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Preventing blindness

On October 19, 2014, in Chicago, Rubens Belfort Jr., a professor and researcher at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp), received the 2014 International Blindness Prevention Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, marking the first time a Brazilian has been honored. Inaugurated in 1992, the distinction is awarded annually to a professional who has made substantial contributions to preventing blindness or restoring sight and whose work has impacted a significant number of people. Belfort Jr., who is president of the Brazilian Academy of Ophthalmology, has promoted the work of eye healthcare teams that perform surgery on cataract or ocular diabetes sufferers; he also helped create the first ocular cancer center in the Amazon. He is currently working on a program to provide free glasses to children and the elderly. “The lack of access, inadequate human resources, and old technology are the biggest challenges to eye health in the parts of Brazil where I work,” Belfort Jr. told the website of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.