Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate represents thousands of people of all ages, backgrounds, and circumstances across the state who live with low vision, vision impairment, and vision-related eye diseases. Advocacy at Prevent Blindness is part of our founding purpose, and our work to elevate vision and eye health as a public health priority continues to this day. Prevent Blindness meets this challenge by connecting patients to their legislators and policy makers and encouraging them to implement policies that protect and expand access to sight-saving care—including prevention, rehabilitation, and innovation—and ensure Ohioans can look forward to a lifetime of healthy vision.
Prevent Blindness also advocates at the national level for policies that prevent blindness and preserve sight for all Americans. Click here to learn more about Prevent Blindness policy priorities.
Advocating for Healthy Vision in Ohio’s Adult Population
An estimated 3.6 million Ohioans have vision problems and $5.4 billion is the estimated annual financial impact to the Ohio economy. As our population ages, these numbers will only increase.
Early detection and treatment are key to preserving sight. Many eye diseases have no symptoms and require a comprehensive eye exam to detect. In most cases, once vision is lost, it cannot be restored. However, treatment can stop or slow the progression of the disease.
Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate and other member of Ohio’s Aging Eye Public Private Partnership (AEPPP) work to reduce the incidence of vision loss in Ohio. To further the overreaching goal of decreasing vision loss among Ohio’s aging population, the AEPPP developed the following recommendations to fight vision loss in Ohio:
- Integrate adult vision messaging and strategies into existing efforts at the Ohio Department of Health and include both adult and child vision issues, including aging vision, in state and local health improvement planning.
- Support measures that increase multidisciplinary evidence-based vision screening practices and facilitate mechanisms for follow-up care.
- Support and advocate for coverage of comprehensive and corrective preventative eye/vision care services for adults in the state Medicaid budget.
- Support and advocate for coverage of comprehensive and corrective preventative eye/vision care benefits for all Medicare recipients.
- Establish adult vision screening as a covered service in the Medicare annual wellness visit.
- Support the continued expansion and development of comprehensive vision care services within Ohio’s federally qualified health centers.
- Support and advocate for inclusion of vision questions in Ohio and national data collection tools, such as the Ohio Medicaid Assessment Survey, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, to provide outcome data on which to base statewide public health vision programming
- Support and advocate for health insurance coverage for comprehensive vision care, vision education, and vision rehabilitation services.
- Support the recommendations of Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities’ Workforce Integration Task Force, which are aimed at removing barriers to employment for the deaf and blind communities, and all Ohio citizens, in reaching their highest employment potential.
- Support vision related summits and other activities which supports awareness and encourages collaboration and expansion of research.
- Develop a state tax incentive for the donors of in-kind professional services (such as comprehensive eye exams and eye surgeries) that benefit vulnerable populations in need of care.
For more information on Ohio’s Aging Eye Public Private Partnership, click here.
Advocating for Healthy Vision in Ohio’s Child Population
Vision and eye health is an essential aspect of childhood development. Children need healthy vision and eyesight to learn in school, play, engage with the world around them, and build self-confidence through strong social and emotional connections. Despite its importance to overall health and development, children often face a fractured system of care that leaves them vulnerable to conditions that could lead to permanent vision loss without the appropriate intervention.
Prevent Blindness, through its National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health (NCCVEH), is a national leader in practice, policies and partnerships that improve systems of care addressing children’s vision and eye health. Much of the work that the NCCVEH conducts through technical assistance and consensus-based recommendations to promote early detection and address health disparities complements Prevent Blindness’s advocacy efforts. As such, we work to elevate children’s vision and eye health as a natural aspect of childhood development and school readiness and close gaps in access to care.
Prevent Blindness recommends a continuum of eye care for children that includes both vision screening and comprehensive eye examinations as a complementary approach to children’s vision and eye health. We believe good vision is essential through the life spectrum, and we advocate for policies that ensure all children have clear vision as they begin school and have a strong foundation of vision and eye health for a lifetime.
To learn more about what Prevent Blindness is doing at the national level to advocate for children’s healthy vision, click here.
In Ohio, our greatest advocacy effort was partnering with the Ohio Department of Health to establish the Save Our Sight Fund. This fund combats eye problems in children all across the state through vision screening, vision related education for children, eye protection for children, and patient support. Over one million children annually benefit from the programs funded by the Save Our Sight Fund. For more information about this fund click here.
Advocating for Eye Safety
Nearly 4,000 children in Ohio alone suffer from an eye injury each year and an estimated 2,000 eye injuries occur every day at workplaces across the United States. Prevent Blindness advocates for policies that protect Ohioans’ eyesight while on the job. Each year, Prevent Blindness takes part in Ohio’s Safety Congress & Expo where we educate employers on the importance of ensuring their employees eyes are safe from potential injury.
Prevent Blindness also encourages all employers to provide vision insurance for their employees. Regular preventive eye care is the best defense against vision loss.
Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate partners with over 40 organizations across Ohio to advocate for fireworks safety regulations through the Fireworks Safety Coalition. According to the CSPC 2020 Fireworks Annual Report, an estimated 15,600 people were treated in emergency departments across the United States for fireworks-related injuries, of which 2,340 were eye-related injuries. Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate and the Fireworks Safety Coalition have worked tirelessly to advocate for the continued ban on discharge of 1.4G consumer grade fireworks in Ohio.
Through House Bill 172, the discharge of 1.4G consumer grade fireworks on specific days of the year was legalized in Ohio effective on July 1, 2022 (unless a local ban on discharge is in effect). To learn more about the legalization of discharge of 1.4G fireworks and what you can do to lobby your local governments to ban discharge within their jurisdictions, click here.