The 2016 National Eye Health Survey was the first representative nationwide study of the burden of eye disease in Australia. Involving almost 5,000 Australians completing a simplified eye examination and a standardised general questionnaire across 30 testing sites in Australia in urban, regional and remote areas, the it provided stakeholders with a chance to close a major gap in the evidence base and provided an up-to-date prevalence rates on blindness and low vision for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
When the National Eye Health Survey first got underway, population data on blindness and vision impairment was more than 20 years old. Led by Centre for Eye Research Australia and Vision 2020 Australia, the 2016 National Eye Health Survey closed this gap and provided the first true picture of vision impairment and blindness in Australia, establishing an evidence base to assist in the planning of Australia’s eye health and vision care programs.
The 2016 National Eye Health Survey was supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Chronic Disease Prevention and Service Improvement Fund, with other contributions coming from Brien Holden Vision Institute, Centre for Eye Research Australia, NACCHO, Novartis, Optometry Australia, OPSM, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and Zeiss.
Vision 2020 Australia is now seeking partners for a follow up National Eye Health Survey to, accurately track ongoing progress in reducing the burden of blindness and vision impairment.
The need for a 2019 National Eye Health Survey is underlined by a number of public health and environmental factors and, importantly, will:
- Enable the collation of high quality national data at two time points which will, for the first time, permit sophisticated projection analysis of the trends in vision impairment and major eye disease in Australia, and
- Strengthen Australia's eye health and vision care evidence base, assisting in guiding future resource allocation, policy development and economic analysis for effective service delivery in Australia.
Vision 2020 Australia is calling for the 2019 National Eye Health Survey to be a truly collaborative partnership between the government, non-government and private sectors and by supporting a follow-up study, the Australian eye health and vision care sector will deliver mutually beneficial research which is essential to achieving evidence-based eye health outcomes for all Australians.
Vision 2020 Australia and the Centre for Eye Research Australia anticipate that testing preparations for the 2019 National Eye Health Survey will commence in 2017, with data collection to take place from September 2018 until April 2019 and results to be launched in 2019.