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The National Centre of Services and Research for the Prevention of Blindness and Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired.

The National Centre of Services and Research for the Prevention of Blindness and Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired

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The National Centre of Services and Research for the Prevention of Blindness and Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired, a WHO Collaborating Centre, is a project of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness-IAPB Italy, which was established as a result of the Italian Law no. 291/03 [1]. It has been in operation since 2008 and its main objectives are the following:

  • Increasing prevention of disease in the ophthalmological field as stated by WHO with which the National Centre officially collaborates
  • Addressing the phenomenon of low vision, which is developing rapidly in Western countries due to a rise in life expectancy. Since May 2013 the National Centre has been recognized as a WHO Collaborating Centre for the prevention of blindness and vision rehabilitation (the agreement as already been renewed until May 2020: read more)
  • Rehabilitating both children and adults following two different procedures.

Whilst considering the provision of assistance towards the goal of visual rehabilitation as its main activity, the National Centre is also active in the field of medical and scientific research. Its overall objective is to grant adequate autonomy and a better quality of life to the visually impaired.

More specifically our National Centre:
1. Develops new rehabilitation models and uses advanced optical and electronic aids for the visually impaired
2. Provides rehabilitation treatments for visually impaired patients

3. Conducts research in the field of low vision, preventive medicine and epidemiology

4. Creates and manages a network of low vision centres, in order to test innovative research models

5. Provides training and updating of professionals through conferences and seminars

6. Providing scientific advice to relevant competent public health authorities.

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All the above activities are carried out in collaboration with both Italian and international vision rehabilitation centres, always keeping in mind the principal objective of improving visual health.

The National Centre of Services and Research for the Prevention of Blindness and Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired was inaugurated on 11th October 2007, and its headquarters are located at the “Agostino Gemelli” Polyclinic in Rome, with which the IAPB Italy enjoys a fruitful collaboration. The structure occupies a total area of over 430 square meters.

In Italy the prevention of blindness and the visual rehabilitation of the visually impaired has taken on legal and social significance by the law passed on August 28, 1997, no. 284, that by allocating appropriate resources for the creation of specific centres, has supported the social issues highlighted by IAPB Italy and the Italian Blind Union.

Furthermore, by the same law (art.2, comma 3) the Italian Parliament has recognized the institutional activities of the Italian branch of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, established in Italy in 1977. Among other things, the National Centre has obtained an important recognition of quality (ISO 9001: 2008), which has been renewed.

This Centre also deals with pediatric visual rehabilitation. In particular on 13th December 2012, the diagnostic and visual rehabilitation Centre for children with multi-sensorial deficits (children affected by problems to several senses including the visual one) was inaugurated at A. Gemelli Hospital in Rome. This followed an agreement signed between the hospital and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness-IAPB Italy. The work of the Centre (where even children aged between 0 to 3 years old are monitored) is based on a close collaboration between the pediatric neuropsychiatry department of the Polyclinic "Agostino Gemelli" and The National Centre of Services and Research for the Prevention of Blindness and Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired.

[1The National Centre of Services and Research for the Prevention of Blindness and the Visual Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired was established by Law no. 291 on 16th October 2003, where the issue of the “Creation in Rome of a National Centre” is stated. It is a project of IAPB Italy strongly promoted by its President, Lawer Giuseppe Castronovo, which came into operation thanks to the intervention and support of the Ministry of Health and the Roman Catholic University of Sacred Heart. The National Centre – foreseen by the Law of 16th October 2003, no. 291 – plays an essential role. On one hand, it works with the rehabilitation centres at a local level for the definition of operating standards; on the other hand, it collaborates with regional governments for the implementation of the legislative guidelines stated by Law no. 284/97.