Report on State Integration of Vision Health

Partnership Promotes the Goal Of Integrating Eye And Vision Issues To Help Make State Public Health Efforts More Cost Effective

CHICAGO(Jan. 30, 2012)–Millions of Americans are facing visual impairment and blindness.  With healthcare costs continuing to increase, state and public health agencies must work together to aid individuals who are at risk for losing their sight.

For years, Prevent Blindness America, with the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD), has worked closely with its affiliates to advance state vision integration efforts to make vision and eye health a priority health concern in these states.

Today, Prevent Blindness America has released its latest report based on multi-year cooperative agreements with CDC entitledThe Vision Connection: Integrating Vision into State Health Programs.”  The report includes examples of successful partnerships between Prevent Blindness America affiliates and public health entities in their respective states. Affiliates in states such as Georgia, Ohio, Texas and the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, provide details on the positive effect that vision health initiatives and programs can have on communities across the country.

The Vision Connection summaries include:

Developing State Partnerships: Prevent Blindness Texas established a partnership with the Office of Border Health at the Texas Department of State Health Services. Through this partnership, they held the Texas Vision Health Integration Collaborative Workshop which brought together representatives from 35 state institutions, universities and organizations to collaborate on the integration of vision health strategies and best practices. From the collaborations formed in the workshop, many new programs and projects were born including the creation and distribution of bilingual eye health materials and the launch of a public awareness campaign on the importance of vision and eye health.

Partner Contributions: Prevent Blindness Georgia partnered with the state health department, public health organizations, and individuals who work with older adults to organize the Georgia Vision Institute. This was a one-day seminar for seniors and senior organization staff to increase the number of older adults who receive regular eye care for the early detection of age-related diseases. This Institute led to establishing a strong partnership with the Georgia Office of Aging as well as senior groups.

Vision Integration with a Diabetes Program: In a public-private partnership, Prevent Blindness Tri-state and the New York State Department of Health worked to integrate vision information into a state health department chronic disease program by creating materials that showed the direct impact that diabetes has on vision. The “Vision Impairment and Diabetes: 5 Key Messages” brochure is now part of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program and is frequently used by multiple public health agencies in New York to educate others on diabetic eye disease.

Sustainable Impact of Long-Term Partnerships: Prevent Blindness Ohio established the Ohio “Vision…Awaken to the Challenge” conference to bring together leading policymakers, government officials, healthcare providers and social service agencies, leading to the establishment of state-wide programs. Through this conference, Ohio’s Aging Eye Public Private Partnership was formed. Because of these partnerships, Ohio residents now have access to a variety of sight-saving programs, vision screenings, seminars and events in addition to free materials such as eye health and safety information both in print and online.  The public private partnership has also established a strong leadership role in the advocacy arena, working with state and federal legislatures, the Ohio General Assembly and the Governor.

“We hope that the Vision Connection report will serve as just a small example of how state entities can work together to have a tremendous impact on communities across the country,” said Hugh R. Parry, President and CEO of Prevent Blindness America. “We also would like to thank the CDC for their continued support and commitment to protecting vision.”

For a copy of the The Vision Connection: Integrating Vision into State Health Programs or for more information on eye disease, programs or advocacy efforts, please contact Prevent Blindness America at (800) 331-2020 or visit www.preventblindness.org/prevent-blindness-america-public-health-documents.

Download a copy of the report on state vision health integration press release