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Armed Service Offers Extensive Vision Benefits

Washington, D.C. (October 11, 2006) – In an effort to educate parents about the importance of vision care for children, Check Yearly and Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) partnered last month to distribute vision health kits to librarians. Over 40,000 kits were distributed to public librarians, elementary school librarians and RIF volunteers and within one month, requests for an additional 2.4 million educational materials were received from librarians across the country.

“Partnering with librarians is great because it gives us grassroots access to millions of families,” said Robert Philips, director of marketing and communications for the Vision Council of America (VCA). “We hope that the vision health kits will empower librarians to promote the important link between healthy vision and a child's ability to read.

The kit includes a poster of the “Here Kitty, Kitty.” public service advertisement and a “Dewey Decimal Scavenger Hunt” a fun and educational activity that combines vision health education and using the Dewey Decimal system. In addition, there is a “Parents’ Guide to Reading Success for Children” that can be photocopied and distributed to parents.

Many librarians expressed gratitude for the free educational materials, citing the need for parents to understand the importance of vision care for their children. “Thank you for offering the vision health education kit! Being able to read is so important,” said Crystal McCurdy, Vandalia Branch Manager for the Mexico Audrain County Library in Missouri. “We take our children for wellness checkups but we often forget to take them to the eye doctor. This information will be great to hang and pass out to our patrons.”

For more information about Check Yearly or to obtain a copy of the library vision health kit, visit www.checkyearly.com or contact Stephanie Campbell, VCA manager of professional and consumer relations, at 703-548-4560 ext. 266, or via e-mail at scampbell@visionsite.org.

||Vision Council Member News||Librarians Join with Check Yearly to Promote Eye Exams 5888|International Vision Expo East Provides Forum for VCA Member Meetings|

Washington, D.C. (April 26, 2006) – During last month’s International Vision Expo East held in New York, NY, the Vision Council of America (VCA) participated in various committee meetings: Anti-Reflective (AR), Credit, Lens Marking, Lens Technical, Statistics, Government Relations and Exhibitor Advisory. These meetings provide an opportunity for members to work on important industry issues.

New committee chairs were nominated at International Vision Expo East for the Credit, Government Relations, Lens Marking and Statistics Committees. Accepting these positions are:

 

 

  • Credit Committee: Kimberly Conley, Signet Armorlite, Inc. and Denise Boock, Vision-Ease Lens (co-chairs)
  • Government Relations Committee: R. Michael Daley, Essilor Lenses and Joel Zaba, O.D. (co-chairs)
  • Lens Marking Committee: Dave Cuffe, Essilor Lenses
  • Statistics Committee: Barbara Wagner, Santinelli International

 

“We achieve many of VCA’s goals and objectives through the work and expertise that these committees bring to VCA,” saidBill Thomas, CEO and executive vice president of VCA. “The chairmen of these various committees are dedicated to our mission and their leadership will greatly help VCA to better the optical industry. I congratulate each of them for stepping forward to assume these important industry roles.”

 

 

VCA’s division and committee meetings offer members a chance to discuss and act on current and future issues facing the optical industry. These meetings are held throughout the year, many in conjunction with International Vision Expo tradeshows.

 

 

For more information on how you can get more involved with VCA, please contact Elaine Kennedy, manager of membership, at (703) 548-4560 ext. 242, or via e-mail at ekennedy@visionsite.org. ||Vision Council Member News||New Committee Chairs Named 5887|Children’s Vision Bill Introduced in House of Representatives|

Washington, D.C. (October 2, 2006) – U.S. Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY), with lead sponsors Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Gene Green (D-TX) and John Sullivan (R-OK), this week introduced the “Kids Vision Care Act of 2006” (H.R. 6227), to increase the number of children who receive vision care. If enacted, the bill would allocate funds for states to treat vision problems in children, as well as to educate residents about healthy vision.

The legislation, which is supported by the alliance of the Vision Council of America (VCA), AmericanAcademy of Ophthalmology, the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, the American Optometric Association and Prevent Blindness America, focuses on providing children the follow-up care needed after being identified by a vision screening or comprehensive eye exam.

“Uniting to support one piece of legislation is a major victory for the optical community,” noted Ed Greene, VCA chief executive officer. “We are extremely pleased that the alliance has remained dedicated to policy, rather than politics, and have succeeded in introducing that policy in the Senate and now in the House of Representatives.”

