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Israel makes dramatic advance in blindness prevention
Date:7/10/2013

Several solutions are employed by Israel, which approaches the problem of blindness from medical, public health, and cultural perspectives. For example, age-related macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness in the industrialized world, is treated with a drug therapy originally approved for colon cancer tumors. By diluting the drug to create smaller doses for the eye an idea that originated in the United States it is possible to provide inexpensive therapy to thousands of patients.

From the public policy standpoint, Prof. Belkin notes that the decline in blindness due to cataracts is due to a change in health care policy rather than any technical advance. Since the 1990's, patients have been able to choose their doctors privately for cataract surgery. This practically eliminated wait times for surgery and prevented the condition from growing worse over the long term.

Long term savings

Prof. Belkin believes that it's possible for any country to adopt Israel's strategies for reducing blindness. Although the initial costs can be daunting such as the price of top-notch medications and setting up clinics it's a worthwhile investment. Treating blindness as it develops rather than preventing it from the start is much more expensive for the healthcare system in the long term. Diabetes clinics in Israel pay for themselves in about two years' time, he says, factoring in their impact on preventing greater health concerns.

But even the most advanced and widely available treatments can't be effective if patients are not examined by an ophthalmologist and don't adhere to the treatment regimen. In Israel, an exceptionally high rate of adherence to these regimens is a major contributor to the prevention of blindness.


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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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