1,500 Israelis go blind every year

Preventing blindness would save NIS 62 million a year for the National Insurance Institute (NII) budget alone.

December 5, 2016 22:29
1 minute read.
eye exam

Eye exam [Illustrative]. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Fifteen hundred Israelis go blind in an average year, even though about half of the cases can prevented by early diagnosis and medical follow up, according to the organization Lirot. The group, which promotes awareness of eye health, said children up to the age of six and adults over the age of 60 are at the highest risk of vision disability.

Preventing blindness would save NIS 62 million a year for the National Insurance Institute (NII) budget alone, Lirot said on Monday. A total of 23,500 people around the country are registered as being blind, plus another 100,000 who have moderate to serious vision disabilities.

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In addition, another half-million Israelis are at risk of going blind or suffering from serious vision disability due to age-related macular degeneration (200,000 people), glaucoma (130,000) or diabetic retinopathy (160,000).

The NII provides an annual allocation of NIS 31,000 to every blind person; other benefits include income-tax exemptions for those who work, significant reductions in property-tax payments to the municipalities and local authorities and more.

Lirot director-general Nadine Hollander said glaucoma and damage to the retina from high sugar levels due to uncontrolled diabetes are easy to diagnose. But many people are unaware of these conditions because they don’t go to a doctor to be examined, she said.

The voluntary organization has organized a program supported by the NII for mobile vans where people can undergo free periodic eye tests. The most important age group is the elderly who have less-than-ideal accessibility to examinations of their eyes.

Of 11,000 tested so far, 11% were found to be in the process of going blind. They were offered treatment and rehabilitation to prevent them from losing their vision entirely. According to leading ophthalmologists, the number of new cases of blindness can be reduced by half.

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