The bill serves as a companion to the “Vision Care for Kids Act” (S. 3685), introduced by Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond in July. The lead sponsors for the House legislation sit on the Energy and Commerce committee, the committee of jurisdiction for Health and Human Services-related legislation. This is advantageous, as it will allow the bill to move more quickly through the legislative process.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only one in three children received a vision screening or eye exam before entering kindergarten. Since nearly two-thirds of children who fail vision screenings do not comply with recommended treatment, many children enter school with uncorrected vision problems.

“Addressing the large number of children who receive no follow-up vision care is a common goal throughout the vision community. With the support of the allied vision organizations, we can be able to make great inroads on this important issue,” noted Greene.

VCA encourages all members of the vision community to contact their Congressman and ask him or her to support this legislation. For more information on the “Kids Vision Care Act for 2006” or to write to your Congressman, please visit www.2020advocacy.com.

||Vision Council Member News||Optical Allies Unite on Companion Senate Legislation 5886|VCA/AARP Partnership Reaches Over 15 Million in its First Month|

Washington, D.C. (November 28, 2006) –The Vision Council of America (VCA) and AARP’s partnership to promote the importance of vision care for Baby Boomers has had a very successful first month. The highlight of this partnership was a public service advertisement (PSA) campaign that, since its launch, has generated more than 13,000 media placements, reaching over 15.5 million Americans.

 

The PSAs, endorsed by the Ad Council – the preeminent authority on PSAs – were distributed to approximately 10,000 print and broadcast media outlets. In addition, they were distributed though VCA and AARP grassroots networks.

 

“We are extremely happy with the results we’ve seen so far,” said Ed Greene, VCA chief executive officer. “Already the PSA campaign has a 2:1 return on investment, confirming the fact that PSAs are a very cost-effective way to get our Check Yearly messages to the public.”

 

Additionally, as part of the campaign’s launch, a video news release (VNR) was created to educate Americans about age-related vision problems. The VNR featured Elaine G. Hathaway, M.D., an ophthalmologist and member of VCA’s Better Vision Institute, VCA’s medical advisory board, and included clips from the television PSA. In total, the VNR reached over 100,000 Americans generating an increased interest about the issue.

 

“Eye health for those over 40 is an important issue and through the success of the PSA campaign we are able to raise awareness among the Baby Boomer population about the need for regular eye exams,” said Greene.

 

To view the PSA, visit www.checkyearly.com. For more information, please contact Susan Welsh, VCA senior manager of public relations, at 703-548-4560 or via e-mail at swelsh@visionsite.org.

||Vision Council Member News|| 5819|Experts Eye Advances in Children’s Vision Care|Washington, D.C. (April 4, 2007) – Leading researchers and experts convened today in an unprecedented summit on children’s vision health. The Vision Summit, held on the heels of recently introduced federal children’s vision legislation, provided a unique opportunity for vision health advocates to review the national research and state-based programs to enhance vision care for children.

 

Despite the fact that visual impairment can lead to lifelong vision loss, two in three children do not receive any preventive vision care before starting elementary school. What’s more, almost a third of students never receive an eye exam before graduating high school.

 

 

The Better Vision Institute (BVI), a group composed of ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians, used its first-ever Vision Summit to address this issue by reviewing the latest data, best practices for vision screenings and eye exams, and the effectiveness of different state policy models to provide children’s vision care.

 

 

“The Vision Summit is a ‘meeting of the minds’ for children’s vision health,” said Cathy Doty, OD, a pediatric optometrist and immediate past-chairman of the BVI. “Our goal was to bring cross-disciplinary thought leaders together to objectively assess where we currently stand and to plan for how we can improve the vision care system for future generations.”

 

 

Attendees at theSummitincluded representatives from the vision, healthcare and education fields. Speakers from the National Eye Institute shared current research at the national level with attendees, including highlights from the Vision in Preschoolers Study – a clinical study to assess the accuracy of multiple vision screening tests. Additionally, representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed research on visual impairment and the use of eyecare services among children.

 

 

On the state level, experts discussed implementation of recently enacted children’s vision care policy. Since 1999, seven states have passed legislation to increase the number of children who receive vision care. Speakers from five of these states provided “lessons learned” on their individual states policy, ranging from vision problem identification to treatment protocols.

