Australian icon Ita Buttrose AO OBE has issued a passionate plea to senior Australians in a bid to avoid thousands of people going unnecessarily blind during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms Buttrose’s plea coincides with concern voiced by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) over “a worrying decline in appointment attendance” in Australia and New Zealand, which could lead to “a secondary health crisis”.
make sure we all see each other on the other side of COVID-19
Ms Buttrose, who was Patron of Macular Disease Foundation Australia for 15 years before stepping down earlier this year due to her commitments as Chair of the ABC, took time to reassure people that leaving home to attend an eye appointment for treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular oedema (DME) does not contravene current rules. Additionally, she reassured them of the safe, hygienic environments maintained at ophthalmology practices and called on her audience to make it a priority to keep their sight.
“Whether you’re at home or living in aged care, these eye injections are vitally important to preserving sight,” said Ms Buttrose.
“Many of you have lived through times of hardship, through wars, depressions, and times of national insecurity and anxiety. Once again, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we find ourselves in an unexpected time of uncertainty, where clarity of communication and correct information is paramount.
“I want to stress if you have a scheduled eye injection, if you are a family carer or someone who needs to take a person to a scheduled eye injection, and you have not been in contact with COVID-19, you are not breaching public health measures to attend that appointment. Obviously, if you are unwell, please phone first for advice.”
Ms Buttrose recommended people who are apprehensive contact their ophthalmologist or call the MDFA on 1800 111 709 for free advice and an Amsler grid. She called on people living with AMD and DME to “ make sure we all see each other on the other side of COVID-19”.
A three minute version of the address will be made available at mdfoundation.com.au.
RANZCO Urges Action
In a statement issued by RANZCO, College President A/Prof Heather Mack echoed Ms Buttrose’s concerns saying, “We strongly urge all patients who receive regular injections and ongoing treatments, or Australians and New Zealanders who are concerned about their eye health and have a referral, to see their ophthalmologist.”
She said Australia’s COVID-19 protocols allow Australians to see their ophthalmologist and other health service professionals, while New Zealand’s protocols allow New Zealanders to attend face-to-face appointments for urgent medical situations, such as treatment to maintain eyesight which may require medically necessary eye injections, and online or phone appointments for any other medical needs.
To view the 30 second address click here
To view the 60 second address click here