Vision loss is a serious public health problem in the United States and will get worse in the next 30 years due to the aging of the population, increasing in chronic diseases affecting the eye and vision, and changing demographics of the US population. There are significant variations among demographic groups in vision outcomes. Therefore, the vision and eye care communities have identified the reduction of population disparities in visual loss and in access to eye care services as top public health priorities in Healthy People 2020.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) convened an expert panel of 14 national and international experts, to identify action steps and priorities to strengthen national and state surveillance systems in assessing and monitoring disparities in eye health, vision loss, and access to eye care over time and responding to national, state, and local needs. The product of the meeting is eight papers that are published in a supplement at the American Journal of Ophthalmology.
The panel members agreed on how such a surveillance system would work and what the minimal content of such a system might entail. A vision surveillance system needs to:
- Link data collection and analyses with ongoing public health interventions to improve eye health disparities.
- Effectively assess vision loss and utilization of eye care.
- Include defined populations to assess the disparities in vision loss and in utilization of eye care services.
- Include and sustain ophthalmic/vision measurements and question components within national surveys.
- Be forged among federal agencies and other stakeholders to monitor the nation's eye health and eye care utilization for trends in disparity.