500 Cities Project: Vision and Eye Health Community Responds to Lack of Vision Data

May 26, 2017

On behalf of a broad spectrum of organizations whose collective interests are ensuring optimal vision, the eye health of our nation and our communities, and functional independence for those with vision loss, we thank the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the CDC Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) for your important work on the 500 Cities Project and the recent launch of your website 500 Cities: Local Data for Better Health. This will be a much needed asset for those working to improve the health of their local communities. We are concerned, however, that vision and eye health was not included alongside the 27 chronic disease measures tracked.

Eye health is highly valued across the lifespan – vision plays an important role in children’s success in school, adults’ employability, and older adults’ sustained independence. And while many living with vision loss experience a quality of life equal to that of their sighted peers, according to one recent survey, Americans across all racial and ethnic lines describe losing vision as potentially having the greatest negative impact on their life (”Public Attitudes About Eye and Vision Health”).

According to RWJF’s own Chronic Care: Making the Case for Ongoing Care, eye disorders are the fifth leading chronic condition among those aged 65 years and over and seventh across all age groups. This same study finds that eye disorders are the third most prevalent chronic condition among children, behind only asthma and other upper respiratory disease.
We note that the 500 Cities initiative relies on data from the CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the Census 2010 population, and the American Community Survey estimates. While it is far from complete, there are avenues in each of these to gather vision-related information. And where there are gaps, we encourage efforts to fill them.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recently released a report that recognizes that for too long vision and eye health have not received the attention and investment they warrant, given their importance to public health (“Making Eye Health a Population Health Imperative: Vision for Tomorrow”).

As we age, we are more likely to experience other chronic conditions such as diabetes, hearing impairment, heart problems, hypertension, joint symptoms, low back pain, and stroke at the same time as vision loss. In the absence of high-quality rehabilitation and supports, these multiple conditions can lead to falls, injury, depression, social isolation, diminished health-related quality of life, and premature death. However, many health initiatives at the community, city, and state levels do not fully take into
account either the broad range of vision disorders and their comorbidities or their consequences for health and quality of life.

500 Cities Project

ACB of Wisconsin
Alabama Lions Sight Conservation Association
Alabama Vision Coalition
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Academy of Optometry
American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus
American Association of Diabetes Educators
American Association on Health and Disability
American Council of the Blind
American Council of the Blind of Nebraska
American Council of the Blind of New Mexico
American Foundation for the Blind
American Optometric Association
American Society of Ophthalmic Registered Nurses
Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER)
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired
Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry
Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology
Beaver County (PA) Association for the Blind
Bay State Council of the Blind
Blair/Clearfield Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired
Blind Association of Butler and Armstrong
Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh
Blind LGBT Pride International
Bosma Enterprises
BrightFocus Foundation
Bucks County (PA) Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired
Byers Eye Institute at Stanford University
Cahaba Valley Health Care
Cambria County (PA) Association for the Blind & Handicapped
Case Western Reserve University School of Nursing
Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health and Science University
Center for the Visually Impaired, Atlanta
Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Pennsylvania
Center for Vision Loss
Central Susquehanna Sight Services
Central Ohio Lions Eye Bank
Cincinnati Association f/t Blind & Visually Impaired
Cincinnati Eye Institute
Cincinnati Eye Institute Foundation
ClearVision Optometry – VisionSource network
Columbia River Services for the Blind
Combat Blindness International, Inc.
Community Services for Sight
Department of Ophthalmology, Georgetown University School of Medicine
Department of Ophthalmology, NYU Langone Medical Center
Department of Ophthalmology, Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School
Department of Ophthalmology, University of Alabama Birmingham
Department of Ophthalmology, University of California San Francisco
Department of Ophthalmology, University of Florida
Department of Ophthalmology, University of Kansas Medical Center
Department of Ophthalmology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh
Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Case Western Reserve University
Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Medical College of Wisconsin
Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, University of Louisville, Kentucky
Duke University Eye Center
Emory Eye Center
Eye Bank Association of America
Eyesight Foundation of Alabama
Family Vision Center
Fayette County (PA) Association for the Blind
Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind, Inc.
Florida Council of the Blind
Florida Lions Conklin Center for the Blind
ForSight Vision
Georgia 2020
Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation
Greater Wilkes-Barre Association for the Blind
Guide Dog Users, Inc.
Guide Dogs of Hawaii
Guiding Eyes for the Blind
Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Healthy Eyes Alliance
Helen Keller International
Honolulu District School Visual Impairment Program
Houston Health Department
Houston Health Foundation
Illinois College of Optometry
Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness
Independence for the Blind
International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness
International Eye Foundation
International Retinal Research Foundation
John Moran Eye Center
Kansas Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons
Keystone Blind Association
Lackawanna Association for the Blind
Lavelle Fund for the Blind
Lighthouse Guild
Lighthouse Louisiana
Macula Vision Research Foundation
Macular Degeneration Partnership
Macular Degeneration Support
Missouri Council of the Blind
Montgomery County (PA) Association for the Blind
National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research
National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness
National Keratoconus Foundation
Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Nevada Council of the Blind
New England College of Optometry
New England Eye Center, Tufts Medical Center
NOAH – National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation
North Central Sight Services
Northgate Eye Center
NuVisions Center
Ohio Public Health Association
Opticians Association of Ohio
Pennsylvania Association for the Blind
Pennsylvania College of Optometry/Salus University
Pennsylvania Council of the Blind
Perkins School for the Blind
Prevent Blindness
Prevent Blindness Georgia
Prevent Blindness Iowa
Prevent Blindness North Carolina
Prevent Blindness Northeast Region
Prevent Blindness Northern California
Prevent Blindness Texas
Prevent Blindness Wisconsin
Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate
Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation
Red Rose Council of the Blind
Research to Prevent Blindness
River Region Vision Source
San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind
Script Your Future Alabama
SEE International
Seva Foundation
Shiley Eye Institute, University of California San Diego
Sight Center of Northwest Pennsylvania
Sight Savers America
South Central Blind Association
State University of New York College of Optometry
Tennessee Council of the Blind
That Man May See
The Vision Council
UAB Vision Science Research Center
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry
University of Houston College of Optometry
University of Pikeville, Kentucky College of Optometry
UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center)
Utah Councils of the Blind
UTMB Galveston

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