The Role of Federal Government in the Public’s Vision and Eye Health


The majority of the costs for vision problems are incurred for people age 65 and older. Government pays approximately 34% of total costs ($47.4 billion). Among those aged 65 and older, government accounts for nearly half of the total burden due to an increase in medical and long-term care expenditures by government for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in this age group.

Blindness is often preventable

  • Early diagnosis and treatment
  • Healthy habits

What the federal government does to prevent vision loss

  • Vision Health Initiative

  • The CDC VHI, a group in the Division of Diabetes Translation, is designed to promote vision health and quality of life for all populations, throughout all life stages, by preventing and controlling eye disease, eye injury, and vision loss resulting in disability.
  • INSIGHT Research Network
  1. to assess and evaluate system-level and individual-level factors that impact access to, and the quality of eye care;
  2. to identify barriers and enablers to the delivery of efficacious and cost-effective eye care
  • Glaucoma Project
  • Economic Studies
  • National Eye Institute

As part of the federal government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Eye Institute’s mission 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.”

  • Insurance coverage for federal employees, Medicare, Medicaid, exchange subsidies offers various levels of coverage for vision and eye health

  • Grant funding to the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health

Funded through the Maternal and Child Health Bureau at HRSA, the Center supports the development of a public health infrastructure to promote and ensure a comprehensive, multi-tiered continuum of eye health and vision care for young children.

The federal government spends little on prevention of vision problems

  • VHI – $481,000
  • Glaucoma Project – $3,146,000

…which leads to much more spending down the line:

The Federal Burden of Vision Loss and Eye Disorders – $47,400,000,000.

The role of the Federal government in vision care