NASEM Report

New NASEM Report on Public Health Approaches to Reduce Vision Impairment

“The long-term goal of a population health approach for eye and vision health should be to transform vision impairment from a common to a rare condition, reducing associated health inequities.”

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), previously known as the Institute of  Medicine (IOM), has released a new report titled Making Eye Health a Population Health Imperative: Vision for TomorrowExternal. The report notes, “Avoidable vision impairment occurs too frequently in the United States and is the logical result of a series of outdated assumptions, missed opportunities, and manifold shortfalls in public health policy and health care delivery.” This report provides a population health approach to improve vision and eye health and increase health equity, and it identifies nine recommendations to guide science, policy, and interventions at the federal, state, and local levels. A video of the report release can be found hereExternal.

eye bulbThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Vision Health Initiative (VHI) collaborates with state and national partners to improve eye health, reduce vision loss and blindness, control eye disease and eye injury, and promote the health of people with vision loss. As one of the key sponsorsExternal of this landmark NASEM report, CDC will evaluate how the recommendations can be incorporated into VHI activities and will work with partners to achieve the goal of improving eye and vision health.


cartoon of a group of people sitting at a round table, with laptopsIn 2013, CDC’s Vision Health Initiative began to formulate the concept of an National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) consensus study on vision and public health. In 2014, CDC authored the scope of work to include limitations and opportunities to improve vision and eye health surveillance; reduce vision and eye health disparities; promote evidence-based strategies to improve knowledge, access, and utilization to eye care; identify comorbid conditions and characterize their impact; and promote health for people with vision impairment. NASEM was also asked to examine the potential for public and private collaborations at the community, state, and national levels to elevate vision and eye health as a public health issue.

In fall 2014, CDC’s Vision Health Initiative provided initial funding to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct this study, and subsequently other sponsors, including Prevent Blindness, the National Eye Institute, Research to Prevent Blindness, the American Academy of Optometry, the American Optometric Association, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, and the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health, contributed to this work.


1. Characterizing the Public Health Burden. Describe and characterize the public health significance of eye diseases and vision loss, and the relationship between vision loss and quality of life, health disparities, and comorbid conditions. Identify opportunities to improve surveillance, monitoring, and data integration strategies and define metrics to support a more accurate assessment of the public health burden of eye diseases and vision loss.

2. Prevention and Care. Explore innovative models of care and technologies and their application to eye disease or vision impairment detection and management, as well as barriers to their development and use. Examine and explore current and future areas of research on public health interventions that target prevention; access to, and use of, vision and eye care; and improved patient outcomes.

3. Evidence-Based Health Promotion Interventions. Identify strategies to develop, test, and encourage the implementation of evidence-based health promotion interventions for people with vision impairment.

4. Eye Health and Vision Loss as a Public Health Priority. Categorize and discuss the possible short- and long-term collaborative strategies to promote vision and eye health as a public health priority. This includes (1) the role of public-private partnerships (e.g., improve public awareness; improve vision and eye care through federal, state, and community-based partnerships; and enhance professional education); (2) the role of federal government and state and local communities in integrating vision and eye health interventions into existing public health programs (including systems and policy changes that support vision and eye health) that can both be put into action and sustained; and (3) engagement of key national partners to form collaborations for research, service delivery, outreach, and community-based studies to successfully improve access to and quality of vision and eye care.

Committee Members

Steven M. Teutsch, MD, MPH
Committee Chair

Sandra S. Block, OD, MEd

Anne L. Coleman, MD, PhD

Kevin Frick, PhD

Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH

Lori Grover, OD, PhD

Eve Higginbotham, MD

Peter D. Jacobson, JD, MPH

Edwin C. Marshall, OD, MS, MPH

Joyal Mulheron, MS

Christopher Maylahn, MPH

Sharon Terry, MA

Rohit Varma, MD, MPH

Heather E. Whitson, MD, MHS

For additional information regarding this study, please see the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine websiteExternal.