Newswise — NEW YORK, NY – October 1, 2018 – Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) and Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) announced today that they will continue their partnership in the RPB/LCIF Low Vision Research Award.  The two organizations granted three research awards (2016-2018) as a result of their initial partnership agreement.  The continued partnership will grant one award of $300,000 each year in 2019, 2020 and 2021.  LCIF and RPB will make equal financial contributions to the awards, as they did during the initial grant period.

“We thank LCIF for their significant and continued funding partnership to make these grants possible,” says RPB President Brian F. Hofland, PhD.  “Low vision is a major, neglected and specific chronic condition with a variety of causes and a common outcome: permanently reduced vision that cannot be improved with current available vision interventions such as eyeglasses, contact lenses, medicines or surgery.  With these grants we are asking leading scientists to expand key knowledge and develop new treatment approaches, with the goal of making life better for persons with low vision and with some remaining sight." 

LCIF’s Chairman, Dr. Naresh Aggarwal says, “I am proud of this continued partnership. Together we lead the global charge to eradicate infectious blindness, reduce avoidable blindness and visual impairment, and improve quality of life for those who are blind or visually impaired.”

Many eye disorders can lead to low vision, including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts.  Injury to the eye or to a portion of the brain involved in sight can also produce low vision. Low vision significantly and negatively impacts a person’s visual activities of daily living and quality of life.

As many as 13 million people in the U.S. may suffer from low vision.  It is among the nation’s 10 most common causes of disability.  Low vision can cause difficulty in common visual tasks such as reading, mobility (both walking and driving), and recognizing people and objects.  Low vision is associated with:

  • loss of independence;
  • depression;
  • transportation challenges;
  • long-term care placement; and
  • increased risk of death.

Research funded through the RPB/LCIF Low Vision Research Award addresses urgent needs in understanding and treating low vision, focusing on the visual system that is damaged, and seeks to answer such crucial questions as:  what happens to degraded input and how is it processed; what are the adaptive strategies in the visual pathway in response to visual impairment; how does the brain re-organize itself with visual damage; and how can the visibility of objects be enhanced?

Previous RPB/LCIF Low Vision Research Awardees include:

  • Lotfi B. Merabet, OD, PhD, MPH, Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Using an innovative combination of behavioral and neuroimaging approaches, Dr. Merabet seeks to establish linkages between observed and perceptual deficits and the underlying neurophysiology in cortical visual impairment (CVI), a leading cause of low vision in children.  His results may inform rehabilitation options for people with CVI.
  • Justin Gardner, PhD, Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Gardner is measuring and tracking visual and auditory sensory performance following sight-restoring surgery, such as cataract removal or corneal replacement for adults.  His research may help in understanding how the brain’s visual cortex responds to sight restoration devices, such as retinal prostheses or cortical implants.
  • Alex Yuan, MD, PhD, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.  Using functional MRI, Dr. Yuan is assessing biomarkers of visual recovery in patients with the Argus II retinal prosthesis.  His results could help improve the design of future retinal and cortical visual prostheses, aid in improving rehabilitation strategies and identify MRI biomarkers that can be used to measure the usefulness of retinal prostheses.

The award is available to researchers at U.S.-based academic institutions with medical centers.  Applicants must hold a primary academic position of assistant professor through full professor at the time of the application.  Candidates must be nominated by their full-time department chairs.

Nominations are due by December 15, 2018, and applications are due no later than January 21, 2019.  Awards will be given in June 2019.  To learn more about the RPB/LCIF Award requirements, nomination and application procedures, go to:                                                                          


About Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) - RPB's mission is to preserve and restore vision by supporting research to develop treatments, preventives and cures for all conditions that damage and destroy sight. Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled hundreds of millions of dollars into eye research, initiated and coordinated the creation of the National Eye Institute and fostered the development of the nation’s leading vision labs and scientists. As a result, RPB has been identified with nearly every major breakthrough in vision research in that time.

About Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) – LCIF is the charitable arm of Lions Clubs International (LCI), the world’s largest service club organization, with more than 1.4 million members in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Since 1968, LCIF has funded humanitarian work through financial gifts from LCI members; the general public; and corporate, foundation and government partners. To build a future promising a better world, LCIF will increase service impact by combating vision problems, providing valuable life skills to youth, responding to major catastrophes, and sponsoring and delivering programs addressing the distinct needs of at-risk and vulnerable populations. LCIF will also reduce the prevalence of diabetes and improve quality of life for those diagnosed; and expand our global causes to include hunger, childhood cancer and the environment. Learn more at