Sight Society unveils new website

The Sight Society of Northeastern New York/Lions Eye Bank Albany has unveiled a new website designed to provide information to the public, medical professionals, and Lions Club members and officials. Read More

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How It All Began

The eyes have held great fascination for man since the dawn of time. Poets have written about them and minstrels have sung about them. Herodotus (484-424 B.C.) wrote about the art of medicine as being specialized. One of the recorded miracles of Jesus was the healing of a blind man. There is a long history of optics and ophthalmology, yet the use of eye tissue to restore sight is of quite recent origin.

The Sight Conservation Society of Northeastern New York, one of whose purpose is to supply eye tissues, was the fourth such organization to be founded in New York State. How it came about makes an interesting story.

An article appeared in the March 1951 issue of the New York State Lion entitled, “The Cow’s Tail”. This story was devoted to the seven Lions Clubs that had founded the Buffalo Eye-Bank and Research Society in 1949, to the Lion Blind Seal Campaign which brought in the contributions for the maintenance of the Society, and to the fourteen blind persons whose sight had been restored by cornea transplants.

This story made an impact all over the State, but in particular it inspired Nicholas Michailoff and others of the Schenectady Lions Club to consider the need for an eye bank in their area. Joseph Albrecht, President of the Buffalo Eye-Bank and James Smith, President of the Staten Island Eye-Bank were consulted. A committee was formed as the result of these discussions to study the possibility of establishing an eye bank in this area. This committee consulted with ophthalmologists in the Capital District and the need for an eye-bank was confirmed.

Many of the Lions Clubs in the area were contacted and general interest was aroused. It was further learned that not only was eye tissue needed but there was need for a research laboratory. The Capital area, with its many fine hospitals and Albany Medical College, seemed ideal for the project.

On September 12, 1951, a Steering Committee, a special body representing a number of Lions Clubs in this area, was formed. There followed eight months of study and the accumulation of information. They sought the backing of County Medical Societies and of Lions Clubs. They sought also individuals to become charter members of the Society. What is of importance historically is that they called a meeting on June 12, 1952 at which time the Sight Conservation Society of Northeastern New York was officially organized.

The following slate of officers was elected:

  • Chairman of the Board Lawrence 0. Martinsen, Albany
  • President Nickolas N. Michailoff, Schenectady
  • 1st Vice-president Isaac Shapiro, M.D., Schenectady
  • 2nd Vice-president Walter II. McKenna, M.D., Troy
  • 3rd Vice-president Samuel L. Siegel, Amsterdam
  • Treasurer Fabian 0. Ducharme, Glens Falls
  • Secretary Bernard T. Hoitman, Schenectady

The following Executive Committee was elected for the purpose of conducting immediate business:

  • Chairman Merrit C. Cole, Saratoga
  • Members Joseph Donnan, Schenectady
  • Almon H. Millard, Troy
  • Robert K. Stilson, Schenectady
  • Douglas S. Williams, Albany

In addition to the above-mentioned officers and members of the committee the following persons comprise the Board of Directors:

  • Joseph L. Austin, Ballston Spa
  • John F. Cogan, Albany
  • Clarence R. Becker, M.D., Troy
  • Seth C. Craig, Cambridge
  • Fred M. Brodie, Jr., Amsterdam
  • Robert Cullen, Saratoga
  • George K. Ferguson, Glens Falls
  • Milton B. Matin, Albany
  • Paul E. Grattan, Waterford
  • Wallace M. Mueller, Albany
  • Charles D. Groves, Albany
  • Harry E. Pratt, Albany
  • Leonard A. Hager, Germantown
  • John H. Searles, Waterford
  • Theodore A. Hidding, Schenectady
  • Clarence G. Simmons, Troy
  • Bernice E. Hodges, Schenectady
  • John M- Sullivan, Glens Falls
  • Frank Johnson, Schenectady
  • Robert T. Ten Eyck, Albany
  • Harold M. T. Lewis, Troy
  • George A. Tracy, Ballston Spa
  • Harold M. Lewis, Little Falls
  • Dr. Benjamin P. Whitaker, Schenectady
  • John T. McGillin, Amsterdam
  • Arthur W. Wright, M.D., Albany

Charter Members of the Society:

  • Albany Lions Club
  • Homer Lions Club
  • Amsterdam Lions Cub
  • Little Falls Lions Club
  • Ballston Spa Lions Club
  • Poughkeepsie Lions Club
  • Cambridge Lions Club
  • Saratoga Springs Lions Club
  • East Syracuse Lions Club
  • Schenectady Lions Club
  • Germantown Lions Club
  • Troy Lions Club
  • Glens Falls Lions Club
  • Waterford Lions Club

Today the Sight Society of Northeastern NY, Inc. (Lions Eye Bank at Albany) serves 29 counties in Northeastern New York and Great Barrington, MA. The Lions Eye Bank at Albany has helped to restore vision to tens of thousands of people who might otherwise have permanently lost their sight.

The Lions Eye Bank at Albany continues its mission to restore sight. Although our first priority is to obtain corneal tissue for individuals residing in Northeastern New York and Great Barrington, MA we also provide corneal tissue to people throughout the world. Tissue that cannot be used for transplant is valuable for research and educational purposes. In our efforts to provide educational programs and services, we work with community organizations, colleges and hospitals, reaching from Plattsburgh, to Poughkeepsie, and from Utica to Great Barrington, MA.