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Concern over low cataract surgery rates for Indigenous Aussies

26/09/2017By Matthew Woodley • Staff Journalist
Researchers from the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) have found Indigenous Australians are more than 30% less likely to have accessed cataract surgery than non-Indigenous Australians.

The dramatic difference is in spite of the fact that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness among Aboriginal Indigenous Australians, who are also three times more likely to suffer from blindness than non-Indigenous Australians.


"Building more sustainable cataract surgery and post-operative services within communities is important."
Stuart Keel, paper co-author

One of the paper’s co-authors, Dr Stuart Keel said the findings show that improvements in access to cataract services are warranted in Indigenous communities.

“There remains a large number of Indigenous Australians with vision loss due to cataract, that could be easily treated with a simple surgical procedure that can restore vision overnight,” he said.

“As distance is often a key barrier to accessing services, building more sustainable cataract surgery and post-operative services within communities is important.

“While it is clear that some improvements have occurred … continued efforts and additional resources are required to further close the gap in Indigenous eye health.”

The findings were drawn from the National Eye Health Survey (NEHS), Australia’s largest undertaking of its kind which was carried out March 2015 and April 2016. More than 3,000 non-Indigenous Australians aged 50 years and over and 1,738 Indigenous Australians aged 40 years or more were recruited and examined for the survey.

More reading: Full report here

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