The last several years have been that of growth of Ophthalmology in Jamaica. Several new technologies have increased in Jamaica with the introduction and development of pattern scanning micropulse laser, selective laser trabeculoplasty, corneal crosslinking, advances in Micro Incisional Vitrectomy Surgery (MIVS) from 23G to 25G then 27 G vitrectomies, and refractive surgery. Diagnostic investigations such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) and OCT- A (retinal angiogram) have allowed us to make better diagnostic and prognostic evaluation of common ophthalmologic diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, retinal arterial and vein occlusion, macula oedema and age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).
The OSJ has also undergone growth and with collaboration with ORBIS and VISION 2020 Links. This year is pleased to again include additional concurrent conferences for our Ophthalmic nurses, ophthalmic assistants and technicians in association with the Flying Eye Hospital Orbis and our Diabetic Retinopathy Screeners and graders in association with VISION 2020 Links. This will enhance the training of DRS photographers and screeners. Diabetic Retinopathy is a cause of preventable blindness, in which we can all be a part of prevention, whether it be through patient education, support or management. Jamaica has an 11.9% prevalence of diabetes in our adult population (~200,000 people). All type II DM must have an annual dilated eye examination from diagnosis onwards. Can we manage to screen and treat all these patients effectively?
Diabetic eye disease is a significant cause of visual morbidity in our working-age patients. Although we have intravitreal anti-VEGF agents, lasers and surgical treatment for diabetic retinopathy, patients present very late to their ophthalmologists. Diabetic Retinopathy Screening (DRS) is essential in reducing visual loss from this avoidable cause of blindness. It is such an important area, that the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust (QEDJT), a charitable organisation set up when Queen Elizabeth achieved 60 years on the throne, has extended funding to the commonwealth to reduce this disease, hereby reducing avoidable blindness. This will allow us to set up island-wide DRS screening (by a digital camera, photographers, screeners and graders), now present at the UHWI, Mandeville, Portmore Health Center, Kingston Public Hospital, Diabetes Association, ultimately making this health care accessible to all.
Collaboration is the key to success and we welcome the participation of the Flying Eye Hospital, Orbis. They will be having their 3-week regional training programme in Kingston Jamaica in partnership with the UHWI. In addition to simulation in week one, they will also cover oculoplastics, cataract and glaucoma in week 2 and phaco, glaucoma, strabismus and medical retina in week 3.
Last year we had started the West Indian Medical Journal OSJ supplement of the conference proceedings. This year we have made more use of our online website.
This year we welcome, Mr Mike Burdon, Consultant Neuro Ophthalmologist and President of the Royal College of Ophthalmology to our conference as the Dr Degazon Speaker. He will also be conducting our Neuro Ophthalmology workshop. The ORBIS volunteer faculty will have their session on cataract and retina at our conference.
The OSJ calls for action from the Ministry of Health for the improvement of access to and quality of eye care services that are an integral part of a national health system. As 80% of the visual impairment is avoidable, we must work towards the global plan, developed in 2013 by the World Health Assembly. The Global Action Plan (GAP) for the Prevention of Avoidable Blindness and Visual Impairment 2014-2019, aims for Universal Eye Health, to reduce avoidable blindness and visual impairment worldwide by 25% by 2019. So, engaging with the Ministry of Health, we hope to improve public-private partnership to deliver sustainable quality Eye Care in Jamaica. Preventative and screening actions are essential in reaching our goal.
I would like to thank the OSJ executives, our speakers who have travelled from all over the globe participants and sponsors, locally and regionally who have helped to make our 2019 conference such a success.
Dr Lizette Mowatt MB;BS, MMedSci, FRCS (Ed), FRCOphth
President/Scientific Chair (OSJ Symposium)