Advocate for Change:
Speak Out to Stop Vision Loss
The global cost of vision loss for the 733 million people living with low vision and blindness worldwide is an estimated $3 trillion US dollars. Studies show that people with visual impairment were deprived of the equivalent of 118 million years of healthy life due to disability and premature death in 2010. If current trends continue, this health burden is expected to rise to 150 million disability-adjusted life years in 2020.
You can help transform these statistics and improve people's lives worldwide. Here are some ways to advocate for change. Do as little or as much as you choose. Every act helps.
First Steps to Stop Vision Loss
Share Information with Your Friends and Community
- Share materials with others at health fairs, support groups, places of worship, or local community or political events. Offer to staff a booth at local events and share the information there.
- Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Share what you learn with friends, and urge them to take action when needed.
- Share a personal story about you or a loved one living with low vision. Stories are powerful tools for educating the public on the urgency of finding a cure. Share your story online, by email, or phone call at 1.800.948.3244.
- If there is a news story on vision loss in your local paper, write a Letter to the Editor. Discuss the need for more vision research and resources. You'll find instructions on sending a Letter to the Editor, and the maximum word count, on the newspaper's editorial page or website. Review the BrightFocus fact sheets for messages to incorporate.
Advocate for Policy Changes: Let Your Federal and State Legislators Hear Your Voice
- Congress makes important decisions on research funding and federal health programs like Medicare. Know who your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators are, and their stand on issues, by visiting www.house.gov and www.senate.gov. From there, you can find the legislators’ official websites, with information on their legislative record, upcoming community forums, and how to reach them by phone, letter, or email.
- Communicate with your U.S. Representative or Senators by sending a message via phone or email, or requesting a meeting at their district or state office. If your meeting is with a staff person to the legislator, don’t be disappointed: key staffers can have great influence with, and may know an issue better than, the Member of Congress. After the meeting, send a thank you letter. Offer to be an information resource for them in the future.
- Many decisions on community services and family supports are made at the local or state level. Know which elected officials represent you by checking the blue government pages of your phone book, or checking your State Legislature website. Learn the officials’ views through their website information, and save their contact information.
- Attend a Town Hall or other local event sponsored or attended by your federal, state, or local representatives. (You may find dates and other event information on their websites.) Ask the officials about their position on ending eye disease, and share your story.
Tell Congress Now: Fully Fund Vision Research
- Please tell Congress to increase research funding to the National Institutes of Health to help doctors and patients better understand, prevent, and treat vision diseases. Working together, we can save sight for millions of Americans.
Sample Letter to Congress
I am writing to urge you to increase National Institutes of Health research on major vision diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. Many leading health and science groups are urging an increase in funding for NIH to keep pace with the rising cost of scientific research.
Despite 14 million Americans having some form of either macular degeneration or glaucoma, doctors and patients need to know much more about better preventing and treating these leading causes of vision loss.
Approximately 11 million people in the U.S. have macular degeneration, a retinal disease that interferes with central, straight-ahead vision. Three million Americans have some form of glaucoma, but half may not be aware of this. Glaucoma affects peripheral vision and, if not detected early, can lead to complete blindness.
Please strongly support National Institutes of Health research in the federal budget. If we make the right investments in science and technology, we can save sight for millions of people.
Did You Know?
- The number of people living with macular degeneration today is similar to that of those who have all types of invasive cancer.
- The worldwide cost of visual impairment due to advanced age-related macular degeneration alone is $343 (U.S. dollars) billion including $255 billion in direct health care costs.
- Globally, 60.5 million people had glaucoma in 2010. Given the aging of the world's population, this number may increase to almost 80 million by 2020.
- Glaucoma costs the U.S. economy $2.86 billion every year in direct costs and productivity losses.
- Total U.S. health care expenditure, including Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care, loss of wages, and other indirect costs for low vision (including macular degeneration and glaucoma) is $51 billion, according to 2007 figures.
Read more statistics concerning macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Send us your questions or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donate to Macular Degeneration Research or National Glaucoma Research…and encourage others to do the same.
Last Review: 03/02/15