Eye diseases: the situation in Italy

Redazione Emianopsia
The Editorial Staff of Emianopsia
3 minutes
Technological development and increased life expectancy have, inevitably, led to an exponential increase in eye diseases.
Table of contents

    There are various types of eye disease, the latter are in fact very numerous and represent an extremely disabling problem for the subjects who incur in one of these. The main consequence for the patient is the loss of autonomy and independence in everyday life.

    The nature of eye diseases

    Eye diseases can be classified based on their different nature. We distinguish two main categories:

    • infectious diseases, involving loss of vision capacity, especially in developing countries (due to the primary prevention system, in industrialized countries this type of disease has been eradicated). An example of this was the campaign to prevent trachoma: a disease that, in the first half of the 20th century, was widespread and common.
    • degenerative diseases: more frequent in industrialized countries. The latter are not yet linked to specific causes, but rather tend to protract over time in a degenerative manner2.

    Childhood eye diseases

    Among the diseases that cause low vision in children we find:

    • retinal diseases;
    • corneal disease;
    • cataracts;
    • glaucoma;
    • global eye-bulb disease;
    • trauma.

    Ocular pathologies of the adult

    • macular degeneration;
    • degenerative myopia;
    • diabetic retinopathy;
    • simple chronic glaucoma;
    • tapeto-retinal degeneration;
    • distacco della retina;
    • trauma.

    Blindness prevention policies, visual education, and rehabilitation

    So far, we have understood how important prevention is in avoiding eye diseases. The Ministry of Health has investigated on the development of prevention policies that has highlighted some critical issues.

    It is immediately noticeable a non-homogeneous diffusion of visual rehabilitation centres throughout the country. There is a remarkable difference if we compare the two extremes: Lombardy with its fifteen centres; Valle d’Aosta, Marche, Umbria, Abruzzo, Molise, Basilicata, Calabria, and Sardinia with only one.

    This deficiency in the widespread distribution of centres on the national territory forces patients to travel longer distances to receive specific assistance.

    Inherently, another problem is in the presence of unqualified personnel within the centres.

    Visually impairments in Italy

    In Italy there are 4.5 million people that are visually impaired; numbers that in recent years have seen continuous growth because of the progressive increase in average life expectancy: consequently there has been an exponential increase of eye diseases related to aging (macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, retinal vascular pathologies).

    On one hand, the progress that has been made in the field of technology led to a significant reduction in cases of blindness, on the other it has led us to an increase in subjects with partial visual residual sight.

    The same technological advances have had a positive impact on neonatal care, while leading, at the same time, to an increase in both degenerative macular and premature pathologies affecting the eyes.

    Our aim is to set up a process of preventive, therapeutic and rehabilitative intervention, aimed at intercepting the causes of functional damage as soon as possible, to ensure adequate treatment.

    Unfortunately, the numbers of the services offered seem to be too low still.


    1. IAPB ITALIA ONLUS | La prevenzione delle malattie oculari.
    2. Ibid.
    3. Ministero della Salute | Relazione del Ministero della Salute sullo stato di attuazione delle politiche inerenti la prevenzione della cecità, l’educazione e la riabilitazione visiva. 2016
    Redazione Emianopsia
    The Editorial Staff of Emianopsia
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