In this issue:
Happy New Year! As we embark on a new year together, we wish to thank all the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) Partnership organizations that collaborated with us last year. As a federal program, NEHEP relies on its partners around the country to help expand the reach of its messaging and ensure that information is disseminated in a meaningful, tailored, and actionable way to people at higher risk for eye disease, health and community professionals, and people living with vision loss and their family and friends.
This past year, NEHEP partners were instrumental in sharing information via social media sites, newsletters, and websites; disseminating NEHEP materials and messaging in community outreach activities; reviewing content to make sure we’re reaching the target audiences you serve in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner; and celebrating national eye health observances, among many other activities. The year 2016 was incredibly active, and your efforts helped NEHEP reach millions of Americans with eye health information through traditional and social media alone.
This year is also off to an exciting start. This month, we celebrate Glaucoma Awareness Month, and we want to thank everyone who is helping share information with people at higher risk for glaucoma about steps they can take to protect their sight. Next month, we will observe Low Vision Awareness Month, a time to bring even greater visibility to those living with vision loss and promote how vision rehabilitation can help people maintain their independence and quality of life by maximizing the use of the vision that they do have. As a health professional, social service provider, or community health worker, you can play a vital role in encouraging people to seek out vision rehabilitation services. Our Low Vision Resources At-a-Glance [1.88 MB] describes all the low vision educational resources NEHEP offers that you can use in your outreach efforts. We encourage you to share these resources with your colleagues, residents, and students as well.
And get ready for a big celebration coming in 2018. The National Eye Institute will celebrate its 50th anniversary! Find out how you can help us celebrate this momentous occasion.
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. Here’s to a fantastic 2017!
Jullia Rosdahl, M.D., Ph.D.
Duke Eye Center
NEHEP Planning Committee Member
I don’t know about you, but every New Year’s I resolve to eat healthier, exercise more, and sleep in when I can! Some years, I follow through with my promises, and some years I fall short. My days can be very hectic, and sometimes it’s hard to find time to take care of myself.
As an ophthalmologist, I always make sure to keep eye health at the top of my list— largely because it’s my profession—but also because I know that vision is directly related to quality of life. Feeling your best includes seeing your best, which means being aware of eye care diseases and your risks.
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month—the perfect time to spread the word about glaucoma and encourage others to add learning about the disease to their list of resolutions.
Here are five things you need to know about glaucoma:
Glaucoma can cause vision loss and blindness, which can’t be reversed.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, which sends visual images to your brain. But, you can prevent vision loss with early detection and treatment of glaucoma.
There are no early symptoms.
Glaucoma often has no early warning signs. No pain. No discomfort. No blurry vision. Advanced glaucoma will affect your vision, but don’t wait for symptoms to visit your eye doctor!
In the United States, half of the people who have glaucoma don’t know they do.
Nearly 3 million Americans have glaucoma. Half don’t know it. Lack of awareness and lack of symptoms prevent people from getting the disease diagnosed early. You can change that! Find out if you have glaucoma.
Some people are at higher risk than others.
African Americans over 40, adults over 60—especially Hispanics/Latinos—and people with a family history of glaucoma are at higher risk, making early detection especially important. Are you at higher risk? Talk to your family about glaucoma.
There is only one way to know if you have glaucoma.
Getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to find out if you have glaucoma. During the exam, an eye care professional places drops in your eyes to widen the pupils and looks for signs of the disease in the optic nerve.
Now that you’ve got the facts about glaucoma, make a resolution for healthier vision. Schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam! And encourage your friends and loved ones to do the same.
To learn more about glaucoma, visit www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma.
The National Eye Institute (NEI) will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2018!
This is an exciting milestone for us, as we look back at the progress made in diagnosing and treating eye diseases and vision impairment since NEI was first established by Congress in 1968.
Our mission continues to be to protect and prolong vision. During our anniversary year, we will be sharing information on the accomplishments made in vision research and eye health over the decades with the research community and the broader public.
