News Release

Monday, December 15, 2008

National Eye Health Education Program Names New Planning Committee Chair

Anne L. Coleman, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed chair of the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) Planning Committee. Dr. Coleman, who is professor of Ophthalmology and Epidemiology/Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, also serves as director of the Center for Eye Epidemiology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute.

"Dr. Coleman brings a wealth of interdisciplinary expertise to this key role," said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health. "Her leadership and commitment to furthering eye health education are exemplary, and I look forward to working with her as she takes on this crucial NEHEP position."

The NEI established NEHEP in 1989 to increase public and professional awareness of science-based eye health information regarding the preservation of sight and prevention of blindness. NEHEP works in partnership with more than 65 public and private organizations to educate people who are at higher risk for eye diseases about the importance of early detection and timely treatment. The program also provides information about low vision rehabilitation.

Dr. Coleman succeeds Eve Higginbotham, M.D., dean and senior vice president of academic affairs at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. As chair, she will lead the 14-member committee of eye health experts who oversee NEHEP’s education programs and recommend new priorities.

In her nearly 25-year career as a physician and scientist, Dr. Coleman has served as co-author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and delivered more than 350 presentations and lectures across the country and world, including Japan, Pakistan, Brazil, Greece and Australia.

Since 2005, Dr. Coleman has served on several NEHEP committees, and in her new position she said she hopes “to continue to raise the awareness of the importance of eye care and reduce the rates of needless blindness both nationally and internationally.”

Many eye conditions, including glaucoma, may go unnoticed as symptoms appear only during more advanced stages of disease, she said. In addition, visually impaired people may function well in society, rendering the loss of vision a nearly invisible problem.

"Sight is often one of the senses we take for granted," Dr. Coleman said. “We need to take as good care of our eyes and our vision as we do other parts of our bodies, such as our cardiovascular system.”

The National Eye Institute (NEI), a component of the National Institutes of Health, 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. For more information, visit the NEI Web site

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