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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Israel Makes Dramatic Advance in Blindness Prevention

Eye Test

Lessons from Israel’s healthcare system could optimize eye health around the world, says a TAU researcher

According to the World Health Organization, 80% of blindness is preventable or treatable — but it remains a severe health concern across the globe, even in industrialized countries.
Now hope is on the horizon — especially if countries are willing to emulate Israel’s approach to eye health, says Prof.Michael Belkin of the Goldschleger Eye Research Institute at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sheba Medical Center in a new study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology. In the last decade, rates of preventable blindness in Israel have been cut by more than half — from 33.8 cases of blindness per 100,000 residents in 1999 to 14.8 in 2010. This improvement, found across all four main causes of avoidable blindness — age-related deterioration, glaucoma, diabetes, and cataract — is unmatched anywhere else in the world, he says.
The secret is not only the innovative methods of treatment that were added to the Israeli medical system, but their universal availability and accessibility, as well as good patient compliance with treatment regimens, including the correct use of prescribed medications.
Israel also offers community-based programs, such as dedicated diabetes clinics, which promote early prevention and timely treatment for diabetes-related complications that can lead to blindness. Prof. Belkin notes that such programs save public and private health care money in the long term.