More than 260,000 Murcians could need glasses or contact lenses, but their economic situation prevents them from buying them. This is one of the conclusions presented last Wednesday during the presentation of the ‘White Book of Vision. Covid-19 special edition ‘, the reference work in the optical sector prepared by the Spanish Federation of Associations of the Optical Sector (Fedao) and the public utility association Vision y Vida. This book offers the main factors and magnitudes of optics in Spain. This fifth edition, for the first time, is published in digital format to analyze how the pandemic has affected this primary care health sector.
In the event, in which Inés Mateu, president of Fedao, Salvador Alsina, president of Vision y Vida, and Elisenda Ibáñez, coordinator, participated, the economic data of greatest interest were explained, while recalling the consequences that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on our vision, demanding that the Government start aid for the purchase of optical equipment, such as the Italian Bonus Vista, to avoid what is already known as “visual poverty”.
And it is that, six out of ten people in Spain need optical equipment in your day to day to enjoy a good vision. The need becomes more latent as citizens age: 44.44% of young people do not have perfect vision, reaching 87.9% in the case of those between 65 and 84 years old.
However, the data in this White Paper show a worrying aspect: in the strip population over 85 years, in which according to his estimates 100% of people would require optical equipment, the figure for wearing glasses and contact lenses was reduced by 10 points, reaching 77.5%.
Professionals in the sector wonder if these data tell us about a lack of review or follow-up so that these people receive optical advice on how to respond to their needs or if, on the contrary, we are dealing with what is already known as “visual poverty”. the impossibility of acquiring the optical equipment necessary to cover visual needs due to an economic problem.
This is coupled with the fact that we know that lower socioeconomic ranks have greater visual difficulties. Thus, 81.5% of the population that occupies a low-qualified position does not have visual or hearing limitations, while the figure rises to 91.3% in those with high qualifications.
With these data in mind, the sector explained at a press conference that it has been working for about a year to get the Government to approve a National Visual Health Plan with the involvement of state, regional and local agents that allow monitoring the state of vision of each citizen from the moment of their birth until their last days.
Visual bonus for the purchase of glasses and contact lenses
In Italy, the Government approved in December 2020 a aid system for the purchase of optical equipment for people in greatest need. Thus, anyone with an income of less than 15,000 euros could request a 50 euro voucher to renew your glasses or contact lenses. The aid, in the articulation phase, will come from a total of 15 million euros during a three-year period (2021, 2022 and 2023) that will be able to help about 100,000 people per year.
However, although the sector considers that it is better to start with something modest to be able to improve the situation, it has analyzed through the data provided by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) and the Health Survey what would be the ideal proposal for meet all visual needs and achieve 100% good vision in Spain.
Taking into account the data provided by the INE for 2019, 20.7% of the population of Spain lives at «risk of poverty». That is, 9,734,425 people live with less than 60% of the average annual income per consumption unit according to the number of people (the poverty line in Spain in 2019 was 9,009 euros). In the Region of Murcia, the poverty threshold rate affects 27.7%.
«In the case of Murcia, we are talking about 260,452 who could not afford the purchase of their visual equipment or for those who purchase them would destabilize their domestic economy, that is, 62.94% of those who live on the poverty line in the autonomous community, “explains Salvador Alsina, president of Vision and Life.
Thus, the sector claims that, if we want to help to have 100% good visual health in Spain, this figure should be reached and the bonus should be 100 euros, half the total average amount of complete glasses or contact lenses for a year . The Vision y Vida association recalls that the Government approved a Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan with which it wants to reinforce prevention and health promotion. “Promoting vision care and achieving 100% good visual health in Spain is essential to avoid facing a high social cost in the future,” recalls Alsina.
Taking as a starting point that, during the Covid-19 pandemic, 57% of citizens have seen their vision worsened, how the symptoms of visual problem were a constant in the life of 44.5% of the population and how our life habits have changed, forcing us to spend more time indoors and forcing our close vision, we must initiate actions that help us to quickly recover the situation and promote 100% good visual health in Spain.
However, there is a great barrier: citizens are not taking care of their visual health in a preventive way. Of the 70% that after ending the State of Alarm said that they would be reviewed, only 18.2% have done so. In the same way, we have not sought a remedy for the symptoms of visual problem, which is still latent for 42.1% of the population. In addition, child vision care is still relegated to the background (59.1% of people who have not checked their children will not do so because they have not complained).
Spain (47 million citizens) can boast of being uno of the European countries with a greater representation of optical health establishments by number of inhabitants. We have practically the same number of opticians as Italy (60 million) and it is very close to the number of German opticians, which almost doubles us in population. Thus, we closed 2020 with 10,039 opticians in the country, 0.24% less than the previous year.
There are currently 404 establishments in Murcia optics. Any population center of more than 15,000 people has an optical health establishment. Thus, 3,698 people correspond to each Murcia optician. The average in Spain is 4,684 people per optical health establishment.