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February 23, 2004    

Study to Detect Extent of Eye Disease In Baltimore Children

Free Eye Exams Available for 6,000 Children

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Wilmer Eye Institute are conducting a study to determine the frequency of eye diseases affecting young children. The Baltimore Pediatric Eye Disease Study will provide a complete eye exam for 6,000 children living in selected areas of Baltimore City. The exams are free of charge. A team of researchers and clinicians led by Drs. James Tielsch, professor of International Health at the School of Public Health, and David Friedman, associate professor, at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, are conducting the study, which is funded by the National Eye Institute.

“Not much is known about eye health in pre-school-aged children, but we do know that good vision is essential for children to achieve academically. We will determine who is suffering from eye disease, what types of problems they are experiencing, and why these problems are occurring,” said Dr. Friedman.

In addition to assessing the children’s general eye health, the researchers will be looking for signs of strabismus, or crossed eyes, and amblyopia, a condition in which vision in one eye is weaker than the other. Both conditions can lead to permanent vision loss.

“The goal of the study is to provide a picture of the eye health of children in Baltimore over the next several years,” said Dr. Tielsch. 

Free comprehensive eye exams will be given to eligible children from selected Baltimore neighborhoods, which include Armistead Gardens, Brewers Hill, Canton, Cedmont, Cedonia, Claremont, Eastwood, Frankford, Fells Point, Glenham-Bedford, Greektown, Highlandtown, Hopkins Bayview, Joseph Lee, Kresson, Moravia-Walther, N. Harford Road, O’Donnell Heights, Orangeville, Overlea, and Saint Helena. All children aged 6 months through 5 years may participate. Free shuttle service to and from the clinic and on-site daycare are also provided. 

Each parent or guardian will receive a summary of their child’s eye health and referrals will be made if a child needs glasses or other treatment. Assistance is also available for families that do not have health care insurance to pay for glasses or treatment services. Free eye exams are available daily at the Baltimore Pediatric Eye Disease Study clinic located at 2501 Edison Hwy., Baltimore, Md. Additional information is available by calling 410-502-8508. To inquire if your child is eligible for the free eye exam, please call 443-744-2783. 

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Brigham at 410-955-6878 or