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15/12/2018 | Diario ELPAIS

Educating for good ocular health

The patient’s education, and the family’s education when taking children into consideration, the permanent training of its Human Resources, the side to side work along with other medical specializations and the early prevention and detection, are the methods by which the British Hospital’s Ophthalmologic Unit ensures a better ocular health for their members.

The British Hospital’s Ophthalmologic Department “bases its functioning on two pillars: the patient’s education and the permanent medical education of its technicians, of its professionals”, summarized its director, Dr. Jorge Benitez.

In the case of children, the patient’s education means “teaching the parents that they have to take their children to medical check-ups, because children don’t usually tell what they feel or what they see. Therefore the parents must be clear that their children need to have ophthalmologic check-ups”.

Furthermore, there are some pathologies that can cause irreversible blindness. “Only if the patient is conscious of that, if they seek professional help, it can be prevented”, warned Benítez.

At the British Hospital “we´ve got the policy of engaging early the patient, specially the children. If any pathology is detected, requiring being controlled more often, this will be indicated to the parent or to the patient. If nothing abnormal was ever detected, then once a year would be the correct frequency for having a check-up in order to do good preventive medicine.”

There are cases such as diabetes, glaucoma, and child poor sight, especially in children under the age of 8, that might lead to poor sight or blindness in the future if not early detected and properly treated”, he explained.

“That is why it`s so important to let the patient know that the high intraocular pressure might lead to irreversible blindness. It´s asymptomatic and it can only be detected at a consultation with an ophthalmologist, with a proper pressure measurement and an ophthalmoscopy” he added.

In the case of the diabetic patient, “it can be metabolically controlled, but the ophthalmoscopy might not show the same, so we can help the endocrinologist, we can tell if the patient is on the right path or not.”

Likewise, he explained, “we´re going to control, alongside with a paediatrician, if the child is developing well his/her sight or not, because we generally develop sight within the first eight years as much”. Therefore, he added, “the importance in case the sight isn’t being well developed so we can do something about it.”

Benítez maintained that “the approach must be multidisciplinary because the body is a whole, the eye is not separated from the rest of the body, and whatever we see can be a reflect of something happening in the body and that the patient might have not felt it yet, or it can be an ocular problem that can have an impact on the body. We need to work as a team in order to approach the patient on a global basis.”

Regarding permanent medical education, Benítez commented that a professional, “specially within the healthcare area and in the twenty-first century, having great technological and scientific knowledge advances, must be up to date and move forward at the same pace of those advances to be able of making correct diagnoses.”