Unite For Sight's Evidence-Based Public Health Programs

Evidence-based public health practices are developed and implemented based on strategies proven effective by valid scientific research. Public health programs must be accountable and based on scientific evidence.

Unite For Sight's programs apply best practices and evidence-based public health to eliminate preventable blindness. Our volunteers are trained in community-based public health and implement high-impact programs that reduce patient barriers to care.

The Problem: Preventable Blindness

"In the United States, approximately 3,000,000 people aged 40 years or older are visually impaired and 900,000 are legally blind. More than 40 % of blindness could be prevented or cured by provision of appropriate treatment in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, about half of potentially blinding eye disease remains undetected. Even among people who have regular access to the health care system, the prevalence of undetected eye disease is high. In the Baltimore Eye Survey, more than 85 % of previously undetected glaucoma cases had been examined by a physician within the past 12 months"--Wang, F., Tielsch, J. M., Ford, D. E., Quigley, H. A., & Whelton, P. K. (1998). Evaluation of screening schemes for eye disease in primary care setting. Ophthalmic Epidemiology , 69-82.

"Visual impairment and eye diseases are associated with increased morbidity and mortality as well as decreased quality of life. These problems affect people's activities of daily living, cause falls and injuries, and lead to depression and social isolation."--Zhang, X., Saaddine, J. B., Lee, P. P., Grabowski, D. C., Kanjilal, S., Duenas, M. R., Narayan, V. (2007). Eye Care in the United States: Do We Deliver to High-Risk People Who Can Benefit Most From It? Archives of Ophthalmology, 411-418.

"The total annual economic impact of ocular disorders in the United States exceeds $51 billion. Blindness and visual impairment from most eye diseases can be reduced with early detection and treatment."--Lee, D. J., Lam B. L., Arora, S., Arheart, K. A., McCollister, K. E., Zheng, D., Christ, S. L., Davila, E. P. (2009). Reported Eye Care Utilization and Health Insurance Status Among US Adults. Archives of Ophthalmology, 303-310.

"Millions of persons in the United States experience vision loss as a result of age-related eye diseases or uncorrected refractive error, and this vision loss results in considerable economic burden to the US economy. Furthermore, there is substantial disparity in realized or actual access to eye care services in the United States. Lack of awareness about the importance of regular eye care and associated health education issues contributes to lack of timely treatment of eye diseases...a recently released report based on responses to a Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) vision module suggests that cost and lack of insurance also contribute to the failure of Americans to seek eye care."--Zhang, X., Lee, P. L., Thompson, T. J., Sharma, S., Barker, L., Geiss, L. S., Imperatore, G., Gregg, E. W., Zhang, X., Saadine, J. B. (2008). Health Insurance Coverage and Use of Eye Care Services. Archives of Ophthalmology, 1121-1126.

Documented Patient Barriers to Eye Care

"Of the estimated 61 million adults in the United States classified as being at high risk for serious vision loss, we found that just slightly more than half had received a dilated eye examination in the past 12 months. Better targeting of resources and efforts toward people at high risk for whom cost-effective interventions exist may help reduce these disparities."--Zhang, X., Saaddine, J. B., Lee, P. P., Grabowski, D. C., Kanjilal, S., Duenas, M. R., Narayan, V. (2007). Eye Care in the United States: Do We Deliver to High-Risk People Who Can Benefit Most From It? Archives of Ophthalmology, 411-418.

"Cost or lack of sufficient insurance was identified as the most important barrier to getting a dilated fundus exam. Also frequently mentioned was not having any symptoms and being too busy."--Nancy J. Ellish, R. R.-S. (2007). Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs about Dilated Eye Examinations among African-Americans. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science , 1989-1994.

"In a recent 5-state survey of ocular health care utilization, the most common reason given for no eye care visit in the preceding 12 months as 'no reason to go.' Effective educational campaigns designed to educate the public on the need for periodic eye examinations are needed…Focus group data suggest that adults may view ocular health as distinct from, and perhaps less important than, their overall health because preventive ocular health care services are often not covered by health insurance."--Lee, D. J., Lam B. L., Arora, S., Arheart, K. A., McCollister, K. E., Zheng, D., Christ, S. L., Davila, E. P. (2009). Reported Eye Care Utilization and Health Insurance Status Among US Adults. Archives of Ophthalmology , 303-310.

"Issues that have a significant effect on the likelihood of individuals accessing eye care services include lack of awareness about vision and eye health, health beliefs (e.g., attitudes and values), and difficulty or inconvenience associated with getting an eye examination (e.g., waiting time and transportation)."--Zhang, X., Lee, P. L., Thompson, T. J., Sharma, S., Barker, L., Geiss, L. S., Imperatore, G., Gregg, E. W., Zhang, X., Saadine, J. B. (2008). Health Insurance Coverage and Use of Eye Care Services. Archives of Ophthalmology, 1121-1126.

Evidence-Based Solutions to Reduce Barriers

"The association between low eye care utilization rates and lack of, or inconsistent, health insurance coverage...suggests that overall ocular health care access would be enhanced if progress is made toward securing coverage for the 46.6 million Americans who do not currently have health insurance...[There are also] troubling gaps in eye care utilization among adults with health insurance coverage."--Lee, D. J., Lam B. L., Arora, S., Arheart, K. A., McCollister, K. E., Zheng, D., Christ, S. L., Davila, E. P. (2009). Reported Eye Care Utilization and Health Insurance Status Among US Adults. Archives of Ophthalmology, 303-310.

"Eye health education that influences people to see an ophthalmologist may be the single most important step we can take to prevent needless blindness...The available evidence on effectiveness of well-implemented education programs suggest that individuals' risk of vision loss can be reduced if we successfully encourage those at risk of blinding eye disease to obtain comprehensive ophthalmologic examination on a regular basis."--Javitt, J. C. (1995). Preventing Blindness in Americans: The Need For Eye Health Education. Survey of Ophthalmology, 41-44.

Available Free Eye Coverage Programs