Vision 2020 Australia has congratulated the Federal Minister for Health on the recent launch of a national campaign designed to raise awareness of the need for Australians over 40 to get their eyes tested regularly to reduce avoidable blindness and improve eye health. The organisation says it hopes that the national campaign will encourage other State and Territory governments to adopt this Vision Initiative program, which provides ongoing awareness so that avoidable blindness can be eliminated by 2020.
“This campaign is essential as about 500,000 Australians are affected by vision impairment or blindness and this number is expected to double over the next 20 years unless people are pro-active about saving their sight,” says Vision 2020 Australia’s CEO, Jennifer Gersbeck.
“Blindness is avoidable for many people if early treatment is sought,” Ms. Gersbeck points out. “The key is to have your eyes tested regularly to detect potential problems, especially if you have diabetes, a family history of eye disease or are over 40 years of age. Vision loss is a critical issue for Australia, because people are living longer and research shows that blindness and vision loss increases threefold with each decade of age,” she adds. “The good news is that 75 per cent of eye conditions are preventable or treatable. This means that for most people, blindness or vision impairment can be avoided or greatly reduced in severity”.
While blindness and vision impairment may not be life threatening, current statistics show that the effects can be dramatic. People with vision loss are twice as likely to fall and be socially dependent; three times as likely to suffer from depression; and are admitted to nursing homes up to three years earlier than the rest of the population.