Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System (VEHSS)

Under a cooperative agreement with CDC's Vision Health Initiative (VHI), NORC at the University of Chicago is leading a 4-year effort to develop the national Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System (VEHSS). VEHSS leverages new and existing data sources to help patients, health professionals, researchers and policymakers understand the scope of vision loss, eye disorders, and eye care services in the United States. To complete this ambitious project, NORC has partnered with nine of the nation's leading organizations in vision health, data analysis, information technology and statistical epidemiology.

NORC is leading the development of VEHSS in a five-step approach:


  1. Identify and select available data among national surveys, administrative claims records, electronic health records, population-based studies and other sources of information.
  2. Define case definitions of health and care outcomes that would be used by key stakeholders, and data indicators to measure these outcomes across different types of data.
  3. Analyze selected data using the defined data indicators to create single-source estimates to compare prevalence estimates across varied data sources.
  4. Use innovative statistical models to integrate information across multiple data sources to create comprehensive estimates of the prevalence of vision loss, eye disease and service utilization.
  5. Ensure transparency and dissemination with intended users to further refine and improve the system over time.


A primary aim of VEHSS is to create a publicly available resource where users can freely and easily access many of the best sources of vision and eye health data, with all presented using a common set of case definitions and reporting measures. When fully realized, VEHSS is expected to include six claims databases representing most of the US payer market, the world's largest EHR registry, seven nationally representative surveys, including NORC's AmeriSpeak, and a results from a review of more than 100 published studies. Altogether, VEHSS will summarize eye and vision health information from over 250 million patient-level records per year into publicly available, de-identified summary data tables for more than 100 vision and eye health outcomes, including dozens of eye diseases for which there is no existing prevalence information.

In addition to summarizing individual datasets, VEHSS will use innovative statistical methods that integrate multiple datasets to create comprehensive prevalence estimates for vision loss, blindness, major eye diseases and service utilization. These estimates will address critical knowledge gaps identified by the CDC and National Academies of Science, and also demonstrate how the research community at large can utilize VEHSS data to power continuing research, advances in care delivery and improvements in the nation's visual health.