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HomeminewsPlea to Indigenous Aussies – Get Your Eyes Checked

Plea to Indigenous Aussies – Get Your Eyes Checked

Mark Ella, arguably the greatest ever Indigenous Rugby player has a message for his fellow community members – “get your eyes checked and look after your eyes”.

Mark Ella and Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Service Delivery, the Hon. Warren Snowdon, MP, recently came together to launch I See for Culture, an education resource designed to help teach eye health and reduce avoidable blindness and vision impairment in Indigenous communities.

“When I was playing for Australia, with my identical twin brother Glen (also a Wallaby), I noticed one day during practice that he was having problems catching the ball. I asked what the problem was and he said he couldn’t see it. I had no idea that either of us needed glasses, at that point. We both did and still do, so I learnt early in life to take care of my eyes and get them checked regularly, because it can dramatically affect your life,” Mark Ella recalled.

The Minister applauded the initiative and encouraged communities to use the resource to address the need for eye care education with their patients.

Joining them, Professor Brien Holden, Chief Executive Officer of the International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE), said that Indigenous Australians were in desperate need of eye care to halt the growing numbers who are needlessly blind or vision impaired.

According to the results from the National Indigenous Eye Health Survey 1, half of all vision loss in Indigenous adults and children is due to uncorrected refractive error or the need for a pair of glasses to see clearly. The report said 39 per cent of Indigenous adults cannot see normal print.

Additional survey results highlighted that blindness rates in Indigenous adults (1.9 per cent) are 6.2 times the rate in mainstream.

“These numbers will only increase in Indigenous communities if we do not act now to provide eye care access, in a culturally appropriate manner, to all communities,” Prof. Holden added.

The I See for Culture eye health education resource kit was recently developed by ICEE in collaboration with other eye care and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations via funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (Eye Health Demonstration Grant).