL

February 24, 2024
10:00am – Boys + Girls Club Health Fair: Chicago, IL

March 25, 2024
1:00pm -Waukegan Township Presentation: Waukegan, IL

April 30, 2024
1:00pm – Centennial Activity Center Presentation: Park Ridge, IL

For more information, please contact rbarraza@preventblindness.org


NASEM Study on Myopia

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) are conducting a consensus study (“Focus on Myopia – Pathogenesis and Rising Incidence”) that will consider various aspects related to the global increase in myopia. The goals of the study are to assess the current mechanistic understanding of myopia pathogenesis and causes of its increased prevalence, to identify knowledge gaps and barriers to progress, and to develop a research agenda aimed at better understanding the biological and environmental factors that could explain its increasing incidence. 

Last month, Donna Fishman, Director of the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health, joined the Center’s Co-Chair, Dr. Megan Collins of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in testifying before a workshop on the rise of myopia that will contribute to this study. You can view a recording of their testimony and the full workshop here.


Congratulations to Dr. Andrea Arteaga for her published study, Metalloproteinase-9 on the Ocular Aruface of Patients with Implanted Boston Type 1 Keratoprosthesis. Andrea is a former ISPB Grant Recipient. Great job!

The study can be found HERE


Copyright © 2017 Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness

Contact Us
Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness | https://eyehealthillinois.org/
Prevent Blindness Illinois https://preventblindness.org/contact-us/




December 2023 Newsletter From ISPB & PBIL



Give the gift of sight!

December is give the gift of sight month here at ISPB/PBIL. Become a sight-saver by donating today! 

To make a donation visit eyehealthillinois.org/donate



Geographic Atrophy (GA) Awareness Week (December 4-10, 2023)

GA is an advanced form of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The symptoms are listed above. If you experience any of these symptoms, see an eye doctor as soon as possible. Prevent Blindness offers a variety of free, educational resources such as a dedicated webpage, expert videos, and fact sheets

For more information visit preventblindness.org/2023-geographic-atrophy-ga-week/


NEIU Student Health Fair held on November 14, 2023

Community Happenings

Our staff, team of interns, and volunteers provide eye health education and outreach at all types of community events – including health fairs, presentations and screenings!

We will be continuing our efforts during these dates:

January 18, 2024
1:00pm – Embrace Living Community Presentation: Chicago, IL

April 30, 2024
1:00pm -Senior Eye Health Presentation: Park Ridge, IL

For more information, please contact rbarraza@preventblindness.org




Copyright © 2017 Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness

Contact Us
Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness | https://eyehealthillinois.org/
Prevent Blindness Illinois https://preventblindness.org/contact-us/




November 2023 Newsletter From ISPB & PBIL



ISPB and PBIL have once again declared November as Diabetes-related Eye Disease Awareness Month, providing the public with a variety of helpful tools to prevent unnecessary vision loss from diabetes. 

DIABETES + THE EYES EDUCATIONAL TOOLKIT is available in English and Spanish. This resource includes Power Point presentations, shareable social media graphics and A DEDICATED WEBPAGE. The Diabetes + The Eyes program is supported by funding from REGENERON.

DIABETES + THE EYES: VISION HEALTH IN YOUTH FACT SHEET
This new resource provides detailed information on what parents and care partners need to know to help youth with diabetes protect their eye health.


2023 Chicago Lighthouse 5k

Community Happenings

Our staff, team of interns, and volunteers provide eye health education and outreach at all types of community events – including health fairs, presentations and screenings!

We will be continuing our efforts during these dates:

January 18, 2024
1:00pm – Embrace Living Community Presentation: Chicago, IL

For more information, please contact rbarraza@preventblindness.org


Prevent Blindness is collaborating with Regeneron on the Gr8 eEye Movement! Use the 8th of every month, to check on your vision health. 

To find out more, visit HERE


Copyright © 2017 Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness

Contact Us
Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness | https://eyehealthillinois.org/
Prevent Blindness Illinois https://preventblindness.org/contact-us/




May is Inherited Retinal Disease Month

ISPB and Prevent Blindness Illinois (PBIL) have declared May as “Inherited Retinal Disease (IRD) Genetic Testing Awareness Month,” expanding its previous IRD and Genetic Testing Awareness Week initiative. We are providing a variety of tools to promote awareness and education for IRDs and the importance of genetic testing, including a free webinar, expert and patient videos, shareable social media graphics, and fact sheets in English and Spanish. IRD Genetic Testing Awareness Month is supported by funding from Johnson & Johnson, and Spark® Therapeutics.

IRD’s are caused by a change in one or more genes and cannot be prevented, according to Duke Health. These mutations change the structure and function of the retina and cause impaired vision, and in some cases, complete vision loss. Additionally, IRDs can affect individuals of all ages, can progress at different rates, and are rare. Genetic testing is available to identify many gene variants that cause IRDs.

While there are many IRDs, they include:

Choroideremia– a progressive loss of cells in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye, and the nearby network of blood vessels, called the choroid. 

