FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information:
Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate
Ohio Residents Visit Virtually with Members of Congress to
Advocate for Support for Programs, Research to Save Sight
Columbus, OH (February 18, 2021) – Ohio Delegates Amy Pulles (Pickerington), David Monder (Hilliard), Marc Molea (Columbus), Darcy Downie (Chagrin Falls), Kira Baldonado (Anna), Dr. E. Eugenie Hartmann (Akron), Laura Glass (Alliance) and Kylie Gang(Alliance) will join delegates from across the country for the sixteenth annual Prevent Blindness “Eyes on Capitol Hill” advocacy days on February 24-25 for a virtual trip to visit Congress in Washington, D.C. Since 2006, the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness and its national office have brought citizens from across the country to meet with members of the House and Senate, and their staff, to discuss the importance of vision and eye health programs and research.
“We are proud to continue to work with members of government through our Eyes on Capitol Hill event, as well as other local and national advocacy efforts, to help protect the gift of sight and continue to bring Americans to quality, affordable eye care,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate.
According to the recent Prevent Blindness study “The Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Cost of Vision Problems,” vision impairments are projected to cost the United States $167 billion in 2019, due in large part to the aging population. Yet, for every$18,600 that vision problems cost the country, only a single dollar is allocated to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) toward their prevention. Annual costs are projected to increase to $717 billion by 2050 without significant investments in vision and eye health.
This year’s Eyes on Capitol Hill advocates will ask Ohio’s elected officials to:
–Restore the CDC’s Vision Health Initiative (VHI) with $5 million.
With at least $5 million appropriated to the VHI in FY2021, VHI can once again collect and measure data on rates of diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related vision loss as well as determine rates of vision and eye examinations and measurements of visual acuity, screening tests, and visual functioning assessment to better determine where gaps in access and inequalities in eye health exist and should be addressed. This data will be used to bolster states’ capacity to respond to the needs of their population through collaborative partnerships, programmatic interventions, and targeted strategies to improve vision and eye health at the state, local, or systems level.
–Maintain the CDC’s work in Glaucoma Prevention with $4 million.
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness for people aged 60 years and older. Today, more than $6 billion is spent annually on the disease with costs projected to rise to $12 billion per year by 2032 at which time nearly 4.3 million people are projected to face the disease by 2032. In the early stages, glaucoma has no symptoms or noticeable vision loss; however, by the time symptoms or vision loss appears, permanent damage to the eye means that vision lost cannot be restored. Early detection and treatment are key to slowing the progression of vision loss due to glaucoma.
Adequate FY 2021 resources to support the CDC’s work in glaucoma will allow the program to continue to improve glaucoma screening, referral, and treatment and ultimately protect work readiness, positive productivity, and economic independence and security for Americans. The program is intended to reach those populations experiencing the greatest disparity in access to glaucoma care through an integrated collaboration among private and public organizations.
–Join the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Vision Caucus (CVC).
The CVC, co-chaired by Representatives Steve Stivers (R-OH), David Price (D-NC) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), seeks to achieve its goals of strengthening a national dialogue on the importance of vision health through Congressional briefings, Dear Colleague letters, and press conferences.
The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness is pleased to have the following U.S. Representatives already signed on as members of the CVC in addition to Representative Steve Stivers, who serves as co-chair: Michael Turner, Tim Ryan, Robert Gibbs, Steve Chabot, David Joyce, Bill Johnson, Troy Balderson, Bob Latta and Marcy Kaptur. Senator Sherrod Brown is the second U.S. Senator to join the CVC since it became bicameral in 2007.
For more information on Eyes on Capitol Hill, or Prevent Blindness and its advocacy initiatives, please call 800-331-2020 or visit www.pbohio.org.
About Prevent Blindness
Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness is the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness is Ohio’s leading volunteer nonprofit public health organization dedicated to prevent blindness and preserve sight. We serve all 88 Ohio counties, providing direct services to 1,000,000 Ohioans annually and educating millions of consumers about what they can do to protect and preserve their precious gift of sight. For more information or to make a contribution, call 800-301-2020. Or, visit us on the web at www.pbohio.org or facebook.com/pbohio and Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/PB_Ohio.