Eyes On Learning, ASU’s College of Health Solutions, and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Illuminate Pediatric Eye Care Crisis in Arizona

October 25, 2023

Eyes On Learning, ASU’s College of Health Solutions, and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Illuminate Pediatric Eye Care Crisis in Arizona

Up to 28% of Arizona’s children have vision problems that may impact their ability to develop, learn, and acquire critical literacy and reading skills.

PRESS RELEASE: October 25, 2023

PHOENIX, Ariz.—In a collaborative effort to bring a pressing issue to the forefront, Eyes On Learning, in partnership with the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University (ASU) and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, just released a comprehensive report titled Closing the Gap in Pediatric Eye Care: A Network Adequacy Study. This illuminating study, led by esteemed ASU Professors Dr. Swapna Reddy and Dr. Rizwana Biviji, identifies critical challenges facing children’s eye care services in Arizona.

Key Findings:

  • Insurance Limitations: Shockingly, 74% of eye care practices in Arizona do not serve children covered by AHCCCS, the state’s Medicaid insurance plan.
  • Provider Scarcity: Among the 703 eye care practices in Arizona, only about 41% provide services to children ages 5 years or younger, and 61% serve children ages 18 or younger.
  • Rural Deserts: Four rural counties—Apache, Cochise, Gila, and Santa Cruz—are plagued by an alarming lack of eye care providers that serve children.
  • Access Awareness: Surprisingly, more than 90% of eye care practices that serve children do not require referrals from primary care providers, making access easier than many realize.

Why This Matters: Vision problems are a silent crisis among children. Untreated vision problems can have detrimental lasting academic and personal consequences. As Arizona moves toward mandatory vision screening in public schools, it’s expected that at least 25-30% of screened children will be identified with vision problems—and they are the most inexpensive to treat with proper follow-up.

“Our mission is to ensure every child in Arizona has access to quality eye care. This study underscores the disparities and challenges we must overcome to make this a reality,” said Karen Woodhouse, director of Eyes On Learning.

“This study serves as a crucial call to action for improving children’s access to essential eye care,” said Dr. Rizwana Biviji, professor, ASU College of Health Solutions. “It provides a roadmap for addressing disparities in pediatric eye care.”

Findings from this study will be unveiled at the Children’s Vision Health Forum on October 26, 2023 where Dr. Sandra Block, President of the World Council of Optometry, will provide the keynote. For more information visit this link: Children’s Vision Forum.

About Eyes On Learning

Eyes On Learning is dedicated to making sure that children with vision problems are identified early and that they receive eye exams and follow-up treatment to achieve improved vision health. For more information: eyesonlearning.org

About ASU’s College of Health Solutions

The College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University, established in 2012, translates health research and discovery into practice and prepares tomorrow’s leaders to address the challenges facing people and communities to stay healthy, improve their health, and manage chronic disease. For more information: chs.asu.edu

About Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust supports organizations that enrich health, well-being, and opportunity for the people of Maricopa County, Arizona. Since it began awarding grants in 2000, Piper Trust has invested more than $711 million in local nonprofits and programs. Piper Trust grantmaking areas are healthcare, children, older adults, arts and culture, education, and religious organizations. For more information: pipertrust.org


Karen Leland, 480-556-7125 / kleland@pipertrust.org
Chief Communications Officer, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust

Weldon Johnson, weldon.b.johnson@asu.edu
Communications Specialist, College of Health Solutions, ASU