Understanding the Scope of Vision Loss

According to CDC, an estimated 61 million adults in the United States are at high risk for serious vision loss, and the annual economic impact of major vision problems among Americans older than 40 is more than $145 billion.

Depending on the seriousness of the injury and the extent of damage to the eye, medical treatment may involve hospitalization, emergency care, and in some cases, surgery. A worker may suffer from vision loss or impairment for weeks or even months and in some cases, it may be permanent.

Some workers have to use an eye patch until the injury completely heals.

The CDC has launched the nation’s first Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System(VEHSS). Launched in collaboration with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, the system is designed to help health care professionals, researchers, policymakers, and state health departments better understand the scope of vision loss, eye disorders, and eye care services in the United States.

VEHSS leverages new and existing data sources across multiple years; it is intended to grow and improve over time, based on input and the needs of the vision health community.

The goals of the system are to:

  • Identify and collect existing sources of information on vision and eye health;
  • Create case definitions to analyze data consistently;
  • Analyze data to estimate the prevalence of eye disorders and disabilities, the use of eye health services, and health disparities in visual health treatment and outcomes;
  • Investigate methods to leverage multiple existing data sources to create new estimates of the prevalence of vision loss and eye disease; and
  • Disseminate the information developed by the system to key stakeholders and respond to feedback to continually improve the quality and usefulness of the system.