Project Vision Sheds Light on Importance of Screenings in Detection of Disease

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Unique community outreach targets underserved population in Hawaii.

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Project Vision is a unique way to approach community outreach from a health standpoint

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Over a decade ago, Dr. Michael D. Bennett of the Retina Institute of Hawaii examined a young college graduate who, unexpectedly, was experiencing vision loss in both eyes. She had diabetes, and up until that point, had never obtained an eye exam. Knowing her vision could have been saved through early detection, in late 2007, Dr. Bennett founded Project Vision, a mobile screening unit that provides free vision screenings and advocates for the early detection of eye diseases and disorders.

"Project Vision is a unique way to approach community outreach from a health standpoint," said Dr. Bennett. "This type of program can be perceived as expensive but losing vision is even more costly, both financially and emotionally. I hope what we're doing in Hawaii can serve as a national model for vision and health care, and that sponsors and community leaders will lend their support as they realize the importance of this initiative."

Project Vision is a 35-foot RV equipped with state-of-the art digital imaging equipment that takes high quality photos of the inside of the eye in a matter of minutes. Using the photos, ophthalmologists who review the images can detect eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. They can also detect health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.

In the past 20 months, approximately 2,100 people have received the important vision screenings through Project Vision. Of those, 40 percent were found to have abnormalities in at least one eye. Over 300 of them had no health insurance. Typically, pain is what causes people to go to the doctor; however, because no pain fibers reside in the retina, people are not aware of their gradual vision loss until it is too late.

Currently, Project Vision primarily serves the island of Oahu, with manpower and additional support provided by the American Diabetes Association and various Lions Clubs. Project Vision has also made visits to the islands of Maui and Hawaii.

Financial support is needed for Project Vision to continue its important work. For more information or to provide support, call (808) 955-0255 or visit http://www.retinahawaii.com.

About Project Vision
Project Vision is a non-profit, 501(c) 3 mobile unit equipped with a state-of-the-art retinal camera. The camera provides a 200-degree internal view of a patient's retina in less than 90 seconds without eye drops or pupil dilation. The unit is staffed by both paid medical personnel and trained volunteers. An Ophthalmologist reviews images and results are sent to each participant and to a local eye doctor upon request.

About Retina Institute of Hawaii
Founded in 2001, the Retina Institute of Hawaii is equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and laser treatment facilities, which are used to treat macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, retinitis, uveitis, ocular tumors and other eye conditions. The focus is on preventing, suspending or reversing vision loss. The Retina Institute of Hawaii is active in clinical research, community education and evaluation of new treatments and is committed to giving back to the community through its non-profit, Project Vision.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Caroline Witherspoon or
Lisette Gonzalez
Becker Communications, Inc.
(808) 533-4165

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