Eye health gap needs effort to close
Health experts say the gap in eye health between Indigenous and other Australians is closing, but much more needs to be done.
A new report published in the Medical Journal of Australia says there have been improvements since a roadmap to close the gap for vision was launched in 2012.
The national program for trachoma control has reduced the prevalence of the condition in Indigenous children from 14 per cent in 2009 to 4 per cent in 2013.
There are now 12 regions covering about 35 per cent of Indigenous Australians featuring activities aimed at closing the gap.
The roadmap has also seen more eye care delivered through Aboriginal Medical Services and eye health training courses for Aboriginal health workers.
“Demonstrable gains are being made and there is growing momentum around the roadmap initiatives, but much remains to be done, and increased government support is required,” the report by from the University of Melbourne said.
“With concerted multi-sectoral effort, political will and a commitment to establishing a sustainable eye care system, the gross disparities in eye health that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians can be eliminated,” it said.
The study found that improving Indigenous eye health can have many positive impacts.
“The child who can see the blackboard and the adult who can drive and participate in gainful employment have opportunities to improve their circumstances,” it said.
The experts warned that vision can affect independence in many aspects of daily living, including the ability to administer medication and manage other health issues.