Text size A - A+

RSS

FOR RELEASE 6/29/2010, Tuesday

New Campaign to Fight Childhood Blindness Comes to Australia 

Lions Clubs and Bausch + Lomb Announce Global Pediatric Cataract Initiative

SYDNEY, Australia — Paediatric cataract. It’s a debilitating condition in newborns that clouds the eye’s natural lens. Left untreated, it quickly becomes a critical cause of childhood vision loss and blindness.

While it’s sometimes preventable, and often treatable, there has never been a dedicated global effort surrounding this issue … until now.

Representatives from the Bausch + Lomb Early Vision Institute and Lions Clubs International Foundation are in Australia this week, unveiling a new global partnership aimed at conquering paediatric cataract. The Pediatric Cataract Initiative (www.PediatricCataract.org) will utilize the resources of both organizations to identify, fund and promote innovative methods of overcoming this challenge for the long-term benefit of children, their families and their communities.

An estimated 15,000 Lions Clubs members from six continents have descended on Sydney through Friday for the service organization’s international convention. They’ll receive their first glance at the Initiative during tomorrow’s opening gala at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.

“Too many newborns afflicted with paediatric cataract have a lifetime of vision loss and blindness ahead of them – an untenable prospect in today’s world,” said Paul Sartori, corporate vice president, Bausch + Lomb. “With more funding and attention placed against research, prevention and treatment, we’ll be making a true difference in the lives of children worldwide.”

The rate of paediatric cataract in Australia and other developed nations is one to four children per 100,000 births. However, in developing countries, the rate can be ten times greater. As such, during its first year, the Initiative’s primary focus will be on the People’s Republic of China, where at least 40,000 children are estimated to suffer from paediatric cataract.

“For decades, Lions Clubs International Foundation has been committed to saving the sight of millions of people across the planet,” said Al Brandel, chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation. “We’re enthusiastic about the prospects of the new Pediatric Cataract Initiative, and are thrilled to be introducing it to our 1.3 million members starting with this week’s events in Sydney.”

Surgery to remove a paediatric cataract can take place within the first few weeks of life or later. Successful outcomes require frequent examination and planned replacement of vision correction devices (intraocular lenses, contact lenses, or eyeglasses) throughout childhood and into adolescence, as well as access to low vision services. With proper follow-up care, children can grow into fully sighted adults requiring minimal or no additional vision correction.

For additional information, visit www.PediatricCataract.org.

# # #

About the Bausch + Lomb Early Vision Institute
The Bausch + Lomb Early Vision Institute is a program of the global eye health company focusing on children's vision research, treatment, prevention and advocacy. Founded in 1853, Bausch + Lomb is one of the best-known and most respected healthcare brands in the world, with its contact lenses and solutions, ophthalmic pharmaceuticals, and ophthalmic surgical products available in approximately 100 countries. For more information, visit www.bausch.com.

About Lions Clubs International Foundation
Lions Clubs International Foundation is the grant-making body of Lions Clubs International, the world’s largest volunteer service organization. The LCIF SightFirst program, Lions’ flagship initiative, builds comprehensive eye care systems to fight the major causes of blindness and care for blind and visually impaired persons. Since 1990, the SightFirst program has helped restore sight to more than 30 million people around the world, having invested US$237 million in surgeries, the improvement of hundreds of eye care facilities and training of thousands of eye care professionals. For more information, visit www.lcif.org.