New initiative launched to reduce blindness in older Australians

More than 800,000 Australians are expected to experience vision loss or blindness by 2020. Source: Getty

Within two years more than 800,000 Australians are expected to experience vision loss or blindness, despite the fact that 90 per cent of it is preventable or treatable with early detection.

To combat this, EyeHealth1st has launched a national early intervention campaign that aims to reach five million Australians each month. The initiative brings Australia’s independent optometrists together on one website offering a dedicated online education and booking platform.

Making it easier for members of the public, people will be able to quickly and easily find local and trusted eye health specialists on the site – often with same-day availability. Booking an appointment only takes a few moments and can be done from any internet-connected device such as a phone, tablet or laptop. It doesn’t require making several phone calls or getting a referral from a GP.

Acting early is vital because in most cases, it’s too late to prevent permanent damage to vision once eye disease symptoms begin to appear. It’s also a bigger problem for people over the age of 40, who are at a higher risk of developing an eye disease.

“A simple eye health check every two years should be a regular and essential part of every person’s healthcare routine, just like regular check-ups with a GP and dentist,” Melbourne-based optometrist Jeremy Richards said in a statement.

“Independent optometrists offer a huge value to their communities with their focus on building ongoing relationships with patients and their families. As you get older, it becomes more important than ever to have the same trusted healthcare providers who can give you a personalised and consistent level of care.”

Read more: Cataracts: What they are, who gets them and how they’re treated

The new national campaign aims to tackle a lack of education and apathy – two of the biggest reasons why Australians aren’t taking better care of their eye health. It will do this by driving greater awareness around the importance of regular eye health checks and early detection.

“This will be heavily supported by the new EyeHealth1st online directory, which helps Australians find and book appointments 24/7 with available optometrists in their neighbourhoods – virtually eliminating the friction when it comes to booking appointments,” Klaus Bartosch, managing director and co-founder of MyHealth1st, said in a statement. “The days of having to ring around to multiple optometrists during business hours is over.

“We know and understand the importance of oral health by the time we are teenagers. We want every Australian to think about eye health the same way – and it becomes critically important in people over 40 years of age.”

EyeHealth1st is a sister site to MyHealth1st, the online healthcare appointment booking service that started six years ago to make it easier for Australians to find and book medical appointments with their preferred providers.

Read more: Causes and cures for irritable dry eyes

Close to 80 per cent of all vision loss in Australia is caused by conditions including glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, refractive error and age-related macular degeneration.

What are your thoughts on this? When was the last time you had your eyes checked?

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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