Palo Alto Medical Foundation Newsroom

$800,000 Gift to Enhance PAMF Vision Care Services in Santa Clara County

Generous Support Enhances Pediatric Vision Services for the Underserved and Anchors Capital Campaign for new Sunnyvale Vision Care Center

The Sunnyvale Vision Care Center of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) has received an $800,000 gift from Charles R. Munnerlyn, Ph.D., and Judith Munnerlyn. The contribution will support two important vision initiatives at PAMF. First, it will provide free vision care to underserved children as part of a partnership with the Sunnyvale School District. Second, the donation launches a $1.2 million capital campaign to begin building PAMF’s Sunnyvale Vision Care Center. Scheduled to open in the second half of 2016, the vision care center will named the Munnerlyn Eye Institute. 

Dr. Charles R. Munnerlyn and Judy Munnerlyn

Charles R. Munnerlyn, Ph.D. and Judy Munnerlyn

“I’ve spent my entire career developing innovative ophthalmic instruments from automated refractors to glaucoma testing equipment to lasers for treating eye diseases, and, ultimately, a laser for vision correction,” said Dr. Munnerlyn, who received his Ph.D. in optical engineering. “Nothing is more rewarding than having people tell me how they benefitted from vision technologies with which I have been involved. Making a contribution like this to Sunnyvale and the surrounding communities, provides a means not only for testing the vision of young people, but building the Eye Institute gives more people access to eye care and expands existing services.”

Dr. Munnerlyn is known as one of the founding fathers of laser vision correction for his role in developing the technology which has been used on more than 15 million eyes.  In the 1970s, Dr. Munnerlyn founded VISX, Incorporated, which became the leading manufacturer of laser-based vision correction systems in the world.  He serves on the board of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Expanding Pediatric Vision Services for the Underserved

Studies over the past 25 years confirm that untreated vision problems in children can result in poor school performance and social problems, and negatively impact the quality of life of children and their families. Childhood vision impairment is associated with developmental delays, lower educational attainment and the need for special educational, vocational and social services. In 2011 alone, at least 10,000 children ages 14 and under in Santa Clara County did not receive essential services needed to prevent and treat eye disease. Partnering with the Sunnyvale School District and other community organizations on this community benefit program, PAMF will use this generous grant to help ensure that these school children are assessed and treated for potential eye and vision problems prior to entering school and throughout their school years.

“The generosity of the Munnerlyn gift will allow the Palo Alto Medical Foundation to partner with other local service organizations like the Healthier Kids Foundation, the community health clinics at MayView Community Health Center and RotaCare Free Clinic, to provide advanced vision services for children throughout the county,” noted Elizabeth Vilardo, M.D., PAMF Division president. “Children who are identified from a number of screening venues will have access to advanced vision care services through PAMF when our new Munnerlyn Eye Institute opens for patient care.”


The pediatric vision health program will pilot a community-based intervention method to increase timely access to comprehensive and affordable vision services and identify children who need follow-up vision care.

About the Munnerlyn Eye Institute

Design services for the Munnerlyn Eye Institute are currently underway with teams assessing how the new facility can provide the best vision care patient experience, an efficient work flow and use of space, and easy access that is adaptable and flexible for growth.

PAMF and Sutter Health continuously strive to meet the evolving needs of the communities and patients served. The organizations receive generous support from community members to support innovative services and cutting edge technologies. This philanthropic support helps to accelerate the advancement of many programs like pediatric vision services throughout the community.

 About the Palo Alto Medical Foundation

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) for Health Care, Research and Education, is part of the Sutter Health network of care. Founded in 1930, PAMF is a not-for-profit health care organization that is a pioneer in the multispecialty group practice of medicine, health innovation and patient-centered care. PAMF’s more than 1,200 affiliated physicians and 5,400 employees serve nearly 850,000 patients at its medical centers and clinics in Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation is part of Sutter Health’s Peninsula Coastal Region, which also includes Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center and Menlo Park Surgical Hospital. For more information about the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, please visit the PAMF website and blog, follow us on Twitter, and join us on Facebook and Google+. To learn about PAMF’s Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation, visit the PAMF Innovation Center website.