We’re heading into the holiday season – a time when people reflect on the past year and what they want to do better in the coming year. You also might hear some advice – welcome or otherwise – from family members as you gather together. If I can be so bold, the Vision Impact Institute (VII) has some advice to share, too – advice backed up by research.
A recent report titled Making Eye Health a Population Health Imperative: Vision for Tomorrow from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine estimated that uncorrectable vision impairment could double in the United States by 2050 unless efforts are made to slow the progression of eye diseases and conditions such as macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma. The report, which is available on the VII website, called upon leaders in the United States to make eye health an imperative part of the national healthcare discussion, as well as provided several recommendations on how to better prioritize vision health.
But these recommendations are not specific to the United States. The VII believes these recommendations can be easily translated as calls-to-action for governments – specifically the ministries of health and education – and organizations around the world:
- Facilitate public awareness through timely access to accurate and locally relevant information: Government and non-profit organizations can increase public awareness of vision health issues by establishing national goals for vision health and advertising them through national campaigns.
- Curate evidence to guide policy decisions and evidence-based actions: National health departments can coordinate interagency workgroups to develop research programs focused on the leading causes, consequences and unmet needs of vision impairment, as well as coordinate surveillance of the current quality of care in different communities.
- Expand access to appropriate clinical care: Using input from researchers and healthcare professionals, national health departments can develop a single set of evidence-based practice guidelines to be used by eye care professionals.
- Enhance public health capacities to support vision-related activities: Local health departments can partner with health care systems to align public health and clinical practice objectives
- Promote community actions that encourage eye- and vision-healthy environments: Local health departments should work to translate a national agenda into well-defined actions and policies to improve eye and vision health.
As you settle in for this holiday season, think how you can advocate for a clear future in your country by asking your government to implement these efforts and prioritize vision health. Together, we can champion the recommendations that will change the vision landscape of our global future – and continue Giving Vision a Voice.
Compliments of Vision Impact Institute – a member of the EACCNY