Photos available in downloadable, camera-ready format on the NEI Website at http://www.nei.nih.gov/exhibits.
B-roll is available by calling 301-496-5248.
Baltimore Hosts Two Exhibits on Vision From the National Institutes
Unprecedented Event Offers Comprehensive Information About Eye Health
Did you know that because most people blink every 5 seconds, our eyes are actually
closed for nearly 30 minutes of our waking hours every day? Do you know that
what we call “eyesight” is actually a complex process in which light is converted
to electrical impulses that the brain interprets as vision? Did you know that
millions of Americans have low vision that interferes with everyday activities?
Baltimore-area adults and children will have a remarkable opportunity to get
an in-depth understanding of how vision works — and how vision problems can be
dealt with — as two exhibits from the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the
National Institutes of Health, appear simultaneously in one city for the first
time in September.
VISION, an exhibit that has traveled to 32 cities around the country since 1993,
will be on display at the Maryland Science Center at the Inner Harbor beginning
September 13 and running until January 1, 2006. After that appearance, VISION
will be retired from its road trip and a permanent home for the exhibit will
be explored. That same day, THE EYE SITE, an interactive exhibit on the causes
and treatment of low vision, opens at the Enoch Pratt Library’s Central Branch
on Cathedral Street, where it will run until October 6 before moving on to Owings
Mills Mall. (THE EYE SITE was also on exhibit at the Arundel Mills and White
Marsh malls earlier this summer.)
The 2,000 square-foot exhibit VISION highlights two themes (1) how the eye and
brain work together to create vision and (2) how researchers are developing novel
strategies to protect our eyesight from disease and developmental problems. VISION
also offers a remarkable display of artifacts, including antique eyeglasses,
eye charts and Army Signal Corps binoculars.
Van Reiner, president of the Maryland Science Center, says he is gratified to
be playing host to VISION as it concludes its 12 years on the road. “As someone
who has experienced vision problems, including cataracts, this exhibition has
a real personal meaning for me. Beyond that, however, it is going to give tens
of thousands of Marylanders a deeper understanding of the miracle of the human
And millions of Americans have had the chance to learn about the causes and
treatment of low vision by visiting THE EYE SITE. According to Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni,
M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health, “Since 2001, THE EYE SITE
has traveled to 81 shopping malls in 33 states across the country. THE EYE SITE
is a fine example of the government and private sector collaborating to get important
health messages out to the public in their own communities.”
While it deals with the serious issue of low vision, THE EYE SITE is a hands-on,
interactive exhibit featuring an animated program guide named ELVEE, (short for
low vision). ELVEE is also a costumed character, who will make special appearances
at the Pratt Library.
In his animated form, ELVEE leads visitors through the interactive multimedia
touch screen program that provides a self-assessment and describes the causes
of low vision and the warning signs. One of the five kiosks features a display
of devices to help people with low vision that can be caused by a variety of
conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and
diabetic retinopathy. A list of local resources and booklets on low vision are
available in English and Spanish.
“For millions of Americans, the inability to see well makes doing even routine
things difficult and is socially isolating,” said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D.,
Director of the National Eye Institute. “They have trouble recognizing the faces
of friends, seeing television, reading mail — or even walking around the neighborhood.
THE EYE SITE has been developed to provide information and options for people
with low vision, their families, and friends.”
It is fitting that Baltimore was chosen to host both VISION and THE EYE SITE,
as the city has played a key role in American eye care for nearly 200 years.
In 1824, Dr. George Frick, then the city’s leading "oculist” published “A Treatise
on the Diseases of the Eye,” the first book on ophthalmology written by an American.
A Baltimore contemporary of Dr. Frick, Dr. E.G. Loring, was the first to conceive
of an ophthalmoscope with sixteen lenses mounted on a rotating disc. This is
the forerunner of the modern ophthalmoscope, an instrument used in every eye
examination. And today, Baltimore’s renowned medical institutions, including
the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland School
of Medicine, are spearheading the Host Committee for the two exhibits.
Bringing THE EYE SITE to three area malls and the Enoch Pratt Library and VISION
to the Maryland Science Center required the involvement of a significant number
of local institutions that have worked together in an unprecedented collaboration.
The Baltimore Host Committee sponsors include the following organizations: University
of Maryland Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences; The Wilmer Eye Institute
at Johns Hopkins; National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research / Alliance for
Eye and Vision Research; Spectera, A United Health Group Company; Maryland Optometric
Association; Maryland Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons;
Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Rehabilitation Services;
Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped; Baltimore City
Medical Society; DC/MD Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind
and Visually Impaired; Maryland Society for Sight; The Richard E. Hoover Rehabilitation
Services for Low Vision and Blindness; Greater Baltimore Medical Center; and
University of Maryland Medical Center. Baltimore Host Committee supporters are:
American Council of the Blind of Maryland; Lions Clubs District 22A; Maryland
School for the Blind; Maryland Science Center; and the National Federation of
For more information about eye health, the causes and treatment of visions problems
and much more, visit the National Eye Institute web site at www.nei.nih.gov.
The National Eye Institute is part of the National Institutes of Health
(NIH) and is the Federal government's lead agency for vision research that
leads to sight-saving treatments and plays a key role in reducing visual impairment
and blindness. The NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of
the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal
agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical
research, and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common
and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.