National Public Health Week x Prevent Blindness

Prevent Blindness America Joins the American Public Health Association in Promoting National Public Health Week Awareness Week Kicks-off Year-long Campaign to Prevent Eye Injuries

CHICAGO (April 4, 2011) – The American Public Health Association (APHA), has designated April 4-10 as National Public Health Week.  This year’s theme is “Safety is NO Accident:  Live Injury-Free.”  The goal of the designation is to encourage the public to take safety precautions to avoid unnecessary and painful injuries, whether at home, at work or at play.

As part of a year-long effort to provide education on eye safety, voluntary members of the Vision Care Section of the APHA have outlined a series of public awareness campaigns to give Americans the information they need to protect their vision.  Upcoming initiatives include a variety of topics such as focuses on eye protection related to ultra-violet (UV), fireworks, home and occupational safety.

As part of National Public Health Week, the Vision Care Section will be promoting the importance of eye protection while playing sports.  Each year in the United States, there are approximately 600,000 documented sports-related eye injuries.  Of these, roughly 72 percent occur in individuals younger than 25 years, and 43 percent in those younger than 15 years.

Because of this, Prevent Blindness America and the APHA strongly encourage all individuals, and particularly children, to wear proper eye protection when participating in sports.

“With sports such as baseball and softball gearing up in the spring, now is an ideal time to remind everyone to make sure that proper eye protection is part of the uniform,” said Jeff Todd, COO of Prevent Blindness America and Chair-Elect of APHA Vision Care Section.

Prevent Blindness America stands with the APHA in its call for public health measures to positively impact this growing concern.  Among those efforts detailed in the APHA’s policy statement, “Promoting the Use of Protective Eyewear for Children in Sports,” are recommendations to:

·         Enact state legislation across the country that would require eye protection for children playing sports;

·         Encourage health educators and facilitators of sports programs to teach the value of quality fitted sports protective eyewear;

·         Conduct studies on the cost-effectiveness of sports protective eyewear; and

·         Promote the employment of risk management strategies by insurance companies promoting the use of protective eyewear.

Upwards of 90 percent of sports eye injuries can be prevented through the proper use of protective eyewear,” said Renee Mika, OD, Chair of the Vision Care Section at APHA.  Injuries can range from temporary to permanent vision loss.  This is indeed a public health concern that must be addressed.”

For more information on sports eye protection or vision and public policy issues, please call Prevent Blindness America at (800) 331-2020 or visit preventblindness.org.

About Prevent Blindness America

Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness America is the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight.  Focused on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness America touches the lives of millions of people each year through public and professional education, advocacy, certified vision screening and training, community and patient service programs and research.  These services are made possible through the generous support of the American public.  Together with a network of affiliates, divisions and chapters, Prevent Blindness America is committed to eliminating preventable blindness in America.  For more information, or to make a contribution to the sight-saving fund, call 1-800-331-2020. Or, visit us on the Web at preventblindness.org or facebook.com/preventblindness.

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