The National Eye Health Education Program is coordinated by the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This administrative document may be reprinted without permission.
In This Issue:
With the aging of the U.S. population, it is no surprise that the prevalence and incidence of age-related eye diseases are also on the rise. Many of the leading sources of vision loss and blindness—cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration, among others—disproportionately afflict older individuals. Fortunately, through early detection, treatment, and appropriate follow-up care, visual impairment and blindness can often be prevented.
Millions of older adults are living with undetected vision problems. The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) is committed to raise awareness about age-related eye diseases and to underscore the central importance of comprehensive dilated eye exams in their early detection. We also know that education is a crucial component of successful public health outreach and have developed a variety of educational resources and strategies for health professionals and community health workers to help adults protect their vision well into their golden years.
The NEHEP Vision and Aging Program works year-round to promote eye health among older adults by coordinating efforts of caregivers, health professionals, and community organizations. And during Healthy Aging Month in September, NEHEP places special emphasis on the important role healthy vision plays in healthy aging. We invite all of you to join our efforts. An excellent tool you can use in your community is the See Well for a Lifetime Toolkit. This educational series on vision and aging contains three comprehensive modules that describe vision changes commonly associated with aging, lifestyle factors that can protect vision and guard against age-related eye conditions, and issues relevant to low vision and the use of vision rehabilitation services.
I also want to call attention to the observance of Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 through October 15. This is a perfect time to elevate the attention given to eye health in Hispanic/Latino communities and to provide additional encouragement for them to attend to important health needs, especially as related to vision. Vision loss and blindness affect the Hispanic/Latino population disproportionately, and research has shown that awareness of the benefits of regular eye care is not universal. Visit our ¡Ojo con su visión! webpage to find resources and ideas for using them.
This issue of Outlook also highlights other eye health education efforts, including those of the National Institute of Aging (NIA), which is our Featured Organization this month. As one of NEHEP’s Partnership organizations, the NIA uses NEHEP resources to help promote the importance of maintaining healthy vision as part of a broader focus on healthy aging. As always, we remain interested in other ways to leverage resources to enhance our public-health impact, and we welcome input on other ways we can reinforce the importance of vision health.
Anne Louise Coleman, M.D., Ph.D.
Chair, National Eye Health Education Program Planning Committee
The Fran 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
Belinda Seto, Ph.D., joined the National Eye Institute (NEI) as its new deputy director on April 7, 2014. She comes to NEI from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), also at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where she served as deputy director for 11 years.
Her professional career—and lifelong passion—in biomedical research actually started at NIH. After earning her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Purdue University, Dr. Seto came to NIH in 1974 as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
After completing her postdoctoral work, she joined the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to conduct research on hepatitis B and vaccine development. About 10 years later, Dr. Seto returned to NIH and took a position at the Office of Extramural Research (OER), where she oversaw the analysis and reporting of NIH grants data. She ultimately became the deputy director and then the acting director of OER before moving to NIBIB.
The skills Dr. Seto applied in her research have served her well in analyzing trends, needs, and opportunities in the extramural research world. “Whether you’re doing research or in a position to guide research policies, you always need to think about what’s going to yield the most productivity,” she said.
While at NIBIB, Dr. Seto helped steer the Institute’s management of “big data,” which refers to the ballooning volumes of data produced in research, especially through medical imaging. She continues to serve on the executive committee of the NIH Big Data to Knowledge Initiative and its oversight body, the NIH Scientific Data Council.
Dr. Seto was attracted to NEI, she said, because the vision research community has been at the forefront of pioneering areas such as stem cell therapy and gene therapy. And this was a fortuitous time to join NEI. The NEI Audacious Goals Initiative was recently launched and will seek ways to regenerate damaged nerve cells within the visual system. “My biggest challenge is to help NEI reach that goal,” she said.
Please join the National Eye Health Education Program in welcoming Dr. Seto to NEI!
September is Healthy Aging Month, a perfect time to remind people that maintaining healthy vision is part of aging well. As people age, they are at higher risk for developing eye diseases, some of which can lead to permanent vision loss and blindness. Common age-related eye diseases and conditions include age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye, glaucoma, and low vision.