You are part of our story. If you have ideas to mark this celebration, please let us know. You can contact Kristina Beaugh in NEI’s Communications Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glaucoma is a silent disease that often has no warning signs. Left untreated, glaucoma can result in permanent vision loss or even blindness. Fortunately, a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect the disease in its early stages, before noticeable vision loss occurs. Although anyone can get glaucoma, African Americans over age 40; everyone over age 60, especially Hispanics/Latinos; and people with a family history are at higher risk and should have a dilated eye examination every one to two years. Early detection and treatment are keys to preventing unnecessary vision loss and blindness.
To help you raise awareness and educate others about glaucoma during Glaucoma Awareness Month (GAM) and the rest of the year, the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) has created the new Keep Vision in Your Future: Glaucoma Toolkit. This toolkit includes a PowerPoint presentation, handouts, and a comprehensive speaker’s guide that can be used by community health workers, educators, eye care professionals, and other organization representatives who conduct outreach to audiences at higher risk of glaucoma.
To promote the toolkit, take advantage of community events, such as local health fairs, festivals, sporting events, faith-based events, workplace events, and walk-for-health events. Focus on special events and festivals that attract people at higher risk for glaucoma, especially older adults, African Americans, and Hispanics/Latinos.
In addition, we would like to extend an enthusiastic “Thank you!” to the following partnership organizations and individuals who helped us develop this new resource by offering audience testing and expert assessment: University of Texas at El Paso (audience testing); Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington (audience testing and expert assessment); Dr. Jullia Rosdahl, Duke University, NEHEP Planning Committee (expert assessment); National Optometric Association (audience testing and expert assessment); and Maryland Society for Sight (audience testing).
NEHEP provides a variety of resources in English and Spanish, including public service announcements, infocards, brochures, teaching resources for health professionals, and more. For more ideas on how to raise awareness during Glaucoma Awareness Month, visit https://nei.nih.gov/nehep/gam.
Low vision is defined as a visual impairment that is not correctable by standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery and that interferes with the ability to perform everyday activities. A recent study funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI) estimates that the number of Americans who are visually impaired, including those with low vision, is expected to double to more than 8 million by 2050. Most people with low vision are age 65 or older. Although vision that is lost usually cannot be restored, people can learn to make the most of the vision they have.
The National Eye Health Education Program’s (NEHEP) Low Vision Education Program offers English and Spanish resources that provide people living with low vision and their loved ones with information about the benefits of vision rehabilitation and the services and devices that can help them live independently and maintain their quality of life. Our Low Vision Resources At-a-Glance describes all of our low vision resources, which can be used year-round. The following are some that you may be especially interested in using during Low Vision Awareness Month this February:
Living With Low Vision: What you should know
Share this booklet [8.6 MB] and companion video with people who have vision loss and their families to help them better understand how to get help and live safely and independently. You can also link to the video from your website or share it on your social media outlets.
Use this module to conduct educational sessions in your community about low vision. You can inform others about the signs of vision loss, the benefits of vision rehabilitation services, where to get more information, questions to ask a low vision specialist, ways to manage medications, and more. The module includes a PowerPoint presentation, speaker’s guide, participant handouts, and other useful tools.
NEHEP offers a variety of resources to assist you in promoting vision rehabilitation through social networking. These include infographics and infocards that can be shared on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest or can be placed in newsletters, publications, and websites; articles that are ready-to-use in newsletters, magazines, newspapers, and blogs; and prewritten posts that can be shared on Facebook and Twitter.
For more resources and ideas, visit https://nei.nih.gov/nehep/lvam.
The American Academy of Optometry (AAO) has established the Brien Holden Humanitarian Award to honor the memory and work of Professor Brien Holden. This award will recognize an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to improve eye care within a country or region. In particular, the award will acknowledge humanitarian efforts in the not-for-profit sector that build or support the development of sustainable eye care systems in developing communities.
“This is a wonderful acknowledgment by the Academy, a body that Brien greatly respected and a meeting he enthusiastically attended for around four decades. This award will give important recognition to those people who may not be known globally but who are making a difference in eye care in their country or region,” said Kovin Naidoo, CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute.
