There is an urgent need to invest in vision health to preserve the autonomy of older people

Today, 57% of French people say they are concerned about their eye health (2). At a time when the aging of our society is an undeniable demographic reality, this phenomenon should urgently call into question our policy of taking responsibility for the quality of life of our older people, and more broadly for the care we give to their well-being. aging in our society.

Quality of vision for the benefit of quality of life

The eye is the most powerful sense organ. However, vision health is too rarely considered as a lever for improving the quality of life of the elderly. Moreover, almost 40% of them indicate that they do not recover well (3) (average age 84.3 years), which seriously complicates their daily life: moving around, holding cultural events, sharing with others… Because the loss visual abilities, in addition to discomfort, is the risk of isolation, psychological stress, falls and, ultimately, before falling into addiction.

The organization of care and training in the vision sector is still not optimal

The structure of eye defects and diseases has evolved as a result of the dual impact of population aging and lifestyle changes. Today, our health care system is unable to provide adequate preventive vision health policies: it suffers from many deficiencies in screening. While patients are paying for the consequences of a policy that has for too long favored a mostly curative approach. At the same time, territorial disparities in access to care and medical deserts are growing strongly. Thus, 10 million people live more than 20 minutes from the nearest ophthalmologist (4), and it is estimated that it takes an average of 49 days to receive an appointment (5).

The medical offer is not sufficiently accessible and not adapted for elderly patients, especially since the latter often delay consulting an ophthalmologist due to negligence, ignorance or fear of the diagnosis. Fascination after the complexity and sequence of vision health problems.

An interdisciplinary response to optimize our approach to vision health

Faced with this alarming situation, and with the upcoming “old age” law and the introduction of the fifth pillar of “welfare dependency” looming, it is necessary to go beyond a single common comment on our problems of medical desertion and delays in seeing eye doctors, to propose specific interdisciplinary solutions to improve the vision health care of the elderly. It is in this context that “Vision d’avance” was created, a think-tank that brings together leading experts in the field of vision health, ageing, care and older people, all interested in fueling the public debate with “pragmatic ” and “innovative” ideas. It offers 4 areas of research:

  • Better assess the vision health needs of the elderly, as recent research shows that age-related vision disorders and eye diseases are neither inexorable nor universal.
  • Develop and improve a culture of prevention to reduce the modified risks of exacerbation of eye pathologies.
  • Improve access to ophthalmic care and professionals in all areas of the territory by rethinking the offer of medical deserts.
  • We are betting on digital health to promote multi-professional teamwork

These four areas should enable better control of the vision health needs of older people and better organization, allowing us to integrate innovation into our strategies. This should allow us to face the challenges of increasing life expectancy, the development of chronic diseases, social inequality and territorial inequality.

Considering innovation and the digital environment as new therapeutic possibilities and diagnostic tools that allow us to look at the deployment of digital support, telemedicine and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in ophthalmology. Bringing vision care closer to patients requires a combination of proximity and relevant skills.

“Knowledge, prevention, education, bringing people together” should become the keywords of our approach so that vision health is finally better integrated into our health care policy.

(1) Press release for the government’s anti-falls plan announced on 21 February 2022, University Hospital of Toulouse and Gerontopol
(2) IPSOS Study for SNOF, February 2022
(3) ALIENOR Research, October 2016
(4) National Agency of Territorial Unity. Territory Observatory 2022
(5) SNOF Waiting Time Study 2020 (May 28, 2021)

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* Front vision:

  • Sylvain Bouton, Managing Director of Théa Pharma France
  • Gauthier Bousquet, Orthoptist at Robert Debre Hospital
  • Monique Cambier, Old’Up Association, member of the Vision Institute at the Silversight Department
  • Marie-Claire Chain, Association Old’Up, workshop facilitator for doctor-patient relationships
  • Edward Gasser, CEO, Tilak HealthCare
  • Mathieu Gerber, founder and president of Les Opticiens mobiles
  • Jean-Francois Korobelnyk, professor of ophthalmology, head of the ophthalmology department of Bordeaux University Hospital
  • Jean-Luc Novella, Professor of Geriatrics, President of Gérontopole Champagne-Ardenne
  • Francois Pelin, ophthalmologist, co-founder of Point Vision
  • Serge Reznikoff, professor of ophthalmology, former senior official of the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Jean-Francois Tripodi, former managing director of Carte Blanche Partners