JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Oct. 6, 2014 - Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Companies (JJVCC) today announced that Sight for Kids, its partnership program with the Lions Clubs International Foundation, has now reached 20 million children with free, volunteer-directed vision screenings. To broaden its worldwide impact, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Companies will provide funding for Sight for Kids to expand into Greater Nairobi, Kenya and Ankara, Turkey, the first two countries to receive its services in Africa and Europe.
Visual impairment remains a significant international health issue with an estimated 285 million people impacted.[i] Uncorrected refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism) are the leading cause of visual impairment for both adults and children,[ii],[iii] yet can be easily diagnosed and corrected. In addition, 1.4 million children worldwide are irreversibly blind,[iv] 75 percent of whom are from developing countries and often lack access to treatment.[v],[vi]
“As as our worldwide footprint grows, we know that the Sight for Kids model works and has made a significant impact on children in underserved communities,” said Robert Hollin, Worldwide President, Johnson & Johnson Medical Limited. “Many of these children see clearly for the first time, and in turn have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Sight for Kids is one of the longest running and largest public-private vision-screening programs in the world, and has grown by nearly 1.8 million children screened per year since its launch in 2002.[vii] More than 125,000 Lions and other volunteers have worked with approximately 36,000 underserved schools. Among the 20 million children screened to date:
- More than 701,000 children have been referred to physicians for further evaluation;
- Of these, more than 213,000 children have received glasses; and more than 94,000 children have been treated for various eye conditions. [viii]
The local need for increased vision care access and education is significant in Kenya and Turkey. In Kenya, the prevalence of visual impairment and blindness affects more than 1.5 million individuals, or 3.6 percent of the population.[ix] In Turkey, a recent study of low-income school children found that more than 25 percent had a vision issue, and many were unaware of their need.[x]
“A lot of people in the rural urban areas do not know what eye health is simply due to lack of education in the subject,” said Dr. Samson R. Ndegwa, Chairman, Lions SightFirst Eye Hospital, Loresho, Kenya. “It is therefore very important to spread the word and educate the locals on eye health as well as screen children and provide the necessary treatment to improve their life and futures.”
“Poverty remains a key concern in areas of Turkey, and children in these environments often do not often have access to eye care,” said Zehra Gurol, Founder & Project Chairperson, Sight for Kids Turkey. “Through Sight for Kids, now we will be able to reach children in need at a more rapid pace, and identify and address vision issues."
To carry out its mission to identify and correct visual impairment, Sight for Kids unites local stakeholders including ministries of health and education, school leaders and partners, eye care professionals and hospitals, as well as local Lions clubs and JJVCC volunteers. Children that fail the screening are referred to an eye care professional for further exam, diagnosis or treatment, the most common of which is a simple pair of prescription eye glasses.
About Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Companies
Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Companies is committed to creating life-long solutions to vision care needs. Since the ACUVUE® Brand made its debut in 1987 as the world’s first disposable soft contact lens, the company has repeatedly brought innovative, quality, and scientific advancements to the industry. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, the company has some 3,000 employees worldwide. For additional information, visit www.jnjvc.com.
About Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF)
LCIF is the charitable arm of Lions Clubs International, the world’s largest service club organization with more than 1.35 million men and women members in 208 countries and geographical areas worldwide. Since 1968, LCIF supports Lions by providing grant funding for their local and global humanitarian efforts, including preventing avoidable blindness on a global scale for more than 20 years through LCIF’s SightFirst program. To date, Lions are investing US$415 million in SightFirst’s local capacity building efforts and have helped to restore sight to millions worldwide. www.lcif.org
[i] WHO, Visual impairment and blindness (2013) Retrieved Sept. 9, 2014 from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/
[ii] WHO, Visual impairment and blindness (2013) Retrieved Sept. 9, 2014 from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/
[iii] World Health Organization. Vision 2020: The Right to Sight (2007, p. 22). Retrieved September9,2014, from http://www.who.int/blindness/Vision2020_report.pdf.
[iv] WHO, Visual impairment and blindness (2013) Retrieved Sept. 9, 2014 from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/
[v] Ramai, D. et al. Journal of Epidemiology and Global Health: A cross-sectional study of pediatric eye care perceptions in Ghana, Honduras, and India. doi:10.1016/j.jegh.2014.06.004 (2014). Retreived September 11, 2014 from http://www.jegh.org/article/S2210-6006(14)00070-7/abstract
[vi] World Health Organization. Prevention of Blindness and Visual Impairment. (para. 2). Retrieved September 9, 2014 from http://www.who.int/blindness/causes/priority/en/index3.html.
[vii] Johnson & Johnson Vision Care press release “Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Announces Vision Screening Program Sees 16 Million Children in 10 years.” [Notes 500K screened in 2002: 20M – 500K / 11 years = 1.77]
[viii] Sight for Kids Stats (2014, September). Provided to Johnson & Johnson Vision Care September 10, 2014.
[ix] Source: Kenyan Ministry of Health
[x] Source: Caca, Ihsan MD, et al., “Amblyopia and Refractive Errors Among School-Aged Children with Low Socioeconomic Status in Southeastern Turkey”, Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, January/February 2013 – Volume 50 – Issue 1: 37-43.
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