In this issue:
Each May, the National Eye Institute (NEI) sponsors Healthy Vision Month, an annual observance dedicated to encouraging Americans to take care of their eyes and make their vision a health priority. In addition to having regular comprehensive dilated eye exams, it’s important for people to know their family’s eye health history; live a healthy lifestyle that includes exercising and eating right; avoid smoking; protect their eyes from the sun; and use eye safety gear while engaging in sports and other recreational activities. These are all things people should do year-round to help protect their eyes from disease and injury. Spreading the message about what people can do to keep their eyes healthy is important and can easily be done by using any of the resources available on our Healthy Vision Month website where you will find a social media toolkit, drop-in articles, videos to share, and much more.
Equally important as sharing information about protecting vision is encouraging those who are already living with vision loss to seek vision rehabilitation services that can help them maintain their independence and quality of life. Currently, 4.2 million Americans over age 40 are living with visual impairment or blindness. Of these, 3 million have low vision, meaning that even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery, people find everyday tasks difficult to do. By 2030, when the last baby boomers turn 65, the number of people who have visual impairments is projected to reach 7.2 million, with 5 million having low vision. African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are among the most affected by low vision as they experience blinding eye diseases like glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy disproportionately compared to other populations.
To help raise awareness among Hispanics/Latinos about low vision and the benefits of vision rehabilitation, the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) adapted its booklet, Living with Low Vision: What You Should Know, into Spanish and created a new infographic for Hispanics/Latinos about low vision. We also adapted our Living with Low Vision: Stories of Hope and Independence video, which profiles people who are living successfully with vision loss, into Spanish and were fortunate enough to meet two inspiring people, César Baena and Graciela Castaneda, who shared their stories about how vision rehabilitation has helped them. We want to extend our gratitude to them and staff from the Lighthouse of Broward County in Florida, the National Diabetes Education Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Consulate General of Mexico in New York, and Loma Linda University School of Public Health for working with us to ensure these resources were culturally and linguistically appropriate.
Working with NEHEP Partnership organizations and other intermediaries has been at the heart of many of our outreach activities. In this issue’s Planning Committee Corner, Dr. Edwin Marshall discusses how even though health is influenced by a variety of factors, it is imperative for health and community professionals to educate their respective community members about eye disease, early detection, and the importance of comprehensive dilated eye exams. We’re grateful to all of you who help get our eye health information into the hands of people and patients in your own local communities every day by sharing information via social media, hosting eye health education workshops, offering NEHEP information in your clinics or senior centers, talking about eye health on your local radio stations, and publishing our articles in local newspapers or websites. Your activities do make a difference. Together, NEHEP Partnership organizations, community health workers, and eye care and other health professionals have been able to make great strides in raising awareness about eye and vision health. But, there’s always more work to do.
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 use NEHEP materials and how we can better support your eye health education efforts. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.
Vision Health Is Inseparable From Community Health
Edwin C. Marshall, O.D., M.P.H., FAAO
The Healthy People 2010 initiative advanced the premise that the health of an individual is inseparable from the health of the community, and the health of the community determines the health of the nation. With this in mind, April’s National Public Health Week and National Minority Health Month, and May’s Healthy Vision Month observance represent three important and interrelated observances. They remind us that our communities cannot be healthy as long as serious health issues—including vision conditions—continue to affect certain populations at higher rates than other populations.
African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans, American Indians, and Alaska Natives are all especially burdened with a higher risk for a wide range of overall health and vision issues. Unfortunately, research has shown that only one out of three ethnic minorities understands that his or her ethnicity poses an increased risk for certain eye conditions.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects many ethnic groups in high proportions. Most people have heard of glaucoma, but they may not be aware that it has no early symptoms or warning signs. According to the National Eye Institute, out of the 2.7 million people who have glaucoma, half do not know they have the potentially blinding disease. The number of people with glaucoma is projected to increase to 4.2 million by 2030, making education about the disease all the more critical. While glaucoma can affect anyone, African Americans over age 40 are six to eight times more likely to develop the disease. Additionally, everyone over the age of 60, especially Hispanics/Latinos and those with a family history of glaucoma, are particularly vulnerable to this “silent thief of sight.”
