In This Issue:
While anyone can develop an eye disease or condition, some populations are at higher risk. African Americans, for example, are at higher risk for vision loss and blindness from glaucoma and at a younger age than other groups. Mexican Americans age 60 or older are also at higher risk for glaucoma. Hispanics/Latinos, African Americans, and American Indians/Alaska Natives are at higher risk for vision loss from diabetic eye disease. To address eye health disparities, the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) focuses much of its efforts on raising awareness about the importance of early detection through comprehensive dilated eye exams among those at highest risk.
April is National Minority Health Month and offers a great opportunity to expand year-round efforts to utilize NEHEP resources and materials in your community. I invite you to visit the NEHEP Webpage where you will find evidence-based, culturally and linguistically appropriate educational resources that can be used as part of your outreach programs and for patient education. You’ll find comprehensive toolkits to help you conduct educational sessions about different eye health topics such as diabetic eye disease, glaucoma, low vision, and age-related eye diseases; ready-to-use articles to post on your websites, in blogs, and newsletters; social media messages; infographics; videos; public service announcements; and much more.
I also want to welcome four new members to the NEHEP Planning Committee: Hanna Rodriguez Coleman, M.D.; Lori Grover, O.D., Ph.D.; Mary Lou Jackson, M.D.; and Judy Kim, M.D. We look forward to them sharing their expertise with us as we enhance our current programs and begin new initiatives.
Lastly, I want to thank the NEHEP Partnership organizations that submitted articles for this issue of Outlook. This newsletter is a great vehicle to share information with each other and for others interested in eye health education to learn about efforts around the country.
Please contact us to let us know about your work in raising awareness about eye health and any unique initiatives your organization is doing to reach populations at higher risk. We would especially appreciate comments on how you have used NEHEP materials and how we can better support your eye health education efforts. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.
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
Nationally recognized health observances provide platforms from which organizations, communities, and the media can work together to increase awareness about various eye diseases. Health observances occur year round, including but not limited to, Glaucoma Awareness Month in January, Low Vision Awareness Month in February, Healthy Vision Month in May, Healthy Aging Month in September, and National Diabetes Month in November. These observances provide a special opportunity for the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) to highlight advances in vision research, showcase new educational resources, and engage in collaborative efforts.
By participating in eye health observances, NEHEP can continue to build and expand year-round relationships with organizations serving populations at risk for vision loss, leverage new channels for information dissemination, and find new and innovative ways to promote eye health awareness. NEHEP works with its Partnership and other intermediary organizations during observance months to increase awareness about eye health, particularly among populations at higher risk for eye disease.
Traditional and social media also play a role in elevating awareness about eye health. NEHEP has engaged in a number of strategies including pitching drop-in articles and infographics to print and web-based media, highlighting observances and related eye health messages on social media outlets, promoting NEHEP materials through both traditional and online channels, developing culturally tailored resources, and making National Eye Institute staff and NEHEP Planning Committee members available for media interviews about particular eye health topics.
The achievements of NEHEP, the Partnership, and other intermediary organizations during national observances show how a multichannel, multi-faceted educational campaign can increase the reach of eye health education messages. For example, this past January during Glaucoma Awareness Month, NEHEP was able to reach an estimated 99 million Americans with glaucoma messages.
NEHEP outreach to higher risk populations, their family, friends, caregivers and health professionals who work with them is conducted year-round through both mass media and interpersonal channels. We are appreciative of all the Partnership organizations and intermediaries that collaborate with us during observance months and throughout the year because every effort, big or small, makes a difference.
Please visit our Website, www.nei.nih.gov/NEHEP, to find resources that can be tailored to meet the needs of those you serve during monthly observances and beyond.
The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) Planning Committee advises the National Eye Institute (NEI) on the overall development, implementation, and evaluation of its eye health education activities. The Planning Committee is composed of experts in optometry, ophthalmology, health communication, and public health. NEHEP is pleased to welcome four new members to the Committee:
Hanna Rodriguez Coleman, M.D.
