21 Nov 2018
News

Closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health



21/11/2018 3:10:29 PM

Eye health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is on track to achieve equity with non-Indigenous Australians by 2020.

Eye health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is on track to achieve equity with non-Indigenous Australians.
Eye health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is on track to achieve equity with non-Indigenous Australians.

The University of Melbourne’s The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision tracks the progress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s eye health compared non-Indigenous Australians.
 
Professor Hugh Taylor, an ophthalmologist at the University of Melbourne who led the roadmap project, said eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people ‘has come a long way in a short time and is on track to equal that of non-Indigenous Australians by 2020’.
 
‘It is terrific to see the progress that has been made with great work being done by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations and all of our partners in eye health,’ Professor Taylor said.
 
The roadmap report is based on results from the 2008 National Indigenous Eye Health Survey, which outlines the scope of the issue in Australia, the availability and quality of eye health services, and recommendations for policy change to improve the quality and sustainability of these services.
 
Rates of blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are six times higher than non-Indigenous Australians and, although 94% of vision loss is preventable or treatable, 35% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have never had an eye exam, according to the survey results.
 
Annual eye exams are recommended as a preventive measure for eye disease and, given the high prevalence of diabetes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, can contribute to a significant reduction (98%) of diabetes-related blindness and initiate timely treatment in the disease’s early stages.
 
The report shows rates of blindness and impaired vision among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are currently down to three times the national rate, from six times the national rate in 2008.
 
The report also reveals that 19 of the 42 systemic issues identified in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye care have been resolved, and three quarters of the intermediate activities have been completed.
 
‘All of these improvements are very encouraging, but more needs to be done if we want to achieve our goal of giving all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the same eye health as other Australians,’ Professor Taylor said.
 
‘It is crucial that we keep working closely with local communities through Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations – that close involvement and engagement with the community holds the key to eliminating unnecessary blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.’
 
GP resources



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Close the Gap diabetes eye health ophthalmology



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