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Eye health conditions are very common in Australia, and may be present from birth, as a result of illness or injury, or developed over time due to ageing. Five common eye health conditions affecting Australians are cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and uncorrected refractive error. Living with a vision disorder may cause disadvantage due to delayed childhood learning, reduced participation in education and employment, and social isolation.

Global and national eye health policies for eye health and the prevention of vision impairment and blindness

The National Framework for Action to Promote Eye Health and Prevent Avoidable Blindness and Vision Loss (2005) outlines five key action areas that have the potential to lead to the prevention of avoidable blindness and low vision:

  • Reducing the risk of eye disease and injury;
  • Increasing early detection;
  • Improving access to eye health care services;
  • Improving the systems and quality of care; and
  • Improving the underlying evidence base.

For more information on the framework, including progress reports see
National framework for action to promote eye health and prevent avoidable blindness and vision loss.

For eye health definitions see the Eye health glossary.

For information on the eye health workforce see Eye health workforce in Australia.

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Over 1 in 2

Australians (53.7%) reported having a long-term eye condition in 2011–12. That’s nearly 12 million Australians.

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hospitalisations for cataract extraction in 2013–14, a rate of 8.9 hospitalisations per 1,000 population.

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7.3 per 1,000

hospitalisations for cataract extraction among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This rate is lower than among other Australians (8.9 per 1,000).

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Nearly 11,000

people were employed in the eye health workforce in 2011. This included over 800 ophthalmologists, around 4,000 optometrists and over 6,000 allied ophthalmic personnel (orthoptists, optical dispensers, optical mechanics, orientation and mobility specialists and occupational therapists specialising in eye health).

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8.2 million

Medicare claims for optometrist consultations in 2014–15.

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Medicare claims for surgical operations by an ophthalmologist in 2014–15.