Improvement of Eye Care in China

Throughout the past four decades, China has emerged from national isolation to become one of the world’s leaders in ophthalmic care.

In the 1970’s, Chinese scholars began visiting the West to learn about new medical practices. Combined with the implementation of a Chinese-language medical journals, these endeavors helped ophthalmic knowledge in China reach unprecedented heights. University eye centers of China restored many of their programs, and the Chinese Ophthalmological Society reestablished their national congresses. In 2002, the Chinese Ophthalmological Society joined the International Council of Ophthalmology, further assisting China’s rise to leadership in the ophthalmic community.

Government initiatives have also been critical toward improving ophthalmic treatment. With the implementation of a government health care system combined with loans given to the private sector, China established a dual system that has made eye care affordable and easily accessible. Furthermore, the government has subsidized various endeavors to perform cataract extractions in rural areas in order to decrease the high incidence of cataract blindness.

China has also made enormous strides toward developing treatment for diabetic retinopathy. The prevalence of this eye disease has increased dramatically as diabetes permeates the expanding urban population. By analyzing differences in lifestyle and diet across the population, educating the public about preventative strategies, and organizing efficient screening and treatment centers, China has created a comprehensive model to manage the disease.

These efforts have extended China’s eye care programs, specifically those for cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Other developing countries emerging from isolation should mimic China’s strategies if they too want to improve the quality of opthalmic treatment for their citizens.

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