Grey Eyes

by Federico Bartolomei, picture by Attilio Ruffo

The sight prevention program for older adults.

The World Health Organization has been repeating for years that low vision, in its present state, represents a priority for health services of all countries. It is estimated that approximately 11 million people in Europe have low vision and one million are blind.Poster of Grey Eyes
Among the causes of blindness in industrialized countries, infectious diseases have diminished, but the so-called degenerative forms of blindness have significantly increased because of aging and accidents.
The reasons for this are numerous. The first reason is certainly the progressively ageing population (in Italy, it is estimated that there are three older adults for one child).
Moreover, recent studies indicate that the number of people over 65 will more than double between 1995 and 2030; consequently, it is estimated that visual disabilities are expected to drastically increase with time. Blindness usually increases 20 times past the ages of 65 to 90. Basically, for people between the age of 65 and 74, there is a prevalence rate of 0.4-0.8% and 2.3% and more for those who are 75 years old and over.
Prevention means to act before the diagnosis of a disease and in ophtalmology there are many pathologies that can be adapted to prevention programs, Older adults playing cardsindividually as well as collectively.
However, the frequent conditions of poverty, solitude, abandonment, depression and psychophysiological decline, often present in ageing, can influence heavily the possibility of an early diagnosis, of adequate therapy and making sure that all precautions are taken to preserve sight.
In this context, Grey Eyes, the sight prevention program, was introduced. It is coordinated by the Institute for the Blind F. Cavazza, in collaboration with ANCESCAO, within the framework of activities relating to Project C.I.F.R.A. and funded by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna.
During the whole month of February, free visits were made to detect potential sight problems in community clinics done in four social centres for citizens: Baraccano, Villa Paradiso, Villa Torchi, Santa Viola. Through this initiative, it was possible to see close to 17,500 persons.
The adopted protocols allowed the early diagnosis of the following diseases: glaucoma, macular degeneration, and very often, visual problems associated with the use of inappropriate corrective lenses (old glasses or ones that are not prescribed for the user's needs).
Bologna's Institute of Optics and Optometry has contributed significantly to the program. As a matter of fact, numerous professionals, who work in clinics and are members of the Union of Optical Clinics of Bologna's ASCOM have participated in the screening project following a rigorous training program offered by the Istituto Superiore di Ottica ed Optometria Benigno Zaccagnini. The activities of the opticians and optometrists of Bologna have been supported by two important companies specialized in lenses for glasses Essilor and Hoya, and allowed those who did not own corrective lenses to acquire some at set lower prices.