CDC Addresses Need for Eye Care with New Surveillance System

Vision loss is largely preventable, yet it still affects millions in the United States alone.

Loss of vision can negatively impact a patient’s independence, quality of life, performance in school or work, income, job attainment, and cost of treatment, according to a study published in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

To ensure that health care professionals, researchers, policymakers, and state health departments understand both the extent of eye disorders and vision loss, and the importance of accessible eye care services, the CDC has launched the United State’s first Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System (VEHSS), according to a CDC press release.

The site will allow patients, and health care providers to look up information about eye health at both state and national levels, according to the press release. Visitors will be able to gather data about the vision clarity and eye health of residents, analyze data on specific symptoms to create a case definition, analyze the prevalence of eye conditions, use of eye care services, and the differences in specific treatment and outcomes.

Information from various sources and several years are included in the data survey surveillance system, including national survey data, longitudinal population-based studies, registry data, electronic health records, and administrative claims that determine the prevalence of eye conditions.

Access to eye care is increasingly important, as an estimated 61 million adults in the United States are at a high risk for vision lost, with Americans older than age 40 spending $145 billion on treating major vision problems each year.

Education and awareness surrounding eye health is also pertinent, as early diagnosis and treatment can prevent up to 98% of vision loss and blindness within the United States, according to the CDC’s statement. Refractive errors and cataracts are the 2 most common sources of vision loss in adults and, fortunately, both can be prevented with access to existing treatment.

Other causes of vision loss, including genetic conditions, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, are still a concern that prompts the advancement of visual health care.

The CDC highlights the need for a stronger focus on visual health by sharing results from a recent nationwide poll, where many people responded that losing vision would be worse than losing memory, speech, hearing, or a limb.


Teutsch SM, Block SS, Coleman AL, et al. Making Eye Health a Population Health Imperative. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Accessed July 24, 2018.

CDC Launches the Nation’s First Vision and Eye Health Surveillance Survey [News release]. CDC website. Accessed July 24, 2018.