National Centre of Services and Research for the Prevention of Blindness and Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired (Rome, Italy)
The National Centre of Services and Research for the Prevention of Blindness and Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired is a project of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness-IAPB Italy, a non-profit organization that was established thanks to Law no. 291/03 . It has been operating since 2008 and has the following main objectives:
- to increase prevention in ophthalmology as set out by the World Health Organization, with which our National Centre officially collaborates;
- to cope with the phenomenon of low vision, which is growing rapidly in Western countries due to the increase in life expectancy. Since May 1, 2013 the National Centre (“Polo Nazionale”) has been a WHO Collaborating Centre for the prevention of blindness and vision rehabilitation (agreement already renewed until May 2020: read more);
- to rehabilitate both children and adults, according to two different procedures created to suit each individual patient.
The main activities of our National Centre are assisting eye care and vision rehabilitation; however, we also carry out medical and scientific research. Overall, we aim to ensure that visually impaired people can attain an adequate level of autonomy and access a better quality of life.
More specifically the Italian National Centre deals with:
a) testing new rehabilitation models and advanced optical and electronic aids for the visually impaired;
b) rehabilitation treatments for visually impaired patients;
c) research in the fields of low vision, preventive medicine and epidemiology;
d) creation of a network between the low vision centres, in order to experiment with innovative research models;
e) training and upgrading of our operators’ skills through conferences and seminars;
f) providing of scientific advice to public health authorities.
All these activities are carried out in collaboration with both Italian and international vision rehabilitation centres, always keeping in mind the aim of improving visual health.
Our National Centre was inaugurated on 11 October 2007, and its headquarters are located in Rome at the “Agostino Gemelli” Polyclinic Hospital, with which the IAPB Italy non-profit organization enjoys a fruitful collaboration. This facility occupies a total area of over 430 square meters.
In Italy, the prevention of blindness and rehabilitation of the visually impaired has taken on legal and social significance with the law of August 28, 1997, no. 284, which by allocating special resources to the creation of specific centres, has recognised and accepted the social issues highlighted by IAPB Italy and the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired. Moreover, with the same Law (art. 2, paragraph 3) the Italian Parliament 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, our National Centre has obtained and had renewed an important quality certification (ISO 9001: 2008).
The Centre is also involved in paediatric vision rehabilitation. In particular, on 13 December, 2012 the Diagnostic and Vision Rehabilitation Centre for children with multisensory deficits was inaugurated, at the A. Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome, following an agreement between the “Gemelli” Polyclinic and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness-IAPB Italy. The work of the Centre (which also follows children from birth to the age of three) is based on a close collaboration between the Pediatric Neuropsychiatry Department of the Polyclinic and 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 Vision Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired was established thanks to Law no. 291, 16 October 2003, in which details/statements regarding the “Creation of a National Centre in Rome” can be found. It is a project of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB Italy), strongly promoted by its President, Mr Giuseppe Castronovo, which became a reality thanks to the intervention and support of the Italian Ministry of Health and the “Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore” – Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic Hospital). The National Centre, pursuant to Law of 16 October 2003, no. 291, plays an essential role, on the one hand with local vision rehabilitation centres for the definition of operational standards, and on the other hand with regional governments for the implementation of legislative guidelines established by Law no. 284/97.