University of Texas Health Science Center low vision specialist Bhavani Iyer was awarded a three-year $164,645 grant to help Harris County residents with vision problems that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses, medication, or surgery.
Iyer received the grant from the Lions Club International Foundation, which promotes the SightFirst grants to build comprehensive eye care systems to fight the major causes of blindness and care for blind or visually impaired people. In addition to this award, the first of such kind in Texas and the third largest in the country, Iyer’s project received $20,000 in funding from local sources.
With this grant, Iyer will develop the “Harris County Low Vision Project.” which will promote outreach programs, education and training for the thousands in and around this county who have low vision, a problem that affected approximately 3 million people nationwide in 2010, according to the National Eye Institute. By 2050, that number is expected to rise to about 9 million.
The project will provide patients, among other things, with low vision devices, such as miniature telescopes attached to eyeglasses or held by hand, filters that screen out blue light and glare, magnifiers and strong electronic readers.
According to a press release from UTHealth, the Center for Visual Rehabilitation at The Robert Cizik Eye Clinic, in the Texas Medical Center, and Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital will be the two low vision centers in Houston where educational programs and support services will be offered.
Furthermore, Iyer plans to establish low vision device loaner libraries at both locations, benefiting people who need to be trained on the devices or who may want to check them out before buying them.