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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Establishes “Eyeglass Library” in Miami and Haiti to the Give the Gift of Sight


Eyeglass libraries will ideally serve as global model

May 9, 2011, Miami, FL --- With more than 314 million people worldwide in need of eyeglasses or other vision correction, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is making a dent in meeting that tremendous demand with its new “Eyeglass Library,” and will establish a second such library in Haiti by the end of this summer. In partnership with Bascom Palmer, the Florida Lions Club donated more than 10,000 pairs of used eyeglasses, with dozens more donated by patients for the Miami-based Eyeglass Library. Through this important effort, when patients in financial need require glasses, their Bascom Palmer prescriptions are run through a specially-tailored software program and upon matches, the patients receive their glasses free of charge. The Eyeglass Library’s software was created specifically for this initiative, and the program has already helped hundreds of people receive the gift of sight. Since there is no cost to patients, the ideal outcome is to have other organizations emulate Bascom Palmer’s library model to help reduce the staggering number of those in need of eyeglasses, especially in developing countries, where 90 percent of people without adequate eye care reside.

Under the direction of Thomas Shane, M.D., an ophthalmology resident at Bascom Palmer, the Eyeglass Library is open the second and fourth Friday of each month. The Library also provides free glasses to certain presurgical patients who need glasses temporarily until their procedures can be performed. In contrast to Miami, the Eyeglass Library in Haiti will be run year-round by local health workers, trained by Dr. Shane. The money to purchase the necessary ophthalmic equipment for Haiti (autorefractor and lensometer) was received through a grant from the Clinton Global Initiative in conjunction with Project Medishare. Eye Care Centers of America, Inc. will donate new eyeglasses for distribution in Haiti. These glasses will have prescriptions with varying generic increments, so as to provide improved vision to the greatest number of people. Patients treated at either Eyeglass Library must be at least 12 years old, due to the risk of amblyopia (lazy eye) with less than perfect vision correction.

“I don’t know of another eye hospital with an initiative like the Eyeglass Library,” said Dr. Shane. “Patients benefit from improved vision, and the residents and health workers who run the program gain knowledge and exposure to patient care. The cost for the software and equipment is approximately $11,000. Based on the success of our program,” he added, “we hope that other eye hospitals or institutions will replicate it in as many underserved areas as possible, especially in developing countries.”

About Bascom Palmer

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute changes lives by giving the gift of sight. From helping cure eye diseases and preventing blindness, to conducting innovative, groundbreaking research, it serves as one of the world’s premier providers of eye care.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, which serves as the Department of Ophthalmology for the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is part of U Health – the University of Miami Health System. Bascom Palmer is ranked #1 in Ophthalmology in the United States by US News & World Report. Ophthalmology Times ranks Bascom Palmer Best Overall in Ophthalmology and #1 in both Patient Care and Residency Training. Year after year, Bascom Palmer’s specialists are selected by Best Doctors in America and America’s Top Doctors. Bascom Palmer is the largest ophthalmic care, research and educational resource in the southeastern United States, with patient care facilities in Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, Naples, and Plantation. Bascom Palmer is dedicated to improving the future of ophthalmology by creating state-of-the art technology and rapidly translating it into clinical treatments. Many of the Institute’s revolutionary research studies continue to be possible because of generous private support.

May is “Healthy Vision Month.” Follow These Tips for Healthy Eyes:

Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration often have no warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages.

Know your family’s eye health history. Various eye conditions and diseases are hereditary. Know your family’s eye health history to determine if you are at high risk for developing one.

Eat right to protect your sight. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, is important for keeping your eyes healthy. There are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut as well.

Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions that can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma.

Wear protective eyewear. Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities around the home as warranted. Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics.

Wear Sunglasses. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

Rest Your Eyes. If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on any one thing, you sometimes forget to blink and your eyes can get fatigued. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This can help reduce eyestrain.

Clean your hands and contact lenses properly. To avoid infection, always wash your hands thoroughly before handling your contact lenses. Disinfect them as instructed and replace as appropriate.

Quit smoking or never start. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.