Section 1: From the Field - Assess Vision and Eye Health in Your Community

Using Data to Create Fact Sheets That Show a Picture of the Problem

Thumbnail of Ohio vision fact sheet

Fact sheet available at Ohio State Profile.

When Dean VanNasdale of The Ohio State University (OSU) began working with Marc Molea of the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) to assess vision impairment in Ohio, they quickly realized that they would need to use multiple data sources to find the information they wanted.

From the beginning of the project, Dean and Marc knew they wanted to describe the level of vision impairment at both the state and county level. They also wanted to understand how vision impairment is related to factors such as self-reported overall health status and education level. Their curiosity led them to seek data from the BRFSS and ACS. They then used the data they found to develop a state profile to educate key stakeholders, including the governor and state legislators, about vision impairment in Ohio.

The Ohio state profile was so well-received that officials in CDC’ s VHI and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) wanted to create similar profiles for every US state. Dean worked with CDC and NACDD to expand the state profile to include information about injuries from falls and coexisting conditions such as diabetes and arthritis. Data were collected from the BRFSS and the ACS, including data on falls reported in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The resulting state profiles are posted on CDC’s State Profiles on Vision and Eye Health website. States can download and use these profiles to educate stakeholders about vision impairment.

Dean and Marc offered the following suggestions to other agencies interested in conducting a comprehensive assessment of vision and eye health in their state:

  • Start by using the data in the existing state profile for your state, available at CDC’s State Profiles on Vision and Eye Health website.
  • Remember that the VEHSS is a great resource that uses data from multiple sources to help public health practitioners, health professionals, researchers, policy makers, and patients understand the scope of vision loss, eye disorders, and eye care services in the United States.
  • More data are probably available than you realize. The resources described in this toolkit can provide a wealth of information.

About the Experts in the Field

Dean VanNasdale, PhD, OD is a faculty member at OSU’s College of Optometry and an NACDD vision grantee. Much of his research focuses on population health data analysis. He led the development of the state profiles on the CDC’s website that describe the burden of vision impairment.

Marc Molea, AICP, MHA formerly served as the Chief of Strategic Partnerships for the ODA. His responsibilities included the development of elder-friendly, person-centered programs and services.