The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) Vision and Aging Program focuses on the eye health education needs of adults ages 50 and older and stresses the importance of comprehensive dilated eye exams, which can detect many age-related eye diseases early before noticeable symptoms occur. As part of its See Well for a Lifetime: An Educational Series on Vision and Aging, NEHEP developed the See Well for a Lifetime Toolkit for people who work with older adults in community-based settings. This toolkit emphasizes that although vision can change with age, vision loss or going blind is not a normal part of aging and that there are many things people can do to protect their sight. The educational modules in this toolkit address vision changes commonly associated with aging, offer detailed information about age-related eye diseases, and discuss low vision and the use of vision rehabilitation services. Join NEHEP in raising awareness about eye health by downloading the toolkit and conducting a workshop at your local senior center, church, clinic, YMCA, or any place older adults gather.
NEHEP also provides resources that promote the Medicare benefit for glaucoma and diabetic eye disease, videos on age-related eye diseases and conditions, ready-to-post messages for Facebook and Twitter, and an infographic that can be used on websites, blogs, social media platforms, and publications to raise awareness about aging and eye health.
For more resources and ideas for using them, visit the NEHEP webpage at http://www.nei.nih.gov/NEHEP.
Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 through October 15) is the perfect time for community-based organizations, health professionals, and community health workers to raise awareness among Hispanic/Latino communities about taking care of their health, especially their vision. Hispanics/Latinos face significant disparities in eye health. Results from various studies supported by the National Eye Institute (NEI) have highlighted the need for eye health education for Hispanics/Latinos and the importance of effective patient–provider communication in reducing health disparities. While cultural beliefs, language, and acculturation may pose barriers to effective communication, there are opportunities to strengthen the dialogue between health professionals and Hispanics/Latinos about their visual health.
The NEI-funded Los Angeles Latino Eye Study, a population-based prevalence study of eye disease in Latinos ages 40 years and older, found that Latinos (primarily of Mexican ancestry) have some of the highest rates of visual impairment, especially among older adults. In addition, eye disease frequently goes undetected in Hispanics/Latinos. Specifically, more than 60 percent of eye disease in Hispanics/Latinos is undiagnosed, including age-related macular degeneration (98 percent), diabetic retinopathy (95 percent), glaucoma (82 percent), cataract (57 percent), and refractive error (19 percent).
A national survey conducted by NEI found that Hispanics/Latinos know the least about eye health and are the least likely to have their eyes examined. Only 37 percent reported ever hearing of diabetic eye disease, and 73 percent reported having had their eyes examined—which is lower than rates for African Americans (95 percent), non-Hispanic whites (94 percent), and Asians (87 percent).
Focus groups conducted by the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) revealed Hispanics/Latinos consider their most trusted source for health information to be their doctors. Language was identified as a significant barrier among Spanish speakers, with many participants saying that they rely on family or friends who are fluent in English.
Effective Communication Channels
Because of the high rates of eye disease and low levels of knowledge about eye health, educating Hispanics/Latinos about early detection and encouraging them to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam is crucial to preventing unnecessary vision loss. Since such high value is placed on physician interaction, they are in a unique position to raise awareness about eye health and make referrals for eye care. Health professionals need access to culturally appropriate educational materials to reinforce eye health messages. They must also understand the role that family involvement plays in health-seeking behaviors among Hispanics/Latinos, as well as common cultural myths and alternative care practices that can serve as barriers to receiving care.
¡Ojo con su visión!, or Watch out for your vision!, is a NEHEP program designed to promote eye health among Hispanics/Latinos and to assist health professionals and community health workers in educating them about eye health. NEHEP provides a wide variety of culturally and linguistically appropriate tools and resources including teaching tools, brochures, print and radio public service announcements, infographics, Spanish-language webpages, and more.
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by sharing information with Hispanics/Latinos that help them celebrate the importance of healthy vision!
Health Literacy Out Loud is a podcast series ofinterviews with those in-the-know about health literacy. Listeners learn why health literacy matters and practical ways to address it. Helen Osborne, host and producer of the podcast series, recently invited NEHEP Director Neyal Ammary-Risch, MPH, MCHES, to talk about “Creating a Health Awareness Campaign.” In the podcast, they discuss:
- Ways that campaigns can help raise awareness about big health topics.
- Examples of helpful awareness-raising strategies. These include using multiple communication formats, training trusted sources (such as lay health educators), and creating community partnerships.
- Ideas to raise awareness of health literacy.
