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Why Should SightFirst Support Research Projects?

With funds raised through Campaign SightFirst II, SightFirst is able to support new project areas aimed at providing “vision for all.” These include vision rehabilitation and education for those who are blind or have low vision, as well as vision research initiatives. While research is different from the traditional SightFirst strategies of service delivery and capacity building, it has the potential to improve these core program activities and enhance blindness prevention efforts worldwide.

Types of Research

There are three primary types of research: Operational, Evaluative and Discovery.

  • Operational research is the monitoring and evaluation typically performed on projects, but with additional rigor (like the addition of an epidemiologist and statistician) to collect data that is of publishable quality. This type of research is critical to identifying barriers to reaching underserved groups with our programs.
  • Evaluative research is rigorous collection of data to identify needs and assess strategies. It is often in the form of surveys conducted at various scales.
  • Discovery research—research conducted, for example, to identify causes of a disease and its treatment— is highly important to the overall body of research conducted on behalf of vision impairment. But, it requires a considerable investment in time and resources and involves significant risk.

SightFirst emphasizes high-quality, data-driven projects for best use of LCIF funds. Operational research can be directly linked to assessing and improving our programs’ effectiveness, while evaluative research can have a more indirect link to furthering our goals by identifying needs and helping to guide strategies.

Funding Priorities

SightFirst funds operational and evaluative public health research projects. Projects must relate to improving SightFirst programs by identifying needs and assessing program strategies, especially related to equity, capacity building and sustainability in the delivery of eye care. Expanding the monitoring and evaluation budgets of existing SightFirst projects will also be considered. Priorities include research projects that:

  • are identified by SightFirst technical advisors, Lions and/or their partners during the development of a new SightFirst project or as an expansion of an existing SightFirst project;
  • align with specific themes prioritized by the SightFirst Advisory Committee and are supported for a defined period of time; and/or
  • investigate issues relevant to the SightFirst program but which are not connected to a SightFirst project or related to a top-down theme.

In general, SightFirst projects must focus on the major causes of blindness on national or large regional levels. These projects reach populations who are underserved or who have limited or no access to eye health care services. The program funds high-quality, sustainable projects that deliver eye care services, develop infrastructure, train personnel and/or provide rehabilitation and education in underserved communities.

2017 LCIF SightFirst Research Program

Letter of Intent (LOI) Deadline: December 12, 2016

Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) provides funds to support public health research initiatives that evaluate and directly influence the operation of the SightFirst program, Lions’ premier initiative to strengthen eye care systems in underserved communities.

SightFirst research grants of up to US$100,000 are available to support projects that investigate:

  1. Innovative public health approaches to reduce blindness from cataract;
  2. Innovative public health approaches to reduce blindness from trachoma;
  3. Innovative public health approaches to reduce and correct refractive errors in school-age children or;
  4. Epidemiological surveys in geographical areas where there is no recent data available or where repeated surveys may inform existing trends.

Basic laboratory science research will not be supported under this program.

The deadline for Letters of Intent (LOI) is December 12, 2016.  Invitations to submit full proposals will be distributed no later than January 16, 2017, with full proposals due by March 13, 2017.  Grants will be approved by LCIF and commence in August 2017.


2017 Request for Proposals are available in English, French and Spanish.

Find more information, including the SightFirst grant application, disease-specific questionnaires and long-range policy papers.

Contact LCIF at: sightfirstresearch@lionsclubs.org

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