People who live with visual impairments and blindness face unacceptable disparities with respect to personal independence and wellbeing. These inequalities are manifest particularly by increased challenges in accomplishing daily life activities; limited access to medical care, nutritious food, and other critical services; difficulties with emotional health, including depression; and decreased potential to learn successfully in school.
Our Impact Population
Sights for Hope’s impact population in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley – defined as Lehigh and Northampton counties – and Monroe County is comprised of two groups and totals approximately 31,000 people.
- The first group consists of people ages 7 and up who have significant difficulty seeing while using glasses or equivalent solutions. This group benefits from our client and patient services – including our life skills education, technology solutions, support services youth and family programs, and the Posch Braille Library. This group includes more than 17,100 people.
- The second group consists children ages 0-6, essentially the population of pre-kindergarten children, who have undetected visual impairments that keep them from learning to their fullest potentials. This group benefits from our prevention services – including our free vision screenings and community education programs. This group includes more than 13,500 pre-kindergarten children.
Needs Addressed by Our Client and Patient Services
- A total of 280,000 Pennsylvanians report difficulty seeing with corrective lenses or blindness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This total represents 2.16% of Pennsylvania’s population as of July 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- The census bureau reports that the population of people ages 7 and up in our service area is 794,620 as of July 2021. That number multiplied by 2.16% determines that 17,164 people comprise this part of our impact population.
- Transportation has been identified as top priority outcome in St. Luke’s University Network’s 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment.
- The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley has identified transportation as a critical intervention strategy to promote healthy aging.
- Adults with vision impairments often have lower rates of workforce participation and productivity and higher rates of depression and anxiety, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Vision impairments in older adults can contribute to social isolation, difficulty walking, and a greater likelihood of early entry into assisted living facilities, according to the WHO.
- Older Pennsylvanians with visual impairments are up to twice as likely to suffer a stroke, diabetes, falling, Cancer, and kidney disease than other Pennsylvanians in their age group, according to The Ohio State University College of Optometry and VisionServe Alliance.
- One-third of older Pennsylvanians with visual impairments have an annual household income of less than $20,000, according to The Ohio State University College of Optometry and VisionServe Alliance.
- Visual impairments affect an economic burden of $138 billion annually in the United States, as expressed in 2013 dollars, according to a study from the University of Chicago. Expressed in 2023 dollars, that burden is $175.8 billion annually – or approximately $526 for each American.
Needs Addressed by Our Prevention Services
- Approximately 80% of what a typical child learns comes through their visual system, according to researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
- Approximately 25% of children have a visual impairment significant enough to impact their learning, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA). However, 85% of pre-kindergarten children do not receive a professional vision exam, according to the AOA.
- The United States Census Bureau reports that there are 63,820 children ages 0-6 in our service area as of July 2021. Multiplying that number by 25% and then multiplying the resulting number by 85% determines that 13,562 of these children have a visual impairment that keeps them from learning most effectively.
- An international study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has noted a sharp increase in nearsightedness in children ages 6-8 during the COVID-19 pandemic and its authors are concerned about the effects of prolonged exposure to digital screens.
- Our community education programs promote eye health, eye safety, and inclusion of people with visual impairments throughout our communities.
Our Organizational Theory of Change
- If Sights for Hope removes key barriers to self-sufficiency, then people with visual impairments and blindness become empowered to achieve a greater equality of independence and quality of life for themselves.
- Click here for our full Theory of Change (.pdf)