Prevent Blindness, the nation’s oldest eye health and safety nonprofit organization, will be mark its 115th birthday on June 1 by declaring it as “Prevent Blindness Day.”
Founded in 1908 as the Committee on Prevention of Blindness under the previously-established New York Association for the Blind, the organization in 1928 was renamed the National Society for the Prevention of Blindness, which was then shortened to the National Society to Prevent Blindness.
By 1978, the organization was doing business as Prevent Blindness America, which was later shortened to its current name, Prevent Blindness.
“Our 115th birthday is a great opportunity for us to reflect on the impressive history of our organization and to recognize the amazing people who helped get us to where we are today,” said Jeff Todd, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “We are thrilled to continue the legacy of our founders and work towards saving sight among generations to come.”
Established as a public health advocacy organization, the earliest Prevent Blindness volunteers were dedicated to eradicating a preventable form of blindness in newborns called ophthalmia neonatorum, also known as “babies’ sore eyes.”
Through successfully leading legislation that mandated the application of sight-saving eyedrops (a solution of silver nitrate) at birth, the incidence of blindness due to babies’ sore eyes was reduced by 75 percent.
Over the next century, Prevent Blindness expanded by addressing eye safety in the work place in the mid-1950s during the industrial revolution, opening affiliate offices across the country, implementing the nation’s earliest screening programs for children and for glaucoma detection, focusing attention on vision population health research initiatives, advocating for increased government funding for vision and eye health programs at the state and national levels, and developing programs to support and create community among patients.
Highlights from the history of Prevent Blindness may be found at PreventBlindness.org/our-history/.
During its birthday celebration, Prevent Blindness is asking for gifts to support its mission encouraging supporters to visit PreventBlindness.org/birthday and give a gift of $115, or any amount.
The public also is encouraged to send a birthday message to Prevent Blindness across various social media channels, with the hashtags #HBDPreventBlindness and #PreventBlindnessDay. The organization’s social media channels include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.