Carol Camino, from IMO, is president of the society, that aims to encourage professional networking to raise collaboration and research.
The Spanish Society of Low Vision Specialists (SEEBV) has recently been founded, after having been originally suggested in 2005 and receiving its final impetus at an International Low Vision Conference held in Canada in 2008. As a result of this meeting of professionals, the foundations were laid to form the society’s Executive Committee, which is currently composed of 25 professionals and chaired by the low vision specialist at IMO, Carol Camino.
One of the main objectives of the new society is to provide information on low vision to professionals and patients in Spain. As Carol Camino explains: "We have to raise awareness among ophthalmologists who refer the low vision patients they cannot treat to low vision specialists."
In No Man’s Land
This joint strategy is vital to ensure that people with low vision do not find themselves in a "no man’s land" of total neglect, since they cannot benefit from medical or surgical treatment and are not classified as blind.
In the European Union, low vision affects 20 million people and reaches 45 million worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation. In Spain, one in six people over the age of 65 suffer from irreversible loss of vision, and the percentage increases with age. In fact, it is expected that in the next 20 years, the number of people with visual impairment will increase by 25%.
The society’s awareness-raising work is also aimed at the patients themselves. According to Carol Camino, "most people affected by low vision have some residual vision that can be maximised and enhanced so that, in many cases, they can regain their independence."
Research and coordination
Another important objective of the SEEVB is to promote research, especially through the financing of low vision laboratories, which currently operate in countries like the United States, where the speciality has been established for more than 30 years. In Europe, however, the speciality has only existed for about 15 years. The new society hopes to facilitate better coordination of Spanish specialists through the registering of professionals and the development of a code of professional practice.