According to the United States National Eye Institute, “Older adults are at higher risk for certain eye diseases and conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic eye disease, glaucoma, dry eye, and low vision. Eye diseases often have no early symptoms, but can be detected during a comprehensive dilated eye exam.”
“More than 40 million Americans are currently age 65 or older, and this number is expected to grow to more than 88 million by 2050. By that same year, the number of Americans with age-related eye diseases is expected to double, and the number of people living with low vision is projected to triple. Early detection and treatment are key to saving sight.”
You can read more statistics about aging and vision loss at Research Navigator: Age is Just a Number, Facts and Figures on Adults with Vision Loss, and Special Report on Aging and Vision Loss at the American Foundation for the Blind website.
In response to these demographic trends, the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP), part of the National Eye Institute (NEI), has created the Healthy Aging Month Program, which offers a wide range of English and Spanish resources and media to community and healthcare organizations in order to raise awareness about eye health among older adults.
About the National Eye Institute (NEI) and the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP)
The mission of NEI, a part of the National Institutes of Health, is to “conduct and support research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of visual function, preservation of sight, and the special health problems and requirements of the blind.”
In 1991, NEI established the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) with the aim of increasing awareness among health care professionals and the public of scientifically-based health information that can be applied to preserving sight and preventing blindness.
NEHEP works in partnership with a wide range of public and private organizations that conduct eye health education programs. It also works with organizations that reach populations at higher risk for eye disease and supports collaboration among eye health professionals, healthcare providers, patients, and the public.
The goal of NEHEP is to “ensure that vision is a health priority by translating eye and vision research into public and professional education programs. NEHEP supports collaboration among eye health professionals, healthcare providers, patients, and the public.” You can learn more at About NEHEP.
More About the Healthy Aging Month Program
The components of this comprehensive community-based information program include the following:
NEHEP logo text left to right: Articles, Educational Tools and Resources,
Infocards and Infographics, Social Media, Videos
Healthy Aging Month Articles
Healthy Aging Month Articles include ready-to-use articles to share information on dilated eye exams, financial assistance with eye care, and age-related eye diseases and conditions. You can include them in your newsletter, blog, or website; print them to distribute at events; and share them with local media and health journalists.
Educational Tools and Resources
Educational Tools and Resources include:
- See Well for a Lifetime Toolkit
- Living with low vision: What you should know booklet
- Educating older Americans about their aging eyes webinar
- Vision and aging resources at-a-glance
- Age-related eye diseases and conditions web page
- What is a comprehensive dilated eye exam web page
- Medicare benefit for eye health web page
- Enfermedades y condiciones de los ojos relacionadas con la edad
- ¿Qué es un examen completo de los ojos con dilatación de las pupilas?
- Cómo vivir con Baja Visión: Lo que usted debe saber
Infocards and Infographics
Free downloadable infocards and infographics to share messages on your website or through social media include:
- What’s your risk of eye disease?
- Smoking does more than take your breath away.
- The number of people with age-related eye diseases and conditions is on the rise.
- What Hispanics/Latinos need to know about low vision.
- Cuide sus ojos y mire hacia el future.
- El envejecimiento y la salud de los ojos.
- Lo que los hispanos/latinos deben saber sobre la baja vision.
Social Media includes NEHEP social media posts and resources to help you reach older adults about aging and vision loss, including Facebook and Twitter. You can find additional Facebook, twitter, and Pinterest suggestions at NEHEP Vision and Aging: Social Media.
Healthy Aging Videos include:
- Dilated eye exam animation
- Living with low vision: Ruth Lotz
- Living with low vision: Ruth Margolies
- Living with low vision: Lawrence Harrison
- Living with low vision: Stories of hope and independence
- Living with low vision: Stories of hope and independence [Spanish]
- Living with low vision: Graciela Castaneda [Spanish]
Additional Information from VisionAware
You can use the American Foundation for the Blind Directory of Services to locate low vision and vision rehabilitation services that are available in your state and local area.
More National Eye Institute programs include: