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Aussies fear going blind but still take sight for granted: study

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                        

On World Sight Day (10 October) a new Vision 2020 Australia national study has found nearly two thirds of Australians fear going blind over losing a limb or having a heart attack.

Yet according to the Eye Health Report Card study released today, millions of Australians are still taking their sight for granted.

Vision 2020 Australia CEO Jennifer Gersbeck said: “The study shows nine out of ten Australians value their eyesight above any other sense and yet 4.1 million (24 per cent) Australians have not had their eyes tested recently and one million have never even had an eye exam.”

“For those who had not recently (in the past two years) had an eye test, half (2 million) admitted eye tests were not a health priority and one in four (1.1 million) blamed being time poor,” Ms Gersbeck said.

The study found men were lagging behind women when it came to looking after their sight with 27 per cent of men failing to have an eye test recently compared to 19 per cent of women.

Australians were also failing to look after their sight at work, when outside or working in and around the home.

“Surprisingly 62 per cent of Australians are still not wearing sunglasses and a hat when out in the sun, and of the 54 per cent of those surveyed  who should wear eye protection at work, 34 per cent never do. This is concerning.”

“By not getting regular eye exams, people are gambling with their sight and putting themselves at increased risk of vision loss and eye disease,” Ms Gersbeck said.

World Sight Day Ambassador and doctor, Dr Andrew Rochford, is urging Australians to get their eyes tested this World Sight Day.

As someone who recently got their eyes tested and discovered he needed glasses, Dr Rochford, said eye tests were an important health priority.

“Around 59 per cent of vision loss in Australia is due to uncorrected refractive error,which in most cases can simply be corrected with a pair of prescription glasses,” he said.

Vision loss is associated with an increased risk of falls, depression, hip fractures, early admission to nursing homes and increased use of health services.

“Importantly, many Australians could be experiencing vision loss due to eye disease without even realising. Regular eye exams are our best weapon against avoidable vision loss and blindness as they can pick up early signs of eye disease so it can be diagnosed and treated,” he said.

Did you know?

  • There are more than 500,000 Australians who are blind or vision impaired in Australia and this figure is expected to double to close to one million if we are not proactive about our eye health.
  • The good news is that 75 per cent of vision loss or blindness is preventable or treatable.
  • Australians who are over 40, have a family history of eye disease, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, those who smoke or who have diabetes are more at risk or eye disease.
  • There are five main conditions that contribute to approximately 80 per cent of avoidable blindness and vision loss in Australia: age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and uncorrected or under-corrected refractive error.

ENDS

About the Eye Health Report Card study

The Eye Health Report Card study was conducted by Galaxy Research for Vision 2020 Australia. The study surveyed 1003 Australians aged 18 years and older.

About Vision 2020 Australia

Vision 2020 Australia is the peak body for the eye health and vision care sector.

See www.vision2020australia.org.au Follow us at @Vision2020Aus or #WSD2013

About World Sight Day

World Sight Day is World Health Organisation an annual day of awareness to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. It will take place this year on Thursday 10 October.

Media Contact

Louise Rudzki, Vision 2020 Australia, (03) 9656 2020, +61 414 784 359, lrudzki@vision2020australia.org.au

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