 

 

Children’s vision care will remain a priority inWashington,D.C.With bipartisan support, The House of Representatives introduced the “Vision Care for Kids Act of 2007” in January to treat vision problems in children, as well as to educate Americans about healthy vision. The Senate complement of the bill will be introduced in April.

 

 

“By taking a look at children’s vision care from both a national and state level, we can provide Summit attendees with the full picture of what is going on to improve the current system,” said Doty. “We hope thatSummit attendees will leaveWashingtonwith new tools, resources and contacts to help them in their efforts to improve children’s vision health.”

 

 

For more about the speakers and research presented at the Vision Summit, please visit www.bettervisioninstitute.org. Additional information regarding children’s vision care can be found at www.2020advocacy.com.  ||Vision Council Member News||Federal, State and Local Thought-Leaders Gather at First-Ever Vision Summit 5820|U.S. Senate Supports Vision Care for Kids|

Washington, D.C. (April 18, 2007) – With bipartisan support, the S. 1117, the “Vision Care for Kids Act of 2007” was introduced today in the U.S. Senate. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-MO) – who was diagnosed with amblyopia as a child – and Christopher Dodd (D-CT), aims to provide children with follow-up care needed after being identified with a potential vision problem by a comprehensive eye exam or vision screening.

“The Vision Council of America applauds Senator Bond and Senator Dodd for their leadership and ongoing commitment to strengthening the vision health of the nation's children,” said Ed Greene, chief executive officer of the Vision Council of America. “We strongly support and commend the Senators for crafting a very thoughtful and achievable piece of legislation that will have a great impact for generations to come.”

S. 1117 is supported by the alliance of the Vision Council of America, the AmericanAcademy of Ophthalmology, the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, the American Optometric Association, Better Vision Institute and Prevent Blindness America. This legislation serves as a complement to H.R. 507, identical legislation introduced earlier this year in the House of Representatives and is advantageous, as it will expedite the legislative process.

“With the overwhelming support from the vision community, the Senate legislation has many legs to stand on,” continued Greene. “Now that we have House and Senate bills, we look forward to working with our optical allies to help move this legislation forward.”

VCA encourages all members of the vision community to contact their congressman and ask him or her to support this legislation. For more information on the “Vision Care for Kids Act for 2007” or to write to your congressman, visit www.2020advocacy.com.

||Vision Council Member News||Sens. Bond and Dodd lead bill to improve children’s vision care 5891|Check Yearly Partners with National Association for Sport and Physical Education to Promote Sports Eye Safety|Alexandria, VA (August 23, 2007) – In an effort to educate physical education teachers, coaches and parents about the importance of eye safety in sports for children, Check Yearly. See Clearly. and the National Association for Sport & Physical Education (NASPE) have partnered to distribute eye safety kits. Over 20,000 kits were distributed to NASPE members and physical education teachers earlier this month.

 

“Partnering with NASPE is great because it gives us grassroots access to teachers and coaches in thousands of communities,” said Ed Greene, CEO for the Vision Council of America (VCA). “We hope that the eye safety kits will empower them to promote the importance of wearing sports protective eyewear.”

 

 

The kit includes a vibrant poster highlighting the ‘do’s and ‘don’ts’ of emergency eye care treatment. In addition, the kit also provides teachers and coaches with a fact sheet, “Help Protect Your Child’s Vision,” that can be photocopied and distributed to parents.

 

 

“With this kit, we are enabling our physical education teachers and coaches to really drive home the importance of sports eye safety to their students and team members,” said Charlene R. Burgeson, Executive Director of NASPE. “By educating children about eye safety early in life, we hope they will remember to take care of their vision throughout life.”

 

 

In only one week, requests have already been received for hundreds of additional eye safety kits. Many recipients expressed gratitude for the kits, citing the need for parents to understand the importance of preventing sports-related eye injuries. “Thank you…students need visual reminders,” said Kathy Kent, a physical education and health teacher inSimpsonville,South Carolina. “I also intend to give one to my eyecare professional in our town.”

