2009 Healthy Vision Month Highlights

Improving the Nation’s Vision Heath

May is Healthy Vision Month

May is Healthy Vision Month. This year, the national eye health observance focuses on promoting the importance of getting regular eye exams.

We mark May as Healthy Vision Month by celebrating the joint efforts of CDC, its partner the National Eye Institute (NEI), and many other collaborators, to promote healthy vision for all Americans. The focus for this year is Healthy People Vision Objective 28-3: reduce uncorrected visual impairment due to refractive errors. More than 11 million Americans have uncorrected refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and/or presbyopia that can benefit from the use of corrective eyewear such as glasses or contact lenses.[1] These uncorrected refractive errors could have a negative effect on development, learning, communication, working, health, and on quality of life.

Healthy People 2010

Sponsored by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy People 2010 identifies the most significant preventable threats to health and establishes national goals to reduce these threats. The Healthy Vision 2010 addresses visual impairment due to eye disease and refractive error; regular eye examinations for children and adults; vision screening for pre-school children; injury prevention; and vision rehabilitation.

For more information on Healthy People 2010 and uncorrected visual impairment, please visit the Healthy Vision Month 2009.

Vision Health Initiative: A Coordinated Public Health Approach

Promoting the reduction of uncorrected visual impairment is but one of CDC Division of Diabetes Translation’s many vision health activities. Through the Vision Health Initiative, CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation and a diverse cohort of stakeholders are implementing a coordinated national public health framework to prevent vision impairment and blindness.

Vision impairment and blindness are major public health problems that cause substantial human and economic toll on individuals and society. In fact, more than 3.4 million (3%) Americans 40 years and older are either blind or are visually impaired and millions more are at risk for developing vision impairment and blindness. These impairments often affect people’s ability to drive, read, learn, watch television, or simply attend to common household or personal tasks. Among mature adults, reduced vision has been shown to result in social isolation, increased risk of falling and resultant hip fractures, depression, family stress, and ultimately a greater tendency to be disabled or to die prematurely.

To tackle these issues, the Vision Health Initiative provides key comprehensive and coordinated vision health strategies and activities such as:

  • Enhancing national and state specific data collection to better assess the burden of vision loss, eye diseases, and utilization of eye care such as including standardized vision tests and vision-related questions in national and state surveys (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, NHANES, and Behavioral risk factor Surveillance System, BRFSS)[2]
  • Exploring innovative mechanisms to collect and use existing vision and eye health data to measure and monitor vision loss and eye diseases.
  • Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of prevention and treatment interventions to improve vision and eye health (e.g., the multiple eye disease simulation model [MEDS])[3]
  • Integrating vision health activities within existing state public health programs, resources, and priorities to create a more coordinated public health approach. We must not disassociate vision health from the prevention and management of diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking cessation efforts, and children heath and wellness.
  • Developing and evaluating model health programs that reach groups most affected by vision loss and eye diseases, including people with diabetes, minorities, the elderly, and the socially isolated as well as economically disadvantaged communities.

CDC and its partners stand ready to work together to create a more effective multilevel network for vision loss prevention and eye health promotion. Ultimately, a clear strategy is needed to promote and sustain the nation’s vision health efforts. Together, we can assure the attainment of the Healthy People vision objectives and thereby greatly influence the vision health and quality of life for all people.

To learn more and get involved in the Vision Health Initiative, please visit our site.

More Information


  1. Vitale S, Cotch MF, Sperduto RD. Prevalence of visual impairment in the United States. JAMA 2006; 295(18):2158-63.
  2. BRFSS Web site
  3. Rein DB, Saaddine JB, Wittenborn JS, Wirth KE, Hoerger TJ, Venkat Narayan KM, Clemons T, Sorensen SW. Cost-effectiveness of vitamin therapy for age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalmol 2007; 114(7).