National Non-Profit, EyeCare America, and the Maryland Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons Host Finish Line Celebration for "EyeRide for Sight" Cyclists

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Cross country ride raised more than a half a million dollars for blindness prevention programs.

Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch along with Tony McClellan, Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology Board Member, and EyeRide for Sight cyclists Fred Mahon, Oliver Lombard, Thomas McClellan, Alex Galvin, Ben Leigh and Ben Hodge (l-r).

We are excited to work with EyeCare America in order to help raise awareness about eye disease and preventable blindness

EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the Maryland Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons are partnering together to welcome the EyeRide for Sight team to Annapolis as they conclude their transcontinental bike ride. The ride was intended to educate the public about eye disease, encourage the public to utilize EyeCare America's free eye care programs and raise funds to support the organization's efforts to save sight. Funds raised by the ride will allow EyeCare America to provide free medical and surgical eye care to someone in need within the U.S.

"The Maryland Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons is proud to support the EyeRide for Sight and help raise awareness about eye disease in Maryland and across the country," said Nancy J. Nickles-Dawson, Executive Director of the Maryland Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons.

The four cyclists began their journey at EyeCare America's headquarters in San Francisco on May 7, 2008. Over the course of two months, the team raised more than a half a million dollars. For every $25 raised, EyeCare America is able to provide free medical eye care to someone in need within the U.S. To make a donation to EyeRide for Sight, log on to http://www.eyecareamerica.org and click on the "EyeRide for Sight" logo.

"EyeCare America is one of the largest public service programs in the U.S. to offer access to medical and surgical eye care at no cost," said Richard P. Mills, MD, ophthalmologist and Chair of EyeCare America. "Through the EyeRide for Sight, we hope to get the message out to medically underserved communities that EyeCare America can help save their sight."

In fact, over 90% of the care provided through the program has no cost to the patients. In addition, EyeCare America provides tens of thousands of people each year with free eye health educational materials. Since 1985, EyeCare America has provided over 1 million people with sight-saving services and resources.

In Maryland alone, EyeCare America has helped approximately 9,000 people. The state is also home to approximately 200 volunteer ophthalmologists who provide medical eye care at no cost to the patient.

The EyeRide for Sight cycling team, led by Tom McClellan of Gloucestershire, South West England, is made up of four cyclists including McClellan, Alex Galvin, Ben Leigh, and Fred Mahon and two support team members Ben Hodge and Oliver Lombard. The team traveled 3,000 mile across the United States over the course of two months to raise awareness about eye disease and EyeCare America's services.

"We are excited to work with EyeCare America in order to help raise awareness about eye disease and preventable blindness," said Tom McClellan, lead cyclist for EyeRide for Sight. "We hope that our bike ride across the United States encourages others to give the gift of sight by telling a friend or loved one about the program or making a donation to save the sight of someone in need."

For more than 20 years, EyeCare America has provided free eye health educational materials and access to medical eye care at no out-of-pocket cost, for those who qualify. For information and to determine eligibility, the public can call 800-222-EYES (3937) tool-free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

To support the ride, EyeCare America has launched a new microsite http://www.eyecareamerica.org/eyeride.cfm. Visitors to the site can make a donation to support EyeCare America's various eye care programs for seniors, glaucoma, diabetes, Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and children. Individuals who donate $25 or more will receive a FREE EyeRide for Sight wristband as a gift for their contribution. For more information, visit http://www.eyecareamerica.org.

Sponsors and partners for the EyeRide for Sight include: Pfizer Ophthalmics, Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc., California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, Colorado Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, Florida Society of Ophthalmology, Georgia Society of Ophthalmology, Illinois Association of Ophthalmology, Kansas Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, Kentucky Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, Maryland Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons, Missouri Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, Nevada Ophthalmological Society, Utah Ophthalmology Society, Virginia Society of Ophthalmology and Clif Bar.

About EyeCare America:
Established in 1985, EyeCare America, the public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is committed to the preservation of sight, accomplishing its mission through public service and education. EyeCare America provides eye care services to the medically underserved and for those at increased risk for eye disease through its corps of 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists dedicated to serving their communities. More than 90 percent of the care made available is provided at no out-of-pocket cost to the patients. EyeCare America includes programs for seniors, glaucoma, diabetes, AMD and children, and is the largest program of its kind in American medicine. Since its inception, EyeCare America has helped nearly 1 million people. EyeCare America is a non-profit program whose success is made possible through charitable contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. More information can be found at: http://www.eyecareamerica.org.

About the Maryland Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons (MSEPS):
MSEPS is Maryland's state ophthalmological society that serves to enlighten and influence public awareness pertaining to ophthalmology issues; acts as advocate for patient quality of care, articulates and advocates on behalf of patients and ophthalmologists and develops continuing education programs for physicians. Direct inquiries to: MSEPS, 1211 Cathedral St., Baltimore, MD 21201; 410-244-7320.

Media Contact:
Lauren Vance
Communications Specialist for EyeCare America 415-447-0284
lvance @ aao.org

Note to editors and producers:
High-resolution images and interviews with EyeCare America spokespeople, physicians and patients available upon request.

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