Professor Holden, who founded the Brien Holden Vision Institute, was a global leader in eye care and vision research, an internationally renowned and awarded scientist, a humanitarian, and a professor at the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of New South Wales in Australia. He spent his career inspiring scientists and healthcare professionals around the world with his dream of “vision for everyone, everywhere.” Professor Holden was an AAO Life Fellow and a diplomate in the Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses, and Refractive Technologies. He was a President’s Circle member and an avid supporter of the American Optometric Foundation.
“The American Academy of Optometry is honored to be given the opportunity to administer this new award that so perfectly reflects Dr. Holden’s passion for finding regional and global solutions for vision disparities. This award will help sustain awareness to the continuation of Brien Holden’s legacy and humanitarian contributions,” said AAO President Brett Bence.
The award, established by the Brien Holden Vision Institute and Holden family estate, will be given annually beginning in 2017. Nominations should include two letters of nomination from AAO fellows and a CV of the nominee. Nominations must be submitted to HelenV@aaoptom.org by April 1, 2017.
Among Americans, blindness proves to be a far more concerning side effect of diabetes than kidney failure and heart troubles combined, a new survey finds, yet the benefits of routine diabetic eye care were less recognized. In fact, according to the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) recently released 2016 American Eye-Q® survey, one in two Americans are unaware that comprehensive eye examinations are the only way to categorically determine whether a patient's diabetes could result in blindness. Furthermore, more than half of respondents didn't know that comprehensive eye examinations could detect diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness in the United States. One comforting statistic: nine out of 10 Americans affirmed that they would visit an eye care professional after learning this fact.
AOA is committed to educating the public about the relationship between diabetes and eye health. The American Eye-Q® survey illustrates how simple awareness and education can prompt crucial action.
Below are several resources eye care professionals may find useful:
The AOA's diabetes clinical practice guideline. Eye Care of the Patient with Diabetes Mellitus, the AOA's first evidence-based clinical practice guideline, offers a clinical primer on the disease, prevention tips, and diagnostic criteria. The publication also assists doctors in achieving objectives in diabetes-related care.
Council on Optometric Practitioners Education (COPE) approved, online continuing education. Learn the latest trends in diabetes clinical care with the Optos-sponsored Diabetes Nation: Where Are We and Where Do We Go from Here? course. Presented by A. Paul Chous, O.D., optometric representative to the National Diabetes Education Program of the National Institutes of Health, the course focuses on the current state of diabetes in public health, strategies for prevention, updates for diagnosis and management, pointers on diabetic retinopathy, and much more.
AOA Diabetes Eye Examination Report. This revised and updated standard reporting form for diabetic eye examinations can be easily downloaded and implemented into clinical practice. An adaption of a form developed by the Ohio Optometric Association, the AOA Diabetes Eye Examination Report form promotes clear, concise communication among the providers on a patient's diabetes care team.
For more information, please contact Deirdre Middleton at email@example.com.
The Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) is currently accepting presentation submissions for its 2017 International Orientation & Mobility Conference, to be held in Pittsburgh, Pa., July 19–22. The deadline for submitting proposals is Jan. 12, 2017.
Topics for conference presentations should be related to teaching people who are blind or visually impaired the skills and concepts they need to travel independently and safely. Examples of presentation topics include physical activity and movement, sensory development, adult rehabilitation, or dealing with multiple disabilities. Conference participants will be specialists in orientation and mobility (O&M) who provide services for visually impaired children in school programs and adults in rehabilitation settings. As such, conference organizers are looking for creative, cutting-edge ideas, along with fresh takes on tried-and-true practices that will appeal to new and experienced O&M specialists.
The AER Conference will offer participants an unsurpassed opportunity to share their knowledge with other exceptional professionals who play an important role in the lives of those who are blind and visually impaired. We invite you to create sessions that will help attendees achieve excellence in professional growth and service delivery and that will help shape the future of O&M.
AER is an international membership organization, dedicated to rendering support and assistance to more than 3,500 professionals who work in all phases of education and rehabilitation of children and adults who are blind and visually impaired.
For more information on AER and its upcoming conference, visit http://www.aerbvi.org.
