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(L-R) IUIH's Adrian Carson with The Fred Hollows Foundation's Gabi Hollows and Jaki Adams-Barton at the campaign launch
News

New campaign encourages indigenous eye checks

28/09/2016
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A campaign has been launched to reduce rates of untreated eye disease among indigenous Australians.

The Deadly Urban Eyes campaign, which launched last week, encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members living in southeast Queensland to have regular eye health checks at their local Aboriginal Medical Service. People who have their eyes checked will receive a gift pack, including sunglasses, lens cloth and spray, as an incentive.

The campaign is an initiative of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) with funding from The Fred Hollows Foundation.

"Our program focuses on reducing rates of cataract, diabetic retinopathy, uncorrected refractive error, and trachoma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities," Ms Jaki Adams-Barton, the Foundation's indigenous Australia program manager, said.

"Getting your eyes checked regularly is key given 94% of vision loss for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is preventable or treatable if caught early."

IUIH chief executive officer Mr Adrian Carson said the Deadly Urban Eyes program would improve access to preventative eye health services.

"Both IUIH and The Fred Hollows Foundation are committed to ensuring that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can access quality eye health services," he said.

"We know that untreated eye disease is a key contributor to preventable blindness among our community and is often caused by other diseases that affect our people such as diabetes and hypertension," he said.

"This campaign will see more people checking in with our optometrists on a regular basis, so we can pick up and treat these diseases early, and close the gap in health outcomes in our community."

Mr Carson added that the IUIH had significantly expanded its frontline eye-health services over the past year so that they were fully integrated across southeast Queensland's 18 IUIH member clinics.

"Integration of these services into the IUIH model of care means we are connected to community and able to refer quickly to specialist services if and when they are needed," he stated.

The Fred Hollows Foundation founding director Ms Gabi Hollows said the partnership was a successful model for bringing eye health care to communities in southeast Queensland.

"The Deadly Urban Eyes campaign is a great program that will make a difference in the vital eye health care sector," she commented.

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The new campaign is an extension of the IUIH's existing Deadly Choices social marketing initiative. The IUIH described Deadly Choices as "hugely successful", resulting in an average 50% year-on-year increase in the number of preventative health checks performed at IUIH's member clinics.

The IUIH was established in 2009 by southeast Queensland's four Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to lead the planning, development, and delivery of primary healthcare services to the region's indigenous population.

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