We can do it; in fact as an industry it is our responsibility.
Poor vision. As the eyecare professionals and companies that make up the optical industry, we all do our part to help correct and protect the vision of patients all over the U.S. But there is still so much more to do.
Consider this: Millions of children in the U.S. need vision correction, and it is estimated that one in four children has a vision problem that affects their ability to learn. Vision impacts every aspect of a child’s life, from learning, confidence and social interaction to participation in activities such as sports, art and music.
The good news is 80% of visual impairment can be avoided or corrected. It is our responsibility and mission to not only help prevent and correct impairment but also to bring vision care to underserved individuals within our communities. This is one of the ways that the Essilor Vision Foundation is focused on eradicating poor vision in one generation. We are looking for ways to partner with vision care providers around the country to give more access to those who need it. To that end, as a board member and proud supporter of the Essilor Vision Foundation, I want to share three new programs designed to empower eyecare professionals who want to make a difference in their community and participate in our shared mission of improving lives by improving sight.
RAISE AWARENESS OF THE ISSUE
A vital part of making vision care accessible to all who need it is ensuring people are aware of the scope of the problem and giving them a way to make an impact. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vision impairment is one of the most prevalent disabling conditions among children in the U.S.1 One way eyecare providers can raise awareness is by educating patients and parents about the need for annual eye exams. This can be as simple as displaying materials in their office with information about the need for vision services. Essilor Vision Foundation makes it easy for ECPs to promote the cause of vision by providing no-cost marketing materials for their practice. The materials are intended to inspire parents, patients and doctors’ staffs to adopt the cause of vision, which gives them an opportunity to raise awareness and funds to help children in need. ECPs can enroll at EVFUSA.org/BetterSightEnrollment.
PROVIDE EYE EXAMS AND GLASSES
While refractive error is the most easily treatable eye condition, it costs the U.S. more than $16.1 billion a year, making it the most expensive eye condition in the country.2 Another way we all can tackle the problem of poor vision is by providing eye exams and glasses to those in need. This often involves participating in free vision events or other charitable outreach efforts where people can get their eyes tested and receive a free pair of glasses. These vision events help to identify and reach people who might never have thought about the impact poor vision can have on their lives. Without charitable eye doctors, many people around the country would be unable to obtain vision services. That is why we are launching a new online program called Changing Life through Lenses, where doctors can order complete glasses at no cost for their patients in need. Enrollment is available at ChangingLifeThroughLenses.org.
ENABLE ACCESS TO VISION SERVICES
Nearly a quarter of parents do not pursue full vision exams for their children due to a lack of financial resources.3 In an effort to increase access to vision services and address uncorrected vision problems, Essilor Vision Foundation is proud to partner with the Optometry Cares – The AOA Foundation’s Healthy Eyes Healthy Children Community Grants program. The program offers grants of up to $5,000 to optometrists who focus on collaborative efforts to spread awareness and increase vision services within their community. In 2017, 14 grants were awarded to optometrists in 12 states for a total of $65,250, helping more than 180,000 children. Apply now through July 2, 2018 at AOAFoundation.org/HEHC.
By supporting initiatives such as these to provide vision care, and making it easier for eyecare professionals to serve, we can make a significant change in the future of our patients and our industry. Everyone has the right to healthy vision, and it is our duty to do everything we can to provide it in our own communities and around the country.
Eric Leonard is president of Essilor of America and a board member of the Essilor Vision Foundation.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vision Health Initiative 2. Prevent Blindness America, Cost of Vision Problems: The Economic Burden of Vision Loss and Eye Disorders in the United States, 2013 3. The National Health Commission on Vision & Health 4. KDD Health Solutions based on an analysis of 389 individuals in a moderate size employer over three years. 5. Learning Related Vision Problems: Education and Evaluation, Resolution Adopted at the National PTA Convention, June 1999. 2ZabaJN.Children’s Vision Care in the 21st Century and its impact on Education, Literacy, Social Issues and the Workplace: A Call to Action. Journal of Behavioral Optometry 22; 2:39-41. 6. AllAboutVision.com/Eye-Exam/Children.htm 7. Cumani Toledo et al, University Juiz de For a (Brazil). Early Detection of Visual Impairment and its Relation with School Effectiveness. Revista da Associaҫão Médica Brasileira 2010; 56(4). 8. Varma, R., Tarczy-Hornoch, K., Jiang, X. (2017) Visual Impairment in Preschool Children in the United States. JAMA Ophthalmol;135(6):610-616. doi:10,1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.1021. 9. Prevent Blindness America. Cost of Vision Problems: The Economic Burden of Vision Loss and Eye Disorders in the United States.2013. 10. aoa.uberflip.com/i/807465-cpg-pediatric-eye-and-vision-examination 11. beareye.com/news/Eye-Q-Report-card.pdf 12. who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/ 13. aoa.org/patients-and-public/good-vision-throughout-life/childrens-vision/school-aged-vision-6-to-18-years-of-age?sso=y)