Impact of vision loss in Australia

An Access Economics report into the impact of vision loss in Australia, Clear Focus, has found that over 400,000 Australians with vision loss could have their sight restored. Clear Focus was released today by Australia’s peak eye health and vision care organisation, Vision 2020 Australia.

Currently, almost 575,000 Australians over 40 have vision loss. Of this, approximately 59 per cent have uncorrected refractive error (a need for glasses) and 15 per cent have cataracts – both of which can be prevented or treated. The report estimates that the number of Australians with vision loss is projected to rise to around 801,000 by 2020 if these conditions are not addressed.

Jennifer Gersbeck, CEO, Vision 2020 Australia said, 'Over 75 per cent of vision loss is preventable or treatable. And yet, we still have more than half a million Australians being affected by vision loss and its impacts.

Regular eye examinations are required for early detection of eye disease and will reduce vision loss from age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

By making eye health a priority, many Australians could avoid vision loss and millions of dollars could be saved annually at both a public and private level'.

The report outlines that the total economic cost of vision loss in Australia was estimated to be $16.6 billion in 2009. This is made up of:

  • total health system costs of $2.98 billion (this is projected to rise to $4.76 million by 2020)
  • total other financial cost of vision loss of $4.2 billion (including productivity losses, carer costs and other ancillary costs)
  • loss of wellbeing costs of $9.4 billion.

Ms Gersbeck said that eliminating avoidable blindness and vision loss in Australia could largely be achieved through an increased focus on prevention, regular eye health examinations, increased funding and services for eye health and vision care, and continued research in the area. She also stressed that an increased commitment from government in 2010 will enable the sector to achieve its goal – the elimination of avoidable blindness by the year 2020.

'Vision 2020 Australia has spent a decade working with members to eliminate avoidable blindness and has made significant progress during this time. But in order for us to achieve our goal, we will need continued and renewed support and funding from government'.