Eyesight loss among Aborigines a disgrace, says researcher
BLINDNESS and poor vision mean up to 40 per cent of indigenous adults cannot read small print – often for easily preventable reasons as simple as not having glasses.
And the problem is not limited to outback communities.
But by the age of 40, because of a lack of eye care and the right glasses, 40 per cent of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders cannot read small print.
They are much more likely to have diabetes-triggered vision loss, untreated cataracts and blinding trachoma- the last a disease seen in no other developed country.
Today the Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, will release two reports by researchers from Melbourne University and the Australian Institute of Indigenous Studies, led by Professor Taylor.
The rates of indigenous blindness, which are six times those of mainstream Australia, flowed from ”a major shortfall” in services, Professor Taylor said.
He estimates the situation can be reversed by increasing eye care resources by about four times present levels for indigenous patients and by working in partnership with community-controlled services.
This could be achieved by adding only eight ophthalmologists and 40 to 60 optometrists to the national effort.
Professor Taylor has also written a critical history of Australia’s performance on indigenous eye health, showing that since 1976 there have been at least six calls for national co-ordination, which have not been followed through.
Article Source: www.smh.com.au
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