Not long ago, I had the opportunity to spend quality family fun time in the Netherlands.One particular aspect of the country which jumped out to me as quite progressive was the graphic photos on cigarette boxes which are mandated by the government (see Figure 1, lower left).
Previously by Dr. Casella: I introduce myself to patients as Ben
This photo was taken in North Amsterdam not far from the train station, and a few blocks away, the photo in Figure 2 (see below, lower right) was taken. It shows an advertisement for over-the-counter cosmetic contact lenses in many designs.
The photos in these boxes were not just of icky eyeballs but also of people being resuscitated with warnings of lung disease risk.
I’m all for an effective tool to curb disease. However, the clinician in me mentally went right to those patients over the years who overwore their contact lenses and had incidences of keratitis as a result.
Then, I thought about that one patient, a teenaged girl, I saw with a near-total corneal ulcer who had purchased cosmetic contact lenses from a flea market.
Related: Look for small signs to prevent contact lens complications
I’m not saying that smoking is any more or less dangerous than the improper dispensing and wearing of contact lenses. However, I thought it noteworthy to point out what I consider to be examples of big and small government with respect to health care functioning within a couple of blocks of each other.
All in all, I can’t wait to get back to that country, and, as soon as I hit a scratch-off, I’m headed back with the family. I regret the fact that I was looking forward to not thinking about eyeballs for a few days but ended up taking pictures of labels warning of blindness while my family waited outside.
Seeing such warnings on cigarette boxes contrasted with the overt sale of contact lenses with no fitting from a store which sells trinkets reminds me that, just as in the U.S., we are all still trying to figure out health care.
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