Another leading cause of vision loss is diabetic eye disease. Many ethnic groups, as well as older Americans, are at greater risk for vision impairment and blindness as a result of diabetes. Like glaucoma, the absence of early symptoms or warning signs may contribute to a worsening of the condition, since half of those with diabetes do not get an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam. While ethnic groups are more likely to develop diabetes and suffer related eye health issues, surveys have shown that just one in five of those at risk worries about developing diabetes-related vision problems.
Additionally, systemic hypertension poses an increased risk to ocular health, particularly for African American adults who tend to become hypertensive at an earlier age. Low rates of blood pressure control place African Americans and others at an increased risk for hypertensive retinopathy and vision impairment. However, research has revealed that just one in five of racial and ethnic minorities is concerned about the possibility of incurring eye damage as a consequence of high blood pressure.
In most cases, vision loss can be prevented when the condition is identified and treated early. Unfortunately, the number of people with vision loss is on the rise, indicating that many patients in need of routine eye care are likely not receiving it. Encouraging comprehensive dilated eye exams—regardless of a patients’ age or physical health—is critical when it comes to monitoring and preventing vision loss. The recommendation of eyeglass lens options to protect and enhance vision—beyond correction—is also important. Consider that extended ultraviolet (UV) exposure has been linked to so many serious eye diseases, including cataract and age-related macular degeneration, making UV eye protection critical. Additionally, many who have eye diseases are more likely to experience sensitivity to light or glare, making the recommendation of photochromic lenses and anti-reflective coatings an important consideration.
Good health is a prerequisite to the pursuit of happiness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds us that people with vision problems are more likely than those with good vision to have diabetes, poor hearing, heart problems, high blood pressure, lower back pain and strokes, as well as increased risk for falls, injury, and depression.
Health is influenced by a variety of factors outside of the traditional healthcare delivery system, such as housing, education, income, transportation, food supply, and social relationships. While we may not be in a position to address all of the external factors that govern good health, eye care and other health and community professionals have the inherent responsibility to work with our respective community members to help them protect their sight and keep vision in their future every day. Much of this can be done through education about the need for regular comprehensive dilated eye exams, risk factors for eye disease, and the importance of early detection.
The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) has a wide variety of culturally tailored educational resources and materials that you can use to raise awareness about eye health. I encourage you to visit the NEHEP website to find social media resources, teaching tools, patient educational materials, and more that you can use to bring greater attention to eye health among the communities you serve.
Our eyes are an important part of our overall health, and there are many things we can do to keep them healthy. These include getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam, knowing our family’s eye health history, maintaining a healthy weight, eating leafy green vegetables and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, not smoking, using protective eyewear, and wearing sunglasses. Healthy Vision Month, observed by the National Eye Institute (NEI) each May, is a great opportunity to help educate Americans about the importance of these steps for protecting vision.
Join us in spreading the word! NEI offers a variety of resources in English and Spanish that you can use in May and throughout the year, including:
- A social media toolkit and ready-to-use Facebook posts and tweets
- Infocards and infographics, which you can share through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest
- A drop-in article, newsletter text, logos, and Web banners that you can include on your websites or newsletters
- Posters that you can hang in your offices, clinics, or community settings
- Videos that present tips for healthy vision and show an animated dilated eye exam
Every effort makes a difference in bringing greater attention to the importance of eye health. Please contact us if you have any questions. We would also love to hear how you are observing Healthy Vision Month! For more information, visit www.nei.nih.gov/HVM.
The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) is excited to welcome Guard Your Health to the NEHEP Partnership. Guard Your Health is a health and wellness campaign out of the Army National Guard Chief Surgeon’s Office. The campaign supports the Chief Surgeon’s efforts to build a resilient, adaptable, and medically ready citizen-soldier force by providing important health information for Army National Guard soldiers and their families. Guard Your Health’s Community Support Network brings together national, state, and location organizations to provide soldiers with information, motivation, and support to make healthy decisions for themselves, their families, and their units.
NEHEP is looking forward to working closely with Guard Your Health to bring important eye health information to soldiers and those who support them. To learn more about Guard Your Health and find ways your organization can get involved with their efforts, visit www.GuardYourHealth.com.
