Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Congressional Vision Caucus Dear Colleague

The Congressional Vision Caucus co-chairs have sent a Dear Colleague letter to Members of Congress to:

  • Support Prevent Blindness America’s request for $4.5 million in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vision Health Initiative;
  • Support the development and implementation of a nationwide Title V core performance related visual screening program under the Maternal and Child Health Services State Title V Block Grant Program; and
  • Support the Memorandum of Understanding between the Office of Head Start and Prevent Blindness America on vision screening.
To contact your Member of Congress and encourage him or her to sign on to this letter, go to:

A copy of the Dear Colleague Letter can be found at:

Friday, March 20, 2009

White House Health Reform Efforts

The White House is hosting Regional Forums on Health Care reform. The forums provide opportunities for citizens, health care stakeholders and elected officials to discuss needed changes to our health care system. The first two forums were held in Michigan and Vermont. The next Regional Health Care Forum is scheduled for March 23 in Des Moines, IA. The remaining 2 Regional Health Care Forums will be in Greensboro, North Carolina on March 31 and in Los Angeles, California on April 6. Submit questions for these forums on-line at: http://www.healthreform.gov/regionalhealthforum.html.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Eyes on Capitol Hill Event Brought Together Citizens Affected By Vision Loss and Government Leaders

(Eyes on Capitol Hill Advocates Kate and Lisa Beyerink, Gina Rooney and Jeanne Burmeister Meet With Representative Tom Latham)

Prevent Blindness America, the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization, held the fourth annual “Eyes on Capitol Hill” event, in Washington, D.C., March 2-4. The annual program provides participants the opportunity to meet with their own government leaders and share their personal experiences with vision loss. Prevent Blindness America arranged more than 100 appointments with congressional and senate offices in an effort to provide policymakers the opportunity to discuss the importance of funding vision health programs for their constituents.

“We understand that there are many worthy causes today that need substantial federal and state-funding support,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America. “What we want to impress upon our policymakers is that funding preventive programs today, like vision screenings and follow-up care, actually saves money in the long run.”

Half of all blindness is preventable through early detection and treatment. The key is that adults and children have access to quality vision health programs and care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately only one in three children in America have received eye care services before their sixth birthday. And, the recent study by Prevent Blindness America, The Economic Impact of Vision Problems: The Toll of Major Adult Eye Disorders, Visual Impairment, and Blindness on the U.S. Economy, estimated the costs associated with adult vision problems in the United States at $51.4 billion annually. This staggering number will only increase as the baby boomer population continues to age.

“For the fourth year in a row, the Eyes on Capitol Hill event has been a complete success and we certainly could not have done it without the willingness of citizens across the country to come to Washington, D.C. and speak on behalf of those everywhere who have been touched by sight-threatening issues,” added Parry. “Of course, we would also like to thank all of our congressmen, senators and their staff members for opening their doors to us and listening to our message. And special thanks to our sponsors, Pfizer, Inc. and VSP Vision Care, for their continued support.”

Moving forward, Prevent Blindness America has drafted a public policy agenda for the 111th Congress that seeks to:

• Advance and expand public health efforts to promote eye health and prevent eye disease, vision loss and blindness

• Ensure comprehensive vision care for all Americans

As part of the agenda, Prevent Blindness America is asking for an increase in funding for the CDC’s Vision Health Initiative. The initiative is designed to address the growing public health threat of preventable vision loss among older Americans, low-income and underserved populations. Prevent Blindness America is also asking for support of the National Eye Institute (NEI) through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to bolster efforts to provide vision research and vision care programs.

For more information on Eyes on Capitol Hill, information on how you can contact your state representative to ask for their support on vision-related issues, or to review a copy of the Prevent Blindness America Public Policy Agenda for the 111th Congress, please call Prevent Blindness America at (800) 331-2020 or visit preventblindness.org.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Congressional Vision Caucus Hosts Eyes on Capitol Hill Reception

The Congressional Vision Caucus hosted a reception on Tuesday evening, March 3, for Prevent Blindness America's Eyes On Capitol Hill Advocates. More than 70 advocates joined this event, hosted also by Prevent Blindness America and co-hosted by The American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Optometry, the American Optometric Association, The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research and the Vision Council.

The event was generously supported by Pfizer and VSP Vision Care.

Congressional Vision Caucus co-chair representative Gene Green (D-TX) also joined the reception.

From Eyes on Capitol HIll 2009

(representative Gene Green)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Eyes on Capitol Hill Participants Get to Know Each Other and Review Advocacy Goals on Day One

Prevent Blindness America's Eyes on Capitol Hill advocacy event in Washington, D.C., kicked off in earnest on Tuesday, March 3, with a day long advocacy training session. Prevent Blindness America President and CEO Hugh R. Parry began the morning breakfast session with a welcome and introduction. Morning speakers included David Eveleth, Vice President, Disease Area Lead, Ophthalmology with Pfizer Global Research & Development. David spoke about the intersection of patient advocacy and the development of new medication and how advocacy work can have an important impact on treatment.

Al Schubert, Vice President, Managed Care and Health Policy for VSP Vision Care followed with a discussion of the challenges faced in providing professional eye care for all Americans and the role of vision plans in making eye health a priority.
Staff from Drinker, Bidddle & Reath led the afternoon advocacy training sessions to discuss the three primary "asks" for the Eyes on Capitol Hill event and how best to present them to senators and representatives during hill visits.
From Eyes on Capitol HIll 2009

(Joanne T. Leon, Alabama, asks how to approach her Senators about joining the Congressional Vision Caucus)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Prevent Blindness America Advocates "storm" the Capitol

Today and tomorrow, vision advocates from across the U.S. are traveling to Washington, D.C. to share their personal stories with Members of Congress. Prevent Blindness America (PBA) is grateful to have such a dedicated group of advocates, who were not deterred by rain, sleet, ice or snow because they want Congress to hear the message that vision health matters. On March 3, our advocates will join PBA and our vision partners as we host a reception on Capitol Hill for members of the Congressional Vision Caucus. On March 4, we travel back to "the Hill" for meetings with Members of Congress and Congressional staff.