Recent Posts
Connect with:
Tuesday / June 25.
HomeminewsGovernment Invests in Macular Disease Education

Government Invests in Macular Disease Education

Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) has been awarded AU$2.5 million over four years to develop new educational programs, targeting both consumer groups and general healthcare professionals.

These initiatives address some of the prevention and early detection recommendations outlined in the National Strategic Action Plan for Macular Disease. The consumer education initiative will enable MDFA to expand its work in educating the wider community to understand the risks of macular disease and take early action.

The overall objective of the program is to develop nationally consistent education and training programs for health professionals

The health professional education initiative was part of an open competitive tender process. The overall objective of the program is to develop nationally consistent education and training programs for health professionals to deliver appropriate management and care for people with macular disease.

MDFA has long provided macular disease education to eye health professionals. The investment will allow greater opportunity for collaboration across a wider healthcare network.


While MDFA is the lead grant applicant, it has formed a consortium drawing together Australia’s leading subject matter expertise in macular disease, and relevant national peak bodies representing the targeted health professionals to co-develop and co-deliver this national education program.

Consortium partners include Optometry Australia, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, Diabetes Australia, Royal Australian College of GPs, Oculo, Vision 2020, the Australian College of Rural & Remote Medicine and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

The program rollout will begin over the next 12 to 18 months.

“Together, the consortium members have the collective demonstrated expertise, capability and infrastructure to work collaboratively to deliver this program, which is one of the first deliverables of the National Strategic Action Plan,” said Dee Hopkins, Chief Executive Officer of MDFA.

“The program will be delivered in multiple formats but primarily in an online environment, with webinars and continuing professional development education modules available for download,” she said.


The MDFA said the training would be developed for optometrists but would also specifically target other health professionals to ensure they are aware of the signs and symptoms of macular disease and can contribute to the holistic care of patients.

“But it’s important that health care professionals, more widely, are drawn into the conversation on macular disease and can be part of reducing the incidence and impact of macular disease – the leading cause of severe vision loss and blindness in Australia,” Ms Hopkins said.

Ms Hopkins said education content for optometrists would focus on communicating risk factors for disease to empower patients, and appropriate referrals to ophthalmologists and support services. She hopes that in collaboration with Optometry Australia and their members, Australians with early stage symptoms would be linked to the consumer education program to improve health literacy and reduce modifiable risk factors.

The GP program aims to include eye health with:

  • chronic disease health checks among people aged over 50 years,
  • health checks among people with a family history of macular disease,
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health checks, and
  • health checks among people with diabetes.

MDFA will provide evidence-based information and resources for GPs to share with their patients in addition to building stronger referral pathways to support better patient outcomes.

“We also need to utilise the skills and connections of pharmacists. They’re often the people who have weekly connections with patients in high risk groups. There’s an enormous amount of trust in local pharmacists. Education content to pharmacists will aim to increase understanding of the disease processes, nutritional supplementation recommendations, the symptoms of disease and the importance and frequency of eye examinations.”

Ms Hopkins said the program would leverage existing staff training resources, produced by MDFA, for residential aged care facility staff. Aboriginal health workers and practitioners would also be targeted, with educational content aimed at helping them understand the disease processes, risk factors, symptoms and referral pathways.