PAAO President’s Message

June 2023

Paulo E.C. Dantas, MD PhD
PAAO President, 2022-2025

Dear Pan-American friends,

This month we chat with Dr. Miriam Flores, president of the Salvadorian Association of Ophthalmology in El Salvador.

Being the second woman elected president of the Association, she leads 180 Salvadorian ophthalmologists, using all the knowledge acquired during her training and education in the PAAO Leadership Course.

Yes, she is a 2018 Curso graduate, which shows the relevance of this program to the future of the PAAO members and their affiliated national societies.


Paulo E.C. Dantas, MD PhD
PAAO President

PD: It is very important for the Pan-American community to know a little of the professional ophthalmology in the different Pan-American scenarios/countries.
Could you describe the state of Salvadoran ophthalmology today (number of ophthalmologists, distribution in the country, needs of the population, etc)?

MF: El Salvador, with a territory of 21,041 km2, is in eleventh place of the smallest countries of the American continent. We have a population of 6 million 314 thousand inhabitants and we have 180 ophthalmologists of which approximately 80% are affiliated to our Salvadorian Association of Ophthalmology, being exactly 141 active and honorary members.
Our country is divided into 14 departments which we can summarize in 3 geographical zones, east, west and center (to which our capital, San Salvador, belongs). 77% of the ophthalmologists are in the greater San Salvador and central area. 14% (21 ophthalmologists) in the West zone, mostly in the department of Santa Ana and 9% (14 ophthalmologists) in the East zone, mainly in the department of San Miguel, which are the 2 most important cities in the country after the capital. This is equivalent to approximately 1 ophthalmologist for every 35,000 inhabitants.

Dr. Miriam E. Flores Contreras

Office: Centro Panamericano de Ojos, 91 av. Norte #541, col. Escalón, San Salvador, El Salvador
Phone: +503 2514-4166
email: [email protected]

  • President, Salvadorian Association of Ophthalmology (El Salvador)
  • Participant, PAAO Leadership Development Program, 2017-2018, representing the Salvadorian Association of Ophthalmology
  • Subspecialty training in Retina and Vitrous at the Hospital Rodolfo Robles V. Guatemala City, Guatemala 2009-2010
  • Masters in Ophthalmology, Hospital Rodolfo Robles V. and Universidad Rafael Landivar, Guatemala 2005-2008
  • Doctor of Medicine, Universidad Evangélica de El Salvador, 1998-2004
PD: If I am correct, you are the first female ophthalmologist to preside the Salvadoran Association of Ophthalmology since its foundation? What is the importance and significance of this for the Salvadoran and Pan-American ophthalmology community?

MF: The Salvadoran Association of Ophthalmology was founded in 1943, with its statutes published in the official gazette until 1978. And it is conformed by its affiliates of Anterior Segment, Retina and vitreous, Glaucoma, Pediatrics and Oculoplastics.
Currently I am the SECOND woman president since its inception, Dr. Zoila Mendoza being the first woman president in 1999, who worked to make us host the first and only Pan American Regional Congress in this country and now, almost 25 years later, another woman takes the presidency, for the period 2023-2025. I feel extremely honored and proud to carry out our mission and help prevent blindness, trying to promote different programs and raise awareness among colleagues and the general population, since 6 months ago.
It is a challenge for me since we are not a society used to women leaders, but we have more and more presence in the region and a clear example is that only in the Central American ophthalmology societies at the moment we are 3 women leaders, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Meeting of society presidents with the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) at the Pan-American Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 2023 (from left to right): Dan Briceland, President of the AAO; Andrea Arriola, President of the Guatemalan Association of Ophthalmology; Yazmin Báez, Secretary of the Dominican Society of Ophthalmology; Miriam Flores, President of the Salvadoran Association of Ophthalmology; Gabriela López, Secretary of the Honduran Society of Ophthalmology; Mariela Castillo, President of the Honduran Society of Ophthalmology; Stephen D. McLeod, CEO of the AAO.

Swearing in of the current Board of Directors of the Salvadoran Association of Ophthalmology (from left to right): Miriam Flores, President; Leon Colindres, Vice President; Mario Roberto Garcia Rivas, Secretary; Fabian Martinez Carrera, Treasurer; Alexis Castro Perez, Vocal; Lisette Guerrero, Pro-Secretary; Amarilis Portillo, representative of the association to the Medical College of El Salvador; Mirian Rivera, representative for the Eastern Zone.

PD: I see a very young board of directors, do you think this is a time for renewal?

MF: I have been on the board of directors of the association  for 7 years working for our development and, like most of my board of directors, we have been working together for more than 4 years for the welfare of our association and members. Currently there are 2 new members, for me it is important a to renew every so often but always maintaining a balance and especially in communication and counseling with our former presidents, because experience always counts.

PD: What do you plan as president and how do you think we can contribute to maintain these historical bonds?

MF: As president of ASOF, I plan to develop our activities to the maximum, among them we have a high level monthly of scientific activity, we are currently developing an Ophthalmology Symposium in August, and our National Congress next year. I would like us to have again a Pan-American Regional in our country. To develop and promote the training of new specialists that our country needs so much, including subspecialties with which we do not have any colleague such as uveologists, neuro-ophthalmologists and imaging specialists mainly, for which I will promote within our resident physicians, the opportunities provided by our Pan-American Association. To raise our academic and scientific level within international congresses, of which we already have excellent representatives. But above all, to promote and increase the access of our population to ophthalmologic services, mainly promoting our most preventable diseases in blindness such as cataract and diabetic retinopathy, training personnel and working multidisciplinary with other specialties, for which the media and social networks are also of great help.