Virgilio Lima
Head of the Ophthalmology Service
Hospital Juárez de México
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View from the Top

Medical Equipment Transforming Ophthalmological Practices

By Miriam Bello | Fri, 08/28/2020 - 09:04

Q: How is Hospital Juárez de México positioned in the area of ophthalmology?

A: Hospital Juárez de México’s ophthalmology practice is a national reference. Our services include everything from routine checkups to more complex ailments, such as cataracts and glaucoma. Cataracts, for example, can cause blindness and require a very careful care that not all hospitals can offer. We have successfully treated diabetic retinopathy, which is the leading cause of blindness in Mexico, through laser treatments and surgical procedures. The hospital is also a leader in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation on diabetic retinopathy. We do corneal transplants, which is one of the priorities of the ophthalmology specialty. We also treat glaucoma, which is becoming one of the major causes of irreversible blindness in Mexican society due to changes in our demographic age.

Q: How does the hospital promote prevention related to ophthalmology?

A: Our preventive efforts are very focused on diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma because when these two conditions progress, the damage is irreversible. These conditions do not show symptoms or cause discomfort, meaning that an in-depth checkup is required. People can present catastrophic problems from one day to another without knowing that the ailment has been developing for 20 years. This has driven the hospital to channel all efforts to early detection. Diabetic retinopathy is a bit easier because the group is already targeted and you can do the checkups as part of a broader examination, but for glaucoma it is a bit more complex. We constantly encourage patients above 40 to have regular checkups for early identification of the possibility of a glaucoma complication.

Q: How has the acquisition of a Canon camera device for diabetic retinopathy changed diagnostics in the hospital?

A: This has been one of the most valuable additions to the hospital because it has generated a very relevant impact on our work and on patients.  Through Canon’s camera, the diagnostic process has improved a great deal. In the past, we would use the traditional diagnostic method of applying eye drops that would dilate the pupil to hydrate it and detect possible lesions. The problem is that every time the pupil is dilatated, near vision is impaired transiently and the effects can last four hours or even more, depending on the patient, which means that that person will need a companion to assist them after the checkup. Moreover, the person cannot return to work that day.

Canon’s diagnostic camera allows us to capture a back-of-the-eye photograph without the need for eye drops, which automatically eliminates all inconveniences. A diabetic patient can normally suffer retina damage but in a routine evaluation other  parts of the eye need to be analyzed to determine the damage. This means that the patient has to go through the traditional diagnostic process more than once. With the camera, we are able to detect the damage in one take much faster. As a doctor, I am able to see the whole spectrum in one take. If the patient presents no evident damage, there is no need for a follow up consultation. At a federal hospital, these time savings are valuable. In the past, our average consultation schedule had a four-month waiting list. With the camera, the longest waiting period is a month. During the pandemic, this also means less risks of contagion for the patient and their companion if they have one.

Moreover, the hospital is investing time in research of the cases we attend. All our research projects are registered with the Ministry of Health and we publish every finding. This is one of the reasons why medical professionals encourage the acquisition of medical devices. Besides contributing to our professional work and the patient, equipment can benefit our research and contribute to science. This area of the hospital has generated more than 100 scientific publications on diabetic retinopathy and other retinal diseases are the only reference resource that there is in the country. As a result, many companies have approached us and offered us trials on different devices, which is also beneficial for us and our patients. We know there are budgetary constraints, which is why we are constantly looking for sponsoring options to contribute to our work.

Q: How has COVID-19 affected ophthalmological care?

A: Hospital Juárez de México has been completely reconverted into a COVID-19 hospital. Our ophthalmological services have been interrupted temporarily, so we are concerned about our patients. Many of them are above 60 years old and suffer from diabetes and hypertension, which makes them highly vulnerable to the virus. I think that that despite the complications, it is better to wait than to expose them to contagion.

One of the complications of ophthalmology is the close contact with the patient’s respiratory tract, so we require very strict measures to operate. The eye is a very small organ with a lot of care needs and there are already international protocols seeking to secure ophthalmological consultations to do our work in the safest way possible.

Q: What are the hospital’s near-term goals for the department of ophthalmology?

A: We are looking forward to resuming our cataract procedures as soon as possible because we do have a large group of patients who need this and longer wait times could be adverse. Moreover, we also want to resume treatment of diabetic retinopathy cases to avoid further permanent damage.

 

 

Hospital Juarez de México is at the forefront of clinical research, advancing medical care and stimulating the application of knowledge and educational research.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst