A team approach among eye-care professionals is needed to help deal with the increasing demand for eye-care services as the population ages, says The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO).
Dr. Iain Dunlop, President of RANZCO says it is inevitable that, as the population ages, more people will experience one or more age-related eye conditions.
“Ageing comes to all of us and with that the likelihood that, at some time, we will suffer some sort of eye disease or condition…and research shows that blindness is almost as equally feared as cancer,” says Dr. Dunlop.
twice as likely to have a fall and three times as likely to suffer depression. They are up to eight times as likely to sustain hip fractures and, on average, are admitted to nursing homes three years earlier
He lists the ‘Big Five’ causes of vision loss amongst the elderly as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, cataract and under-corrected refractive error (not wearing glasses or wearing the wrong glasses). These five conditions cause three quarters of vision loss in Australia.
Dr. Dunlop says: “What we have to do is treat the treatable and, where we can, prevent the preventable,” said Dr Dunlop. “The elderly are some of the most vulnerable in our community, and vision impairment not only affects their quality of life, it places a significant burden on family, the community and health services.
He said an elderly person with vision impairment or blindness is “twice as likely to have a fall and three times as likely to suffer depression. They are up to eight times as likely to sustain hip fractures and, on average, are admitted to nursing homes three years earlier.”
Dr. Dunlop says “there is a huge amount of work to be done to deal with the level of vision impairment and blindness that will become evident as people live longer. That is why we need a team approach: ophthalmologists, GPs, optometrists, orthoptists and ophthalmic nurses working in an integrated way to treat eye disease and promote eye health,” he warns.