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HomeminewsOptoms Treat Aborigines in Remote Areas

Optoms Treat Aborigines in Remote Areas

Optometrists who visited remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory have found that almost 30 per cent of their patients were found to have cataract, diabetic retinopathy or required a referral. There were even a few cases of trachoma.

Vision care in remote areas of the Northern Territory is still inaccessible to many of the people who live there and Optometry Giving Sight funding has supported programmes that provide much needed services.

At the end of 2009, two one-week trips took place to isolated communities in the Northern Territory (NT), Tennant Creek area, including Elliott and Kurmturlaparla. Optometrists provided eye exams and prescribed glasses to more than half of the 271 people they saw.

Bob Lees, from Lees and Henschell in Kenmore, QLD and Chair of the Optometry Giving Sight National Committee was one of the optometrists who worked in the Northern Territory.

“I have seen the work that Optometry Giving Sight funds first hand in the Northern Territory,” said Mr. Lees.

“This trip was my third to the NT and each time I go I meet the most incredible people whose lives change considerably once they have been provided with appropriate spectacles. I remember one young boy in particular. He had travelled all day from a very remote area to have his first eye exam. His new glasses will enable him to see clearly in school. I would encourage all optometrists to support Optometry Giving Sight and help transform lives.”

The NT has a population of around 206,000 and approximately 30 per cent are Aboriginal. Due to geographical, cultural and financial barriers, a large proportion of the Aboriginal population within the NT receive little, if any, regular eye care, as there is a shortage of optometric services for people living in rural and remote populations.