Universal Children’s Day: USAID Child Blindness Program and International Eye Foundation

A child’s eye is not simply a small adult eye.  The structures are tighter and special instruments are needed to examine or perform surgery on a child’s eye, especially a newborn baby’s eye.  Children who need eye surgery usually need general anesthesia because asking a child to lay very still for an hour simply doesn’t work.  Pediatric ophthalmologists are somewhat of a rare breed and clinic staff who care for infants and children with eye disease need special training, technology, and a lot of patience.  We cannot always help in the “patience” department, but we certainly can support specialty training and technology.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) Child Blindness Program (CBP) has been supporting pediatric eye care programs in developing countries for nearly 30 years.  Funding for this program originated with a directive from the US Congress that works through USAID as a worldwide grants program delivering and expanding coverage of quality eye care services to children and other vulnerable populations who have limited access to sight-saving services.  CBP also increases the knowledge base of preferred practices, and evidence-based and innovative approaches to pediatric eye care.

The International Eye Foundation (IEF) served as the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to USAID CBP 2013-2018 and is proud to be serving as the TAG for 2018-2023.  From 2013-2018, 53 grants totaling US $8,824,149 were awarded to US and foreign NGOs, and hospitals in 23 countries around the globe.  The grants ranged from just under $100,000 to $350,000.  CBP provided grants in two categories. In the Delivery & Expansion category, 48 projects were funded which primarily focused on screening and refractive error services, ROP, pediatric ocular surgery, and low vision/education & rehabilitation.  Under the Innovation & Knowledge category, 15 projects were funded conducting operational research on methodologies or technology that moved the eye care community forward to better serve children with visual impairment.


Overall achievements from 2013-2018 include:

  • 2,772,804 children screened
  • 193,537 children received non-surgical treatment
  • 9,861 children received surgery
  • 64,006 received eye glasses
  • 7,223 received low vision/rehabilitation therapy. 


CBP’s request for applications (RFA) for 2018-2023 will be announced through the CBP website at and through email to individuals who have registered with the program.  If you would like to receive the RFA, please send your name and email address to the CBP Program Manager, Lily Riva, MPH at [email protected]

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