Envision announced today that it has been awarded a $25,000 Impact Grant from the Kansas Health Foundation to fund its Public Education Program. The program serves all 105 Kansas counties by promoting social awareness, advocacy and early intervention through public outreach, education and collaboration. Envision seeks to expand its program to ensure all Kansans have access to vision care.
The National Eye Institute estimated in 2010 that 4.2 million people in the United States were visually impaired or blind and that, by 2050, that number would more than triple to include 13 million Americans. Unfortunately, these numbers are not matched by sufficient or consistent access to the professional care necessary to address these vision issues. In rural areas of Kansas, for instance, there may not be optometrists or ophthalmologists in a three- to four-county area, nor any school nurses in many smaller school districts.
“Clearly, there is a cause and effect for people who are blind or visually impaired in terms of lowered socioeconomic status, limited access to vision health care and fewer opportunities resulting from blindness or visual impairment,” said Heather Hogan, Envision’s Senior Vice President of Foundation and Mission Services. “Envision is working to overcome the social and economic factors that impede the delivery of vision health services to the general public, especially in rural areas of Kansas.”
As an initial step, Hogan said, Envision launched the Envision Public Education Program in 2016 to deliver education about eye health, eye safety and eye disease, and the prevention of vision loss. Then in 2017 the first Vision Summit was held in Wichita, Kan. Through breakout sessions and panel discussions, participants from 25 organizations and government agencies identified gaps and/or duplicate initiatives that need to be addressed. The participants formed a new Vision Coalition Task Force to drive initiatives identified at the Summit, and will now conduct a review of the vision assessment processes, create policy supporting a variety of issues in low vision and develop a website that provides a list of low vision resources for professionals and families.
“As we have been implementing our Public Education Program, we have realized that, though there are many organizations and entities within the state that are attempting to deliver eye health and vision screening services, there is very limited access to what best practices might be and what service gaps exist within Kansas communities,” Hogan said. “The Kansas Health Foundation grant will enable us to bring together sister agencies and like-minded organizations delivering eye health services to begin a dialogue that will ultimately increase the quality, consistency, and access of vision health care to all Kansans. We are grateful to the Kansas Health Foundation for supporting this initiative.”
See the full press release from Envision.