More than 60 million Americans have poor vision, and as many as one in four adults may need reading glasses at some point. Unfortunately, for far too many people, it’s difficult to obtain access to eyeglasses or other forms of vision correction. This is large because conventional eyeglass frames are expensive and limited in design. That’s why the United States should make improving its vision a greater priority. Improving access to eyeglasses and other types of vision correction not only makes it easier for more people to see but also helps reduce cases of avoidable blindness and low vision among Americans. Fortunately, there are several ways the U.S. can improve access to eyeglasses here at home. This article explains how by listing some of the key ways you can help expand the number of Americans who have access to eye care here in America.
Expand Access to Eyeglasses for Children
Children often need to wear eyeglasses or contacts much earlier than most adults—often by the time children are in elementary school, many children have to deal with vision problems. Proper glasses or contacts can help ease the transition into glasses and prevent unnecessary health issues later on in life. That’s why the U.S. should make improving access to eyeglasses for children a greater priority. The sooner children have access to glasses, the easier it will be for them to see once they start school and to avoid wearing glasses when they’re older.
Make Prescription Eyeglasses Affordable and Reusable
The price of conventional glasses has driven many Americans to seek out alternative vision correction methods, including refractive surgery, laser surgery, and prescriptions for eye vitamins. Some opt for less expensive non-prescription glasses or contact lenses, and many choose to forego vision correction altogether. These steps often make glasses-less accessible to certain groups of Americans, including those who can’t or don’t want to pay for glasses. Some people opt for cheaper alternatives or choose not to wear glasses at all because they simply can’t afford them. That’s why the U.S. should make prescription eyeglasses affordable and reusable. This will help keep glasses affordable for people of all income levels by eliminating the cost of single-use glasses, while also making it easier to switch between prescription lenses and glasses without going out and buying another pair of glasses.
Expand Access to Refractive Surgery
Many Americans struggle to see properly even with their current prescription and might be able to see better with an eye surgery that changes the shape of their cornea. However, most people delay this step due to the significant costs associated with the surgery. That’s why the U.S. should make expanding access to refractive surgery a greater priority. Many people are hindered from having this kind of surgery by high costs, but those costs can be lowered by increasing the accessibility of this care. In particular, the U.S. could promote expanded access to laser-assisted in-corneal (LACER) refractive surgery, which treats near-sightedness. LACER allows people with astigmatism to see clearly without the need for glasses or contact lenses, improving their quality of life and reducing avoidable health risks.
Improve Infrastructure for People Who Wear eyeglasses
Many Americans who wear glasses or contact lenses experience problems when they try to access care. Some people have trouble finding eyeglasses that fit properly, while others have trouble accessing outreach and treatment programs offered by their insurance provider. That’s why the U.S. should improve infrastructure for people who wear eyeglasses. Many Americans, regardless of their vision condition, experience problems accessing eye care. This problem is largely rooted in a lack of accessible, affordable eyeglass shops, affordable eye exams, and an efficient medical system that works well for people who wear glasses.
Increase Outreach and Training for Vision Care Professionals
Many vision care professionals struggle to provide quality care to their patients because they don’t have access to the resources or education they need. This often leads to avoidable delays in providing care and unnecessary treatments. That’s why the U.S. should increase outreach and training for vision care professionals. Many vision care professionals have never received training in areas such as eye diseases and disorders, eye injury assessment and management, vision screening, and reducing avoidable health risks associated with vision loss. These professionals often don’t have easy access to continuing education, and they rely too much on outdated training materials. The U.S. could promote the adoption of best practices, improve materials for training, and promote workforce development focused on improving the vision care workforce.
There is no doubt that the U.S. needs to improve access to eyeglasses for those who need them. The costs of conventional glasses are prohibitive for many Americans and can be further prohibitive for people with a disability who are also struggling financially. The good news is that there are many ways to make this happen. The U.S. can expand access to prescription eyeglasses, make prescription glasses more affordable, improve infrastructure for people who wear eyeglasses, increase outreach and training for vision care professionals, and promote the adoption of best practices.