Eyesight Health Nonprofit Losing State Funding

Jul 5, 2017

A cut in state funding may cause a nonprofit to end its program of training lay people on how to screen children's vision.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is eliminating $96,000 in annual funding to Prevent Blindness Iowa. In a letter to the organization, IDPH's Bureau Chief of Family Health Marcus Johnson-Miller writes this move is the result of a budget shortfall and is "in no way an indication of poor performance or lack of contract compliance."

Prevent Blindness Iowa's executive director Jeanne Burmeister says her organization helps identify major vision issues, like astigmatism, in kids. She estimates the loss of funding to be 40-45 percent of her organization's total budget.

"Many of us don't realize that children don't know how they should be seeing because no one has taught them," she says. "Even in the p-K if they're seeing double or blurry, they're not going to complain to their parents. Even in early elementary they may not. And there's no outward signs or symptoms that they be having a vision problem."

Burmeister says Prevent Blindness Iowa's board is meeting next week to determine if its work can continue in a diminished capacity.