The National Eye Health Heat Map (NEHHM) is an interactive online ’heat mapping’ tool supported by the Australian National University. It supports a greater understanding of eye health needs in regions across Australia, by providing a visual representation of various epidemiological, demographic and eye care indicators associated with population eye health.
The NEHHM enables users to explore individual factors strongly associated with eye health for a region, including ocular conditions and diseases, risk factors for ocular disease, demographic factors associated with eye health, and rates of optometric service provision.
The NEHHM also provides an ‘eye care need score’ for each ABS Statistical Area 3 (SA3) region. This is an indicative estimate of the unmet need for optometric eye care in each SA3 region, drawing on a range of factors, including self-reported ocular conditions and associate risk factors; proportion of the population 65 years and over; socio-economic status; geographical classification of the region; and proportion of optometry services and providers per capita.
Because of limitations in available data within some regions, a degree of caution should be exercised when comparing the eye care need score across regions, particularly for some remote areas of Australia. See the explanatory notes on the introduction page for more information regarding the development, current scope and limitations of the NEHHM.
Accessing and using the Heat Map
The NEHHM and guidance on how to quickly and easily navigate through the tool, can be accessed here.
What does the Heat Map tell us?
At a regional level (ABS; Statistical Area 3), the NEHHM provides a general indication of relative unmet need for eye care within each SA3 the area (via the ‘eye care risk score’ indicator). Looking at other individual indicators related to population eye health in an identified area can help explain why the need in that area may be relatively high or low.
At a national level, the eye care need score suggests that:
- those living in metropolitan areas, on the whole, have a relatively lower unmet need for optometric eye care compared to those living in regional and remote areas.
- outer and inner regional areas appear to have some of the highest levels of unmet need for optometric eye care in Australia. Statistically, regional areas of Australia have significantly higher levels of unmet need for optometric eye care than metropolitan areas.
- rural and remote areas of Australia generally have higher rates of unmet need but there are also some remote areas which seem to be well-supported by targeted services such as the Visiting Optometrists Scheme, reinforcing the need to maintain these services.
Further information about the tool, its development , data used and scope of the tool, can be accessed alongside the NEHHM (simply log on to the NEHHM portal and explore.) For additional information or queries about the development of, or use of the NEHHM please email: firstname.lastname@example.org