The newsLINK Group - How Vision Research is Changing Eye Care

Editorial Library Category: Health Topics: Vision Research, Eye Care Title: How Vision Research is Changing Eye Care Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: When you think about research, chances are good that you think about the technological changes that have made it possible for eye-care professionals to deliver a level of care to some patients that would have been impossible even a hundred years ago for anyone. Editorial: How Vision Research is Changing Eye Care 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 When you think about research, chances are good that you think about the technological changes that have made it possible for eye-care professionals to deliver a level of care to some patients that would have been impossible even a hundred years ago for anyone. It is now possible to correct many problems that involve vision, and the synergy between traditional eye care and the technology that supports laser surgery, in particular, has been extremely fruitful. Even people who have no desire for any form of eye surgery are benefiting from the research and real-world experience that laser eye surgery has made possible. Another extremely fruitful area has been the ongoing work of the National Eye Institute (NEI), which is currently working on something called eyeGENE (the National Ophthalmic Disease Genotyping and Phenotyping Network). Advanced studies into the genetic causes of eye diseases will give research scientists the knowledge they need to solve many new problems. DNA samples, clinical information, and the cooperation of the patients who participate in research studies and clinical trials are all an indispensable part of this research. At the same time, it is important not to forget the most important aspect of any research: getting it out into the world at large, where it can help the people who need it most. For people who have access to excellent eye care, it can seem as though the cutting edge of research must be something new and different. However, there are many parts of the world where what some people might take for granted is still very far out of reach for others. Some people will start out life being able to see, and will then go blind. At times, though, that blindness is avoidable, especially in areas of the world that are plagued by poverty and a shortage of eye-care professionals on every level. Doesn’t it make sense to take action so that more people can continue to see throughout their lives? The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) first created a cross-sector global collaboration in 2000 that was directed toward this exact goal. It has been updated twice, once in 2006 and again in 2013. The current plan covers the years between 2014 and 2019 and is called the Global Action Plan (GAP) for Prevention of Avoidable Blindness and Visual Impairment 2014 – 2019. GAP has a worldwide goal: taking a baseline number from 2010, GAP’s goal is to reduce avoidable blindness and visual impairment by 25 percent by 2019. Work in four areas will accomplish this goal: 1. Collect evidence 2. Train more professionals who can provide skilled care 3. Provide comprehensive eye care 4. Get rid of the social and economic barriers that prevent eye care The Focus Areas Collecting Evidence You cannot solve a problem you haven’t defined. To that end, the first step inevitably consists of data collection about the prevalence of vision impairment. This is to be done through Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB). Equally, you have to assess the eye care within each country. Eye health systems are currently being assessed by using Eye Care Service Assessments (ECSAs). Sometimes eye care is gender-specific, so it is important to collect eye-care data by gender. Three key indicators measure each countries progress: 1. Causes and prevalence of visual impairment 2. The number of qualified, available eye-care professionals 3. The rate and coverage for cataract surgery

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