For the first time, vision objectives have been included in Healthy People 2010, a national
disease prevention initiative that identifies opportunities to improve the health of all Americans.
"The addition of vision objectives to Healthy People is a real milestone and gives vision a
prominent place on the public health agenda," said Dr. Carl Kupfer, director of the National Eye
Institute, one of the Federal government's National Institutes of Health. "Our long term
investment in clinical and basic vision research demonstrates that vision plays a significant role in
the nation's public health."
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy People identifies
the most significant preventable threats to health, and establishes national goals to reduce these
threats. Earlier versions of Healthy People--one in 1979 and a second in 1990--did not include
The vision objectives in Healthy People 2010 are included in a chapter combining vision and
hearing, which states that the national goal is to "improve the visual and hearing health of the
nation through prevention, early detection, treatment, and rehabilitation." The chapter addresses
visual impairment due to diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma,
cataract, and refractive error, saying that "visual impairment is associated with loss of personal
independence, decreased quality of life, and difficulty maintaining employment. For older adults,
visual problems have a pronounced negative impact on quality of life, equivalent to that of
life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and cancer."
Other vision objectives include increasing the proportion of people who have regular dilated eye
examinations and the number of children ages five and under who have vision screenings.
Regarding vision in children, Healthy People 2010 says that "visual impairment is associated
with developmental delays and the need for special educational, vocational, and social services."
The chapter also calls visual impairment "one of the 10 most frequent causes of disability in
America" and discusses the importance of vision rehabilitation.
Most states and many localities use the Healthy People framework to guide local health policies
and programs. Over 350 national membership organizations and 250 state health, mental health,
substance abuse, and environmental agencies have joined the Healthy People Consortium and
are working together with Federal and state agencies to advance health objectives.
"Several organizations came together to lay the groundwork for the Healthy People 2010 vision
objectives," Dr. Kupfer said. "Now it's time for all eye health professionals and other consumer
and industry advocates of improved visual health to come together as a community to build
upon this national blueprint. The vision community needs to incorporate these objectives in their
agencies, practices, and clinics and integrate them in their strategic plans. We need to approach
our agencies and professional associations and encourage them to actively support these
objectives. We must build public-private partnerships and educate other groups in our
communities about why these objectives are important to our nation's health.
"The vision community must take a leadership role in implementing strategies that support the
Healthy People 2010 objectives," Dr. Kupfer said. "I challenge every advocate for better vision
to become an important resource in implementing the Healthy People 2010 objectives by
encouraging people to take better care of their eyes."
For more information about the Healthy People 2010 objectives, contact Rosemary Janiszewski
of the National Eye Institute at 301-496-5248 or visit the NEI web site at