Eyes On Learning, ASU’s College of Health Solutions, and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Illuminate Pediatric Eye Care Crisis in Arizona

Up to 28% of Arizona’s children have vision problems that may impact their ability to develop, learn, and acquire critical literacy and reading skills.

PRESS RELEASE: October 25, 2023

PHOENIX, Ariz.—In a collaborative effort to bring a pressing issue to the forefront, Eyes On Learning, in partnership with the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University (ASU) and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, just released a comprehensive report titled Closing the Gap in Pediatric Eye Care: A Network Adequacy Study. This illuminating study, led by esteemed ASU Professors Dr. Swapna Reddy and Dr. Rizwana Biviji, identifies critical challenges facing children’s eye care services in Arizona.

Key Findings:

  • Insurance Limitations: Shockingly, 74% of eye care practices in Arizona do not serve children covered by AHCCCS, the state’s Medicaid insurance plan.
  • Provider Scarcity: Among the 703 eye care practices in Arizona, only about 41% provide services to children ages 5 years or younger, and 61% serve children ages 18 or younger.
  • Rural Deserts: Four rural counties—Apache, Cochise, Gila, and Santa Cruz—are plagued by an alarming lack of eye care providers that serve children.
  • Access Awareness: Surprisingly, more than 90% of eye care practices that serve children do not require referrals from primary care providers, making access easier than many realize.

Why This Matters: Vision problems are a silent crisis among children. Untreated vision problems can have detrimental lasting academic and personal consequences. As Arizona moves toward mandatory vision screening in public schools, it’s expected that at least 25-30% of screened children will be identified with vision problems—and they are the most inexpensive to treat with proper follow-up.

“Our mission is to ensure every child in Arizona has access to quality eye care. This study underscores the disparities and challenges we must overcome to make this a reality,” said Karen Woodhouse, director of Eyes On Learning.

“This study serves as a crucial call to action for improving children’s access to essential eye care,” said Dr. Rizwana Biviji, professor, ASU College of Health Solutions. “It provides a roadmap for addressing disparities in pediatric eye care.”

Findings from this study will be unveiled at the Children’s Vision Health Forum on October 26, 2023 where Dr. Sandra Block, President of the World Council of Optometry, will provide the keynote. For more information visit this link: Children’s Vision Forum.

About Eyes On Learning

Eyes On Learning is dedicated to making sure that children with vision problems are identified early and that they receive eye exams and follow-up treatment to achieve improved vision health. For more information: eyesonlearning.org

About ASU’s College of Health Solutions

The College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University, established in 2012, translates health research and discovery into practice and prepares tomorrow’s leaders to address the challenges facing people and communities to stay healthy, improve their health, and manage chronic disease. For more information: chs.asu.edu

About Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust supports organizations that enrich health, well-being, and opportunity for the people of Maricopa County, Arizona. Since it began awarding grants in 2000, Piper Trust has invested more than $711 million in local nonprofits and programs. Piper Trust grantmaking areas are healthcare, children, older adults, arts and culture, education, and religious organizations. For more information: pipertrust.org


Karen Leland, 480-556-7125 / kleland@pipertrust.org
Chief Communications Officer, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust

Weldon Johnson, weldon.b.johnson@asu.edu
Communications Specialist, College of Health Solutions, ASU

Filed under: News

NCCVEH at Prevent Blindness Receives Renewed Grant

It will provide funds to promote healthy vision for kids.

(PRESS RELEASE) CHICAGO – The National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness (NCCVEH), celebrating its 10-year anniversary, announces that a second year of funding was received from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau for $300,000 to support the center’s ongoing work to improve eye health in at-risk, minority, and vulnerable populations of young children by the year 2021.

A key project for the funding is the continuation of the “Better Vision Together- Community of Practice” program, a peer-to-peer mentorship and learning opportunity for eight communities and states including Texas, Arizona (2), Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, California and Florida. Through Better Vision Together, teams are addressing all components of the vision and eye health system for children, including vision screening and access to eye care, parents/caregiver education and engagement, data collection, and professional education.

The community of practice promotes this work through coalition building with the education, medicine, public health, community organization, and child care sectors. Populations served by the teams include Hispanic, Native American tribes in cities and reservations, Asian, African American, immigrants from Iraq, Congo, Burma, Somalia, Afghanistan, Laos and migrant farm workers.

To date, Better Vision Together partners have completed the following actions:

  • Eyes on Learning, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust (Phoenix, Ariz.) – Hosted the Children’s Vision Health forum for 60 stakeholders and launched a public awareness campaign aimed at parents and caregivers around children’s vision (“Children Don’t Know What they Can’t See”).
  • Haverhill Promise of Children’s Vision, Haverhill Public Schools and Haverhill Promise (Haverhill, Mass.) – Created, produced and distributed book marks and book plates with the message for parents and caregivers: “Healthy eyes are ready to read; have your child’s eyes checked today.”
  • Improving Childhood Vision Health Task Force, Minneapolis Public Schools Office of Early Childhood Education (Minneapolis, Minn.) – Has begun implementing a new vision screening program for 2,500 Head Start students to be conducted by Lions Clubs volunteers.

The NCCVEH at Prevent Blindness is supported by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau under grant number H7MMC24738. The total award amount for the “Vision Screening in Young Children” grant is $300,000 (percentage financed with nongovernmental sources .5%). This information or content and conclusions are those of the NCCVEH and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

In 2009, the NCCVEH was established to develop a coordinated public health infrastructure to promote and ensure a comprehensive, multi-tiered continuum of vision care for young children. The NCCVEH continues to work with leading, volunteer advocates and professionals in ophthalmology, optometry, pediatrics, public health, and related fields, to review the current scientific literature, explore best practices, establish partnerships, develop data, and gain consensus on the best approach to children’s vision and eye health.

Additional planned projects for this grant period include a social media awareness campaign targeting minority parents and caregivers, and development of an online Family Resource Tool Kit to be distributed to early childhood care and education centers.

“In 1908, Prevent Blindness was founded as a public health advocacy organization, specifically to address children’s vision issues,” said Jeff Todd, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “Thanks to the generous support of MCHB, we can continue to have a positive impact on children and their future across the country.”

For more information about the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness, or the Better Vision Together- Community of Practice program, please visit https://nationalcenter.preventblindness.org/better-vision-together or contact Donna Fishman at (800) 331-2020 or dfishman@preventblindness.org.

Published August 15, 2019 by INVISION Staff

Filed under: News