The National Eye Health Survey, led by Vision 2020 Australia and the Centre for Eye Research Australia, is the first comprehensive national survey of the prevalence of vision impairment in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and provides a benchmark against which to measure national progression in eye health and vision care.
Watch the NEHS video with Principal Investigator, Dr Mohamed Dirani and Vision 2020 Australia CEO Carla Northam to find out more.
The National Eye Health Survey was funded by the Australian Government.
Set mainly in various regional community centres, this video has national service eye health investigators administering eye health checks on people of various ages and backgrounds.
Within the makeshift clinics is an array of specialised eye health testing equipment.
Of the two speakers, the first is Carla Northam, CEO, Vision 2020 Australia, followed by Dr Mohamed Dirani Head of Health Services CERA Principal Investigator.
Thanks to the collaboration, commitment and determination of many sector stakeholders and the support of the Australian Government, we now have the first truly national picture for Australia’s eye health.
Between March 2015 and April 2016, 4,836 Australians had their eyes tested. The result of these examinations is the first comprehensive national survey of the prevalence of vision loss in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and a benchmark against which to measure national progression in eye health and vision care.
Dr Mohamed Dirani:
We are very pleased that we aligned ourselves with Vision 2020 Australia, and very thankful for the contributions from our partners in the sector. With special mention to the funding received from the Australian Government and the support from the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and of course individual aboriginal health services across the nation.
The study involved careful design of a robust research study, the recruitment and examination of almost 5,000 Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians living in 30 different regions of all levels of remoteness across Australia.
Each participant underwent a series of eye examinations including vision acuity, photography of the back of the eye, assessment of peripheral vison, the examination of the health of the front of the eye and of course other clinical examinations that enabled the attribution of major eye diseases as the causes of vision impairment and blindness.
We have found that refractive error, easily correctable with spectacles, still accounts for the vast majority of vision loss in our community. We also found that the prevalence of vision impairment and blindness in Indigenous Australians is three times higher compared to non-Indigenous Australians.
For those with diabetes, we found that almost 25% of non-Indigenous Australians and half of Indigenous Australians are not having the recommended diabetic eye checks, again, potentially leading to avoidable blindness in our community.
Some real highlights of leading my team in the field included working closely with local aboriginal workers, community elders and Aboriginal medical service teams and being one of the first countries in the world to complete the baseline National Eye Health Survey.
The National Eye Health Survey takes us another step closer to our goal of eliminating avoidable blindness and vision loss. The findings confirm that we are making progress and that our eye health and vision care system is improving. However, there’s more work to be done.
Dr Mohamed Dirani:
In keeping this legacy alive, we must ensure that we work together as a team to capitalise on our database and plan for the follow up study to be completed by 2019, so that we can continue to save sight and change lives through research that matters.
Credits for the CERA research team and National Eye Health Survey, Vision 2020 Australia and Centre for Eye Research Australia logos.