Dr. Coleman is currently an assistant clinical professor at New York Presbyterian Hospital and a senior consultant for the interpretation of fluorescein and indocyanine green angiograms at the Digital Angiography Reading Center in New York. Her specialty areas include retinal diseases, diabetic macular edema, and age-related macular degeneration. She is bilingual in English and Spanish and has served as a NEHEP spokesperson, conducting Spanish-language interviews since 2011.
Lori Grover, O.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Grover is an associate professor in the Department of Health Solutions and the director of the Center for Translational Health Science at Arizona State University. She also leads vision rehabilitation care at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. Her research involves the intersections of health information technology and the use of clinical decision support systems in the treatment of chronic vision loss, shared decision making in the multi-disciplinary care of chronic conditions, policy development and analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, and health outcomes evaluation.
Mary Lou Jackson, M.D.
Dr. Jackson is the director of the Vision Rehabilitation Service at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. She led the development of a new model of comprehensive vision rehabilitation that parallels the evolution of vision rehabilitation beyond optical devices to a multidisciplinary service that addresses all aspects of patients’ lives that are affected by vision loss. Dr. Jackson has chaired the American Association of Ophthalmology’s Vision Rehabilitation Committee and has led the development of a national vision rehabilitation curriculum for ophthalmology residents.
Judy Kim, M.D.
Dr. Kim is a professor of ophthalmology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She is actively involved with a number of multicenter clinical trials—in many as a site principal investigator, including the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) and Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network. Her research interests include diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, clinical trials, surgical retina, telemedicine, and ocular imaging.
A full roster of the NEHEP Planning Committee can be found at https://www.nei.nih.gov/nehep/about/committee.
When it comes to our health, we often visit our doctor or nurse regularly to make sure our bodies are healthy. But what about our eyes? They’re not always at the top of our minds, but they’re just as important.
During Healthy Vision Month each May, the National Eye Institute (NEI) encourages Americans to make their eye health a priority and educates them about steps they can take to protect their vision, including the following:
- Getting a dilated eye exam.
- Living a healthy lifestyle, including eating healthy foods, maintaining a healthy weight, managing chronic conditions, and not smoking.
- Knowing your family’s eye health history.
- Using protective eye wear.
- Wearing sunglasses.
Join NEI in celebrating Healthy Vision Month 2014! Visit our Website to find new content and resources that you can share with your networks to help spread the word about eye health. Here’s what you’ll find:
- Posts for Facebook and Twitter about Healthy Vision Month.
- Infocards and an infographic with eye health tips and facts.
- Videos that focus on how you can protect your vision.
- A drop-in article about Healthy Vision Month that you can include on your website, blog, or in any publications you offer.
- Text you can include in your newsletter, listserv, or other communications channels alerting people to the importance of Healthy Vision Month.
- Web buttons to include on your website and blog.
If you have any questions about Healthy Vision Month, please contact Jenna Boyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 202–842–3600.
The Don’t Lose Sight brochure series are among some of the most popular educational resources available from the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP). They provide information about who is at higher risk for age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic eye disease, and glaucoma; symptoms or lack thereof; and what people can do to protect their vision.
Previously only available in print, these brochures are now available in color and black-and-white as downloadable fact sheets. They are also available in English and Spanish and are easy to print and distribute to people in your community who could benefit from this information.
To find all educational resources available from NEHEP and the National Eye Institute (NEI), visit the NEI Publications Catalog.
The Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation, devoted to improving the quality and productivity of life for people who are blind or visually impaired, provided the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) an unrestricted educational grant to produce a series of three webinars collectively entitled “Going Blind and Going Forward: Pearls and Resources for the Eye Care Team”. The series aired live in October 2013. Now, JCAHPO and the Partners for Sight Foundation have made these courses available to the general public as free resources.
