Eye Health Screening in Migrant Population: Primary Care Experience in Lazio (Italy) from the PROTECT Project
Italy serves as a gateway to Europe, receiving numerous refugees and migrants in need of social, economic, and health assistance. Impaired vision is a prevalent issue affecting over 2.2 billion people globally, with a higher impact on vulnerable populations like refugees. To address this disparity, the PROTECT project was designed to assess eye health in vulnerable applicants and international protection holders within the head-neck area. The study involved 3023 migrants, and portable diagnostic instruments were used to conduct eye screenings. The results revealed that 16.6% of subjects reported vision impairment, with common diagnoses being refractive errors, strabismus, red eye, cataract, and ocular hypertension. The PROTECT project provides essential preventive care for head-neck diseases and highlights the value of eye screenings in identifying and addressing ocular diseases, especially in disadvantaged populations. Impaired vision has far-reaching implications for various aspects of life, health, and economic development, and the burden is particularly significant in low- and middle-income settings and marginalized communities. Italy's position as a major receiving country for migrants makes it an ideal location to study this issue. Through initiatives like the PROTECT project, the early detection and management of vision impairment can significantly improve clinical outcomes and reduce the burden on individuals and society. This paper discusses the importance of eye health in vulnerable populations and emphasizes the need for comprehensive eye screenings to address preventable ocular diseases in these communities.