To listen or download the podcast, visit http://healthliteracy.com/hlol-awareness.
The National Eye Institute (NEI) recently launched its own channel on YouTube. YouTube videos were previously placed on the National Institutes of Health channel. It is like having our own TV show!
Currently there are 57 videos and 10 new playlists on the channel. Playlists help organize videos according to topics that include healthy vision tips, eye disease information, low vision, vision research, Ask a Scientist, webinars, and animations. NEI plans to add more videos in the future.
Please visit our NEI channel at www.youtube.com/neinih and share these videos with your community members and colleagues. They can be downloaded and shared in presentations and broadcast on TVs in waiting rooms and your own website. All the NEI videos are in the public domain. However, we ask that you please use the following credit: “Courtesy: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health (NEI/NIH).”
Next time you’re checking People.com or People en Español.com for the latest gossip on your favorite celebrities or looking at the latest fashion trends on Essence.com, you might notice some strategically placed web buttons and banners reminding visitors that good looks aren’t the only thing that runs in families—glaucoma can too—or that your eyes are the windows to your health. The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) has recently partnered with these magazines, owned by Time, Inc., to include web buttons and banners promoting a variety of eye health messages on their web and mobile sites. When visitors click on a button, it takes them to the National Eye Institute website for more information. This is a great way to promote eye health messages to the masses. In fact, People.com reaches 12.3 million unique users a month, People en Español.com reaches 7.3 Hispanics/Latinos each month, and Essence.com reaches 853,000 unique visitors each month!
For more information or to use these web buttons on your own website, contact NEHEP.
Are you looking for information on technology for people with vision loss? The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) offers a multitude of technology resources for people who are blind or visually impaired and their loved ones, as well as for professionals in the field of vision loss.
Here’s a roundup of the various resources:
- Stay apprised of breaking news and product reviews and access technology through AccessWorld®, AFB’s monthly online technology magazine. If you, or a client, are in the market for a new gadget or device, visit AFB’s product database to search for products by category, manufacturer, or tasks.
- Busy professionals can find webinars covering the latest technology and trends through the AFB eLearning Center and read cutting-edge research on technology in the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.
- VisionAware offers information for people new to vision loss and their families, such as how to choose the right computer. Visitors to the site can also sign up for alerts to get the latest on technology and other topics.
- AFB’s CareerConnect® resource center offers tips and advice around disclosing a disability in the workplace, including addressing accommodations specific to technology needs on the job. This information can be found within the Job Seeker’s Toolkit, a free self-paced online course about navigating the employment process. AFB CareerConnect also allows registered users to contact mentors for tips and advice around career-specific technology through the Make Connections section.
- FamilyConnect explains to families in non-technical language how technology opens doors for individuals with vision loss. The site offers an overview on assistive technology and explains accessing print information, accessing electronic information, tools for writing, and caring for electronic equipment. Parents can also learn how to prepare themselves for their child’s Individualized Education Program. Links are provided to articles written by students and adults about their experiences with technology. All of this information is available in both English and Spanish.
- The AFB Center on Vision Loss in Dallas, TX, offers seminars to professionals, consumers, and their family members on the latest technology and accessible mainstream devices. Esther’s Place, also in Dallas, offers visitors hands-on demonstration tours in a home-like setting with more than 500 products on display.
For more information, contact Adrianna Montague at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Education Health Program’s (NEHEP’s) Don’t Lose Sight of Diabetic Eye Disease brochure and e-cards on diabetic eye disease are among a collection of tools featured on the National Diabetes Education Program’s (NDEP’s) new webpage designed specifically for older adults with diabetes.
More than 11 million people ages 65 and older in the United States have diabetes. Research shows older people with this chronic disease have or are at risk for developing other health complications, including vision problems. This is why NDEP created Diabetes Resources for Older Adults, a new page on its website, which offers access to a range of resources that can help older adults learn how to better manage their diabetes or prevent type 2 diabetes.
The Diabetes Resources for Older Adults webpage gathers information from NDEP and other federal agencies such as the National Eye Institute and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and nonfederal health information sources such as the American Diabetes Association. The collection includes the NEHEP brochure Don’t Lose Sight of Diabetic Eye Disease, which offers information for people with diabetes about diabetic eye disease so as to prevent vision loss, and also urges those with diabetes to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam once a year. NEHEP’s e-cards are also available on the new page so that older adults can share what they’ve learned about diabetic eye disease with their family and friends.
