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Editorial: VISION 2020 At The End Of The Road

Published: 15.12.2020
FRANCISCO MARTINEZ CASTRO Regional Chair, Latin America

As two decades have passed with a Mission as admirable as raising awareness on Universal Right to Eye Health, it is inevitable not to have expectations at the end of this great project that ends this year and with the original goals not resolved, but we do celebrate the birth of a Culture of Prevention in our Countries, as we lack Comprehensive Care Services as an Official Policy in many of our Health Systems.

This achievement has been the effort of numerous IAPB Board of Directors in the Region, who by giving their time, talent and dedication allowed achievements, which were different in each country. No one doubts that there have been advances in awareness by promoting strategic alliances, forming National Committees and in other cases National Programs in those countries with better infrastructure, and in both cases modifications in health policies.

We are all aware that there is still much to do, especially now with the arrival of this Pandemic of an novel virus that paralyzed our traditional way of life and has even put our existence at risk. Isolation has unfortunately led us to reduced patient care delivery but allowed us to reflect and to explore new alternatives by making better use of available technology.

We have also realized that much of our practice and training of new generations of ophthalmologists traditionally based on Secondary Prevention, but today in the face of a pre-existing global economic crisis and this pandemic which have highlighted the lack of infrastructure and health services without proven strategies. In health disasters of this magnitude, which leads us to restructure our priorities in medical practice and incorporate primary prevention as an essential tool to face the serious IAPB projections, on the pathology that generates Visual Disability (VD) in particular the one that is not reversible by not identifying and referring for timely medical attention.

The Governments decided as a justified priority to attend to patients infected by COVID-19, imagining the timely attention of pathologies derived from chronic degenerative diseases such as diabetes and others derived from the metabolic syndrome that is frequent in our countries due to having high percentages of overweight and obesity. Also, many General hospitals were assigned only to care for COVID-19 patients, paralyzing the other services for more than 10 months to date and this will generate consequences particularly in patients with Diabetic Retinopathy, Glaucoma, Age-related Macular Degeneration and Retinopathy of Prematurity, all of them forms of DV, not reversible as it was not attended in a timely manner.

Under this approach, it will also become necessary to offer for patients who did not have adequate treatment and are carriers of Visual Disability, to be able to offer them a worthy visual rehabilitation that offers them to improve their Quality of Life as self-sufficient people who receive adequate treatment in the hands of professionals trained dedicated to visual rehabilitation, who already in many countries make up a recognized Group of High Specialty within their national societies but also within the Pan-American Low Vision Group who with a history of more than 25 years are already a reference at the continental level.

Therefore, the IAPB and all the Expert Professors in Visual Rehabilitation who have generously participated, we offer 15 VIDEOS hosted in YouTube (at the bottom of my Spanish editorial), to share skills that are within our reach in contact for the first time, to identify Low Vision in early stages, put in practice an initial management in mild cases of DV, but also to channel children who require management of High Specialty or those advanced cases in time.

I must not end without thanking all of you who have followed us in the quarterly issues of our Newsletter and what better way to celebrate our end of the Vision 2020 cycle and share this material that we want to put into practice as a Plus in the Care our patients deserve.

With the appreciation of always, my best wishes to enter the new decade of the IAPB, strengthened with Strategic Alliances “FRIENDS of the VISION” of which very soon you will be informed and invited to be active members of I.A.P.B.