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Prevent Blindness Ohio issues report with data on prevalence of eye disease and its impact

Prevent Blindness Ohio issues report with data on prevalence of eye disease and its impact

(Plain Press, September 2021)           Prevent Blindness Ohio’s 2020 Vision Problems in Ohio report says “The impact of vision loss on individuals, families, the public health system, and to the State of Ohio is a significant public health concern. While half of all blindness is preventable, the number of Ohioans who suffer vision loss continues to increase.” 

The report indicates an increase in the four leading causes of vision loss in Ohio since its last report was issued in 2014. The report says there is a 10.5% increase in people ages 50 or older with macular degeneration; a 3.4% increase in people ages 40 or over that have a cataract; a 3.5% increase in people ages 40 or older that have diabetic retinopathy, and a 3.5% increase in people ages 40 and older that have glaucoma.

     The report also offers a breakdown by county of age-related eye disease and statistics on the economic impact of vision problems by age group in each county in Ohio.

     In Cuyahoga County the report indicates the prevalence of age-related eye disease. It reports that 65,445 people age forty or over with hyperopia (farsightedness); 155,926 people, age forty or over, with myopia (nearsightedness); 10,850 people age fifty or older with age-related macular degeneration; 111,052 people age forty and older with a cataract; 31,747 people age forty and older with diabetic retinopathy; 11,871 people age forty and older with glaucoma; 4,127 people age forty and older with blindness; and 17,781 people age forty and older with visual impairment. The total number of cases in Cuyahoga County is listed as 408,799 people with age-related eye disease.

     The report also offers an indication of the economic impact of vision problems in Cuyahoga County which it says total $644,418,694 for Cuyahoga County’s 1,235,072 residents. It breaks down the economic impact by direct and indirect costs for various age groups.

     For the 254,425 children in Cuyahoga County ages 0-17, the economic impact of vision problems is estimated at $23,325,218, with direct costs of $20,659,479 and indirect cost of $2,665,739.

     For the 359,046 individuals ages 18-39 in Cuyahoga County ages 18-29, the economic impact from vision problems is estimated at $95,286,071 with $39,080042 in direct costs and $56,206,028 in indirect costs.

     For the 391,399 individuals in Cuyahoga County ages 40-64, the economic impact from vision problems is estimated at $154,314,307 with $101,622,399 in Direct costs and $52,691,968 in indirect costs.

     For the 230,202 residents of Cuyahoga County age 65 or older, the economic impact from vision problems is estimated at $394,689,706 with $154,907,146 in direct costs and $239,782,560 in indirect costs.

     The report offers definitions of direct and indirect costs.

     “Direct costs include diagnosed disorders, medical vision aids, undiagnosed vision loss, aids/devices, education/school screening, and assistance programs.”

     The report defines indirect costs to include: “productivity loss, informal care, long-term care, entitlement programs, tax deduction and transfer costs.”

     Prevent Blindness Ohio says, “Vision Problems in Ohio 2020 provides the evidence that vision disorders and impairment are major public health problems for Ohio.”

     The report’s authors hope the data provided at the county level “helps those caring for the visual health and well-being of Ohioans at the community level to understand the scope and cost of vision problems.” The authors hope this understanding will lead policy makers “to establish sound policies and interventions that can help Ohioans enjoy good sight for life.”

     Prevent Blindness Ohio in calling for attention to this issue says, “Without early detection of eye diseases in children, families and older adults, Ohioans suffer from critical impact on their quality of life and ability to maintain independence.”

     Addressing the importance of eye screening for children, Prevent Blindness Ohio says “Healthy vision has a critical role in every child’s physical, cognitive and social development. An untreated eye condition like amblyopia (lazy eye) can lead to irreversible vision loss.”

     The report also urges attention to the needs of older adults saying, “Gradual vision loss in older adults compromises their ability to conduct daily activities such as driving, walking, cooking, bathing, and reading, thus reducing their independence. Glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy often produce no symptoms, and if left undetected and untreated, can lead to blindness.”

     Prevent Blindness Ohio concludes its report with a policy recommendation, “Early detection of vision problems and uniform systems of accessible eye care for all Ohioans are critical components of an equitable health system that will lead to improvements in learning, socialization, job productivity, independence and quality of life.”

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