Optometrists and ophthalmologists have joined forces in a world-first initiative to protect Australians in regional areas from the country’s leading cause of blindness – Age- Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
A mobile screening unit, dubbed the ‘Vision Van’, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities has been travelling around regional Australia for 90 days to help Australians at risk of AMD.
The Vision Van – a joint collaboration between the Macular Degeneration Foundation (MDF), OAA, RANZCO and Novartis Pharmaceuticals – will support the efforts of local optometrists and ophthalmologists in reinforcing the importance of maintaining good eye health with regular macula checks.
AMD is a major health problem for the ageing Australian population, with one in seven people aged 50 and over affected. The Vision Van has been providing free screening for AMD to people in this age group in 37 regional towns.
Macular checks in the Vision Van are being performed by Ms. Li Chen, a qualified Australian optometrist, using approved screening methods based on a protocol developed by Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) and Optometrist Association Australia (OAA).
“It’s a great Australian initiative which will raise much-needed awareness of AMD and the importance of regular eye examinations in the community. Australian optometrists and ophthalmologists are at the forefront of global efforts to educate and minimise the impact of AMD. We are now breaking new ground with the Vision Van by reaching out to older Australians living in regional communities,” says Ms. Li Chen.
The Vision Van started its 90-day road trip on Monday, 22 September at NSW Parliament House in Sydney and has moved on to areas including, Gosford and Coffs Harbour in NSW; Redland Bay and Cairns in QLD; Charles Sturt in SA; Stirling in WA; Ballarat in VIC and Mawson in ACT.
Local optometrists in these areas have been invited to participate by meeting with members of the community outside the Vision Van and providing information on their services.
The Vision Van has been supported by Carl Zeiss, Designs for Vision and Custom Fleet.