Objective Status

  • 9 Baseline only
  • 2 Developmental
  • 3 Research

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About the Workgroup

Approach and Rationale

Vision is an essential part of life, influencing how Americans learn, communicate, work, play, and interact with the world. Yet millions of Americans live with visual impairment, and many more remain at risk for eye disease and preventable eye injury. The leading causes of vision loss and impairment include cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), strabismus, amblyopia, and refractive errors.1 Access to timely eye care can often reduce or prevent the vision loss associated with these diseases, leading to improved vision and learning throughout an individual’s lifetime.

Vision objectives and targets are aligned with several federal strategies and priorities, including the National Eye Health Education Program,2U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations,3 and the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2030.4 The Vision Workgroup considered stakeholder input via public comments. All Healthy People 2030 core objectives meet several criteria — for example, they have baseline data, a direct impact on health, and an evidence base.

Understanding Vision

Vision impairment and diseases that impact sight are public health concerns that threaten people of all ages and backgrounds, although some populations are disproportionately affected. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma has no early symptoms, so half of people with glaucoma don’t know they have it until they start losing their vision.5 Diabetic retinopathy is a blinding complication of diabetes. Both disproportionately affect Hispanics, American Indians, and African Americans. Cataract is a clouding of the lens that is very common in older adults. Cataract removal surgery is very effective, yet not everyone who needs treatment receives it. AMD is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in older adults, although treatments in the past decade have shown remarkable promise in some patients.

Emerging Issues in Vision

As the demographics of the population continue to shift, vision loss is becoming a major public health concern. Eye health and vision care systems will need to consider the increasing number of aging Americans with major eye diseases while prioritizing children with untreated vision loss or impairment and expanding the ability to meet the growing needs of a racially and ethnically diverse population.

Reducing eye health disparities will entail strategies such as early access to vision screenings, comprehensive eye exams, and treatments like medicated eye drops and laser surgery that can ultimately help prevent or slow vision loss. In recent years, investments in technologies such as imaging tools and artificial intelligence have been beneficial for analyzing visual development and improving early disease detection.

Citations

1.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Common Eye Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/index.html

2.

National Eye Institute. (2019). National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP). Retrieved from https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/resources-for-health-educators/national-eye-health-education-program

3.

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. (2017). Vision in Children Ages 6 Months to 5 Years: Screening. Retrieved from https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/vision-in-children-ages-6-months-to-5-years-screening

4.

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2019). Secretary's Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2030. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/About-Healthy-People/Development-Healthy-People-2030/Advisory-Committee

5.

National Eye Institute. (2019). Glaucoma. Retrieved from https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/glaucoma