Skip to content

Prevent Blindness Will Leverage World Sight Day and Love Your Eyes to Advance Important Children’s Vision and Eye Health Legislation in the United States

Published: 21.05.2024
Sara Brown Director of Government Affairs
Prevent Blindness

Awareness Campaigns such as World Sight Day and its Love Your Eyes initiative can serve many purposes.  This year, Prevent Blindness will be leveraging this important campaign to help advance important federal legislation recently introduced in the United States.  2024’s World Sight Day focus on children’s eye health comes at a fortuitous time for us, as we recently championed the introduction of the Early Detection of Vision Impairment for Children (EDVI) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Currently, significant disparities exist in children’s vision and eye health outcomes and access to eye care across the United States.  State laws to address children’s vision vary widely in approaches and often lack protocols for referrals to eye care providers and documentation to ensure eye care was received. States may also lack the necessary resources to adequately capture the scope of the problem, leading to challenges in addressing existing disparities in care. Further, despite the presence of numerous public health programs that support early childhood development, including children’s hearing and oral health, there is currently no federally funded program in the United States that specifically addresses children’s vision and eye health.  

The EDVI Act, which would establish grants for states, communities, and tribes to improve children’s vision and eye health through coordinated systems of care, is a bipartisan proposal, co-sponsored by U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis (a Republican from Florida) and U.S. Representative Marc Veasey (a Democrat from Texas). Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the U.S. Senate. 

States will be able to utilize grant funds provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration to Implement vision screenings and other interventions for the early detection of vision concerns in children, referrals for eye exams, and follow-up mechanisms; identify barriers in access to eye care; reduce disparities in eye health; and/or develop state-based data collection, surveillance, and performance improvement systems. Resources will also be allocated to establish a national level technical assistance center at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide guidance to any state or community implementing children’s vision programs, conduct national surveillance, and to advance population health research priorities in children’s vision. 

So, as the International Agency to Prevent Blindness (IAPB) uses World Sight Day to rally “millions of voices to cast a spotlight on children’s eye care and champion eye health for all young people….to create a world where every child has eye health that is accessible, available, and affordable,” Prevent Blindness will be leveraging this energy to urge the U.S. Congress to move swiftly to pass the EDVI legislation. 

Prevent Blindness is pleased to have garnered support for the EDVI Act across a broad spectrum of public health organizations.  The American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Optometry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, the American Optometric Association,  the American Society of Ophthalmic Registered Nurses, the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, the Children’s Vision Equity Alliance, Family Voices, First Focus Campaign for Children, the Healthy Schools Campaign, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, the National Association of School Nurses, the School-Based Health Alliance, and The Vision Council are joining the call for its passage, and more will be joining on as well. 

During the month leading up to World Sight Day (September 10-October 10), Prevent Blindness will leverage the Love Your Eyes campaign assets to continue our push for passage of the EDVI Act by hosting a Congressional Briefing; highlighting screening/education events around the country; engaging our affiliates, volunteers, and partner organizations; utilizing our many social media outlets; and more…all to encourage the public to show support of the EDVI Act and its goal of promoting children’s vision and eye health by contacting their Members of Congress and asking them to support passage of this legislation.   

We are asking U.S. citizens or residents to contact their Representative by visiting the Prevent Blindness Legislative Action Center. Implementing the EDVI Act will take a systems-based, coordinated effort among a broad spectrum of stakeholders to ensure all children have access to the care necessary to avoid preventable vision loss and blindness. World Sight Day and the Love Your Eyes Campaign will play an important role in making this happen!