The three webinars are:
- Part 1: Maximizing Your Patient's Potential: The Ophthalmic Technician's Role in Vision Rehabilitation presented by Dr. Eydie Miller-Ellis. This course covers the range of symptoms that result from glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration and emphasizes the technician's role in guiding the patient to services that will maximize their visual potential.
- Part 2: Going Blind and Going Forward: A Patient's Perspective by Joseph Lovett. Lovett, who has glaucoma and is the producer and director of the film, “Going Blind,” discusses his personal perspective and recommendations for the eye care profession. Some clips from his documentary can be viewed on www.jcahpo.org.
Building on the success of the previous two years, Prevent Blindness, the Nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety nonprofit organization, will host its third annual Focus on Eye Health National Summit at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on June 18. Admission to the Summit is free but all attendees must pre-register.
The event will kick off at 8:30 a.m. with a presentation of the new Prevent Blindness study, “Forecasting the Prevalence and Cost of Vision Loss and Eye Disorders,” by John Wittenborn from the independent research organization National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. The data projects the potential burden and economic impact of vision problems into the future.
Additional presentations will revolve around the issues and conditions that often co-exist with vision problems. Planned plenary topics include the following:
- Overview of Multiple Chronic Conditions
- The Impact of Diabetes Among Children on Future Eye Disease
- Smoking and Vision
- Depression and Vision
- Falls and Vision
These will be followed by three panel-based workshop sessions:
- Children’s Vision: A Population Perspective
- Reducing the Impact of Diabetic Eye Disease
- Turning the Tide—Can Public Policy Curb the Growing Impact of Vision Problems?
Attendees will include patient advocates, national vision and eye health organizations, government representatives, and community-based organizations. For those unable to attend in person, there will be an opportunity to follow the event on Twitter at #eyesummit.
To register, view a listing of Summit speakers, learn more about sponsorship opportunities, or find general information about the Summit, please visit http://preventblindness.org/eyesummit or call Nita Patel at 1–800–331–2020.
In your work with individuals and their families who are new to vision loss, you know that they are seeking hope, help, and connection—hope that their vision will get better, help for adjusting and dealing with this condition, and connection to others who have experienced vision loss to discover how they have coped. Support groups are an important element in meeting these needs.
Though the structure of support groups can vary by group, they all provide mutual support and access to resources. Some support groups may be hosted by state or local agencies that provide services to people with vision loss, whereas others are independent grassroots groups. Because each support group is unique, VisionAware has developed a support group primer that answers basic questions about support groups, such as:
- How do I know if a support group is right for me and my situation?
- How do I find a support group?
- Is transportation available?
- Are family members/friends welcome?
- Will anyone understand my eye condition?
- What does it cost to join?
- Will my attendance remain confidential?
The VisionAware Directory of Services has a separate listing for support groups as well as many other types of services. VisionAware.org/supportgroups is also a resource page that contains information to help individuals identify local and telephone support groups. In addition, the resource page has a link to distance education classes on developing self-help groups offered by the Hadley School for the Blind.
Dr. Greg Rosenthal, a retinal specialist who is a strong supporter of the Frogtown Support Group of Toledo, summed up the essence of a support group as follows: “In addition to helping people regain vision, the other part of the battle is to help people use the vision they have. That is where low vision services and support groups come in. Their group leader has created a nurturing environment where people learn practical things and learn from each other. Through networking, they can guide each other to find services and doctors who care.”
To find out more about the variety of support groups operating in various areas of the country or if you are interested in featuring a support group on VisionAware, contact Don Golembiewski at email@example.com.
On April 26–27, the 2014 USA Science & Engineering Festival (USASEF) will take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. USASEF is the largest science festival in the United States in which representatives of industry, government, education, nonprofits, the media, and even Hollywood come together to celebrate all things related to science, technology, engineering, and medicine. Free and open to the public, organizers predict there will be 350,000 people in attendance. There will also be a sneak peek of the conference on Friday, April 25, for invited students and teachers, homeschoolers, military families, government officials and their staffers, and the press.
