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The United National General Assembly has adopted a resolution committing 193 countries to ensure full access to eye care services for their populations and to make eye health integral to their nation’s commitment to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The resolution, ‘Vision for Everyone; accelerating action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals‘ was adopted on 23 July 2021, sets a target for vision for everyone by 2030, with countries set to ensure full access to eye care services for their populations.

The plan will mean that by 2030 the 1.1 billion people globally currently living with preventable sight loss will have access to support and new treatment. But, campaigners say, only if governments and international institutions act now to fulfil their commitments.

Vision loss is estimated to cost the global economy $411bn in productivity each year. It is estimated that the total economic cost of vision loss in Australia is $16.6bn, or $28,905 per person with vision loss aged over 40.

Commenting on the adoption of the resolution, Paul Folkesson, WCO President, said: ‘The World Council of Optometry is pleased that this important resolution has passed unanimously.

‘It is critical that governments understand the necessity of including eye health in their implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at the national level. WCO will continue to work with our country members to encourage them to enact this resolution as we work towards quality eye care for all’.

Optometry Australia’s CEO Lyn Brodie said, ‘Optometry Australia is delighted that this important resolution has received the backing of the United Nations.

‘The vast majority of vision loss and eye disease is preventable or treatable. In Australia our highly skilled optometry workforce plays a critical role in supporting access to the eye care our population needs but, if we are going to meet the changing needs of our ageing population, Australia’s eye care system must evolve, including to utilise our optometry workforce most effectively.

‘I hope that the resolution, and the Australian Government’s support of it, will help support us to collectively have the discussions about how eye care in Australia needs to evolve if we are going to ensure timely eye care access across our communities,’ Lyn said.

In its recently released launched policy platform, ‘Working Together for Better Eye Care’, Optometry Australia raises concerns that Australia was not reacting fast enough to combat unnecessary vision loss and blindness within the Australian community because of lack of access to timely and affordable eye health care.

Lyn said, ‘It is incomprehensible that a wealthy nation such as Australia, continues to turn a blind eye to preventable vision loss within its population and that we continue to struggle with eye health issues that were identified a decade or more ago.

‘Optometrists must be allowed to work to their full scope of practice to be in the best position to support community eye health needs. However, the skills of Australian optometrists continue to be seriously under-utilised’, she concluded.

Filed in category: Advocacy & government, National & State initiatives, Scope of practice
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