Northeast Regional News

Massachusetts is one of five pilot states participating in a Prevent Blindness America/Maternal and Child Health Bureau award. Managed through the Northeast Regional office, goals  focus on three core elements:

  1. To provide leadership in the development of best practices and guidelines for a public health infrastructure, and statewide strategies that ensure a continuum of vision and eye health care for young children 
  2. To determine mechanisms for advancing state-based performance improvement systems, screening guidelines, and uniform data collection and reporting
  3. To work in collaboration with four other pilot states to develop and implement a statewide strategy for vision screening, establish quality improvement strategies, and determine a mechanism for the improvement of data systems and reporting of children’s vision services.

More than forty Massachusetts professionals representing the fields of optometry, ophthalmology, pediatrics, family practice, nursing, education and public health, as well as parents and advocates, have been working for the past twenty months to achieve these goals as members of the Children’s Vision Massachusetts coalition.  A careful analysis of current practice is underway and over the next three to six months, strategic areas of focus will be identified, and solutions developed. 

Organizations, agencies and institutions represented in the coalition include:

American Academy of Pediatrics MA Chapter;Associated Early Care and Education; Boston Medical Center; Boston Public Health Commission; Boston Public Schools; Boston University School of Communications; Boston University School of Public Health; Children’s Hospital Boston; East Boston Neighborhood Health Center; EK Shriver Center, UMass Medical Center; Emerson College; Federation for Children with Special Needs/MA Family Voices; Harvard School of Public Health; Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates; Massachusetts General Hospital; MA DDS, Division of Vision & Vision Loss Services; MA Head Start Association; MA Department of Early Education and Care; MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Special Education; MA School Nurse Organization; MA Coordinated School Health Program (MA DESE and MDPH)MA School Health Institute; MA League of Community Health Centers; MA Association for the Parents of the Visually Impaired; MA Academy of Family Physicians; MDPH Div of Perinatal, Early Childhood & Special Health Needs; MDPH Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program; MDPH School Health Services;  MDPH Women, Infants and Children Program; MDPH Office of Specialty Services; MDPH Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems; New England College of Optometry; Perkins School for the Blind; Prevent Blindness America

Project Objectives are to:

  • Develop a comprehensive system for vision screening and care for children birth to age 18 years and birth to age 22 years for children with special needs
  • Develop training programs to ensure that assessments/screenings are of high quality and consistent across screeners
  •  Launch community education campaigns to build awareness of the new state-wide system and the importance of vision screening, diagnosis, treatment and ongoing care for typically developing children, emphasizing  the importance of comprehensive eye exams for children with special needs
  • Develop and build alignment for guidelines and recommendations for providers, parents, early intervention programs, pre-schools, elementary and secondary schools
  • Achieve dramatic improvement in completed referrals for eye exams and adherence to prescribed treatment plans
  • Achieve more accurate diagnoses of learning issues by ensuring vision assessment is part of the overall evaluation of children with special needs
  • Conduct a collaborative process to achieve working group objectives which place emphasis on maximum appropriate involvement of stakeholders