The National Eye Institute (NEI) will host a booth in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) aisle (#801) inside the Health and Medicine Pavilion. NEI’s booth will showcase optical illusions, disease simulations, and eye models, and will have hands-on activities. The activities will be interactive, engaging, and educational for all age groups. It will be a fantastic opportunity to talk to people from all over the country and get them excited about biomedical research!
If you plan on attending, come visit us! For more information, visit www.USAScienceFestival.org.
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and VisionAware have expanded the Find Services feature on VisonAware’s website, www.visionaware.org, to include independent low vision and vision rehabilitation service providers and clinics across the United States and Canada. Previously, the website primarily listed nonprofit low vision clinics and clinics associated with universities and hospitals as sources of low vision services. To address the need for low vision and vision rehabilitation services, the new category of Low Vision Services (Independent Service Providers) was added. This category includes eligible independent or individual practitioners and private clinics that offer low vision services.
The criteria for this new category requires a low vision or vision rehabilitation service provider with all or any one of the following certifications or training: low vision therapist, certified vision rehabilitation therapist, certified orientation and mobility specialist, specialty certification in low vision, optometrist, or ophthalmologist.
To be included in this new section, fill out a request form at www.afb.org/DirectoryCenter/Pages/Vendor/Signup.aspx. Provide a brief description of the services you provide and the certifications you currently hold. To verify if you or your clinic are eligible for inclusion, please review the AFB/VisionAware eligibility requirements.
Once AFB/VisionAware receives your request, they will contact you with instructions. If you have any questions, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today, many seniors are living on a fixed income. With multiple health concerns and competing financial priorities among aging populations, eye health may get pushed aside. EyeCare America helps older Americans preserve their sight by ensuring eligible seniors have access to medical eye care, often at no out-of-pocket cost, through 6,000+ volunteer ophthalmologists.
The program partners with multiple organizations that refer clients in need to its services. EyeCare America now offers a new video featuring a grateful patient and a father and son who volunteer.
“I was inspired by my father and joined EyeCare America a year ago,” said Sebastian Heersink, MD. “Volunteers receive at least as much as they give.” To date, the program has helped nearly 1.8 million people.
The ability of the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) to support eye health education programs that affect communities depends heavily on the work of the NEHEP Partnership. The Partnership is one of the primary vehicles through which NEHEP promotes critical eye health messages, disseminates the latest eye research findings, and facilitates communication among those interested in eye health education. Partnership organizations are especially helpful during national observances when it’s an opportune time to reach out to populations at higher risk for vision loss and blindness.
The National Caucus and Center on Black Aged (NCBA) is one of several NEHEP organizations that collaborated with NEHEP during National Diabetes Month (NDM) this past November. NCBA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the dignity of and enhancing the lives of low income elderly African Americans. As one of the largest minority-focused organizations in the United States, NCBA addresses the needs of its constituency in the areas of health, affordable housing, and employment.
African Americans suffer from eye diseases at disproportionate rates; among them is diabetic eye disease. NCBA worked with NEHEP to inform constituents they serve about how vision loss from diabetes can be prevented and the important role comprehensive dilated eye exams play in protecting sight. In observance of NDM, NCBA made NEHEP materials available during a flu clinic in the Washington, DC area. They also distributed the NEHEP e-blast to their networks and members and published an article in the NCBA quarterly newsletter.
In addition to supporting observances like NDM, NCBA will work with NEHEP year-round to incorporate NEHEP resources into programmatic efforts and disseminate eye health information through its weekly health topic series. They’ve also invited NEHEP to participate in a future all-hands meeting with the National Aging Resource Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Minority Seniors.
For more information on NCBA, visit http://www.ncba-aged.org/.
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!