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Eye injuries left out of government plan

Vision 2020 Australia has highlighted the omission of eye injuries in a Federal Government strategy to prevent injuries, a major cause of disability in Australia.

In its submission to the draft National Injury Prevention Strategy 2020-2030, which is out for consultation, the organisation points out that preventing avoidable vision loss can also contribute to injury prevention by reducing rates of falls and other major causes of injury in certain cohorts.

To support its call for eye injuries to be included in the Department of Health’s 10-year strategy, Vision 2020 cites statistics demonstrating that eye injuries lead to a high number of emergency department presentations (more than 86,000 between 2013-15) and hospitalisations (more than 51,000).

“Safe Work Australia statistics between 2000-2015 show around 5,950 serious claims were due to eye injuries received at work,” the Vision 2020 submission said.

“Given the total estimated cost of injuries in the same period was $61.8 billion, eye injuries contribute to the significant burden on society and workers, caused by injuries.”

The Department of Health recognises that injuries are the leading cause of death of all people up to the age of 44. Although success has been demonstrated in some areas, such as reducing road trauma, there is a need for nationally focused action on injury.

Vision 2020’s submission notes that many of its almost 50 member organisations work to promote awareness of eye injury prevention and have dedicated initiatives which align with the aims of the National Injury Prevention Strategy.

It cites the RANZCO national eye health awareness month, JulEye, which this year is focusing on preventing common household injuries.

Both Optometry Australia’s occupational and safety eyewear guide, The 2020 Occupational Optometry Guide, and the Lions Eye Institute proposal for sports eye protection to be accepted for review by Standards Australia, also lent weight to Vision 2020’s submission.

The Department of Health has engaged The George Institute for Global Health to lead the project. The George Institute has partnered with the Australasian Injury Prevention Network, Monash University and the Ngarruwan Ngadju First Peoples Health and Wellbeing Research Centre at the University of Wollongong to develop the strategy.

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