Specsavers and Vision Australia are joining forces in a new partnership to enhance the quality of care and support provided to people with low vision.
The partnership represents a significant leap forward in addressing the needs of people living with low vision, a joint statement said. Catalysed by a shared aim of increasing access to comprehensive support and services, the partnership recognises the need for a holistic approach and streamlined referral processes in improving patient experiences.
Specsavers ANZ optometry director Dr Ben Ashby said the partnership came from a realisation that Specsavers could be further supporting its patients with low vision.
“As optometrists, we’re so focussed on preventing avoidable blindness and detecting eye conditions early. We often rely on our ophthalmology colleagues to step in when patients experience low vision or blindness,” he said.
“However, thanks to organisations like Vision Australia, patients can receive services and support to power their independence – and it doesn’t have to be as a last resort. It is simply unfair that not all relevant patients wouldn’t have the opportunity to receive the extension of care that Vision Australia offers, so we’re doing all we can to make it easier for optometrists to refer their appropriate patients to Vision Australia when the timing is right.”
Vision Australia CEO Mr Ron Hooton said the partnership’s has started with a Victorian pilot which includes 10 Specsavers practices.
“While Vision Australia is a national provider of blindness and low vision services, we have world-class support centres in Kooyong, Ringwood and Dandenong in Melbourne, so our first phase of the Specsavers pilot has targeted 10 practices close to those areas,” he said.
“We’ve given the 10 practices a lot of training and support to kick things off and now for the next few months, we’ll be working closely in collaboration with them to test and learn so that we can increase referral rates to align with benchmarks.”
Hooton said as the project unfolds and data accumulates, it is hoped that the pilot will grow to incorporate more practices.
“This partnership is poised to enhance the quality-of-life for countless individuals which makes it truly exciting. At the moment, there are thousands of patients who never receive support from Vision Australia simply because they aren’t referred by their health professional and they don’t find out about our services otherwise or believe we aren’t applicable to them,” he said.
“Vision Australia provides adults and children with specialist services and products so they can build and maintain their independence, connection with community, careers, educational opportunities and confidence. Specsavers optometrists see more than four million patients across the country each year, so we’re thrilled to have an opportunity to eventually support even more people who are blind or have low vision to live active and independent lives.”
Ashby said in addition to the pilot, Specsavers also sponsored Vision Australia in World Sight Day this year and donated $1 from every pair of glasses sold on the day to the charity. The company is also investigating volunteering opportunities for staff to contribute personally to the organisation utilising their paid volunteer leave.
“As our partnership takes flight, it sends a powerful message to the entire optometry field: when we work together, we can achieve remarkable advancements in patient care and wellbeing,” Ashby said.