Eye problems account for 1 in 30 hospitalisations

Eye problems accounted for nearly 250,000 (or 1 in 30) hospitalisations in 2005-06, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

'Around 70% of these hospitalisations were for lens surgery such as cataract removal, and many were same-day procedures,' said Robert Van der Hoek of the Institute's Population Health Unit.

The AIHW report, Eye health in Australia: a hospital perspective, shows that the rate of hospitalisations for eye problems rose marginally between 2001-02 and 2005-06.

The total public hospital cost for treating eye problems in 2005-06 was nearly $233 million. For private hospitals the cost was an estimated $220 million.

The report also found the rate of hospitalisations for eye problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was similar to the total Australian population.

'Hospitalisation rates for cataract were lower among Indigenous Australians, but eye-related injuries were higher,' said Mr Van der Hoek.

'The median waiting time for elective eye surgery in a public hospital was 69 days, which was the longest of any specialty,' he said.

This report is the first in a series of national reports providing an overview of eye health in Australia.

Thursday 21 August 2008

Further information: Robert Van der Hoek, AIHW 02 6244 1133.

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 61 2 6244 1032.