To learn more about the NEHEP Partnership and find a directory of its organizations, visit www.nei.nih.gov/nehep/about/partnership.
Primary open-angle glaucoma often has no early symptoms. Medications or surgery can help keep glaucoma in control; however, left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to permanent vision loss or even blindness. Fortunately, glaucoma can be detected early through a comprehensive dilated eye exam, a message the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) stresses in its glaucoma outreach materials.
New to its collection of educational resources, NEHEP just released a Spanish version of its popular Keep Vision in Your Future: Glaucoma Toolkit to help healthcare and other community professionals raise awareness about glaucoma.
Currently, 2.7 million people age 40 and older have glaucoma. This number is expected to reach 4.2 million by 2030 and 6.3 million by 2050. Hispanics/Latinos over age 60 are at higher risk for developing glaucoma, and eight out of 10 Hispanics/Latinos with glaucoma don’t even know they have it.
NEHEP conducted an assessment of the toolkit’s English content with 15 bilingual health professionals around the country. Based on this assessment, the toolkit was translated into Spanish and the content, images, and design were revised and adapted to be culturally appropriate for Hispanics/Latinos. The language was also simplified throughout, and the speaker’s guide was enhanced with detailed instructions for leading an educational session. We’d like to thank the following organizations for their help in the assessment and pilot test of the toolkit:
- Braille Institute of America, Inc.(CA)
- CASA de Maryland (MD)
- Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services/Division for Blindness Services (TX)
- Hispanic Institute for Blindness Prevention (DC/VA)
- Rural Health Group of North Carolina (NC)
- University of Texas at El Paso (TX)
NEHEP is now rolling out a training curriculum to teach community health workers to use the toolkit in Spanish. For more information and to find additional glaucoma resources, visit www.nei.nih.gov/glaucomatoolkit.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is partnering with an organization called LabTV to create online videos featuring NIH intramural scientists. Last summer, a videographer hired by LabTV began interviewing researchers across the NIH campus and videotaping them at work inside their labs. The videographer recorded 30-minute interviews with more than 300 NIH scientists, 17 of whom were from the National Eye Institute (NEI).
LabTV puts “human faces on medical research.” The organization hopes to inspire young people across the world to pursue a career in the sciences. LabTV finds dedicated young scientists, records them talking about their personal histories and career choices on video and showcases them for students to see. The goal is to provide role models that inspire millions of today’s students to consider becoming tomorrow’s heroes of medical research.
NIH and the University of Maryland College Park are among the first research institutions to partner in the venture. Eventually, the LabTV site is expected to feature thousands of videos from institutions all over the country. Students visiting the site can search profiles by institution or research area. Soon they will also be able to search by personal factors, such as “hated math in school” or “grew up with a parent who is a doctor,” and be able to contact scientists with questions.
You can view LabTV interviews with NEI researchers on the NEI YouTube Channel.
To learn more about LabTV, visit http://www.labtv.com.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently launched Tips from Former Smokers, a campaign with a series of powerful ads featuring former smokers who suffer from smoking-related illnesses, including vision loss and colorectal cancer. The ads highlight the benefits of quitting for smokers’ loved ones and the importance of quitting cigarettes completely, not just cutting down. The ads began running March 30 and will run for 20 weeks on television, radio, billboards, online, and in theaters, magazines, and newspapers.
CDC’s successful Tips national tobacco education campaign has helped prompt millions of smokers to try to quit since it began in 2012. It has also proven to be a “best buy” in public health by costing just $393 to save a year of life.
“These former smokers are helping save tens of thousands of lives by sharing their powerful stories of how smoking has affected them,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “These new real-life ads will help smokers quit, adding years to their lives and life to their years.”
In 2014, Tips ads had an immediate and strong impact. When the ads were on the air, about 80 percent more people called the national quitline, 1–800–QUIT–NOW, for free help. Since 2012, Tips ads have generated more than 500,000 additional calls to the toll-free quitline number.