NDEP is eager to add more information to Diabetes Resources for Older Adults, and the program welcomes your ideas. Independent experts on diabetes care for older adults will review the resources, which should be targeted to:
- Older adults with diabetes.
- Older adults who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Caregivers of older adults with diabetes or at risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Health care professionals who serve older adults.
Resources should also:
- Promote action steps appropriate for older adults with diabetes or at risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Focus on diabetes management or prevention of type 2 diabetes in older adults.
- Be accessible to the public with a reasonable registration process and cost.
- Have limited or no advertising.
To learn more, please visit www.YourDiabetesInfo.org/OlderAdults for more information on how to contribute a resource.
Please note that inclusion of a resource does not mean that it has been endorsed by NDEP, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
For more information or if you have questions, please contact Diane Tuncer at email@example.com.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health recently developed a new presentation toolkit, Talking with Your Doctor, based on NIA’s popular booklet Talking With Your Doctor: A Guide for Older People. This new toolkit centers around a 45-minute presentation that features tips to help older adults make the most of their medical appointments, including how to:
- Get ready for a doctor’s visit.
- Effectively talk with a clinician about health concerns.
- Make collaborative decisions about treatment.
- Remember what was discussed following the appointment.
It’s an easy-to-use resource—no prior knowledge or special training on the topic is required. What’s more, the resource is completely free. It also has handouts that elaborate on points made in the discussion and a checklist of items to consider when preparing for the presentation. Learn more at http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/talking-your-doctor-presentation-toolkit.
The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) recently redesigned and expanded its website so visitors can find toolkits and other resources that address diabetes in their communities, especially those experiencing diabetes disparities. New user-friendly landing pages feature the expanded resource Working Together to Manage Diabetes: A Toolkit for Pharmacy, Podiatry, Optometry, and Dentistry and a revised New Beginnings Guide, along with the Road to Health Toolkit; Tasty Recipes, Resources for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders; and the Living a Balanced Life with Diabetes Toolkit resources. The website includes a new searchable database of resources, a way to easily order resources, and links to training and technical assistance resources. Visit www.cdc.gov/diabetes/ndep to learn more.
A complete listing of NDEP resources can be found at http://www.YourDiabetesInfo.org.
The National Institute of Aging (NIA) is one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is an organization in the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) Partnership. NIA oversees several educational initiatives, including NIHSeniorHealth.gov, through which it spearheads the effort to understand the nature of aging and extend the healthy, active years of life.
NIA partially focuses on physical activity and maintaining healthy vision, as they are two important parts of healthy aging. As part of its Go4Life program, an exercise and physical activity campaign launched in 2001, NIA worked closely with NEHEP to produce the Go4Life tip sheet Protect Your Eyes When You Exercise, which focuses on how to prevent sports-related eye injuries. NIA has also collaborated with VisionAware™, another NEHEP Partnership organization, to develop Exercise for People with Low Vision, a tip sheet that highlights many ways that people with low vision can be physically active.
In the April Go4Life e-newsletter, NIA highlighted Healthy Vision Month in May and linked to the National Eye Institute’s (NEI) Healthy Vision Month website so that its partners could plan their own activities to help celebrate and raise awareness among older adults about eye health. NIA also supported Healthy Vision Month with a series of vision-related Tweets.
NIA also promotes healthy vision through its Aging and Your Eyes webpage. Along with offering information about common eye disorders and steps to protect your eyesight, the page provides a link to the NEI website and works closely with NEHEP to ensure its vision information is current.
For more information on NIA, go to http://www.nia.nih.gov.
The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) regularly presents at national meetings across the country. Presentations provide an opportunity to share information and publications, promote NEHEP messages and resources, and strengthen links with Partnership and other intermediary organizations. A list of upcoming NEHEP presentations follows. If you plan to attend, please stop by and say, “Hello!”
American Public Health Association
142nd Annual Meeting and Exposition
November 15–19, 2014
New Orleans, LA
- In the news: Bringing eye health information to mainstream media
- Building the capacity of community health workers to deliver eye health information: Results of a national training effort
- Glaucoma “en español:” Adapting educational resources for use with Hispanics/Latinos
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!