The encouraging scenario of international efforts to eliminate preventable and avoidable blindness is the legacy of public health ophthalmology in the 20th century. With active programs currently in place or beginning for the major cause of blindness in childhood and two of the leading infectious causes of blindness, it is natural that research in eye disease will shift even more heavily toward the leading causes of blindness in the older ages. The age-related eye diseases will rapidly become the most common causes of blindness and visual loss and, with the exception of cataract, are the more difficult to identify, diagnose, and treat. The human misery and social cost of blindness, especially in the countries that can ill afford it, are profound. To combat this problem, epidemiologic research in ophthalmology should look toward the following major areas: 1. the identification and testing of better screening modalities to determine early changes possibly amenable to preventive strategies. This includes detection of vitamin A deficiency as well. 2. the creation of uniform definitions for diseases, particularly glaucoma and early AMD, which have relevance for epidemiologic research into risk factors. 3. increased multidisciplinary research, working with investigators skilled in molecular genetics, biologic markers for age-related diseases, and those interested in new imaging and vision-testing techniques. 4. ongoing work in clinical trials of new approaches to prevent or delay the onset of vision loss from eye disease, including future vaccines for chlamydia and onchocerciasis. The major public health issue of blindness prevention will not disappear in the next century but only shift emphasis to different causes if the current programs achieve the success that is hoped. Future epidemiologic research will continue to require a concerted, sustained, and multidisciplinary effort in order to contribute to the vision research agenda in the next century.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||7|
|State||Published - Jan 1 2000|
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