54% of population has long-term eye conditions: Optometry Australia

The claim was made in a press release issued in Canberra for OA on its behalf on 25 June to coincide with the launch of its new ‘Lines of Sight’ policy platform.
OA says the nation’s escalating primary eye-health needs dand greater community awareness with phasis on early detection and screening checks by qualified optometrists.
It says that people living in rural and regional centres have poorer eye health than urban dwellers.
Furthermore, that “under its new direction and name it is launching a new action plan for improving primary eye health and vision care.”No mention is made of the role of ophthalmologists in the provision of eye care in Australia.
Speaking at an eye-health screening event at Parliament House in Canberra on 25 June, the chairman of Optometry Australia, Mr Andrew Harris, said that close to 12 million Australians have reported long-term eye conditions, but that 80 per cent of all visual impairment is preventable or avoidable. For socially-disadvantaged and rote communities, eye and vision probls are even more acute, due to health-care costs and lack of access to health-care professionals.
The total economic cost of visual impairment in Australia is $16.6 billion, or approximately $28,000 per person aged 40 and over with vision loss. Timely access to primary eye-care can significantly reduce this health and economic burden, Mr Harris said”Optometrists, in partnership with other primary health-care professionals, play a crucial role in the early detection and managent of many eye diseases and vision complaints, including refractive errors, glaucoma and macular degeneration,” Mr Harris said.
Currently Australia’s 4,648 optometrists provide care to more than 7.6 million patient visits each year.
But, according to Mr Harris, there rains general confusion about what optometry can offer the community, with a recent survey of more than 250 optometrists finding that the public’s perception of optometry needs to be improved if its quality eye health care needs are to be met.
“Optometrists play a vital role in preventing eye-health issues by providing clinical services, patient advice and treatment solutions. Still, many people choose to rain untested, or to be tested infrequently, despite the fact most eye and vision probls are preventable with early detection by an eye-care professional such as an optometrist,” Mr Harris said.

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