Breaking the Cycle of Vision Impairment

Goal-setting is important, but having a solid plan of action is even more important. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has set a goal that is challenging but attainable: eliminating correctable vision problems in the United States by 2030.

It is estimated that 142 million Americans over the age of 40 have vision problems, and between 8.2 million and 15.9 million Americans have undiagnosed refractive errors. Because life expectancy is increasing, uncorrectable vision impairment could double by the year 2050. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine decided to take action by creating a committee and publishing a report to share its plans to help eliminate age-related eye disease.

Steven Teutsch, chair of the committee and former chief science officer, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said, “For far too long, eye health has received inadequate public health attention, despite good vision being essential to overall health and well-being.”

There are many reasons why there has been a general lack of attention to the impact of vision loss on our society, and some of these reasons include:

  • Segregation of eye care from other branches of medicine
  • Fragmentation within the field of eye care
  • Lack of coordination across and within federal entities

To adequately address this nationwide issue, the committee is enlisting the assistance of federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, for-profit organizations, employers, public health agencies, and the media to create a public awareness campaign that raises awareness about eye health.

Teutsch is hopeful about the project. He said, “We need a comprehensive approach to eye health that emphasizes education and prevention, equitable and easily accessible care, and coordination in treating and managing chronic eye conditions and vision impairment in ways that help people to live full, productive lives” (Source: National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine).