The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) was established to make vision a health priority for the Nation. One strategy for advancing this goal is through public health education programs built around themes of eye health. NEHEP is able to draw on a multitude of resources to help with educating people at higher risk on the need for early detection and treatment of eye diseases to prevent vision loss and blindness.
An example of the role NEHEP plays in eye health education is provided by the January observance of Glaucoma Awareness Month. Over time, NEHEP has developed a range of educational materials that underscore the importance of early detection and treatment of glaucoma in preventing vision loss. These resources draw on the available evidence base, have been tested with target audiences, and are available in English and Spanish. Further, they can be adapted and tailored to meet the education needs of the communities you serve. This issue of Outlook describes NEHEP resources that you can use to educate people about glaucoma, including e-cards and social media resources such as “vodcasts” (or video podcasts available for download or streaming). There is also information on other glaucoma resources, including public service announcements and educational materials, as well as strategies on how you can use them.
Linking health providers with resources is an important role for NEHEP. A story in this issue of Outlook highlights a project by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless that set out to provide no-cost primary and preventive eye care and other services to homeless families and individuals. Healthy Vision Community Awards program funding helped this organization address the eye health education needs of the unique population it serves.
Underlying all of these efforts is the goal of making eye health a public health priority. As health professionals, we know that comprehensive dilated eye exams play an essential role in detecting eye disease in the early, treatable stages. We also know that if people at higher risk of eye disease were to draw on available healthcare resources and receive comprehensive dilated eye exams, the public health benefit would be enormous. As we enter the New Year, I am hopeful that we can build on professional networks to reach further into our communities and expand the reach of the NEHEP program.
Building on this idea, in an era when health costs are rising, it is incumbent on us as a community of eye care professionals to make effective use of the limited resources available for blindness prevention. To this end, we invite your ideas for allocating NEHEP resources in ways that will achieve a maximum impact. I will look forward to hearing from you and send best wishes for a healthy and successful 2012.
Anne Louise Coleman, M.D., Ph.D.
Chair, National Eye Health Education Program Planning Committee
Frances and Ray Stark Professor of Ophthalmology
Jules Stein Eye Institute
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
and Professor of Epidemiology
UCLA School of Public Health
Help raise awareness in your community about glaucoma, a blinding eye disease that has no warning signs. Left untreated, it can result in permanent vision loss or even blindness. Fortunately, a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect glaucoma in the early stages before noticeable vision loss occurs. Early detection and treatment of glaucoma can prevent unnecessary vision loss and blindness. People at higher risk include African Americans over age 40; everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans; and people with a family history of the disease. Those at higher risk should have a dilated eye examination every one to two years.
You can educate others about glaucoma by distributing information to your community, family, friends, and colleagues. The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) provides a variety of materials in English and Spanish, including public service announcements, e-cards, brochures, teaching resources for health professionals, and more. The following are a few examples of materials and how to use them. You can find these materials, as well as additional ideas on how your efforts can make a difference on the NEHEP Glaucoma Program page.
Glaucoma Education Website
What You Can Do: Share this consumer-friendly site with others so they can learn about early detection and treatment for glaucoma.
How You Can Do It: Post the link on your intranet or website. Include information about the Glaucoma Education Website in e-mails and newsletters to your constituents.
What You Can Do: Share this vodcast on glaucoma which talks about how glaucoma affects the eyes, who is at risk, and treatment options.
How You Can Do It: Put a link to this vodcast on your website or share it on your social media sites.
Glaucoma Eye-Q Test
What You Can Do: Give people a chance to test their glaucoma knowledge. Help people learn more about the disease and how to protect their vision by using this short true-false quiz.
How You Can Do It: Download copies and approach local eye care providers; physicians’ offices; and places with community bulletin boards like grocery stores, community centers, and public libraries. Leave them a copy and ask them to reproduce several copies to make them available to those they serve.
Medicare Benefit Card
What You Can Do: Help others learn about the glaucoma and diabetic eye disease benefit under Medicare by using this card, which contains information about benefit eligibility and where to go to learn more.
How You Can Do It: Distribute at health fairs, clinics, and other community locations. Place cards in your workplace cafeteria or lunch room with a note to “Take one for someone you care about.”
