The rates of preventable blindness in Israel have been cut by more than half in the past decade, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology.
The research, carried out by doctors at the Eye Research Institute Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sheba Medical Center, found the rates had dropped from 33.8 cases per 100,000 in 1999 to 14.8 in 2010. The improvement was seen across all four main causes of avoidable blindness: age-related deterioration, glaucoma, diabetes and cataract.
Professor Michael Belkin, who led the study, said Israel’s achievement is unmatched anywhere else in the world.
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.
Israel's secret is to be found not only in the methods of treatment seen in the Jewish State, but also in their universal availability and accessibility, patient compliance with treatment protocols and correct use of prescribed medications, he said.
In addition, Israel 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, Belkin said.
He added that such programs are cost-effective, saving public and private health care money in the long term.