Former U.S. Congressman Dr. Phil Gingrey, Senior Advisor to the District Policy Group at Drinker Biddle, authored a column in The Hill on the impact blindness and vision loss has on children and adults in the U.S.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine estimate that 6.42 million people have uncorrectable vision impairment in the U.S. and that 142 million adults over the age of 40 experience vision problems. NORC, the independent research institution at the University of Chicago, estimated in 2013 that eye disorders and vision loss impose a $139 billion economic burden on the U.S. economy.
Dr. Gingrey explains that there are no national standards for conducting vision screenings, and data on how many children receive vision screenings is incomplete because of varying data sources. In addition, it is difficult to track how many children receive follow-up diagnostic exams and treatment after failing screenings.
Dr. Gingrey highlights the National Academies’ 2016 report on vision loss, “Making Eye Health a Population Health Imperative: Vision for Tomorrow,” which lays out a roadmap for addressing correctable and avoidable vision impairment by developing more coordinated programs with federal agencies, alongside the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control, professional organizations, researchers and other stakeholders. In addition, the report recommends that state and local public health departments partner with health care systems on community health needs to identify barriers to vision-related services.
He says, “By improving the national framework for how we study and address vision loss issues, we can ensure that everyone in our country has access to the treatment and care they need to lead healthy and productive lives.”