Since 1908, Prevent Blindness, the United Nation’s oldest not-for-profit voluntary eye health organization, has worked to provide services and programmes to protect vision in the United States with its sole to mission to “prevent blindness and preserve sight.”
Prevent Blindness has an extensive history of accomplishments. In addition to our founders’ efforts to eliminate ophthalmia neonatorum as a leading cause of infant blindness (1908-17), other notable achievements include developing the first widely-used industrial eye safety programme (1930); advising the federal government on eye safety in thousands of war-related plants (1943); organizing the first volunteer glaucoma screening programme (1944); educating the American public about complications of blindness from German measles (1948); introducing glaucoma screenings to family physicians (1956); lobbying Congress to establish the National Eye Institute (1967); securing the passage of a federal law banning hazardous toys (1969); spearheading legislation to require impact resistant lenses in eyewear (1972); and launching the first public education programmes on diabetic eye disease (1981).
Today, Prevent Blindness, and its affiliates, have expanded the mission to serve millions of Americans across the age spectrum by raising awareness and educating the public about conditions related to vision and eye health; advocating for vision health-related public policy; promoting early detection as a key to the prevention of vision loss and blindness; supporting public health research to identify the scope of vision problems across the United States; and producing expert-reviewed resources that meet patient and caregiver needs.
Our more recent history has seen the organization evolve into one focused on implementing systems-level changes to impact vision and eye health and more broadly support the needs of growing numbers of individuals impacted by vision problems. Such efforts include advocating for the establishment and funding of a vision health initiative at the CDC (2003); leading the development of the Congressional Vision Caucus (2004); publishing data on the current and forecasted prevalence of vision problems (2002, 2008, 2012, 2014) and their associated costs (2007, 2013, 2014); establishing the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness (2009) and the Center for Vision and Population Health at Prevent Blindness (2018); and convening the annual “Focus on Eye Health National Summit” in Washington, D.C. (2012 through present). The recently launched A.S.P.E.C.T. Program promotes patient engagement, awareness, leadership, and advocacy.
In the last year alone, Prevent Blindness and its network of affiliates and volunteer, have:
- Provided direct eye care services to more than 1.3 million adults and children, including certified vision screenings, referrals to eye care professionals, and more
- Helped distribute more than 15,000 vouchers for free eye exams and prescription eyeglasses
- Provided free eye health and safety education to more than 898,000 Americans
- Provided professional training and technical assistance to more than 2.1 million individuals
- Shaped vision health policy through 742 outreach efforts to state and federal legislators
These services were made possible thanks to the support of the American public, our corporate sponsors and many programme partners, including the IAPB. Prevent Blindness continues to advance its important mission in 2021 and beyond. By working together with leading organizations across the fields of public health, advocacy, communications and research, we can continue to help save the precious gift of sight.