Leading Public Health Groups Teaming Up To Help Promote Eye Health for Children
With back-to-school planning in full swing for parents and children, one important item must be added to the checklist– a vision screening or an eye exam. Problems with vision can have a profoundly negative impact on a child’s learning ability and overall development.
According to the National Eye Institute, nationally, two to five percent of children ages three to five have amblyopia (lazy eye), three to four percent have strabismus (crossed eyes), and 10-15 percent have significant refractive error. Additionally, children with known neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., hearing impairment, motor abnormalities such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, cognitive impairment, autism spectrum disorders, or speech delay) have a higher rate of vision problems than those without special healthcare needs and should be under the care of an ophthalmologist or optometrist. The good news is that most vision problems can be treated successfully if detected and treated early.
To help address the critical need for quality eye care services and programs, Prevent Blindness established the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health, with funding and leadership support from the HRSA- Maternal and Child Health Bureau. The goal of the National Center is to advance and promote children’s vision and eye health, and to provide leadership and training to public entities throughout the United States. The National Center is advised by a committee of national experts and leaders from the fields of ophthalmology, optometry, pediatrics, nursing, family advocates and public health to guide the work and recommendations of the Center.
This year, in an effort to promote eye health for children, The National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness is teaming up with Family Voices and its National Center for Family Professional Partnership (NCFPP) for August’s Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. Family Voices aims to achieve family-centered care for all children and youth with special health care needs and/or disabilities. Through a national network, Family Voices provides families with tools to make informed decisions, advocates for improved public and private policies, builds partnerships among professionals and families, and serves as a trusted resource on health care. Family Voices is a national nonprofit organization led by families of children with special health care needs at the board and staff leadership level nationally and in most states. The NCFPP supports funded Family to Family Health Information Centers in every state and DC.
The groups are offering families access to free information on a variety of children’s eye health topics, from UV safety, the Affordable Care Act and children’s vision services, to general eye health.
Fact sheets and additional resources are free to download at: http://nationalcenter.preventblindness.org/links-additional-resources-childrens-vision.
A media toolkit is available for organizations and individuals to help spread the word.
“By joining forces with Family Voices , we can work together to help educate parents not only on the importance of taking care of their children’s eyes, but also informing them of the services that are available to them,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “We believe that every child deserves a chance to perform his or her best in or out of the classroom and ensuring healthy vision is a terrific start.”
“Family Voices is pleased to join forces with Prevent Blindness in acknowledging August as National Children’s Vision and Eye Health month,” said Cristine Marchand, Executive Director of Family Voices. “Families with children with special health care needs often struggle to find providers who are trained and knowledgeable in diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders—not just whether the child can see clearly, but also whether he or she is able to accurately process what is seen. The valuable materials available through Prevent Blindness help expand awareness among both families and professionals. The heightened awareness is an important first step towards in ensuring that all children get the vision services they need.”
For more information about Prevent Blindness, The National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health, or general eye health, please visit http://nationalcenter.preventblindness.org/, or contact Kira Baldonado at KBaldonado@preventblindness.org.
For more information about Family Voices, the National Center for Family Professional Partnerships, or current programs please visit the websites at: www.fv-ncfpp.org and www.familyvoices.org or contact Nora Wells (NWells@familyvoices.org) and Beverly Baker (BBaker@familyvoices.org) , Co-Directors, NCFPP, Family Voices, Inc.