Research Programs

The Foundation’s research discoveries in the first 10 years form the basis for improved vision care which could save an estimated 500,000 years of lost eyesight each year in perpetuity.  Over only a 10-year period, this amounts to a little more than one dollar spent by the Foundation for each year of eyesight savable!  This is the power of effective research.

After establishing a successful intramural research program, the Foundation is now concentrating on expanding its extramural vision research program and extending its efforts to include speech and hearing research and education.



Something as small as a bit of scar tissue can be one of the greatest threats to the gift of sight.  The Helen Keller Foundation has researched how scar tissue forms in the eye and, more importantly, how it can be prevented.  We are removing scar tissue membranes on the center of vision, approximately one-eighth the thickness of a human hair. Several sight-restoring procedures have been developed.


The Foundation pursues sight-saving breakthroughs by working with many of the most distinguished vision researchers in the world.  Donors can specify glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy or another area of research they may wish to support.  Helen Keller Professors are then designated at select universities, and Helen Keller Fellows and pilot studies are funded under their direction.  We are now seeking funding for 10 Helen Keller Professors at distinguished universities that partner with the Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education.


The Foundation believes that vision research will advance in direct proportion to the public’s awareness of research efforts to end blindness. The Helen Keller Prize is a powerful symbol for vision researchers worldwide who labor to preserve the precious gift of sight.

Helen Keller Laureates are selected by an international panel of vision researchers.  The Prize is awarded at the annual convention of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), an international conclave that attracts more than 13,000 scientists and physicians.  The Prize stipend supports the recipient’s vision research. The Foundation considers this program to be one of its most important efforts to end blindness.

Read about The Helen Keller Prize
Read about The Helen Keller Laureates


Much like Helen Keller herself, Foundation representatives have lectured around the globe.  In the first decade of vision research, presentations have been made in countries from Norway to South Africa, from China to Austria—totaling over 1,500 scientific lectures in 52 countries on six continents.


The Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education founded the United States Eye Injury Registry and the World Eye Injury Registry. They are the largest data banks of eye injury information in the United States and the world.  We do not want anyone, no matter how remote their location, to lose a chance at sight because they have no access to information.  Physicians and organizations worldwide may consult and contribute to the Registries to further advance vision research and eye injury care.

United States Eye Injury Registry (USEIR)
World Eye Injury Registry (WEIR)



The Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education targets three vision research areas:

• The Child’s Eye
• The Injured Eye
• The Aging Eye

Read about these specific areas of research

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