Two out of five Australians are still not having their eyes tested on a regular basis1, according to the latest Newspoll commissioned by The RANZCO Eye Foundation as part of its annual ‘JulEYE’ campaign. This is despite the fact that 75% of vision loss is preventable or treatable if detected early.
The RANZCO (Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists) Eye Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, is once again encouraging all Australians to have their eyes tested in July as part of its annual ‘JulEYE’ campaign kicking off on July 1.
“It is a major concern that two out of five Australians are still not having their eyes or their family’s eyes tested as part of their regular health check-â€ups. Sadly it highlights the fact that blindness and vision loss continues to be a major and often over looked health problem in Australia,” RANZCO Fellow, Professor Frank Martin said. “More than 200,000 Australians are currently suffering from vision loss related to eye disease, and every year a further 10,000 Australians will lose part of their vision or go blind. But this simply doesn’t have to be the case. Regular eye tests are the most effective way of picking up on changes and identifying problems early.”
Professor Martin, a Sydney-based ophthalmologist who serves on the RANZCO Eye Foundation Board said eye disease is not discerning and it can happen to anyone, at any age. “It can have devastating effects. Once vision is lost it cannot be restored, so those Australians who are not having their eyes tested at least once every two years need to understand the implications of their actions, and book an appointment,” he said.
Kirk Pengilly, INXS band member and ‘JulEYE’ Ambassador, was in his 20s and touring with INXS when he almost lost his sight to severe glaucoma. “The thing about eye disease is you can have it and not know you’ve got it until it’s too late. Even if you don’t have a family history of eye disease you still need to get your eyes tested and safe guard possibly losing your sight,” Kirk Pengilly said.
CEO of The RANZCO Eye Foundation Jacinta Spurrett said the JulEYE campaign is now in its fifth year and its simple and important message to have your eyes tested is the core of the campaign. “Each year we aim to reach more and more Australians with our message and we have themed each of the weeks throughout JulEYE to help achieve this. Our focus this first week is on having your eyes checked regularly – at least once every two years. In the second week we will highlight the real and increasing rate of diabetic retinopathy. With over 1.1 million Australians currently diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes2, it is vital that eye health check-ups are part of their overall diabetes management. “Week three of JulEYE will address safety in the home and workplace, and week four urges families and the community at large to ensure eye health becomes part of the family health routine, whether it is being aware of childhood eyesight issues or care when playing sport, ” Jacinta Spurrett said.
Joining the JulEYE call to action is former Director of the National Gallery of Australia and JulEYE Ambassador, Betty Churcher AO who suffers from macular degeneration; and one of Australia’s highest-â€selling independent musical artists and motivational speakers, Lorin Nicholson. ‘JulEYE’ Ambassador Lorin Nicholson, now aged 43, was declared legally blind at the age of four and explains, “I have never let being blind stop me but of course I have my down days and I wouldn’t wish blindness on anyone, which is why I’m a proud Ambassador for the RANZCO Eye Foundation. The eye surgeons and specialists have given me hope in preserving what little sight I’ve had in the past, and even greater hope that they will one day find a cure for blindness. The RANZCO Eye Foundation’s vision is more than simply preserving eyesight, it’s about giving all Aussies the best possible opportunity for maintaining and improving their quality of life. So please have your eyes tested this JulEYE.” The main eye diseases that cause vision loss are cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, many of which are hereditary and can be identified in regular eye checks. A key message of the campaign is that eye disease is not just an affliction of the elderly; it can cause blindness in babies, teenagers and adults alike.
Jess Glass or Jane Morey, (02) 9954 7955, firstname.lastname@example.org
About the RANZCO Eye Foundation
The RANZCO Eye Foundation is a not-â€for-â€profit eye health organisation founded in 2002 by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) and the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia (ORIA). The RANZCO Eye Foundation represents more than 890 medical eye specialists (ophthalmologists) in Australia and New Zealand who provide services to more than 200,000 patients each year. Rather than focusing on a single eye disease or cause of blindness, The Foundation has chosen to seed fund ground-â€breaking research into many of the major causes of blindness and also to fund sustainable eye care programs in disadvantaged communities both in Australia and internationally. In 2012 The RANZCO Eye Foundation is celebrating 10 years and in that time, together with the ORIA, has raised almost $10 million for eye health research, awareness and development projects.