WVU Eye Institute Receives Grant

Provides Vision Care in St. Lucia

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – The Children’s Vision Rehabilitation Project (CVRP) of the West Virginia University Eye Institute received a $60,000 grant from the Lions’ Club International Foundation and the St. Lucia Lions Club.

The grant provided medical and surgical eye care for children with cataracts and strabismus in St. Lucia, a small island in the Caribbean. The WVU eye team, consisting of physicians and students, also provided equipment and education to teachers, nurses and parents on the island.

The 10-day trip to St. Lucia is an annual program of the CVRP, which takes pediatric eye care and rehabilitation services to communities throughout West Virginia where the team works with parents and schools to meet the needs of visually impaired children. The 10-year old program, unique to West Virginia, has been internationally recognized, as the program has been reproduced in British Columbia, Canada.

“Other humanitarian and government sponsored programs have helped St. Lucia meet the eye care needs of adults, but pediatric eye care has been a large void,” said Judie Charlton, M.D., ophthalmologist at WVU and member of the eye team. “Considering that most children have another 80-plus years of life expectancy, saving the sight of a single child has a huge impact.”

According to Charlton, the project in St. Lucia provides return benefits to West Virginia. “When we arrive on the island, we need to evaluate and treat as many children as possible in an economic manner. We have learned how to provide mass pediatric eye screenings in a rural mountainous setting, similar to the geographic constraints of West Virginia.”

“The project works due to the collaboration between the professionals in St. Lucia and the WVU eye team,” said Terry Schwartz, pediatric ophthalmologist at WVU. “We work side by side in clinic, the operating room and the classroom to provide the same quality of care that we give back home.”

Contributions from pharmaceutical companies, Lee Moore, M.D., and private donors supplied the matching funds that complimented the Lions Club grant.

“CVRP has an ongoing commitment with St. Lucia Blind Welfare to help save and preserve the sight of the less fortunate children of their country,” said Rebecca Coakley, program director, CVRP. “The partnership has been beneficial for both parties, and has allowed the Eye Institute to serve the vision needs of the less fortunate.

Anyone interested in supporting the program should contact Coakley at 304-598-6970.


- WVU -

For more information:
Steve Bovino, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087
sfb: 01-03-07

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