|Cuban Ophthalmology second to none
2012.06.11 - 08:59:40 / email@example.com / Translated by: Pedro A. Fanego Sea
Havana, Cuba. - Dr. Leonel Ramos, head of the ophthalmology service at “Calixto Garcia” Hospital, in Havana, said that specialty in Cuba is on a par with the first world. He told Radio Rebelde that the specialists’ expertise, technology and the research projects particularly stand out.
He said US blockade has a negative impact on the ophthalmology services. "In fact, the supply of inputs like silicone oil, blades and gauzes, among others used in retina surgery, suffer most. The same happens with equipment and technologies of which they are sole owners. We cannot by from many companies because they belong to US transnationals and their prices are exorbitant. For instance, we have to buy intraocular lenses in third countries. We have no access to US market and therefore, everything is much more expensive."
He elaborated on the main eye diseases in Cuba at different ages and said that children mostly suffer ametropy for refractive disorders. Infectious diseases are frequent at all ages. The use of fashionable cosmetic lenses has serious consequences for young people. They are likely to cause injuries like ulcers that may cause the loss of the cornea. Adults mostly suffer glaucoma and infectious diseases. Cataracts are a scourge for the third age, but this reversible blindness can be corrected by implanting lenses.
The young doctor, only 41 years old, commented on preventive measures to keep good eyesight. The most important are hygienic measures that prevent infectious diseases. “Children ought to see ophthalmologists since the early stages of life to discover whether they have refractive disorders. Such visual dysfunctions can be timely corrected, thus preventing future visual weakness. Patients with associated chronic diseases, like high blood pressure or diabetes, must see a specialist regularly. They need to check the retina for potential diabetic retinopathy, which could be prevented at earlier stages. Glaucoma patients should be under close surveillance to prevent further complications.
He said, “Ophthalmological assistance is effectively organized throughout the health care system. Policlinics provide primary assistance, whereas hospitals deal with specialized care. Patients in need of tertiary or specialized services are treated at the “Ramon Pando Ferrer” Ophthalmology Institute. This center, located in the Cuban capital, governs ophthalmology policies in Cuba.”
Dr. Ramos refuted the popular belief that computers damage eyesight. "Not at all, if you take proper care, like sitting at a certain distance from the computer. Proper lighting is strongly recommended and about every hour, you must refresh your eyes for at least 10 minutes. You should look sideways and it is much better to stare at the horizon. Computers don't wear your eyes out as many believe", he concluded.
Dr. Ramos, also first-degree specialist in comprehensive general medicine and ophthalmology, explained his current project. He is introducing in his hospital one of the safest surgical techniques of modern ophthalmology for treating cataracts. The gashes on patient’s eye are smaller; visual results are far better and recovery is faster. "We are encouraging specialists to practice that kind of cataract surgery.”
He is one of the founders of “Operacion Milagro” (an ALBA-funded project that has provided eye surgery for millions of Third World patients that could not afford such treatment). He served as internationalist cooperator in Guatemala, where he restored the vision of about 3 000 patients in one year. He commented on such humanitarian mission. "We proved that UN goals of “2020 without preventable blindness” can be reached. However, it takes political will to do it. We served in many Latin American and African countries and performed almost two million surgeries. This increased the prestige of Cuban medicine, particularly ophthalmology, all over the world."
Continued professional upgrading and innate dedication to his job characterize Dr. Ramos’ daily routine. By: Teresa Valenzuela