Nation’s eye physicians and surgeons to help lead evidence-based efforts to reduce visual impairment in America
WASHINGTON —The American Academy of Ophthalmology today pledged support for the recommendations of a landmark report that proposes a framework to coordinate and guide actions to improve eye and vision health and its equitable access by all citizens in the United States. The report was issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which provides independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conducts other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions.
The report, Public Health Approaches to Reduce Vision Impairment and Promote Eye Health, is significant as it is the first time the National Academies are calling for eye health and vision impairment to be added to the national agenda as a public health imperative. As previous recommendations by the National Academies have driven significant changes to the coordination and delivery of health care within the U.S., its newest report is expected to ultimately change the way the American public, health care providers, researchers, lawmakers and other stakeholders approach strategies to tackle common threats to eye health.
“Avoidable vision impairment occurs too frequently in the United States and is the logical result of a series of outdated assumptions, missed opportunities, and manifold shortfalls in public health policy and health care delivery,” said the authors of the report. “As a chronic condition, vision impairment remains notably absent from many public health agendas and community programs. Rather, vision is often regarded as a given—until it is not.”
The report includes the following recommendations:
- The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should issue a call to action to motivate nationwide action toward achieving a reduction in the burden of vision impairment across the lifespan of people in the United States. Specifically, this call to action should establish goals to eliminate correctable and avoidable vision impairment by 2030.
- The HHS Secretary, in collaboration with other federal agencies and departments, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, professional organizations, employers, state and local public health agencies, and the media, should launch a coordinated public awareness campaign to promote policies and practices that encourage eye and vision health across the lifespan, reduce vision impairment, and promote health equity.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should develop a coordinated surveillance system for eye and vision health in the United States.
- The HHS should create an interagency workgroup, including a wide range of public, private, and community stakeholders, to develop a common research agenda and coordinated eye and vision health research and demonstration grant programs that target the leading causes, consequences, and unmet needs of vision impairment.
- The HHS should convene one or more panels—comprising members of professional organizations, researchers, public health practitioners, patients, and other stakeholders—to develop a single set of evidence-based clinical and rehabilitation practice guidelines and measures that can be used by eye care professionals, other care providers, and public health professionals to prevent, screen for, detect, monitor, diagnose, and treat eye and vision problems.
- Professional education programs should proactively recruit and educate a diverse workforce and incorporate prevention and detection of visual impairments, population health, and team care coordination as part of core competencies in applicable medical and professional education and training curricula.
- State and local public health departments should partner with health care systems to align public health and clinical practice objectives, programs, and strategies about eye and vision health.
- The CDC should prioritize and expand its vision grant program, in partnership with state-based chronic disease programs and other clinical and non-clinical stakeholders.
- Communities should work with state and local health departments to translate a broad national agenda to promote eye and vision health into well-defined actions.
“This report is a landmark moment in public health in America as it moves eye health to a prominent position on the national agenda,” said David W. Parke II, M.D., CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “The action plan outlined by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine draws upon and echoes much of the evidenced-based work we are already leading on behalf of the nation’s community of eye physicians and surgeons to protect the sight and empower the lives of our patients through innovative advances in care and education. We look forward to continuing to play a leading role and collaborating with all stakeholders in making these recommendations a reality.”
The National Academies report cites several of the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s educational and clinical quality resources as support for its recommendations. This includes the ophthalmology organization’s national database of patient outcomes, its clinical practice guidelines and public health efforts.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology sponsored the report in conjunction with the following organizations: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Eye Institute, the American Academy of Optometry, the American Optometric Association, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, Prevent Blindness and National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health and Research to Prevent Blindness.
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit www.aao.org.