A recent study highlights the alarming statistic that 40 per cent of Australians still do not have their eyes tested on a regular basis by an optometrists or ophthalmologist. This is despite 75 per cent of vision loss being preventable or treatable if detected early.1
The figures were released by the RANZCO Eye Foundation in its lead up to the annual JulEYE campaign.
JulEYE kicked off on 1 July, and the RANZCO Eye Foundation is urging optometrists and ophthalmologists to join them in encouraging the public to have their vision tested.
Now in its fifth year, the message for JulEYE is clear and simple says Jacinta Spurrett, CEO of the RANZCO Eye Foundation.
40 per cent of Australians still do not have their eyes tested on a regular basis…
“Each year we aim to reach more and more Australians with our message and we have themed each of the weeks throughout JulEYE to help achieve this,” said Ms. Spurrett.
“Our focus in the first week is on having your eyes checked regularly – at least once every two years. In the second week we will highlight the real and increasing rate of diabetic retinopathy. With over 1.1 million Australians currently diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes,2 it is vital that eye health check-ups are part of their overall diabetes management.”
“Week three of JulEYE will address safety in the home and workplace, and week four urges families and the community at large to ensure eye health becomes part of the family health routine, whether it is being aware of childhood eyesight issues or care when playing sport,” said Ms. Spurrett.
RANZCO Fellow Professor Frank Martin said regular eye tests could have a significant positive impact on the nation’s eye health.
“More than 200,000 Australians are currently suffering from vision loss related to eye disease and every year a further 10,000 Australians will lose part of their vision or go blind,” said Prof. Martin. “But this simply doesn’t have to be the case. Regular eye tests are the most effective way of picking up on changes and identifying programs early.”
JulEYE Ambassadors are Betty Churcher AO, the former director of the National Gallery of Australia who has Macular Degeneration, Kirk Pengelly, former INXS band member who was in his 20s and touring when he almost lost his sight to severe glaucoma, and highly accomplished guitarist and motivational speaker Lorin Nicholson.
Mr. Nicholson, now 43, was declared legally blind at the age of four. “I have never let being blind stop me but of course I have my own down days and I wouldn’t wish blindness on anyone,” said Mr. Nicholson.
“The eye surgeons and specialists have given me hope in preserving what little sight I’ve had in the past, and even greater hope that they will one day find a cure for blindness. The RANZCO Eye Foundation’s vision is more than simply preserving eyesight, it’s about giving all Aussies the best possible opportunity for maintaining and improving their quality of life,” said Mr. Nicholson.
To find out more about JulEYE or to donate and support eye health research and sustainable development projects, visit www.juleye.com.au.