Community outreach- the American Institute for Blindness Prevention
When Dr. Bath looked at potential causes for African Americans being more likely to become blind, she concluded that it was because of their lack of access to ophthalmologic care. Her passion for helping everyone restore sight led her to co-found the American Institute to Prevent Blindness. The goal of this institute is to “protect, preserve, and restore the gift of sight” to everyone, regardless of age, gender, income level, race, etc.
Currently, Dr. Bath focuses most of her time and attention to the American Institution for Blindness Prevention (AiBP). The mission statement of the institution is, “The AiPB was established in 1976 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of blindness through programs designed to PROTECT, PRESERVE, and RESTORE the Gift of Sight. We are founded on the principle that EYESIGHT IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT and that PRIMARY EYE CARE must be a component of Basic Health Services provided free if necessary for all humankind.” (AiBP) Currently, over 40 million people worldwide are blind, and over half of these cases of blindness could have been prevented. The AiBP reaches many children and ensures that they are getting proper nutrition for eye health (vitamin A), and helps get children in disadvantaged areas visual aids such as glasses. The AiBP also has many goals which include eradicating preventable blindness by 2020, ensuring that all children have the visual aids they need, including glasses, assisting blind children with their education, and to establish the World Eye Institute to research and treat blindness. There is a community outreach program in the Los Angeles area, which includes free screening for cataract, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and strabismus. The AiBP also works with Head Start programs to help young children get the eye care that they need. The AiBP realizes that children cannot perform well in school if they cannot properly read due to eye health problems, so they work to provide eye care for all children. Dr. Bath’s desire to help others has been formed as a new discipline called “community ophthalmology.”
A blind child with his mother, © Canadian Council of the Blind