People who live with visual impairments and blindness face unacceptable disparities with respect to personal independence and well-being. 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; and a 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 more than 26,000 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 8,900 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 – including 7,433 from Lehigh County, 6,317 from Northampton County, and 3,414 from Monroe County.
- 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 10% of preschool 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.
- Meanwhile, 14% of pre-kindergarten children screened by Sights for Hope in 2022-2023 were found to have an undetected visual impairment and impairments were detected in 15% of pre-kindergartners during the prior year.
- 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 14% determines that 8,934 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)