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Tuesday / June 25.
HomeminewsOQNT Advocates for Eye Care Policy Change

OQNT Advocates for Eye Care Policy Change

With the Queensland 2024 state election scheduled for 26 October, Optometry Queensland Northern Territory (OQNT) has stepped up its advocacy efforts, urging key decision-makers to invest in policy changes that will enhance community access to eye care and optimise the use of the Queensland’s skilled optometry workforce. 

 According to OQNT,  the state of eye care in Queensland demands urgent attention. An ageing population and the high prevalence of a range of chronic health conditions mean there is increasing demand for specialised treatment of conditions. These challenges are exacerbated by the high proportion of Queenslanders who live outside South-East Queensland, and are more pronounced in disadvantaged communities, including in rural and remote areas and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

Optometry: First Port of Call 

Fiona Moore, President of OQNT, said as the first port of call for 80% of eye health issues, optometrists play a pivotal role in delivering eye care and need to be utilised in a way that best benefits the community. 

“Queensland’s optometrists serve as frontline providers of eye care services, playing a crucial role in diagnosing and managing a wide range of eye conditions, conducting over two million Medicare-subsidised consultations annually,” she said. 

“Optometrists are well distributed throughout the state, enabling this eye care to be delivered locally. Optometrists also work closely with ophthalmologists to whom they refer patients directly, as well as with other health professionals, including general practitioners.” 

With more than 1,000 registered optometrists in Queensland, three-quarters of whom are endorsed to prescribe topical medications for the treatment of eye conditions and diseases, optometrists not only play a key role in the healthcare system, but are also uniquely placed to provide eye care state-wide. 

OQNT’s pre-election platform outlines several key initiatives aimed at enhancing eye care accessibility and quality across Queensland

Summary of Proposed Initiatives  

OQNT’s pre-election platform outlines several key initiatives aimed at enhancing eye care accessibility and quality across Queensland. These initiatives include: 

  • Supporting innovative models of collaborative eye care that enhance timely access for patients with chronic eye health conditions. 
  • Placing more optometrists within Queensland’s public hospitals to assist in streamlining patient triaging and co-management. 
  • Undertaking a comprehensive review of the MASS Spectacle Supply Scheme to ensure efficiency and coverage. 
  • Developing and implementing of a whole-of-life approach to eye screening and examinations. 
  • Investing in telehealth infrastructure to facilitate remote access to eye care services. 
  • Offering early, in-principle, support for allowing endorsed optometrists to prescribe scheduled medications for the purpose of practising optometry. 

“Loss of vision has a devastating impact on the health, quality of life, independence and overall wellbeing of affected individuals and their families, as well as a major economic and social impact on the broader community,” Ms Moore said. 

“We urge decision-makers to prioritise eye health as a critical issue in the upcoming state election. We look forward to working together to ensure that all Queenslanders have access to the eye care services they need and deserve.” 

View OQNT’s State Election Platform here.