First National Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System

On July 23, 2018, the CDC launched the nation’s first Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System (VEHSS). The VEHSS is designed to help health care professionals, researchers, policymakers, and state health departments better understand the scope of vision loss, eye disorders, and eye care services in the United States.


An estimated 61 million adults in the United States are at high risk for serious vision loss, and the annual economic impact of major vision problems among Americans older than 40 is more than $145 billion. Additionally, in a nationwide poll, respondents across all ethnic and racial groups described loss of eyesight as the worst ailment that could happen to them relative to losing memory, speech, hearing, or a limb. Timely diagnosis and early treatment could prevent as much as 98 percent of visual impairment and blindness.


The data surveillance system integrates data from a number of sources across multiple years. Included are national survey data, longitudinal population-based studies, registry data, electronic health records, and administrative claims records that estimate eye condition prevalence.


Visitors to the VEHSS site can search for information about eye conditions and diseases at the state and national levels. They also can use the system to identify and collect existing data on residents’ vision and eye health and create case definitions to analyze data consistently across sources. Researchers could analyze data from the VEHSS site for the prevalence of eye disorders and disabilities, the use of eye health services, or health disparities in visual health treatment and outcomes.


The CDC’s Vision Health Initiative (VHI) and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago partnered to develop the VEHSS. VEHSS is intended to grow and improve over time based on input and the needs of the vision health community. The goals of the system include to investigate methods to leverage multiple existing data sources to create new estimates of the prevalence of vision loss and eye disease, disseminate the information developed by the system to key stakeholders, and respond to feedback to continually improve the quality and usefulness of the system.


See the CDC Announcement


See the CDC’s Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System website


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