Indigenous and Remote Eye Health Services stresses importance of eye health

 

EYE OPENER: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are three times more likely to suffer blindness than the general population.

EYE OPENER: Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander people are three times more likely to suffer blindness than the general population.

TODAY is world sight day and the Indigenous and Remote Eye Service (IRIS) is using the occasion to urge First Nations Australians to look after their sight.

World Sight Day is an annual day of awareness to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment and was established by the World Health Organisation in 2020

IRIS co-chair and ophthalmologist Bill Glasson said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were three times more likely to suffer blindness than the general population.

“Importantly, over 90 per cent of vision loss is preventable or treatable,” Dr Glasson said. “In rural and remote areas, the lack of adequate resources to public cataract surgery has led to waiting times up to three times longer than major cities.”

Dr Glasson said the gap between services for indigenous and remote communities and the rest of Australia was closing due to organisations like IRIS.

“Eye-surgery is one of the most cost-effective, life-changing health-interventions of any major heath procedures,” Dr Glasson said,

“However, conditions need to be detected early in order for them to be treated most effectively and the only way to do that is via an eye test”

About IRIS

IRIS delivers a range of eye health services, with a strong focus on cataract surgery.

According to the National Eye Health Survey (NEHS), around 18,300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 40 are living with vision impairment or blindness.

Poor vision can lead to other health problems such as mobility issues, falls, social isolation, anxiety, and depression and many other issues.

IRIS brings services to the patients, removing common barriers such as access, affordability and lack of patient confidence in providers.

The program delivered 15,000 eye health services, including 2,000 eye operations, in 26 different communities between 2010 and 2014.

Funding for IRIS ends in December of this year and at this stage there has been no government commitment to continue the program.

For more information about IRIS click here

 

 

Rowan Cowley

8 Oct 2020 1:29pm

Providing vision right across Australia

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