Since ancient times, tourism has been a phenomena of society, culture, religion and economics. Today, it describes travel outside local and regional environments for recreation, leisure, business and other purposes. Tourism is a popular global activity, and many countries depend on it for their livelihood.
After a tourism slowdown following the global recession of 2008 and 2009, international travel is making a gradual and continual recovery. Much of this is due to a new phenomenon known as medical tourism, a sub-category of international tourism. Also called health tourism or global healthcare, medical tourism describes the practice of traveling across international borders to for health care and medical services.
Medical travelers seek numerous medical treatments and elective procedures abroad. Practically every type of health care is available overseas including cosmetic surgery, psychiatry, alternative therapies and convalescent care. Many sub-categories of medical tourism are growing faster than others; ophthalmology is among them.
What is Ophthalmology?
Ophthalmology is a medical specialty that deals with the structure and function of the eyes. Ophthalmologists diagnose and treat various eye disorders and diseases through medications, corrective lenses and surgery. Their skills and expertise manage every imaginable eye problem, from cataracts and glaucoma to macular degeneration and corneal disease.
Ophthalmologists are experts at treating eye cancer, eyelid diseases, vitreo-retinal diseases and neurological eye disorders. These eye care professionals also perform refraction procedures, LASIK and other laser eye surgeries, cosmetic eye surgery and corrective lens services.
Most ophthalmology clinics offer full-service optical shops and contact lens services as well as medical treatments and surgical procedures. Low vision services provide assessments and aids to patients whose vision cannot be corrected or restored by eyeglasses, medications or surgery.
Ophthalmology and Medical Tourism
The rising cost of health care in the United States and other western countries is driving many patients to seek ophthalmology services abroad. Shorter waiting times, medical expertise, first class care and, of course, cost savings are the major attractions of medical tourism. Eye care procedures at medical travel destinations cost a fraction of the price of treatment at home.
The ophthalmology departments at international hospitals and clinics provide quality vision care services. Many of their eye care professionals are educated and trained in the United States and other western countries. From basic eye exams to complex surgical procedures, their highly-trained eye care experts work together to address each patient’s vision needs.
Some eye problems are related to other medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease and autoimmune disorders. In these types of cases, global ophthalmologists work closely with other medical tourism doctors to diagnose and treat the underlying conditions.
The Future of Ophthalmology Abroad
Several current trends affect the future of ophthalmology abroad. These include technological advances in cataract surgery, the age and growing number of cataract patients and stricter insurance and Medicare regulations. Cutting-edge developments in laser eye surgery also play a significant role in vision care's future abroad.
Medical travelers continue to seek ophthalmology services abroad as they witness a rise in progressive treatments outside their home countries. More governments welcome medical travelers today than ever before, and foreign patients receive attentive, personalized care. Moreover, clearer guidelines and international accreditations provide more accountability for medical tourism hospitals and the doctors practicing there.
Medical tourists who seek laser eye surgery and other vision services have easy access to international travel. The growth of global communication and the removal of language barriers will continue to draw international health travelers. Patients will keep crossing international borders for eye care as long as they continue to receive world-class medical services at affordable prices.