The ageing of the Australian population appears to be driving strong growth in the demand for optometry services, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Optometrist Labour Force 1999 shows that the number of Medicare services provided by optometrists increased by 30% between 1992-93 and 1998-99 to 3.9 million services annually.
Report co-author Anne Aisbett says that use of optometry services is highly related to age.
'The 1995 National Health Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found that 47% of the population had an eyesight problem that was totally or partially correctable with glasses.
'For people aged 45-54 years, however, 85% had such problems, while the proportion was 94% for those aged 75 years or more. This compares with only 8% for people aged less than 15 years.
'The number of people in the older age groups is increasing at a faster rate than the population as a whole. Demand for optometry services is therefore projected to increase by 15% over the next 10 years, compared to an expected population growth of just under 10%.'
Optometrist Labour Force 1999 shows
that the optometrist workforce appears to be growing to keep pace with the demand. There were 2,787 optometrists providing Medicare services in 1998-99 compared with 2,255 counted by ABS at the 1996 census, and 1,816 at the 1991 census.
Optometrist Labour Force 1999 also found that:
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