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released: 7 Nov 2008 author: AIHW media release

Reducing preventable vision loss has recently been identified as a priority by both Australian governments and non-government organisations. 'Eye health among Australian children' is the second in a series of national reports providing an overview of eye health in Australia. The report looks at the prevalence of eye problems among children, including vision disability, congenital anomalies and cancer. Statistics for children treated within the primary care sector, as well as in hospitals, are also presented. The report is an invaluable resource for policy-makers, health professionals, advocacy groups and others interested in knowing more about children's eye health.

ISBN 978 1 74024 848 8; Cat. no. PHE 105; 48pp.; FREE

Summary

Eye health among Australian children is the second in a series of national reports providing an overview of eye health in Australia, following on from a report about eye hospitalisations. This report contains the most recent national information from a range of data sources.

Some of the main findings in this report are given below.

Key findings

  • Along with allergies and asthma, eye disorders are the most common long-term health problems experienced by children.
  • There are more than 411,000 cases of long-term eye disorders among children in Australia. Most of these are long- and short-sightedness.
  • About one in six 10–14 year olds wear glasses or contact lenses to correct sight.
  • About 420,000 GP encounters a year deal with eye problems for children. Most of these encounters (62%) are for conjunctivitis infections.
  • In addition to the 420,000 GP encounters, there were about 600,000 other eye related Medicare services provided to children in 2006–07. The vast majority of these were for optometric services.
  • There were nearly 9,000 hospitalisations for children with eye diseases and disorders in 2006–07. One-year-olds had the highest rates of these hospitalisations among children.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children had a similar rate of eye hospitalisations to other Australian children, although Indigenous girls had a significantly lower rate of hospitalisations for eye disorders. Infectious problems such as trachoma, as well as eye-related head injuries, are more common among Indigenous children.

Recommended citation

AIHW 2008. Eye health among Australian children. Cat. no. PHE 105. Canberra: AIHW.