IN CONVERSATION: Juan Carlos, Director General of Salud Digna on vision care in Mexico - Essilor See Change

Salud Digna provides diagnostic services that are accessible to low-income Mexicans, enabling patients to seek early treatment and avoid costly medical interventions. As a long-time EssilorLuxottica partner, Salud Digna works closely with the Vision for Life fund, EssilorLuxottica Mexico and 2.5 New Vision Generation to provide vision care products and services.

We spoke to Juan Carlos, Director General of Salud Digna about the current state of vision care in Mexico, the challenges and opportunities, and how it was affected by the pandemic.

  1. What is the current state of vision care in Mexico and in rural areas of the country in particular?

There is an issue of distribution of qualified personnel throughout the country; though there are many professionals specialized in optometry, they are concentrated in large cities, which means that most remote cities have little to no access to vision care. This is largely due to the fact that there are no optometry schools in many Mexican states. The existing ones have low enrollment rates, which results in a talent shortage. To alleviate this shortage, we have developed a refraction exam practice diploma which contains 600 hours of training in partnership with the National Council for Standardization and Certification of Labor Skills (CONOCER).

  1. In addition to the lack of professionals in visual health, how has COVID-19 impacted access to vision care in Mexico?

At the start of the pandemic when quarantine measures were implemented, there was a very significant decrease in demand for vision care services; in 2020, there was a 19% decrease in eye tests. The first quarter of 2021 followed a similar trend, however, we noticed that as vaccination uptake increases and the rate of infections decreases, our patients are returning to the clinics for vision care services. In 2021 we expect to have performed close to 3.2 million eye exams, which will be one million more than in 2020.

  1. How do you work with the Vision for Life fund, EssilorLuxottica Mexico and 2.5 New Vision Generation to provide vision care products and services?

We have worked with the Vision for Life fund on lens donation programs on different occasions. They have supported us with donations of ophthalmic lenses, amounting to more than 20,000 lenses per event, to low-income children. They have also supported us by providing equipment and instruments for clinics located in the most marginalized areas, such as Chiapas and Oaxaca.

  1. What are some upcoming projects that you are excited about?

We were in Paris a few years ago at the EssilorLuxottica research and development center, where we saw the designs for a 360° consultation room. We agreed that once it was ready, it would be implemented in Salud Digna and that is how the first 360° consultation room in the world was installed in Salud Digna, offering the latest EssilorLuxottica technologies and instruments to conduct comprehensive eye exams so underserved patients in Mexico can gain access to excellent quality eyecare services. This year, we’ll be installing the 360° consultation rooms at 45 of our most relevant locations.

This interview has been translated and edited for brevity.