New analysis by Vision 2020 Australia has revealed that COVID-19 has put Australians’ sight at risk.
The latest Medicare data shows that between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2021, there were more than half a million (516,906) less eye examinations conducted nationally with optometrists than in the previous 18-month period.
For World Sight Day on Thursday 14 October, Optometry Australia is supporting Vision 2020 Australia’s call for Aussies to love their eyes in 2021.
Vision 2020 Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow said: “This World Sight Day we’re asking all Australians to love their eyes by pledging to take three simple steps: have an eye test as soon as you can, don’t ignore changes in your vision and maintain your ongoing treatment if you have an existing eye condition.
“Optometrists in all states are permitted to provide urgent care, so people should not delay seeking treatment if they notice a change in their vision.”
The drop in eye examinations means thousands of Australians are at greater risk of developing an eye condition or losing sight than before the pandemic. According to Vision 2020 Australia, more than 453,000 Australians are blind or vision impaired, and estimates suggest that if current trends continue, these numbers will almost double by 2030.
Luke Arundel, chief clinical officer for Optometry Australia, commented: “The fact that half a million eye examinations were missed over the last 18 months is concerning. The pandemic has understandably taken over a huge part of our lives, especially for those of us that have experienced lengthy lockdowns. However, as we start to see vaccination rates rise and restrictions ease, it’s important to book an appointment with your optometrist.
“With around 90 per cent of vision loss preventable or treatable with early detection, routine appointments with your optometrist ensure that problems are identified and dealt with in time.
“We thoroughly support the ‘love your eyes’ campaign for World Sight Day 2021. Showing your eyes some love by getting an eye examination means you are more likely to maintain good vision, for life,” he said.
For more information visit the Vision 2020 Australia website: https://www.vision2020australia.org.au/