12 February 2008

Reporting Back From the Healthy Eyes Healthy People 6th Annual Conference

By Nina Nghi Doyle, O.D.

Representing Maryland as the Healthy Eyes Healthy People Consultant, I attended the 6th Annual Conference, held in St. Louis, Missouri. Healthy Eyes Healthy People (HEHP) is a community-based education and health promotion program created by the American Optometric Association. The goal of the HEHP program is to address the ten vision objectives of the Healthy People 2010, a health promotion and disease prevention initiative developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Since the creation of HEHP in 2001, over $810,000 in grants have been awarded to support state programs through generous support from the Luxottica Group and VSP. Maryland has been a proud grant recipient for the past four years. The first two years HEHP funded the training and materials to Baltimore City School nurses about vision screenings. Recently, the Senior Vision Awareness Campaign educated Maryland’s seniors and their caretakers about the importance of a dilated eye examination to prevent vision loss from diseases affecting seniors by visiting senior centers and health fairs.

At the HEHP conference, there were 79 participants representing 42 states. Many states shared their own experiences with HEHP. The grant topics were diverse, including educating school nurses about elementary school vision screenings, increasing diabetes education through creative ways, increasing safety wear in workers and motorcycle riders, and early screening and intervention for toddlers. The conference facilitated the sharing of program ideas as well as lessons learned from those experiences. While many state programs were unique, some were replications of other successful state grant programs. In the spirit of health promotion, attendees were able to share their program’s success in order to encourage another state to apply for a grant. As a previous grant recipient, I was given the opportunity to mentor the new state consultants. It is inspiring and motivating to be surrounded by so many volunteers that are committed to improving eye health from all across the country, from all varieties of practice modes.

Two optometry schools, the New England College of Optometry and NOVA, now require their students to complete a community-based project with the same goals as HEHP. Schools are instilling a sense of community activism and involvement such that new graduates are not only clinically proficient, but they are motivated to get involved in the community to promote ocular health for all patients. Some of these projects have gone on to receive funding, thus sustaining the project and making an impact in those communities.

In Maryland, our HEHP programs have given us an opportunity to collaborate with such groups as the Maryland Society for Sight and the Maryland Department of Aging. Our newest collaboration is with the Maryland Diabetes Control and Prevention Coalition. The Maryland Optometric Association will serve as a resource to the coalition members in educating about the importance of dilated eye examinations to detect the presence or absence of diabetic retinopathy. Our other collaboration is with the Polakoff Foundation’s The Eyes Have It Program. This is a monthly glaucoma screening program that rotates through the four quadrants of the city of Baltimore.

If you are interested in joining the Maryland Healthy Eyes Healthy People Committee or have an idea for a program, please contact Nina Doyle at (410) 721-2500 or at Nina.Doyle@gmail.com.

Nina Nghi Doyle, O.D.
NECO Class of 2003
Secretary-Maryland Optometric Association
Immediate Past-President Anne Arundel Optometric Society
HEHP Consultant--Maryland


At February 13, 2008 at 3:30 PM , Blogger John said...

way to go nina. this blog is a great idea.

At February 18, 2008 at 1:13 PM , Blogger Tracie King said...

Great job Nina!


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