Almost 5 million Spaniards suffer loss of vision due to degenerations and diseases. Of them, 300,000 are blind people. Meanwhile, the ophthalmology community points out that the incidence of myopia does not stop increasing and that, in a few years, More than half of the population will suffer from it.. 10%, in a high or aggravated form. Faced with this problem, they add another in which they emphasize: the long waiting lists to see a specialist in Spain, which exceed six months.
These are the conclusions that emerge from the conference “The prevention of blindness and visual impairment in Spain. A collective commitment”, held today in Congresswhich has been attended by a range of doctors specialized in ophthalmology and representatives of patient associations, administrations and companies in the visual health sector.
Waiting lists and lack of early diagnosis: “A drama”
Both professionals and patients reported that 80% of pathologies would improve with an early diagnosis. In addition, they revealed that the waiting lists for a specialist exceed six months. From the time a patient arrives at Primary Care until he is referred, six months or more can pass and “a time without medication or intervention that can lead to irreversible damage”according to complaint Joaquin Carratalapresident of the Glaucoma Patients Association, who estimates that 70% are diagnosed with the disease “when they have lost a lot of vision.”
In his case, he recounts that he himself he was diagnosed late with this disease in his left eye, at the age of 28, and that has progressively been losing vision also in the right —after 23 interventions— “until only perceiving lights”. A situation, it affects, that it’s a drama and a duel both on a personal and family level in which the patient must go to “reinvent himself”.
For his part, Jacinto Zuluetapresident of the Macula-Retina Association, insists that part of the “cost of blindness” at a human, economic and social level It could be avoided and he recalled that losing sight is also a “significant burden” for the portfolio of social benefits and the National Health System, with a “great emotional impact” for those who suffer from it and their family.
Lack of a plan for vision loss in Spanish Health
The aging of the population in Spain is causing an increase in the prevalence of vision loss, mainly caused by cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. However, ophthalmologists also put on the table “tomorrow blindness”. That is to say: the increase in the incidence in the young population of myopia associated with the current habits of education, work and leisure. This is how he exposes it Alfredo Garcia Layanadirector of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Clínica Universidad de Navarra, who urges administrations to raise awareness about “prevention” at an early age.
The doctor stresses that the challenge of ophthalmology services is not only the long waiting lists and the increase in patients with macular degeneration, cataracts or visual problems associated with diseases such as diabetes, but also “the future”. This now goes through the life habits of the little ones, to whom it must be instilled “Go outdoors” since this reduces the progression of myopia and contributes to improving visual health in the long term.
So, estimate that in the coming decades the prevalence of myopia will reach more than half of the population, with up to 10% of people with a high degree, an issue that, in addition to causing blindness, can lead to other eye pathologies. García Layana gives as an example that in East Asia it is currently the main cause of blindness, which is why he calls for “acting now”, a question that must start with administrations and politicians.
Both he and the rest of the speakers urge increase the capacities of the health system with a visual plan in Spain with special emphasis on prevention, since “early diagnosis is essential”, with screening programs and greater human and technological endowment in Primary Care.