Research to Prevent Blindness

Research to Prevent Blindness Co-Sponsors Institute of Medicine Vision Health Report

Newswise RPB Supports IOM study Joe Miller.jpg

Joseph M. Miller, MD, MPH, Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at University of Arizona College of Medicine, develops child-friendly vision testing tools.

Entitled "Public Health Approaches to Reduce Vision Impairment and Promote Eye Health," the report, to be released in 2016, will examine core principles and public health strategies to reduce visual impairment and promote eye health in the United States as part of an effort to combat the dramatically rising rates of eye                                                                    diseases.

Statement of Task

The following is the official statement of task for the study committee.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) will conduct a consensus study to examine the core principles and public health strategies to reduce visual impairment and promote eye health in the United States. The study will describe limitations and opportunities to improve vision and eye health surveillance; reduce vision and eye health disparities; promote evidence-based strategies to improve knowledge, access and utilization to eye care; identify comorbid conditions and characterize their impact; and promote health for people with vision impairment. The study will also examine the potential for public and private collaborations at the community, state, and national levels to elevate vision and eye health as a public health issue.

Specifically, the committee will examine and make recommendations on the following:

  • Characterizing the Public Health Burden. Describe and characterize the public health significance of eye disease (e.g., glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and cataract) and vision loss, and the relationship between vision loss and quality of life, health disparities, and comorbid conditions. Identify opportunities to improve surveillance, monitoring, and data integration strategies and to define metrics to support a more accurate assessment of the public health burden of eye diseases and vision loss.
  • Prevention and Care. Explore innovative models of care, innovative technologies, their application to eye disease/vision impairment detection and management, as well as barriers to their development and use. Examine and explore current and future areas of research on public health interventions that target prevention; access to, and utilization of, vision and eye care; and improved patient outcomes.
  • Evidence-Based Health Promotion Interventions. Identify strategies to develop, test, and encourage the implementation of health promotion interventions that are evidence based for people with vision impairment.
  • Eye Health and Vision Loss as a Public Health Priority. Categorize and discuss the possible short - and long-term collaborative strategies to promote vision and eye health as a public health priority, including: (1) the role of public-private partnerships (e.g., improving public awareness; improving vision and eye care through federal, state, and community-based partnerships, and enhancing professional education); (2) the role of federal government and state and local communities in integrating vision and eye health interventions into existing public health programs (including systems and policy changes that support vision and eye health) that are both implementable and sustainable; and (3) engagement of key national partners to form collaborations for research, service delivery, outreach, and community-based studies to successfully improve access and quality to vision and eye care.

"While RPB's mission is to promote and fund eye research to prevent blindness and restore sight, we recognize that the treatments and cures resulting from RPB's support are best applied strategically," says Brian F. Hofland, PhD, President of Research to Prevent Blindness. "This IOM study complements our efforts, and so the RPB Board of Trustees approved a special grant. We believe that our goals for the common good will be more quickly and more efficiently realized if we act collaboratively with other key stakeholders in the vision health community."

In addition to Research to Prevent Blindness, current sponsors for the IOM study are:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The National Eye Institute
Prevent Blindness
The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research
The American Optometric Association
The National Center for Children's Vision and Eye Health
The American Academy of Optometry
The American Academy of Ophthalmology
The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology

"The incidence of eye disorders will continue to surge due to the aging of the baby boomer generation and the diabetes epidemic," says Hofland. "Huge numbers of people will be personally affected, and the economy will be impacted by medical costs and loss of productivity. As a vision health community, we have to develop the tools to treat these conditions, and also screen for and diagnose these conditions early, so that treatments can be delivered as soon as possible."


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