The West Virginia Lions Sight Conservation Foundation and the Lions Club International Foundation recently provided a $289,502 grant to the West Virginia University Eye Institute’s Vision Research Center.

The grant will be used to purchase equipment to advance basic science research that focuses on the three areas the World Health Organization has identified as “priority eye disease” – diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

“West Virginia has some of the highest rates of vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and adult macular degeneration in the country,” said Ronald L. Gross, M.D., director of the WVU Eye Institute. “This grant will advance our research program to find better ways of understanding and treating the causes of blindness, and these vision-saving discoveries will benefit West Virginians and people throughout the world.”

LCIF awarded two companion standard grants to West Virginia Lions District 29-I and District 29-N, totaling $189,502, which was then combined with monies donated by theWVLSCF. Since LCIF’s founding in 1968, it has awarded more than 12,000 such grants totaling more than $900 million in the four key areas of sight, youth, disaster relief and other humanitarian efforts.

This is the second grant from the West Virginia Lions Clubs to support the Eye Institute’s Vision Research Center. In 2007, the West Virginia Lions Sight Conservation Foundation provided support to initiate the first phase of research focusing on vision-saving treatments and care. The new grant will support the second phase by investing in new technologies and attracting outstanding researchers.

“I am deeply grateful for the partnership we have with West Virginia Lions and Lions Club International Foundation,” said Visvanathan Ramamurthy, Ph.D., director of the Vision Research Center. “This transformational gift comes from the hard work of several lions club members over the years and will have a tremendous impact on our ability to advance our translational research and secure additional grants. The West Virginia Lions are truly making a major impact in discovering better ways of treating eye diseases and curing blindness through their support of our research.” 

Since 1921, the Lions of West Virginia have been instrumental in seeing that care is provided to the citizens of West Virginia to meet their vision and hearing needs. The Lions have worked with the ophthalmology program at WVU since 1961.

“Our work with the Eye Institute will strengthen their efforts to find better ways of treating eye disease,” said Gary Van Horn, president of the West Virginia Lions Sight Conservation Foundation. “We are proud to continue our partnership with the Eye Institute through this research grant that will find better ways of treating eye diseases.”

The grant to the Eye Institute was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion fundraising effort being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.




CONTACT: Susan Trantham, WVU Eye Institute


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