Today, a little known but widely used tool is helping clinicians image the back of their patients’ eyes to diagnose glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Tomorrow, this same technology could contribute to diagnosing neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. To increase awareness of the value of this revolutionary clinical tool, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) has independently launched a public outreach campaign on optical coherence tomography (OCT).
ARVO has produced a series of free-to-use, short videos on the discovery of and clinics’ adoption of OCT over the past 25 years. The videos feature patients using OCT to improve their visual outcomes, clinicians describing how OCT makes their decision-making easier, and researchers pushing this technology to new frontiers. The videos are designed for patient, public, and policymaker education.
All ARVO resources on OCT can be found at http://www.arvo.org/OCT. Organizations and individuals are welcome to use and share these free resources in their outreach and educational efforts. Mentions on social media should include the hashtag #OCTimaging.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
New project from Prevent Blindness and National Institute for Child Health Quality seeks to improve vision health for kids
The National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness (NCCVEH), in partnership with the National Institute for Child Health Quality, has embarked on a formal quality-improvement project that will create lasting changes in the systems for supporting children’s vision and eye health in Arizona, Wyoming, and Ohio, and eventually establish best practices for the nation. As part of the Improving Children’s Vision: Systems, Stakeholders, and Support Collaborative, teams from these states are working to change their approach to family engagement, professional education, data collection, screening methodologies, and follow-up to eye care.
The result will be a comprehensive, coordinated approach to children’s vision and eye health and a reduced incidence of vision problems among young children in hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations. This includes, but is not limited to, an increase in the percentage of children receiving a vision screening or an eye exam, access to eye care, the education and engagement of key stakeholders, enhanced data coordination, provider communication, and patients’ adherence to treatments.
The project will employ expert-led quality improvement principles and practices to accomplish the following goals:
- Strengthen statewide partnerships and coordination among key stakeholders in children’s vision and eye health.
- Increase access to and utilization of vision health services in hard-to-reach communities.
- Increase early detection and treatment of vision problems.
- Establish state-level vision data surveillance.
- Implement vision health system measures of accountability.
It is the aim of the project to increase, by 20 percent over 2011–2012 levels [according to the National Survey of Children’s Health measure], the proportion of children age 5 years and younger who receive vision screening and diagnosis in up to five states by the year 2018. The results and best practices from this initiative will be shared among vision and public health groups to benefit all children. The project is supported by a three-year grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (HRSA grant number H7MMC24738).
For more information on the project, NCCVEH, or general children’s vision and eye health, please contact Kira Baldonado at email@example.com.
Free AFB VisionConnect™ App now available for Android devices
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) announces that its popular VisionConnect™ app is now available for Android, as well as iOS devices. It can be downloaded from the Google Play store or the Apple App Store.
The VisionConnect™ app provides hope, help, and connection for adults encountering vision loss for the first time and for families supporting a child experiencing vision loss. Users can:
- Find services and support within their community through a searchable directory;
- Live independently with a visual impairment, using helpful resources and tips;
- Research information about low vision products and technology;
- Find inspiration from personal stories and employment advice; and
- Learn how to guide family members to be supportive.
Service providers can also use the app to help locate vision rehabilitation services for their clients. The app is free and completely accessible. Learn more at http://www.afb.org/visionconnect.
AFB working on renewed 21st Century Agenda on Aging and Vision Loss
AFB is partnering with agencies and leaders in our field on a renewed 21st Century Agenda on Aging and Vision Loss.
Research indicates that 6.1 million adults age 65 and older experience vision loss—13.5 percent of the population. For those 85 and older, the percentage increases to 22.3. Unfortunately, many older adults with vision loss are frequently overlooked and underserved. They often do not hear about vision rehabilitation services from their ophthalmologists and other medical providers, so they are left without the resources and knowledge that would allow them to continue daily tasks and live independently.
To address this issue, AFB is working on the 21st Century Agenda on Aging and Vision Loss, which has four goals:
- Securing funding for services;
- Ensuring the availability and quality of professional services;
- Collaborating across service delivery systems to maximize resources for tackling critical needs, such as transportation and employment; and
- Funding a low vision device demo project through Medicare.
