Friday, May 22, 2009

Prevent Blindness America responds to Senate Finance Committee's health care reform proposal

Today, Prevent Blindness America sent a letter to Senators Baucus and Grassley, chair and ranking member respectively of the Senate Finance Committee, to promote vision and eye health as integral to health care reform focused on prevention and wellness. We are calling upon Congress to ensure that all Americans have coverage for - and access to - vision care services. Vision care services consistently have been found to help prevent blindness, reduce vision loss, improve quality of life and well-being, increase productivity, and reduce costs and burdens on the nation's health care system. It is critical as we move forward that our Representative know how important vision services are to you and your family. Please share your story with Prevent Blindness America: email Jennifer Pennock at

On May 11, the Senate Finance Committee released their Description of Policy Options - Expanding Health Care Coverage: Proposals to Provide Affordable Coverage to All Americans paper ( The Senate Finance Committee, and Chairman Max Baucus, are at the center of the health care reform debate, and the recently released policy options paper lays out options for health care reform and a framework for achieving health reform goals.

Prevent Blindness America continues to advocate for funding for vital vision and eye health research and programs. To that end, we request that, for FY 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Vision Health Initiative be funded at $4.5 million, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) receive $32.4 billion for biomedical research and the National Eye Institute (NEI) receive $736 million. On May 20, we were pleased to join with our vision advocacy partners to send a letter to Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Thad Cochran, Representative David Obey, and Representative Todd Tiahrt to provide details on our funding requests for the CDC, NIH and NEI and emphasize the importance of vision and eye health. To view a copy of the letter, go to: On May 21, Prevent Blindness America submitted written testimony to the Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee regarding these funding requests.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

FY 2010 Funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vision Health Initiative

An estimated 80 million Americans have a potentially blinding eye disease, 3 million have low vision, 1.1 million are legally blind, and 200,000 are more severely visually blind. Vision is critical to conducting activities of daily living, is a portal for language, and affects developmental learning, communicating, working, health, and quality of life. While vision impairment and blindness are among the most feared disabilities, effective public health initiatives can dramatically decrease these numbers.

As one of the nation’s foremost public health agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), serves a critical role in promoting vision health, and has been doing so through its Vision Health Initiative (VHI). Since 1908, Prevent Blindness America (PBA) has been the nation's leading volunteer eye health and safety organization with the sole mission of preventing blindness and preserving sight. Beginning in 2003, these two organizations have become strong partners in a national vision health collaboration, aimed at strengthening and stimulating a public health effort to reduce and control vision problems in the United States.

Prevent Blindness America requests $4.5 million in federal funding to sustain and expand its efforts to address the growing public health threat of preventable vision loss among older Americans, low-income, and underserved populations, as well as to increase funding to support eye disease surveillance and evaluation systems, to ensure our nation has much-needed epidemiological data regarding overall burden and high-risk populations, so we can formulate and evaluate strategies to prevent and reduce the economic and social costs associated with vision loss and eye diseases. This funding will enhance the CDC’s Vision Health Initiative, its partnership with PBA, and will begin to reduce the incidence of vision loss and improve sight.