Chair: Ms Marion Rivers, July 2019 – June 2020
The Committee met on three occasions over the reporting period: 30 October 2019, 26 February 2020 and 4 Mary 2020.
A key achievement for the reporting year was the Australian Government’s decision to fund a second National Eye Health Survey. This will provide valuable data for all interested or involved in the eye health and vision sector, and was secured after extended work and advocacy by members of this committee and many others. We look forward to working with the appointed consortium on the second survey.
Unfortunately, there is not currently an overarching strategy for eye health and vision in Australia, but the Committee did take some time to consider the content of the previous National Framework For Action To Promote Eye Health and Prevent Avoidable Blindness and Vision Loss, the content of which remains highly relevant to the current day.
Improving public access to cataract was another area identified as a priority for the Committee, and over the reporting period work progressed to consolidate existing data to inform the associated advocacy strategy. The Committee discussed similar issues in relation to intravitreal injections, with the wide variation in arrangements between jurisdictions and relatively poor public access to ongoing injections identified. This was identified as an issue in the National Macular Disease Action Plan and will continue to be an area of focus for the Committee.
The Committee also continued its discussion of pre-school vision testing. There is broad agreement across the Committee that ensuring all Australia children have their eyes tested prior to commencing school is an important goal and work is progressing around consolidating available evidence to see if cross sector agreement can be reached on how this is given effect. The challenges of existing arrangements, in which different states and territories have different arrangements in place, provides another element of complexity to be worked through.
The Committee noted the impacts of COVID-19 restriction on patients seeking care for potentially sight threatening conditions and discussed the likely downstream impacts these would have on the prevalence and severity of eye disease in the Australian population. The Committee noted this an area where consistency in messaging and monitoring of impacts will continue to be important.
Over the reporting period, members of the Committee also contributed to a submission to the Department of Health’s National Injury Prevention Strategy 2020-2030 consultation paper. The sector submission outlined the importance of improved eye protection and eye health, both to prevent avoidable vision loss and also reduce the overall burden of injury in Australia.
The Committee also continued to have a strong interest in the KeepSight program, given the Committee’s work over many years to advocate for a program to systematically address the issue of avoidable vision loss due to diabetes.
Prevention and Early Intervention Committee membership
Marion Rivers (Chair) – Orthoptics Australia
Anita Mills – RANZCO
Annie Gibbins – Glaucoma Australia
Carla Abbott – Centre for Eye Research Australia
Chris Edwards – Vision Australia
Christina Ly – Macular Disease Foundation of Australia
Colina Waddell – Brien Holden Vision Institute
David Murray – Guide Dogs NSW/ACT & Centre for Eye Health
Gail van Heerdon – Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology
Gregory Harper – Keratoconus Australia
Prof Hugh Taylor – Indigenous Eye Health Unit, University of Melbourne
Jane Scheetz – Centre for Eye Research Australia
Jane Schuller – Orthoptics Australia
Jenni Bliss – Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital
Leighton Boyd – Retina Australia
Louise Carter – Novartis
Lyn Brodie – Optometry Australia
Lyndall De Marco – IDEAS Van
Mark Hassall – Sight for All Foundation
Mei Ying Boon – UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science
Roman Serebrianik – Australian College of Optometry
Shaun Tatipata – The Fred Hollows Foundation
Tim Fricke – Brien Holden Vision Institute
Val Staikou – Novartis
Wendy Drummond – Vision Australia
Blanka Golebiowski – UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science
Dian Rahardjo – Brien Holden Vision Institute
Dr Cesar Carrillo – Sight for All Foundation
Gerhard Schlenther – RANZCO
Guy Gillor – Indigenous Eye Health, University of Melbourne
Ian Prowse – IDEAS Van
Jennifer Merryweather – Fred Hollows Foundation
Jess Walbank – Vision Australia
Larry Kornhauser – Keratoconus Australia
Mark Choo – Macular Disease Foundation Australia
Neville Turner – Australian College of Optometry
Rosemary Boyd – Retina Australia
Skye Cappuccio – Optometry Australia
Tracy Siggins – Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital