Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System (VEHSS)

Since 2015, NORC has worked in partnership with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vision Health Initiative to establish and enhance the Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System (VEHSS). VEHSS creates and presents surveillance information using secondary data sources, including nationally representative surveys, administrative payment claims, and electronic health records (EHRs). Today, VEHSS is the largest repository of vision and eye health prevalence information, providing public access to 246 indicators of vision impairment and blindness, eye health conditions, and service utilization measured across 11 data sources. 

VEHSS uses statistical modeling methods to combine information from these data sources to generate composite prevalence estimates, which serve as primary national surveillance measures for high importance conditions. VEHSS currently includes composite prevalence estimates for vision Impairment and blindness and age-related macular degeneration. VEHSS is expected to add estimates of diabetic retinopathy in 2023, and glaucoma in 2024. 

All datasets included in VEHSS are analyzed using consistent definitions of age categories, sex, race/ethnicity, and risk factors, allowing direct comparisons between different data for the first time.  Prevalence and other indicators from VEHSS are freely available to the public via online visualization and customizable and privacy-secured public-use files. 

The VEHSS website launched in summer 2018 with initial datasets and system documentation. In 2019, the VEHSS 2.0 update was released, providing the public with more detailed indicator queries and state-level dashboards summarizing indicator information at the state and county level for use by health departments, researchers and others interested in state and local information. VEHSS 3.0, scheduled for release in early 2023, will provide users with more streamlined access to the system’s most used data and information, vastly improved search capacity, streamlined and easy-to-use documentation, and new data visualization capabilities. 

Over the next three years, NORC will add the following enhancements to the VEHSS:

  • Increased information on social determinants of health (SDOH) and vision comorbidities,
  • Additional data from populations not currently included in VEHSS, 
  • Additional years of data for existing VEHSS indicators, and 
  • Publication of special studies describing the VEHSS indicators, their validity, and their use to track population health.