"If you ask most people about the last time they had their intraocular pressure checked, they would say they don’t know," says Dr Rafael Navarro. IMO Foundation aims to create general awareness of the critical importance of prevention in many eye disorders. For example, glaucoma is a silent condition that does not usually have symptoms; it can only be detected by an eye examination. Or patients with diabetic retinopathy can have very good vision throughout the disorder.
"After a certain age, almost everyone will suffer from some form of eye problem," says Dr José García-Arumí. The aim of prevention is to ensure that patients’ eyes are healthy while young and vision remains good for longer. Older people already have difficulty moving and suffer from other physical conditions, so it is essential for them to, at least, keep their vision healthy in order to be able to read, watch television and relate to others. In some cases, treatment for a disorder such as glaucoma can be effective, but does not restore lost vision. For these cases, prevention is much more important than treatment. "What is prevention?" asks Juan José López Burniol: "It means doing something before the onset of a condition that is likely to occur or when there are signs that it is occurring to ensure that it does not develop and consolidate. In essence, prevention is raising awareness."
In 2010, the Foundation launched a leading initiative for the prevention and early detection of eye diseases. Advances in ophthalmology are no longer only aimed at curing diseases, but also at actively involving the patient in prevention. The new initiative and its prevention campaigns involve publishing eye health prevention and early detection brochures and materials, organising talks for patients, arranging free early diagnosis check-ups and participation in events, some of which are international, such as World Glaucoma Week, an AMD prevention campaign, Conferences on "Diabetes and Vision" and a Children’s Eye Health Campaign at the Barcelona Children’s Festival.
The Foundation’s campaigns also seek to promote the creation of a framework of collaboration between ophthalmologists and professionals from other eye health-related medical specialities, such as internists, endocrinologists, paediatricians, neurologists and other specialists, who, due to the nature of the diseases they treat, are in a position to contribute additional information for the early detection of eye disorders.