Preventing Diabetic Blindness in Mexico
Guanajuato Health Ministry
Midday Rotary Club of San Miguel de Allende Rotary International
Since 2002 VFA has been working with the Health Ministry in the State of Guanajuato, Mexico, to set up a diabetic retinopathy screening and treatment program for the diabetic patients in that state. Because of limitations in the number of local ophthalmologists and optometrists available to conduct screening, VFA has partnered with EyePACS LLC, a telemedicine company based in San Jose, California, to institute a telemedicine-based screening program using digital retinal photography. Together, we train primary care physicians in the community health clinics of Guanajuato to capture retinal images and upload them onto the internet to the EyePACS website, where volunteer eye care providers evaluate the images remotely, reporting their findings back to the community clinics by email.
Patients needing laser treatment or other therapeutic interventions are referred to the local Municipal Hospitals. The capacity of the Blindness Prevention Program was greatly boosted by donations of laser and digital retinal imaging equipment to the Municipal Hospital in San Miguel de Allende by the local Midday Rotary Club of San Miguel de Allende and Rotary International. Because of limitations in the eye care workforce at the hospitals, VFA has also recruited volunteer ophthalmologists from the U.S. and Europe to travel to Guanajuato to perform treatments. The long-term goal is to establish a screening and treatment program that is independently run by the local Public Health Departments, and ultimately to export this public health model to other states in Mexico.