In turbulent times – such as the 2020s – remember to fight for the profession, and most importantly, for your patients
Aleksandra Jones | | 2 min read | Opinion
We are barely three years into the 2020s and they are already proving to be one of the most tumultuous decades most of us remember. The most disruptive events of the recent years – the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine among them – have had a direct impact on medical professionals, including ophthalmologists, and it has been no different with the recent unrest in Iran.
The death of Mahsa Amini sparked a conflagration of anti-regime protests worldwide, with demonstrations in Iran seeing security forces use brutal force, including shotguns, against revolting crowds. With many protesters and bystanders being hit with dozens of pellets, shots in the eyes are not uncommon. Over 400 Iranian ophthalmologists have now signed a letter to the Iranian Society of Ophthalmology Secretary General, Mahmoud Jabbarvand, to ensure he is aware of security forces aiming to blind protesters (1). Since mid-September, eye care professionals in Iran have seen over 500 people blinded by pellets and bullets (2).
This is reminiscent of mass protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, which were met with brutal suppression tactics, including the use of rubber bullets. American ophthalmologists also made sure to advocate for their patients and the general public. In June 2020, the AAO released a statement, calling on “domestic law enforcement officials to immediately end the use of rubber bullets to control or disperse crowds of protesters” (3). In “No Magic Bullet,” Ravi Goel wrote, “As ophthalmologists, it is our job to represent the best interests of our patients, whether in the exam room or the statehouse” (4), speaking for the thousands of patient advocates among you.
Although in these unsettled times, it may be difficult to look to the future with hope, being part of a tightly knit community can help – and ophthalmology certainly represents that. For The Ophthalmologist, 2023 will mark its 10th anniversary and see its 100th issue. Sadly, I will be celebrating it from a distance; after 40 issues, the time has come for me to move on and leave the magazine in the capable hands of Editor Jon Greenaway and Associate Editors Jed Boye and Sarah Healey. I can sincerely say that the four years I spent with you all has been the most rewarding and exciting time in my career. The ophthalmology community is a welcoming and fascinating bunch of people and I will recall every conversation, interview, and interaction I had with you with genuine glee. Thank you for all your help and I wish The Ophthalmologist another 10 years of success!
Aleksandra Jones, Editor
- The Guardian, “Iranian forces shooting at faces and genitals of female protesters, medics say” (2022). Available at: https://bit.ly/3FJoA3u.
- Iran International, “Doctors say Iran’s use of ‘birdshots’ blinded hundreds of people” (2022). Available at: https://bit.ly/3W8lP0U.
- AAO, “Nation’s ophthalmologists condemn use of rubber bullets” (2020). Available at: https://bit.ly/3nocfqc.
- R Goel, “No Magic Bullet,” The Ophthalmologist (2020). Available at: https://bit.ly/3hd7q4A.