 

 

For more information about Check Yearly or to obtain a copy of the eye safety kit, visit www.checkyearly.com or contact Stephanie Campbell, VCA manager of professional and consumer relations, at 703-548-4560 ext. 9498, or via e-mail at scampbell@visionsite.org. ||Vision Council Member News||Vision health kits distributed to 20,000 coaches and teachers 5822|Smoking Among African Americans Poses Serious Risks to Vision Health|Washington, D.C. (December 13, 2007)– As debilitating vision disorders are increasingly linked to smoking, health officials are especially concerned that high rates of smoking among African Americans put them at serious risk for major eye problems. At the time of year when people are making resolutions to improve their health, the Vision Council of America (VCA) today urged African Americans to protect themselves from eye problems triggered by smoking.

 

 

While the dangers of smoking in relation to heart and lung health are widely known, few people are aware that smoking has also been linked to several eye diseases. Smoking is the second leading cause of cataracts and, according to VCA, smokers on average develop cataracts 10-15 years sooner than nonsmokers. Smoking is also identified as a primary risk factor for age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. Heavy smokers (a pack of cigarettes a day or more) have two to three times the risk of developing this disease.

 

 

Ophthalmologist Mildred M.G. Olivier, M.D. says the harmful effects of smoking on the African American community are disproportionately high when compared to other racial groups.

 

 

“In addition to having higher smoking rates, African Americans are also less likely to have access to medical care,” says Olivier. “They are liable to go without routine checkups - including eye exams - which can detect diseases that hit this community hard, including diabetes, hypertension and glaucoma.”  Eye exams can also prevent permanent vision loss by detecting serious eye diseases at the early stages when they are most treatable.

 

 

“Armed with this knowledge, African Americans can do two things that will immediately improve their health,” says Olivier. “They can schedule an eye exam, and those who smoke can quit. Taking these steps could save them and their families immeasurable pain, suffering and expense.”

 

 

There are several warning signs of potential vision disorders. VCA recommends that African Americans, both smokers and non-smokers, be vigilant for the following symptoms of eye problems:

 

  • Trouble seeing objects at near or far distances
  • Colors that seem faded
  • Poor night vision
  • Double or multiple vision
  • Loss of peripheral (side) vision
  • Redness and discomfort from a fleshy growth over the eye surface

||Vision Council Member News||Risk of Smoking-Related Eye Diseases on the Rise 5823|Vision Council of America Encourages Eye Health for Members of the Military|

Washington, D.C. (December 11, 2007) – In support of the men and women serving in the U.S. military, the Vision Council of America (VCA) is encouraging service members to take advantage of the various vision health benefits available to them and their families, including regular eye exams. In addition to determining the need for eyeglasses and detecting vision problems such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration, eye exams can serve as an early warning system for other health conditions.
 
Eye examinations can help identify diseases and health problems including diabetes and high blood pressure, says ophthalmologist Elaine G. Hathaway, M.D.  “Eye diseases can also be detected in their early stages, before they cause vision loss and when they are most treatable.

Fortunately, vision health benefits are available for all branches of the armed services, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Commission Corps of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Benefits are available for Active Duty personnel, Retirees, Reservists and Guard members called to Activity and some family members.

General vision benefits are available to active duty family members, who are eligible for one comprehensive ophthalmologic eye exam annually. Pediatric vision screening is available at birth and six months of age and comprehensive exams are authorized every other year between the ages of three and six. Diabetic patients of all ages are eligible for comprehensive eye exams every year.

Dr. Hathaway says that while she encourages vision care for everyone, it is especially critical for men and women in the military to take advantage of vision benefits. “They are in vulnerable positions every day, and at the very least, they should know that their eyes are healthy,” she says. “Members of the military have better vision benefits and more access to them than at any other time in history, so we hope they take advantage of that and take care of themselves.”

Active Duty members are also eligible for lenses or eyeglasses, and other plan participants share costs for treatment of other conditions such as dry eyes, irregularities in eye shape, and loss of human lens function.
 
Aside from visiting an eye doctor for an eye exam, there are several warning signs of potential vision disorders. VCA recommends that military men and women be vigilant of the following symptoms of eye problems:

  • Trouble seeing objects at near or far distances
  • Colors that seem faded
  • Poor night vision (increase in glare and halos)
  • Double or multiple vision
  • Loss of peripheral (side) vision
  • Redness and discomfort from a fleshy growth over the eye surface

For more information on vision benefits, members of the military should contact their local beneficiary counseling, assistance coordinator or health benefits advisor, or military treatment facility.