As a mother of three, I am convinced that parents will do just about anything for their children to be healthy. When I learned that poor vision could affect my children’s overall health, academic performance, and future opportunities, I did not hesitate to make appointments with an optometrist. I was surprised, however, to learn that two of my three sons needed correction for myopia and one had a serious astigmatism. I blame my ignorance about my children’s vision on the fact that I personally had never experienced the need for vision correction and, thereby, assumed my children’s eyes were fine. It was only years later that I, too, would need correction due to the progressive aging of my eyes. Vision care is truly a lifetime commitment for everyone.
Globally, 63% of visually impaired children in the 0-15 age group simply need spectacles to change the way they see the world. In fact, uncorrected refractive error is the leading cause of vision impairment around the world and the second leading cause of blindness – yet 80% of vision impairment is correctable for all ages!
A recent study of children, adolescents and adults across 14 Mexican states was the first to provide data on this topic, finding that more than 59% of the population suffers from uncorrected refractive errors, with myopia leading at 24.8% across all age groups.
In the age group 10 to 29, myopia was the most common refractive error, and frequency seemed to increase across this younger population. Studies repeatedly emphasize the importance of diagnosing refractive errors at an early age. Yet many parents, like I was, are still unaware their children have a problem. The study also shows there was a relationship between age and all refractive errors, with approximately 60% of those with refractive errors being aged 50 and older.
According to the authors, across Mexico, competing eye health priorities also mean that eyecare providers sometimes neglect refractive error services in favor of more significant ocular diseases. It is necessary to provide refractive services at all levels of the healthcare system, especially at the primary level where services are provided to the community.
Clinics like Salud Digna are breaking down barriers to care by creating access to an eye care professionals in local communities at an affordable cost. By integrating vision care into the overall healthcare of their patients, they are changing the way Mexico sees the world one patient at a time.
As we look to change the landscape of healthy vision across a lifetime, we must work to ensure that the benefits of refraction, correction and vision protection are recognized as priorities in healthcare.