Don’t Lose Sight of Glaucoma Brochure
What You Can Do: Use this brochure to provide information to people who are at higher risk for glaucoma about what they can do to prevent vision loss.
How You Can Do It: Distribute the brochure in waiting rooms, senior centers, local libraries, or health fairs in your community.
Radio and Print Public Service Announcements (PSAs)
What You Can Do: Enlist the mass media. NEHEP offers a variety of downloadable audio PSAs and scripts about the importance of dilated eye exams. Also available, in both English and Spanish, are a variety of print PSAs targeted to people at higher risk for glaucoma to remind them it has no early warning signs.
How You Can Do It: Use ready-made scripts to record PSAs that your organization can play on your hold line. Download an audio PSA and distribute to local radio stations. Use one of the PSAs in your newsletters or send to local newspapers.
Visit the NEHEP Glaucoma Program page to find these materials and to learn about additional community activities you can do to increase awareness about glaucoma.
Eye diseases can affect certain racial and ethnic populations disproportionately. African Americans are at higher risk for glaucoma and develop it at a younger age than the general population. Therefore, it is especially important to develop and implement effective health education strategies to inform African Americans about disease risk factors and the importance of early detection. One critical message to convey is that as African Americans reach the age of 40, their risk of glaucoma is greater. To help combat this greater risk, African Americans should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam every one to two years to detect glaucoma in the early stages.
While there are in-place communications vehicles that target African Americans, the African American community is still considered to be hard to reach with health promotion messages. Cultural and other lifestyle factors must be considered as you begin to plan your outreach. Whom do they trust? Where do they seek their information? Where are they exposed to messages? Consider the following:
Characteristics of African American Culture
African Americans tend to have large extended families and strong family ties. The role of family in medical decisionmaking is important. Spirituality and faith are integral to the culture and should not be overlooked in the development of outreach programs and materials. Incorporating these concepts as well as nontraditional learning tools are effective ways to reach this population. Using a “surround sound” approach to reach African Americans where they live, work, play, and worship is recommended.
Use of Media
Did you know that 86 percent of African Americans watch TV for most of their news? The media research company, Nielsen, indicates that entertainment and sports shows are preferred among this population, so information that taps these areas can be more effective. Older adults are heavier television viewers during daytime and early evening—when public service announcement time is more likely to be available—than African Americans in other age groups.
Don’t forget new media. Use of the Internet and social media is also an effective way to reach this community. An estimated 71 percent of African Americans use the Internet, according to a Pew Internet & American Life survey. Research has also shown that adults are the most active users of the mobile web.
Patient-centered and experiential approaches are also highly effective, particularly if the family component is involved. Whether health education takes place in a church or community-based setting, African Americans prefer the group support and community sense of learning, versus one-on-one or clinical settings. Plan an event in the community you are trying to reach. Encourage them to bring their loved ones and do group activities; they’ll be more likely to attend. Go beyond health fairs and consider hair salons, barber shops, supermarkets, or retail stores to conduct eye health education.
How do you contact this population? Peer educators, trained lay health workers, and the clergy can be instrumental in building trust within the community, particularly among older adults, and delivering the message in a trustworthy environment.
In a series of focus groups with African Americans ages 50 and older, participants felt that some of the most effective communication channels included churches, eye care professionals’ offices, pharmacies, hospital clinics, senior citizen retirement clubs, and laundromats.
In need of ideas? There are many opportunities for increasing awareness about glaucoma among the African American population. Just remember that in order to ensure your glaucoma strategies are effective, it is all about delivering the right message in the right package and in the right place. For additional glaucoma education ideas and resources you can use in your community, visit the National Eye Health Education Program Glaucoma page.
The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) offers a variety of downloadable audio and print public service announcements (PSAs) regarding the importance of dilated eye exams to help prevent vision loss and blindness from glaucoma. These PSAs are available for anyone to use in their publications or on the air. They are also available in both English and Spanish, with some specifically targeted to people at higher risk for glaucoma to remind them it has no early warning signs.
Use the NEHEP ready-made scripts to record PSAs that your organization can play on your hold line, download an audio PSA and distribute it to local radio stations, or use one of the print PSAs in your newsletters or send it to local newspapers or magazines. The print PSAs can be downloaded in different sizes suitable for both magazines and newspapers in either color or black and white. NEHEP PSAs appear in a variety of outlets. In fact, one of the NEHEP glaucoma print PSAs recently appeared in the December issue of Cooking Light magazine.
