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Health Minister commits $5 million to improve Victoria’s eye health

MEDIA RELEASE

The sight of one in five Victorians could be saved following today’s pre-election announcement that the Victorian Government will commit $5 million to Victoria’s eye health.

Making the announcement at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, the Minister for Health, David Davis, said the Victorian Government will increase funding to Vision 2020 Australia’s Vision Initiative program over the next four years, in an effort to boost the number of Victorians getting their eyes tested.

CEO of Vision 2020 Australia, Jennifer Gersbeck, welcomed the $5 million commitment which she said would help prevent blindness and vision impairment of some of the state’s most vulnerable.

“Statistics show that around 20 per cent of Victorians have still never had an eye test and this is unacceptable,” Ms Gersbeck said. “The number of people who may go blind is set to rise as our population ages and the number of people with diabetes increases.”

“Worse still, some areas of Victoria have a higher proportion of people with increased risk of eye disease. When you factor in the number of people not getting regular eye tests there are many Victorians who are very much at risk of losing their sight,” she said.

“The good news is that 75 per cent of blindness and vision impairment is preventable or treatable.”

“Eye tests are critical to healthy eyes and detecting any eye conditions or diseases as early as possible,” she said.

The new funding will see eye health prevention activity rolled out to 16 new Local Government Areas by bringing primary health and eye health professionals together to identify those at risk of eye disease and vision loss and encouraging people to have regular eye tests.

Over the past year, the program has rolled out activity across Darebin, Greater Geelong, Greater Shepparton and Latrobe.

ENDS

About the Vision Initiative

Managed by Vision 2020 Australia, the Vision Initiative is the Victorian Government’s public health response to the National Framework for Action to Promote Eye Health and Prevent Avoidable Blindness and Vision Loss.

Commencing in 2002, the aim of the Vision Initiative is to prevent avoidable blindness and address the impact of vision impairment in the Victorian community.

Since October 2013, the Vision Initiative has been piloting local community projects that look to raise awareness of eye health and vision care among at-risk populations in Victorian communities. The pilots apply a multi-disciplinary approach to reduce avoidable blindness and vision loss in these communities.

For more information visit: www.visioninitiative.org.au

About Vision 2020 Australia

Established in October 2000, Vision 2020 Australia is part of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, a global initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

As the national peak body for the eye health and vision care sector, Vision 2020 Australia represents around 50 member organisations involved in: local and global eye care; health promotion; low vision support; vision rehabilitation; eye research; professional assistance; and community support.

For more information visit: www.vision2020australia.org.au

Media Contact

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

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