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Optometry Australia is reviewing emerging evidence on the impact of climate change on eye health, and exploring initiatives to ensure that Australian optometry plays its part in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. As part of this new focus, we’re calling on members who are interested in this topic to join the special interest group event next year and provide feedback on our draft position statement on the need for climate action in optometry.

One important element of our 2021-24 Strategic Plan is to explore and develop initiatives as appropriate on emerging evidence on the impact of climate change and we encourage members to get involved and have their say.

Special interest group

Environmental degradation, air pollution and climate change are having devastating impacts in all parts of the world, including on global health and eye health. Simultaneously, health care (including optometry) is a substantial contributor to climate change, responsible for an estimated 4 to 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.[1]

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)’s Climate Action Working Group works to provide leadership and advocacy for increased adoption and action on priority matters relating to climate action in eye health. Optometry Australia has invited the IAPB to present at a special interest group event in early 2022, to inform our response to this issue, and we are asking members to register here to participate.

Co-Chair, Mitasha Yu, will present on the IAPB’s Call To Action for Environmentally Sustainable Practices in The Eye Health Sector and Guide for Environmentally Sustainable Practices in The Eye Health Sector, a global benchmark document for environmental sustainability in eye health. Following the presentation, members will have the opportunity to share climate action in optometry success stories, challenges and ideas.

Register for the event here.

Have your say on our draft position statement on the need for climate action in optometry

We are also seeking feedback on Optometry Australia’s draft position statement on the need for climate action in optometry.

This document overviews evidence around climate change and the health sector and will guide Optometry Australia’s work in this space. Within it, Optometry Australia recognises a climate emergency and agrees that it is time for the healthcare sector, including the optometry profession, to show leadership and accelerate efforts to work towards mitigating the impact of climate change.

It further commits Optometry Australia to five key workplan areas, including:

  • Raising awareness of existing initiatives related to environmental sustainability and climate change within optometry
  • Establishing networks of interested members to share ideas, challenges, and successes
  • Developing approaches to promote and support greater environmental sustainability in optometry
  • Contributing to the broader movement through formal and informal engagement with key stakeholders, including the Climate and Health Alliance and the IAPB.
  • Participating in the growth of the evidence base around climate impact on optometry and eye health in Australia

We welcome your feedback and contribution to this document, as it will help to shape our work in this area over the coming years. Let us know:

  1. Do you agree with the drafted position taken by Optometry Australia?
  2. Do you think the work plan areas identified are suitable?
  3. Is there an area of work that you think is missing and should be added?

You do not need to join the special interest group discussion to take part. Our consultation is open until Friday 18 Feb 2021 and we encourage you to share your feedback via email, to policy@optometry.org.au or call our Member Support and Optometry Advancement (MSOA) team on 03 9668 8500.

[1] Lenzen, M., Malik, A., et al, 2020. The environmental footprint of health care: a global assessment

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