Audio PSAs are really easy to use and can be personalized for your organization. Here is an example of one audio PSA you can use:
- Did You Know?
- Did you know glaucoma is three times more likely to strike African Americans and can lead to blindness? Get a dilated eye exam. For more information, call [fill in your number or direct them to your Website]. A message from [Your organization].
Find more for radio PSAs here.
View and download print PSAs here.
The National Eye Institute (NEI) has launched a new online text-to-speech solution on the NEI Website http://www.nei.nih.gov. ReadSpeaker is a specialized service that allows web content to be read aloud for the benefit of people who would like to listen instead of (or as well as) read eye health information.
“We are hoping that this new tool will make our content even more accessible to our web visitors,” said Kym Collins-Lee, NEI Website manager.
There is no need to download or install any additional programs so it is available to all users and from anywhere. You do not need to make adjustments to your web browser. However, you can adjust the volume and reading speed, if you choose. You may also have the text highlighted as it is read.
“In addition to helping those with visual impairments, the tool may be useful to people who simply do not read well,” said NEHEP director Neyal Ammary-Risch. “Finding more effective ways to provide health information to people with low literacy skills may help them better manage chronic conditions such as glaucoma.”
You will find the ReadSpeaker “Listen” button on the “Facts About” pages in the English and Spanish Health Information sections as well as on the NEHEP consumer information pages. To test out the tool, visit http://www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma and look for the “Listen” button.
Sending an e-card to family, friends, colleagues, and loved ones is one quick and simple thing you can do to help spread the word about glaucoma and how important it is for people to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam to detect it early. Free glaucoma e-cards are available from the National Eye Institute (NEI) to help you remind the people you care about that glaucoma has no warning signs and it’s important for them to take care of their sight. These e-cards can be personalized and help reinforce the message that early detection and treatment are key to saving sight.
Send an e-card to someone you care about or put a link to the e-cards on your website or in newsletters. Each of these cards provides a link to the NEI Glaucoma Education Web page for recipients to get more information about glaucoma and what they can do to protect their vision.
Send an English E-card.
Send a Spanish E-card.
If you’re interested in keeping in the know about what’s going on at the National Eye Institute (NEI), join the Inside NEI e-mail group. Receive news from NEI, including press releases, clinical study results, science updates, funding opportunities, and information on new publications and web-based resources. To sign up, visit https://list.nih.gov/cgi-bin/wa.exe?SUBED1=INSIDENEI&A=1.
People are using electronic media more and more to become informed. Over the past several years, the use of technology to disseminate health information has grown significantly and continues to trend upwards. Webinars are a great way to educate people about eye health information.
As part of Glaucoma Awareness Month in January, the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) hosted a Webinar on glaucoma, entitled “Eye Health Knowledge and Information Preferences of People at Risk for Glaucoma. Results from Nationwide Focus Groups.” On January 11, 2012, Dr. James Tsai, chair of the Glaucoma Subcommittee for NEHEP, and Neyal J. Ammary-Risch, director of NEHEP, spoke on the prevalence of glaucoma, results of national focus groups with people at higher risk for glaucoma, and materials available from NEHEP that can be used to increase awareness about the importance of comprehensive dilated eye exams in detecting glaucoma early.
Missed the live Webinar? No problem. Just visit the NEHEP Webinar Archive Page. From there, you will be able to find presentation slides, transcripts, and recordings of past Webinars, such as the one on diabetic eye disease from October 2011. The glaucoma Webinar will be added soon. Stay tuned for more NEHEP Webinars throughout the year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) health literacy web site has a new section to help health professionals develop materials that will communicate more effectively with older adults and their caregivers. This new section, “Older Adults: Designing Health Information to Meet Their Needs,” includes self-assessments, background information on health literacy, steps to improve materials, and links to resources about older adults and caregivers. The new content builds on the CDC expert panel report on older adults and health literacy issues. Visit here to learn more.
A newly revised Spanish-language medication tracking tool, Su medicamento: Infórmese. Evite riesgos. (Your Medicine: Be Smart. Be Safe.), is now available from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). It can help Spanish-speaking patients learn more about how to take medicines safely. The guide includes a detachable, wallet-size card that can be personalized to help patients keep track of all medicines they are taking, including vitamins and herbal and other dietary supplements.