One of this year’s new ad participants is Marlene, 68, who started smoking in high school and began losing her vision to macular degeneration at age 56. Besides quitting smoking, the best chance for slowing her vision loss is a drug that must be injected through a needle into her eyes. To date, she has had more than 100 shots in each eye. “This will probably go on for the rest of my life,” said Marlene. “If I’d had a crystal ball many years ago, I would never have put that first cigarette in my mouth.”
The ads also feature:
- Mark, 47, an Air Force veteran who used cigarettes and smokeless tobacco through two tours of duty in the Persian Gulf. He quit in 2009 when he developed rectal cancer at age 42.
- Julia, 58, who smoked for more than 20 years before developing colon cancer at age 49, followed by surgery and months of chemotherapy. She needed an ostomy bag taped to a hole in her abdomen to collect waste.
- Tiffany, 35, whose mother died from lung cancer when Tiffany was 16. She quit smoking when her own daughter turned 16 so that she could be around for important milestones in her daughter’s life. Tiffany’s ad will run as a public service announcement.
- Kristy, 35, who tried using e-cigarettes to quit smoking cigarettes, but ended up using both products instead of quitting. Kristy then suffered a collapsed lung, and was diagnosed with early chronic obstructive pulmonary disease before she quit smoking completely.
To find profiles of the former smokers, other campaign resources, and links to the ads, visit www.cdc.gov/tips.
Prevent Blindness and its partners will hold the fourth annual Focus on Eye Health National Summit on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
This year’s theme, “Game Changers in Vision,” will feature efforts and advances that are expected to significantly change how we think about and deliver eye care into the future. The summit will include a variety of presentations related to the theme.
The summit will also highlight initial steps by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on the development of a “Vision & Public Health” report supported by Prevent Blindness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Eye Institute, and other leading eye health organizations.
Among the scheduled presentations for this year’s summit are:
- Institute of Medicine Reports: Catalyzing Change – Rose Martinez, Director of the Board on Population Health, Institute of Medicine
- Implications of Coverage and Payment for the Future of Eye Care – Susan Dentzer, Senior Policy Advisor, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- The Transformative Potential of Big Data – William L. Rich III, M.D., Medical Director of Health Policy, American Academy of Ophthalmology
- Improving Surveillance and Program Accountability for Children’s Vision – Laura Anderko, Ph.D., R.N., Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Health Studies, Georgetown University
- Innovative Approaches to Research to Care – Gregory Hageman, Ph.D., Professor and Executive Director, Moran Eye Center, University of Utah
- The Growing Impact of Telemedicine on our Approach to Vision – Jorge Cuadros, O.D., Ph.D., Director of Clinical Infomatics Research, University of California, Berkeley
- NASA: Meeting Vision Challenges of Space Travel while Helping Mankind – Bob Main, CEO, Web Vision Centers Group
Attendees of this free event will include patient advocates, national vision and eye health organizations, government representatives, and community-based organizations. Those unable to attend in person will have an opportunity to follow the event on a live feed on Twitter at #eyesummit.
To register or for more information about the Prevent Blindness Focus on Eye Health National Summit, please visit preventblindness.org/eyesummit or call 800–331–2020.
FamilyConnect® has launched a new series of articles in the Future Starts Now section of its website. These articles cover the types of services and programs that students who are blind with additional disabilities may require as they transition out of public school programs. Information is geared towards parents and caregivers who have questions about this transition and covers topics such as financial planning, planning for the future, employment, and residential options. Information is available in both English and Spanish.
The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) is pleased to announce the release of a new Ophthalmic Scribe Certification (OSC) on EyeCareCE. The OSC examination is designed to test the knowledge of ophthalmic scribes and ophthalmic medical personnel who create and maintain patient medical records under the supervision of an ophthalmologist. These records include the documentation of a comprehensive patient history, physical examination, medications, lab results, and other pertinent patient information.
In addition to ophthalmic assistants, technicians and medical technologists, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) now recognizes JCAHPO certified ophthalmic scribes as qualified to enter electronic medication, laboratory, or radiology orders into electronic health record systems.
The new OSC certification meets the CMS rule with its 125-item examination. The open-resource exam content covers history taking, ophthalmic patient services and education, ophthalmic terminology, medical ethics and legal issues, and medical notes/records. Once passed, scribes are certified for three years.
