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Who we are

The Instituto da Visão-IPEPO is a non-profit private-sector organization in São Paulo that is affiliated with the Department of Ophthalmology of the Paulista School of Medicine, Federal University of São Paulo-UNIFESP. The institute was created in 1990 with the mission to promote, implement, and execute actions to forward research, assistance, and education in eye care and vision. Epidemiologic work, identification of risk factors, and implementation of primary, secondary, and tertiary eye care through sustainable and adjusted geographic and cultural features have been pursued strategically.

Primary initiatives have been taken to promote eye care and fight avoidable blindness in São Paulo and in remote, underserved rural areas, such as the low-income areas of the Brazilian Amazon. Epidemiologic surveys of older adults showed a much higher prevalence of blindness (4.8%) in the Amazon compared to São Paulo (1.5%). Periodic campaigns targeting cataract and uncorrected refractive errors, the main causes of blindness and visual impairment in the Brazilian Amazon, are ongoing. In the past 10 years, 28 municipalities have become involved in joint programs with other institutions. The lack of access to individuals living in the rainforest, the geography, and climate peculiar to the Amazon region require specific operational strategies to optimize the logistics and costs of travel and equipment transportation. Experienced clinical teams including young ophthalmologists-in-training joined local professionals along with international volunteers to perform cataract and other ocular surgeries using local resources and high-technology equipment provided free of charge. Local community leaders encourage participation of patients who can benefit from surgery and glasses. A component of the policy of the Instituto da Visão-IPEPO is to increase the efficiency of existing ocular and medical facilities to improve access to eye care services.

Actions are tailored to specific regional blinding diseases. Screening and treatment programs for diabetic retinopathy have been established with teleophthalmology to enhance diagnosis and prevent blindness in São Paulo and other Brazilian cities. Specific activities involve work in trachoma and microfilariosis in the Amazon, toxoplasmosis in Rio Grande do Sul and Zika in Recife, Salvador, and Rio de Janeiro. The institute recently became involved in early visual stimulation programs for Zika-infected children with severe visual impairment. An additional activity is training at different levels of health care that involves physicians, nurses, technologists, and technicians in Community Health and Family Physicians Programs in basic aspects of ocular primary care.