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Millions of Australians risking unnecessary vision loss

11/07/2018By Matthew Woodley • Staff Journalist
More than seven million Australians over the age of 40 are currently experiencing eye problems but haven’t had them assessed by eyecare professionals, Specsavers-commissioned research has found.

The results also showed that around 20% are unable to see things in the distance as well as they once did, while just under one-third (30%) said they aren’t able to see things as well close-up, but haven’t told anyone.

Bright lights dazzling more than they used to (18%), glasses or contact lenses not seeming strong enough anymore (16%) and black spots or lines floating around their vision (16%) were the other commonly reported concerns.

Specsavers head of optometry Mr Ben Ashby said the numbers were worrying and that more needed to be done to educate people on the importance of eye health.


“In this day and age we shouldn’t be seeing people unnecessarily losing their vision but we are because eye health is just not a priority.”
Ben Ashby, Specsavers

“In the past two years four million Australians over the age of 45 have had a comprehensive eye test through Medicare, meaning as many as 58% are not following the industry recommendation of having their eyes tested at least every two years,” Ashby said.

“In this day and age we shouldn’t be seeing people unnecessarily losing their vision but we are because eye health is just not a priority in the same way other health conditions like heart disease and cancer are. There is a worldwide issue with people not understanding the crucial importance of preventive eyecare.”

The main reasons given by the more than 1,000 survey respondents for not visiting an optometrist in the past two years were; a lack of time (24%), cost concerns (17%), and thinking that there’s nothing wrong with their eyes (16%).

According to the 2016 National Eye Health Survey, around 63% of the more than 453,000 Australians living with vision impairment or blindness were suffering from uncorrected refractive error, while eye diseases associated with ageing such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts were other major contributors. As a result, Ashby warned that the number of people over the age of 40 with vision loss would rise exponentially as Australia’s population ages.

Other findings from the research include; 54% of Australians 40 years and over have not had a conversation with their family about their eye health; 53% of Australians 40 years and over think it is likely they will develop an eye disease such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease or cataracts.

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