‘The only way we can get on top of Australia’s looming eye-health crisis is for optometrists to be allowed to practise to their full scope’.
Optometry Australia has launched its new policy platform, Working Together for Better Eye Care, which details the organisation’s goals to ensure that optometrists are working to their full scope of practice and are in a position to combat a tsunami of predicted eye disease.
National President, Darrell Baker said that Australia’s health system is failing with too many Australians unnecessarily impacted by vision loss or blindness because they do not have access to timely and affordable eye-health care.
‘With an ageing population, eye disease is increasing because our health system is failing too many Australians and we are continuing to see members of our communities unnecessarily impacted by vision loss or blindness because they do not have access to timely and affordable eye-health care’.
Darrell emphasised that Working Together for Better Eye Care is Optometry Australia’s – and optometrists’ – platform to ignite important conversations about the timely diagnosis and treatment of eye disease in Australia. It further provides critical recommendations that will support the best use of optometrists in Australia to help to manage, reduce and finally eliminate these community eye-health issues for the benefit of our communities.
‘Optometrists are part of an important health profession that performs 10 million eye checks annually and optometrists are appropriately the first port of call for 80% of people.
‘Increasingly, we are treating, managing and triaging patients with eye disease, as well as filling gaps where there is not timely access to care. However, the skills of Australian optometrists continue to be seriously under-utilised compared to our counterparts in similarly developed nations.
‘The only way we can get on top of Australia’s looming eye-health crisis is for optometrists to be allowed to practise to their full scope to enhance patient access and increase the efficiency of Australia’s eye-health system’, Darrell said.
He continued: ‘As a nation, I fear we may have become indifferent to the serious impact of eye disease and that Australia is on the verge of a tsunami of age-related eye disease.
‘We are still struggling with issues that were identified a decade or more ago – and many of them have arguably gotten worse. Public ophthalmology wait times are often unacceptably long. Only about 50% of patients with diagnosed diabetes get the eye examinations they need. And while progress has been made, we have not closed the gap in Indigenous eye health, with First Nations People three times more likely to be blind or visually impaired.
Members will be encouraged to get behind the recommendations outlined in Working Together for Better Eye Care by demanding action from all levels of Australian government.
‘We will communicate further with you when we need your support in helping us to generate change at a government level’, Darrell said.
Join us to discuss our policy platform and strategic plan
Optometry Australia is holding an interactive virtual discussion at 7:00pam AEST on Monday 2 August online and all members are invited to attend.
During this session, Darrell and key Optometry Australia senior management will explain in more detail the key initiatives outlined in Working Together for Better Eye Care and where you can ask us questions on these programs or on our new Shared Strategic Plan for 2021-2024.