The federal government has provided AU$1.126 million in funding to enable a major survey that will map the prevalence of eye conditions nationally.
CEO of Vision 2020 Australia, Jennifer Gersbeck, said the national survey, which would be conducted by the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), had been needed for a long time and would provide an accurate, evidenced-based picture of nationwide eye health.
“This is a huge boost for Australia’s eye health and will give us the evidence we need to tackle blindness and vision impairment more effectively,” said Ms. Gersbeck.
She said Australians’ eye health was at-risk as the population aged. It is estimated that almost 85 per cent of all vision impairment will be among those aged 50 years and over and that the growing diabetes epidemic is also expected to dramatically impact Australian eye health.
“We know that as Australia’s population ages we will see an increase in the number of people with age-related eye diseases and conditions and being armed with accurate data will help us tackle these conditions efficiently and effectively,” said Ms. Gersbeck.
Managing Director, CERA, Professor Jonathan Crowston said: “At the moment we use decade-old data. There is a clear need for an evidenced-based picture of eye health in Australia.”
“The survey will give us clear evidence of what the eye health issues are, the extent of the problem and where our efforts need to be directed. Importantly, having hard evidence means we can direct frontline eye health services to where we need them most,” said Prof. Crowston.
“The collection of data on blinding conditions such as trachoma has enabled us to reduce its prevalence in remote Indigenous communities from 14 to 4 per cent over the past eight years.”
The new funding from the federal government, in conjunction with nearly $1 million already raised through cash and in-kind contributions from the non-government and private sectors, will enable the survey to get underway in the coming months.
In 2013, the Macular Disease Foundation Australia commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to map, according to federal electorates, the estimated number of people (prevalence) with macular degeneration in Australia. The results are available at www. sightforseniors.com.au