Photo by Brands&People on Unsplash

It’s time for a change in Australia’s eye health care system

Photo by Brands&People on Unsplash

Eye care is important for all Australians. Even with good vision we can still develop eye diseases which could cause discomfort or lead to vision loss over time.

Regular eye examinations are the best way to stay on top of eye health before it gets out of hand. In fact, 90 per cent of vision loss is avoidable or treatable if detected early, but not everyone is getting the treatment they need.

This is why we are taking a moment to reflect on the state of our eye health systems to ensure all Australians can maintain good vision for life.

Working Together for Better Eye Care report

Optometry Australia recently published the Working Together for Better Eye Care report, which examines the hurdles we need to overcome to improve eye health treatment across the country.

Eye health reform is urgently needed to ensure that Australians can access the quality eye care they are entitled to. This policy platform outlines six readily achievable actions that policy makers and regulators can implement to better utilise the skills of optometrists to enhance patient access to Australia’s eye health system and ensure everyone can maintain good vision for life.

Watch the video to learn more:

What needs to change?

Within the six recommendations there are some key take-outs such as allowing optometrists to prescribe oral medication and developing a national strategy to ensure all people with diabetes have an eye screening to avoid diabetic retinopathy, one of the leading causes of vision loss in working age Australians.

It has also been recommended that a standardised set of referral guidelines are built along with a digital referral system and that telehealth is expanded to fill the gap where face-to-face consultations aren’t possible.

Why are these changes important?

According to Optometry Australia’s 2020 Vision Index, 76 per cent of all Australians consider eyesight to be their most important sense.

As we get older and more broadly as our population ages, more Australians will be at risk of developing eye conditions which can have a significant impact on our quality of life.

Further, not all Australians have equal access to eye care. To use one example, Indigenous Australians are three times more likely to have vision loss than non-Indigenous Australians.

With 90 percent of vision loss preventable with early intervention, it’s important people aren’t slipping through the cracks and that everyone has access to - and is receiving - the treatment they need and deserve.

How can we make this happen?

While changes are required at the top level, there are still things that individuals can be doing to maintain good vision for life.

For anyone reading along, we strongly encourage using our Find an Optometrist tool to book in for an eye examination if you haven’t had one in the past two to three years.

Even if your eyes feel fine, there could be early warning signs only an optometrist can identify to stop vision loss in its tracks.

If you would like to read the full list of recommendations please check out the Working Together for Better Eye Care policy platform.

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