Individuals throughout the country have signed up to work on these goals, and champions for each goal group have been identified. AFB is serving as the facilitator on this initiative. If you would like to help with any of these goal areas, please reach out to AFB. The next teleconference on the agenda will be on Feb. 15, 2017 at 3 p.m. Please visit http://www.afb.org/aging for more information.
AFB VisionAware™ offers new tip sheet on hearing and vision loss
AFB’s popular Getting Started kit was created as an easy reference guide for individuals new to vision loss. The kit now includes an article titled “Meeting a Person With Hearing and Vision Loss.”
This and other tip sheets, covering topics such as questions to ask your eye care professional and technology tips and products, are available to download and share from http://www.visionaware.org/gettingstarted. The Getting Started kit is available online in English and Spanish or in hard copy by request at http://www.visionaware.org/MyVARegistration.aspx.
AFB offers free Nonvisual Desktop Access tutorials
AFB is proud to announce the launch of Learn Tech, a technology access initiative that features free online tutorials to help people who are blind or visually impaired learn how to improve their computer and technology skills. The tutorials can be accessed at http://www.afb.org/learntech.
Learn Tech is a 10-part series on “Using Google Docs and Google Drive with NVDA.” Google Docs is a free, Web-based application in which documents can be created, edited, and stored online. Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service that allows users to store files in the cloud and share files with people who are working on the same project. Nonvisual Desktop Access (NVDA) is a free screen reader for people who are blind or visually impaired.
When these tools are used together, computer users who are blind or visually impaired are able to use the computer for work or school without any additional, expensive software. These tools also allow for easy project collaboration with others at school or in the workplace, leveling the playing field.
Also available from Learn Tech are the previously released Learn NVDA free video tutorials that describe how to use the NVDA screen reader. Additional tutorials will be added to Learn Tech over time.
Learn Tech tutorials were made possible with support from the Lions Club International Foundation, Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, and Consumer Technology Association Foundation. AFB is pleased to partner with these organizations to support technology literacy and create a more accessible, inclusive world for people with vision loss.
Joint AFB Leadership and Virginia AER Conference
AFB and the Virginia Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) are pleased to present the 2017 Joint AFB Leadership and Virginia AER Conference, which will cover the most pressing and relevant topics in the field of blindness and offer many opportunities to learn from the best and brightest minds in this field, make new connections, and reunite with old friends while earning continuing education units.
Held annually, the conference attracts established and emerging leaders in the field of blindness. Conference attendees include technology experts, corporate representatives, university professors, teachers of students with visual impairments, orientation and mobility instructors, rehabilitation professionals, and parents. They come from diverse organizations and institutions that span the public and private sectors, including school districts, schools for the blind, veterans’ administrations, hospitals, private agencies, and universities.
Join AFB on March 2–4, 2017, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va. For more information, visit http://www.afb.org/afblc.
The Maryland Society for Sight (MSS) is focused on preventing blindness and preserving sight for Marylanders. It works to achieve this mission with the Rosalie S. Sauber Preschool Vision Screening and Adult Vision Screening Programs, Mobile Eye Care for the Homeless Program, and Eye Safety Program. MSS provides vision screenings each year for the Maryland State legislators and their staff at the Maryland State House in conjunction with the Maryland Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons.
The Society’s accomplishments include developing lighting standards for classrooms and offices in the 1940s, restricting the sale of fireworks, and developing a model program for eye screening for preschoolers.
As a National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) Partnership organization, MSS collaborates with NEHEP to promote eye health education. The organization recently helped NEHEP with audience testing its new Glaucoma Toolkit. This consisted of MSS using the draft toolkit materials in a group setting. Facilitators conducted presentations using the toolkit materials for audiences at higher risk of glaucoma and then participated in interviews to let NEHEP know what they thought of the materials—specifically, how easy the materials were for facilitators to use, how they thought their audiences respond to the presentation (including language/tone of the content and images), whether the audiences appeared to understand the content, and if the content seemed to resonate with the audiences. MSS also provided feedback on recommendations for how to further improve the toolkit.
For more information on MSS and the programs and services it offers, visit http://www.mdsocietyforsight.org/index.htm.
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!