See Now

In partnership with See Now, Prevent Blindness is bringing the campaign to end avoidable blindness in the United States to congressional leaders in an effort to stop the growing number of people living with preventable vision loss.

Our Goal

The See Now campaign is supporting Prevent Blindness in asking the 115th Congress of the United States to increase funding for two critical vision progams.  Recognizing that vision problems carry significant personal and societal burdens, and cost the U.S. $145 billion annually, Prevent Blindness urges Members of Congress to:

1. Provide at least $3,300,000 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 to maintain and expand vision and eye health efforts at the Vision Health Initiative (VHI) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

This is a modest increase of ~$2.8 million over current funding.

This funding level  will allow the VHI to increase vision impairment and eye disease surveillance efforts, advance a national vision and eye health data system, undertake new population-based public health research related to vision and eye health, apply previous CDC research findings to develop effective prevention and early detection interventions, and begin to incorporate vision and eye health promotion activities into state and national public health chronic disease initiatives.

2. Provide at least $3,500,000 in FY 2018 to establish a children’s vision and eye health coordinating center at Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB). 

Currently there is no Congressional appropriation to MCHB to address children’s vision.

This funding level will allow the MCHB to assist states in developing children’s eye health programs that promote early detection and follow-up to an eye care professional, as well as coordination of programmatic efforts for children’s vision across federal agencies. This funding would also support the integration of standards for accountability related to early detection and intervention into national goals and health care standards. 

Unlocking Eye Care for 15 Million Americans Who Need it the Most

By increasing federal funding by a modest $6.3 million to address vision and eye health in the U.S., we aim to unlock eye care for 15 million Americans who need it the most.  Below is the analysis of how we reach that 15 million impact figure.

The Healthy People initiative is one that provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.

  • Healthy People 2020 objective V-I aims to increase the proportion of preschool children aged 5 years and under who receive vision screening from a baseline of 40.1% in 2008 to 44.1% in 2020 (this is a 10% increase).
  • Healthy People 2020 objective V-4 aims to increase the proportion of adults who have a comprehensive eye examination, including dilation, within the past 2 years from a baseline of 55% in 2008 to 60.5% in 2020 (also a 10% increase).

Based upon population projection data from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2020, we are projected to have 20,568,000 children under 5 in this country.  If we do not improve our public health eye care systems, we can assume that the baseline will remain and that 40.1% (or 8,247,768) of these children will be screened.  If we invest in addressing these problems, we can achieve the objective of increasing the screening rate to 44.1% (or 9,070,488) of these children.  This means we would theoretically impact an additional 822,720 children. 

Similarly, in 2020, we are projected to have 260,375,000 adults in this country.  If we do not improve our public health eye care systems, we can assume that the baseline will remain and that 55% (or 143,206,250) of these adults will receive exams.  If we invest in addressing these problems, we can achieve the objective of increasing the exam rate to 60.5% (or 157,526,875) of these adults.  This means we would theoretically impact an additional 14,320,625 adults.

By funding our public health systems at an appropriate level, we thereby gain the potential to impact 15 million more individuals than if we do nothing.

Limitations/Assumptions

  1. The Healthy People objective on preschool vision screening addresses children ≤5; the Census data addresses children <5…so this may put the final figure off by 1-2 hundred thousand (but if we use a collective number with both adults and children, we are still within the 15 million impact range either way).
  2. This analysis only considers individuals 0-5 and 18+ (it does not account for children 6-17).
  3. The Healthy People objectives rely on National Health Interview Survey data; however as I understand it, the most recent data remains the 2008 baseline figures.  So this increase of 15 million people receiving care is from 2008, not 2016.

Current federal appropriations aimed at addressing the public health challenge of vision total $3.8 million ($500,000 to support the CDC’s Vision Health Initiative and $3.3 million to support glaucoma programming).

About See Now

See Now is a global campaign to increase awareness and drive public mobilization on ending avoidable blindness and vision impairment. Globally, there are 285 million people living with blindness and vision impairment and 4 out of 5 cases are preventable or curable.   Visit www.seenow.org for more information.