Cone-rod Dystrophy– a group of more than 30 IRDs that affect the cones and rods, the light sensitive cells found in the retina.

Leber Congenital Amaurosis– a rare disorder that affects both the peripheral rod cells, central cone cells, and is the most common cause of inherited blindness in childhood.

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)– also known as hereditary retinal dystrophy, a group of related eye disorders caused by variations in 60 genes that affect the retina. It is the most common inherited disease of the retina.

Stargardt Disease– also called Stargardt macular dystrophy, the disease causes damage to the macula, a small area in the center of the retina that is responsible for sharp, straight-ahead vision. The disease typically causes central vision loss during childhood or adolescence.

Later in May, Prevent Blindness will establish a dedicated webpage, new fact sheets, an expert video, and resources, to provide education and support for those with Stargardt Disease, made possible with support from Alkeus Pharmaceuticals.

On Wednesday, May 29, at 2 p.m. ET, the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness will be hosting the free webinar, “Pathway to Diagnosis: Genetic Testing for Inherited Retinal Diseases.” This webinar is specifically tailored for families of children with inherited retinal diseases and visual impairment, patient support organizations, school nurses, early childhood program staff including Head Start, Early Intervention and special education professionals, teachers of students with visual impairments, and healthcare providers. The webinar is supported by funding from Johnson & Johnson.

Panelists to include:

  • Dawn DeCarlo, OD, PhD, (Moderator) CEO of Sight Savers America and previous Director of University of Alabama’s Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation
  • Donna Hunt Hodge, MBA, Director of Marketing & Sales Retina Gene Therapies, Johnson & Johnson
  • Natario Couser, MD, board-certified in Ophthalmology and Medical Genetics and Genomics
  • Rachelle Lin, OD, MS, FAAO, Assistant Professor at Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B Ketchum University
  • Ben Shaberman, MA, MS,Vice President, Science Communications, Foundation Fighting Blindness


Patient perspectives to be provided by Joy Thomas and Adriann Keve, graduates of the Prevent Blindness ASPECT Patient Engagement Program.

As part of its Focus on Eye Health Expert Series, Prevent Blindness offers the episode, “Inherited Retinal Disorders and Genetic Testing,” with Alina V. Dumitrescu, M.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, Inherited Eye Disease at the

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

IRD patient testimonials include RP patient Brenda Niccum, and cone dystrophy patient Mariagrazia Buttitta, who share their specific vision issues and vision impairment journeys.

Additionally, Johnson & Johnson offers the free EyesOnGenes resource, a comprehensive website for patients and health care providers with information on IRDs, genetic testing benefits, community resources and more. Spark Therapeutics offers the Eye Want 2 Know® educational resource, dedicated to helping patients understand the genetic causes of IRDs and the potential benefits of genetic testing.

For more information on IRDs and genetic testing for vision issues, visit PreventBlindness.org/inherited-retinal-diseases. To register for the “Pathway to Diagnosis: Genetic Testing for Inherited Retinal Diseases” webinar, visit PreventBlindness.org/IRD-webinar-2024. For a listing of vision care financial assistance programs in English or Spanish, visit PreventBlindness.org/vision-care-financial-assistance-information.

My Retina Tracker Genetic Testing Program

Do you have a clinical diagnosis of inherited retinal degeneration (IRD) and live in the United States and/or the US territories? The Foundation Fighting Blindness, in partnership with Blueprint Genetics and InformedDNA®, offers an open access, no-cost genetic testing program. Please visit their site to find out if you are eligible.

The program offers people with an IRD access to the highest quality genetic testing and genetic counseling. Although it is not required for participation, this program offers an easy opportunity to join the My Retina Tracker Registry. This gives individuals the opportunity to contribute to research and development, and the opportunity of being contacted about relevant clinical trials.

The program provides patients with a 322-gene panel targeting relevant genes associated with IRD. Unique features of the panel include the entire mitochondrial genome, full RPGR coverage, high-resolution copy number variant detection and comprehensive coverage of IRD related non-coding variants. The program offers no-charge genetic counseling.

Ordering is easy through Blueprint’s online portal, Nucleus. Results can be viewed in Nucleus approximately 4 weeks after Blueprint Genetics receives the sample.

New Resources for Reducing Eye Strain from Screens

In response to increased virtual and screen-based activities during the coronavirus pandemic, ISPB and Prevent Blindness Illinois have launched a new awareness campaign,, Take a Screen Time Out. All of us, including children, are spending as much as 12 hours a day in front of a digital screen. Find out more at Prevent Blindness.

Tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology include:

  • Use artificial tears to refresh eyes when they feel dry. 
  • Consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
  • Wear prescribed computer eyeglasses that allow eyes to focus specifically at computer screen distance (intermediate distance, which is about 20 to 26 inches away from the face).
  • Adjust screen brightness to match the level of light in the room. 
  • Increase the contrast on the screen to reduce eye strain.
  • Use a glare screen on the device.
  • Sit about 25 inches from the screen and adjust the screen height to look slightly downward.