JCAHPO President Karl Golnik, M.D., says that “JCAHPO’s OSC is an accessible and affordable examination that provides ophthalmic medical professionals with tools needed to meet CMS requirements and advance their careers.”
To learn more, contact Susan Larson at 651–731–2944 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The seventh annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day (FPAD), sponsored by the National Council on Aging Falls Free® Initiative on September 23, 2014, exceeded 2013’s record, with 48 states and the District of Columbia participating. A Compendium of State and National Activities is now available. Its contents are based on the annual survey of the State Coalitions on Falls Prevention Workgroup. The survey estimates national reach and the number and type of activities hosted by state and local coalitions on falls prevention. Key partnerships are also identified; accordingly, the compendium includes eye health and vision professionals who actively participated in educational and screening activities. A majority of participating states responded to the survey and provided photographs that have been included in the compendium. It also provides insight into the biggest successes and challenges states faced in planning their activities.
VisionAware, part of the American Foundation for the Blind, recently launched the Patient’s Guide to Living with Glaucoma, written by Stuart Carduner, who has glaucoma and has become an advocate for patient rights. In the guide, he covers learning about glaucoma, what’s involved in making the diagnosis, asking the right questions and communicating with your doctor, new treatments on the horizon, and resources. Through his online guide, Carduner provides coaching to VisionAware readers who have been diagnosed with glaucoma or who are going through the testing and assessment process. Writing from his own experience, Carduner knows that many patients enter the ophthalmologist’s office with a good deal of anxiety and fear. They want to understand what is happening to their eyes, and they want to know what to expect from office visits. They wonder what the prognosis is for their vision and how they will maintain independence if they lose more sight.
For more information visit http://www.visionaware.org/.
Women of color have unique health needs. But they are also not a singular group. Biology, genetics, culture, and access to care also play a role in determining health. A new publication from the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health, the Women of Color Health Data Book, 4th Edition, illustrates this.
The Women of Color Health Information collection presents data on race, ethnicity, and disease. These data offer clues about how culture, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, and geographic location contribute to the health status of women of color.
For more information, contact Anne Rancourt at email@example.com.
SaludToday is an interactive, online forum that raises awareness about health and positive health behaviors among Latinos. Led by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the forum enables people to share stories, news, and events regarding Latino health. The forum focuses on improving Latino health by promoting an ongoing discussion among Latino families, community leaders, and health researchers.
As part of its efforts, SaludToday publishes many of the articles and resources from the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) during health observance months. The forum also co-hosts Twitter chats each Tuesday, called #SaludTues, highlighting various Latino health concerns. These virtual and bilingual meetings began September 2014 with an average reach of 9.87 million impacts/impressions per chat.
In February 2015, NEHEP reached out to SaludToday about co-hosting a Tweetchat on eye health issues affecting Latinos. The forum was onboard with the idea, and on March 24, SaludToday, NEHEP, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute (BPEI), and NEHEP partner Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health (OMH) co-hosted “Why Latinos Should Keep an Eye on Vision Health.”
NEHEP and SaludToday worked on the topics and questions and coordinated efforts hand in hand with BPEI and OMH to promote the chat among all constituents.
During the chat, SaludToday, NEHEP staff, Partnership organizations and Planning Committee members, along with BPEI and OMH, shared important messages about eye health for Latinos. These included which vision problems are of particular concern to Latinos, where to find information and resources about these eye conditions/treatments, how important it is to get comprehensive dilated eye exams, and what to say to loved ones to encourage them to get an eye exam.
As a result, the #SaludTues chat resulted in 1,133 tweets, 226 contributors, and an estimated 660,756 Twitter accounts reached and 6,522,143 impressions. These numbers include conversations that continued and were monitored a week after the event.
To see a summary of the chat, click here.
For more information about SaludToday, visit http://www.saludtoday.com.
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!”
Unity 2015 Community Health Worker Conference
July 12‒15, 2015
Presentation: Community Health Workers – Transforming Communities through Trust, Compassion, and Commitment
2015 Healthy Aging Summit
July 27–28, 2015
Presentation: See Well for a Lifetime: Promoting Eye Health Among Older Adults
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!