2012 HEHP State Association Grant period opens

February 20, 2012

Optometry Cares® – The AOA Foundation and the AOA are pleased to announce the 9th annual funding of the Healthy Eyes Healthy People® (HEHP) State Association Grants. The 2012 HEHP grants are made possible through a generous grant from Luxottica.

Over the course of the past eight years, the HEHP sponsors have contributed a total of $1,152,000 for more than 300 HEHP grants, which have gone directly to state association community outreach projects.

These projects have served to educate the public and allied groups on the importance of vision care and have improved the lives of thousands of patients.

In the past, the AOA has elected to directly link HEHP grants to federally defined Healthy People® objectives. However, in an effort to challenge the ineffectual status quo and because there was no change in vision objectives for children from HP 2010, this year’s HEHP grants will focus directly on Healthy People® 2020 (HP 2020) children’s vision objectives. This will also encourage the growth of community-based solutions to tackle undiagnosed children’s vision disorders.

Potential grantees should be aware that despite the current efforts to provide vision care for children, there is considerable evidence of disparities in both the access and utilization of professional vision care among children.

Sadly, appropriate assurance of access to early and timely comprehensive vision care services by a professional eye care provider is often being sidetracked by low sensitivity vision screenings that produce an inordinate number of “false negatives” and /or symptomatic children simply not being referred to professional eye care services directly.

The AOA believes this public health emergency in children’s vision and eye health must be resolved and that targeted efforts and new data from carefully selected 2012 HEHP grant applicants will be helpful in steering a course of action to more fully address the vision and eye health needs of America’s children.

To be responsive to this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), applicants should address one of the following objectives:

  • V-1: Increase the proportion of children age 5 years and younger who have visited (had an eye examination by) an eye care provider in the preceding 12 months.
  • V-2: Reduce visual impairment in children and adolescents.
     Greater consideration will be provided to grants that involve ultraviolet (UV) protection. 

In order to address the V-1 objective, successful grantees should develop and clearly describe methods they will use to increase access to comprehensive vision and eye health care for children and design ways to provide non-identified data, including but not limited to patient demographics, vision and eye health diagnosis and treatment.

Additionally, any secondary prevention efforts that aim to find vision and eye health problems early so that action can be taken to minimize the risk of progression of eye diseases or vision disorders should include a detailed description of program elements that target and use sufficient and sensitive methodologies.

The overwhelming thrust behind the V-1 objective is to ensure all children identified as “at-risk” for a vision-related problem receive appropriate diagnosis afforded through a comprehensive eye exam and increased access to needed treatment and follow-up care.

In addition, program elements should aim to address traditional hurdles at-risk children face in directly accessing a comprehensive eye examination, including diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care.

Applicants should be responsive to the fact that 83 percent of children from families at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level have unmet vision and eye health care needs.

The AOA continues to work with U.S. agencies to strengthen their resolve to establish a more comprehensive approach to children’s vision and eye health protections.

Thoughtful proposals will continue to be helpful in this regard.

States may apply for more than one grant, and each grant is worth up to $5,000.

If a project reaches multiple states, this may be considered for a larger grant.

Visit the following link for instructions on applying: www.aoa.org/hehp.xml.

Access the 2012 grant application form at www.aoa.org/x14734.xml.

HEHP grant applications must be received by March 9, 2012.

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