Considering Eye Care on a Global Level
BY JASON J. NICHOLS, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO
I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to teach and lecture in various locations across the globe. In addition to thinking about culture, wardrobe, and hospitality, I always consider the eye and contact lens profession when traveling to other countries. Being that my primary professional interest resides in cornea and contact lenses, I often first consider the contact lens market in the particular region or country. For example, what's the penetration of silicone hydrogels? Or, is there anything unique about this region such as practitioners fitting high percentages of daily disposables, GP lenses, or orthokeratology? And, what drives these unique practice habits—culture, environment, economy, or something else?
I also observe that the practice of providing eye care vastly differs from one region to the next, in scope as well as in access. It's remarkable to consider how different delivery of eye care is among countries that border each other (and as those of us practicing in the United States know, scope of care differs dramatically even among the states).
The third thing that I consider, and which is the most important and often the most dramatic, is that there are many people in different regions of the world who are in desperate need of basic eye care. For instance, people in many parts of the world need care for blinding but correctable eye conditions such as refractive error or cataracts—treatment of which most practitioners in developed countries consider almost second nature. There are many great volunteer and charitable organizations that support the delivery of eye care in impoverished nations. I'd urge each of you to consider finding a way through either your time or other resources to support such a cause.