CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-8034
Release:Jan. 29, 2001
UI Low Vision Service receives grant from Knights Templar
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Center for
Macular Degeneration's Low Vision Service has received a $150,000 grant from
the Knights Templar Eye Foundation to help provide funding to people who will
benefit from low vision devices but who do not have the financial resources
to acquire them. The award, which was presented at a ceremony at the UI on
Jan. 19, includes a $100,000 contribution from the national organization and
a $50,000 contribution from the organization's Iowa group.
The grant will help cover the cost of low vision devices
purchased by qualifying people of all ages who have been evaluated at the
UI Low Vision Service or at an Iowa Braille School low vision clinic, said
Mark Wilkinson, optometrist and director of UI low vision rehabilitation services.
Wilkinson, who also runs the Braille school clinics,
found that nearly 10 percent of individuals who have sought care in the past
through the UI and Braille School were unable to afford even the simplest
device and another 10 percent could not cover the full cost of beneficial
Low vision is broadly defined as any visual impairment
that cannot be reversed with surgery, medication, glasses or contact lenses.
Assistive devices that will be covered by the grant range from simple hand
magnifiers to hand-held and spectacle-mounted telescopes, video magnification
devices for distance and near vision, and computer systems that can read text
or enlarge the output on a computer monitor. Portable Braille writing devices
with speech output and other devices that primarily work with the sense of
touch or hearing will also be available.
"Low vision services are rehabilitative in nature,"
Wilkinson said. "We ask the person what they have trouble doing because of
their visual disability, and then we select or design tools to help accomplish
He added the grant will not be an entitlement program,
since each individual will be asked to contribute as much as they are able
to cover the cost of the devices from which they will benefit. The grant will
not cover the costs of low vision evaluations, glasses or contact lenses.
"We anticipate that a small percentage of individuals
will need 100 percent support but the majority of applicants will receive
20 to 80 percent support," Wilkinson said.
People interested in finding out about the assistance
program as well as low vision services should contact the UI Low Vision Service
at (319) 356-8301.
Representatives from the Knights Templar who presented
the award earlier this month included: William Jackson Jones, Most Eminent
Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States
of America; Albert R. Masters, Right Eminent Past Department Commander of
the North Central Department of the Grand Encampment, also of the national
organization; and Billy Joe Hildreth, Right Eminent Grand Commander of the
Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of the State of Iowa.
The Knights Templar Eye Foundation was founded in
1956 to aid those who need help in the preservation of sight and to promote
research in pediatric ophthalmology and developmental biology. The foundation
has previously awarded grants to UI researchers. The charitable organization
is sponsored by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar and has contributed
more than $61 million to low vision care and research nationwide.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership
between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the
patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.