Eye Care Everywhere is the theme of World Sight Day on October 11, but it’s the mantra of the Alcon Foundation every day of the year.1
The importance of having comprehensive eye exams is the message of World Sight Day, an annual day of awareness about avoidable blindness and visual impairment.1 Such exams are the best way to assess vision and eye health and to detect diseases that can lead to vision impairment or blindness.
While eye care is readily available in much of the United States and in many other countries, that isn’t the case everywhere. More than 80 percent of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured, assuming it’s diagnosed and treated early. Unfortunately, 90 percent of the estimated 253 million people who are visually impaired today live in low-income areas where eye care is unavailable and/or unaffordable, according to the World Health Organization.2, 3
For more than a half century, Alcon has been working tirelessly to change that by advancing and improving the quality of eye health, education and access to care in underserved areas. Through the Alcon Foundation and Alcon Cares, Alcon provides cash grants and product and equipment donations to a cadre of partners and clinics as a means of bringing eye care where and to whom it’s needed most. This includes residents of Fort Worth and other parts of the U.S., as well as those living in dozens of South American, Asian and African countries.
“As a leader in eye care, we believe it’s our responsibility to give back by helping people here and in other parts of the world who can’t access or afford eye care,” said Rick Weisbarth, OD, FAAO, a member of the Alcon Foundation board and Alcon’s Vice President and Head of Professional Affairs for U.S. Vision Care.
“Our efforts include sponsoring eye health screenings and donating cash, surgical equipment and other supplies to clinics,” Rick added. “We also partner with organizations that arrange trips of volunteer doctors who perform sight-restoring cataract surgery in other countries, and support other groups that train eye care professionals so they can provide the best possible care to patients in their native countries.”
For the first time this year, the Alcon Foundation is sponsoring free adult eye health and vision screenings at the State Fair of Texas on World Sight Day on Thursday, October 11. The screenings will take place from 10 am to 7 pm in a tent on the fairground’s Nimitz Terrace. The Fair screenings are a new and special effort by the Foundation to provide eye care everywhere.
Individuals who need help in finding a doctor to provide eye care can do so through the American Academy of Ophthalmology or the American Academy of Optometry doctor locator. Those unable to participate in the Fair screenings can access other, similar programs offered throughout the country. Many programs, including those providing low- or no-cost services, are offered by some of the Alcon Foundation partners listed below. In Texas:
Community Eye Clinic Located on the second floor of First Christian Church in downtown Fort Worth, Community Eye Clinic provides low-cost or free exams, treatment and glasses to uninsured/underinsured patients in Tarrant County and the surrounding areas. The clinic was established in 2013 with philanthropic grants from the Alcon Foundation and the help of volunteer associates, who helped paint and refurbish clinic rooms.
Cornerstone Assistance Network – Cataract Clinic Cornerstone Assistance Network operates the nation's first and only free dedicated cataract center for uninsured patients. The Cataract Clinic serves low- and no-income individuals who cannot afford to pay for cataract surgery, providing life-changing access to a sight-restoring procedure. Alcon helped establish the Cornerstone Cataract Clinic with monetary grants from the Alcon Foundation and charitable donations of surgical equipment through Alcon Cares, the company’s product and equipment donation charitable entity. Alcon Cares continues its support today with donations of consumables and medications for patient surgeries.
Child Vision Center Child Vision Center is a diagnostic and research organization dedicated to helping children with vision-threatening eye diseases and disorders. In collaboration with eye care teams at Fort Worth’s Cook Children’s Medical Center, Alexander Eye Clinic and Pediatric Eye Specialists, Child Vision Center provides access to primary and specialty pediatric ophthalmology clinical care for families in need. The Alcon Foundation supports Child Vision Center’s International Fellowship Program, which provides pediatric eye care professionals from underserved areas with hands-on clinical skills-transfer opportunities, strengthening their ability to provide quality pediatric care and train other eye care professionals in their home countries.
Texas and beyond:
Essilor Vision Foundation – Kids Vision for Life Essilor Vision Foundation’s Kids Vision for Life program provides direct vision services to students in need through mobile clinics. Each mobile clinic provides on-site vision exams at local schools and, in many cases, finished prescription glasses for students the same day, at no cost to the family. The Alcon Foundation supports Essilor Vision Foundation’s Kids Vision for Life program with monetary grants, while volunteer associates provide certified vision screenings.
Helen Keller International Helen Keller International saves and improves the sight and lives of the world’s vulnerable by combating the causes and consequences of blindness, poor health and malnutrition. In the U.S., Helen Keller International provides free school-based vision screenings, prescription glasses and referrals for further eye care through their ChildSight program. The Alcon Foundation supports Helen Keller International’s eye care programs in Asia with monetary grants, while Alcon Cares provides product and equipment donations.
United Way United Way improves lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good. With its focus on education, income and health, United Way works to strengthen the foundational building blocks that impact quality of life in our communities.
211 Offered by United Way, 211 is a free and confidential service that helps people in the U.S. and Canada find the local resources they need. 211 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and provides information about and connections to a variety of health and human services, including financial, domestic, nutrition and disaster relief. The Alcon Foundation supports United Way with monetary grants in all of our U.S. facility locations, as well as associate pledge contributions.
Prevent Blindness Prevent Blindness is the nation's leading eye health and safety organization dedicated to preventing blindness and preserving sight for people of all ages by addressing multiple eye conditions. The organization provides public education about vision and eye health, and works to increase access to care by advocating for public policy change. The Alcon Foundation provides philanthropic grants to Prevent Blindness and its affiliate chapters in Texas and Georgia in support of their adult and children’s vision programs.
SEE International SEE International provides sustainable medical, surgical and educational services through volunteer ophthalmic surgeons, with the goal of restoring sight to underserved people around the world. In the U.S., SEE International’s Santa Barbara Vision Care Program provides uninsured local adults and children with free comprehensive eye exams, glasses, medicine and essential eye surgeries for multiple eye conditions. Grants from the Alcon Foundation and product and equipment donations through Alcon Cares support SEE International’s training and patient care programs in more than 40 countries.
American Academy of Ophthalmology Foundation The American Academy of Ophthalmology Foundation provides continuing education for eye care professionals, as well as service programs that provide increased access to care for underserved patients. Through the foundation’s EyeCare America program, nearly 6,000 volunteer ophthalmologists provide low- or no-cost eye care to qualified patients. The Alcon Foundation supports the American Academy of Ophthalmology Foundation’s professional education and patient care programs with philanthropic grants.