To download a copy of the tool, visit http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/safemedsp/yourmedssp.pdf. To order copies, contact the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at AHRQPubs@ahrq.hhs.gov.
As the rates of chronic diseases reach epidemic levels, prevention becomes an increasingly critical component of healthcare policy in the United States. To emphasize the role of disease prevention in the national effort to contain spiraling medical costs and improve the quality of life for all, the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council has developed the “National Prevention Strategy.” The strategy aims to shift the Nation from focusing on sickness and disease to wellness and prevention by presenting goals, recommendations, and action items that individuals and public, private, and non-profit organizations can use.
In response to this initiative, Prevent Blindness America (PBA) has developed “Vision Preservation and the National Prevention Strategy: A Call to Action.” This comprehensive plan emphasizes how the effects of vision impairment cut across chronic comorbid conditions, injuries, and quality of life. It further demonstrates the importance of prevention services and programs in promoting eye health and provides addenda to the four Strategic Directions promoted by the National Prevention Council.
PBA strongly encourages organizations to take on some of these recommendations to help lead the United States to become a healthier country, one that embraces prevention and promotes eye health.
The complete “Vision Preservation and the National Prevention Strategy: A Call to Action” plan can be found at http://www.preventblindness.org or by calling 1–800–331–2020.
As a recipient of a 2011 Healthy Vision Community Award (HVCA), the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless created the Blindness Prevention Program, which was designed to provide no-cost primary and preventive eye care and other services to homeless families and individuals.
The Coalition took the HVCA funding and expanded the services provided by the Stout Street Eye Clinic in Denver, CO. The goals were to increase the hours of the health educator at the clinic to four days a week from three days a week and provide one-on-one blindness prevention education to 42 homeless patients with glaucoma and 70 patients with diabetes or diabetic retinopathy.
Developed by a Stout Street Clinic nurse and volunteer ophthalmologist in 1999, the clinic provides basic eye exams and referrals along with eyeglass repairs and adjustments. It is supported solely by financial contributions from local foundations, clubs, businesses, and the local medical community. More than 3,000 hours per year are donated by an all-volunteer team of 50 ophthalmologists, opticians, and support staff. In 2010, the Eye Clinic provided vision services to 901 patients during 1,400 visits, including eye exams, ordering of eyeglasses (frames provided) and prescription lenses, repairs, adjustments, and referrals to specialists or to other eye care providers.
With the help of HVCA funding, in a six-month period the clinic provided 703 pairs of eyeglasses, 161 referrals, 576 eye exams, 65 referrals for advanced treatment, diabetes education to 115 people with diabetes, glaucoma education to 70 individuals with glaucoma, and 99 visual field exams. The clinic diagnosed 42 patients with cataracts and 368 with refractive errors; provided 1,515 optical visits; and increased volunteer hours to 1,848, support staff to 40, doctors to 20, and student volunteers to six. It also added a pediatric eye clinic one night per month for an additional 64 pediatric patients under the age of 18.
As to the specific goals of the program, the health educator at the clinic provided services 40 hours per week, four to five days per week during this six-month period. She provided one-on-one blindness prevention education to 65 people with glaucoma and 100 people with diabetes or diabetic retinopathy.
To learn more about other community-based eye health education activities or to submit a project you have in your community, visit the Healthy Vision Community Programs Database.
The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) regularly attends and exhibits at national meetings across the country. Exhibits and presentations provide an opportunity to share information and publications, promote NEHEP messages and resources, and strengthen links with Partnership and other intermediary organizations. Upcoming NEHEP presentations are listed below. If you plan to be there, please stop by and say “hello”!
2012 Aging in America Conference
American Society on Aging
March 28–April 1, 2012
- Promoting Eye Health: A Toolkit for Community-Based Organizations Serving Older Adults
- Low Vision Rehabilitation: Maintaining Independence and Quality of Life
The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) wants to know what you think about Outlook. Let us know what you find beneficial, ideas for content you would like to see in upcoming issues, or suggestions for improvement. We’re always interested in hearing about your eye health education efforts and especially how you have used NEHEP resources and materials.
Please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!