Center for Vision and Public Health at Prevent Blindness

The Center for Vision and Population Health is a national technical assistance and policy resource for advancing vision and eye health from a population health perspective.

Why a Center for Vision and Population Health?

Healthy vision can be a key component to independence and well-being for people of all ages.  However barriers such as poor access to eye care, lack of insurance coverage, and inconsistent policies for eye health can prevent early detection and treatment of eye disorders. Prevent Blindness is committed to convening stakeholders in vision, public health, and patient advocacy to address the barriers to healthy vision and work to increase the uniformity of vision preservation nationally.  To accomplish this, the Center for Vision and Population Health at Prevent Blindness (CVPH) has been established as a national coordinating body for effective practices, state-level technical assistance, and programmatic interventions.

In 2016, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) published the landmark report Making Eye Health a Population Health Imperative:  Vision for Tomorrow, defining vision and eye health problems as a growing public health concern for the nation.  It proposed nine recommendations to improve vision and health equity in the United States. 

Prevent Blindness, in partnership with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD), convened a follow-up meeting of stakeholders to assess the feasibility of establishing a national technical assistance resource center for vision and eye health to advance the recommendation of the report and to generally elevate vision and public health as a national priority

Through this process, the Center was conceived to carry out the critical role as a convener of national experts on eye care, vision, and public health. It will collaborate with community, state, and national stakeholders. It will support state-level programs by delivering technical support and evidence-based interventions. While the Center’s activities will draw guidance from the NASEM report, it will also be responsive to emerging topics to sustain a population health approach to vision and eye health. 

The Role of the Center

Core Functions of the National Center for Vision and Population Health

The Center will advance seven core functions:

  1. Support ongoing surveillance efforts, including the use of predictive analytics to determine the likelihood of future outcomes, and contribute to enhanced understanding of incidence, prevalence, and trend data about vision and eye health.
  2. Establish and strengthen a national multi-sector network of partner organizations for the purpose of increasing information sharing and collaboration, reducing redundancies, and coordinating projects and initiatives.
  3. Create an online vision and public health toolkit to guide state program and policy development, and could include a variety of content, such as flagship programs that could serve as models and a foundation for peer-to-peer mentoring across states.  The toolkit would be continually updated with the emergence of new evidence-based best practices.
  4. Integrate and expand early detection initiatives (including both vision screenings and eye examinations) across diverse clinical and non-clinical settings, including but not limited to community health centers, public health programs, primary health care settings, adult and senior health programs, minority health programs, early intervention, and educational programs.
  5. Expand vision and eye health education to include health care professionals, allied health care providers, community health workers, and age-specific networks.
  6. Identify and disseminate evidence-based interventions to promote vision and eye health, prevent injuries, and reduce inequities in vision and eye health.
  7. Explore the integration of vision and eye health interventions into broader chronic care models, whether through public health departments on health care systems; evaluating the design, cost, and impact of such programs.

    How will the Center Fulfill Its Mission?

    The Role of the Center Advisory Committee

    Specifically, the Center will advance the seven core functions identified above by:

    • Identifying and convening key thought leaders in vision and public health to advance critical emerging issues identified in the NASEM report (including social determinants of eye and vision health; evidence-based, population risk, and protective factors; access and utilization; comorbid conditions; innovative interventions; systems changes; emerging vision threats; etc.), and to publish topical papers aimed at providing guidance and/or recommending strategies to promote public health activities documented to reduce vision problems.
    • Collaborating with other stakeholders to ensure public health systems are inclusive of vision and eye health and to advance community-level responses to vision and eye health needs as opportunities arise to advance collective objectives.
    • Serving as a national technical assistance resource to support state and community initiatives by educating stakeholders about the importance of vision and eye health, providing expertise to incorporate vision and eye health into existing programs and policies, developing and disseminating materials to support community best practice and evidence-based collaborations, and promoting partnerships among community sectors.
    • Hosting the annual Focus on Eye Health National Summit as a key venue to disseminate and discuss emerging research in vision and public health.  This Summit, currently hosted by Prevent Blindness, will serve as a strong platform to bring existing and new stakeholders to the table to support and disseminate innovation in vision and eye health, as well as to continually promote the NASEM report and monitor national progress in reaching its goals.

    The Center and Prevent Blindness

    Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness works to improve the nation’s vision and eye health by promoting advances in public health systems of care that support eye health needs, by advocating for public policies that emphasize early detection and access to eye care, by educating the American public on the importance of taking care of their eyes and their vision, and by advancing initiatives that ensure those living with vision loss are able to sustain a high quality of life.  This work primarily focuses around ages and populations at highest risk and is supported and enhanced by a network of affiliates, regional offices, and other program partners. Prevent Blindness is deeply committed to working with states and stakeholders in diverse ways to develop comprehensive and sustainable vision and eye health programs via a consensus-based approach. By establishing the Center for Vision and Population Health at Prevent Blindness, a permanent home is in place to ensure an ongoing, coordinated effort for the advancement of vision in public health in the United States.