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October 2006

Ophthalmology in Venezuela

Arch Ophthalmol. 2006;124(10):1485-1486. doi:10.1001/archopht.124.10.1485

The world's fifth-largest oil producer, Venezuela has long been a country of vast economic inequality. Despite its great wealth, 60% to 80% of Venezuela's 25 million inhabitants live in poverty. The biggest change facing the Venezuelan health care system today is a possible reform by which medicine will be socialized. However, the reform may take up to 15 years to be fully implemented, if in fact it is ever approved.

In our population, 3.5% of patients aged 50 years and older are legally blind (visual acuity <20/200) in both eyes and 6.8% in 1 eye. If we include cases with less visual dysfunction (<20/60), 4.2% of patients aged 50 years and older are affected in both eyes and 7.8% in 1 eye. The major causes of visual dysfunction in patients aged 50 years and older in Venezuela are cataract (51.4%), glaucoma (10.9%), and posterior segment diseases (8.7%).1

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