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Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. Eye health. Cat. no. PHE 260. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 11 July 2020, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/eye-health/eye-health
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). Eye health. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/eye-health/eye-health
Eye health. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 30 August 2019, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/eye-health/eye-health
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Eye health [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019 [cited 2020 Jul. 11]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/eye-health/eye-health
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2019, Eye health, viewed 11 July 2020, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/eye-health/eye-health
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Visual impairment is the partial or full loss of sight in one or both eyes. Visual impairment may be the result of disease or injury, may progress over time, and may be permanent or corrected with visual aids (such as glasses) or with surgery.
410,800 Australians (1.7% of the population) had cataract and 243,600 (1.0%) had macular degeneration in 2017–18
In 2017–18, long-term vision disorders affected 93% of people aged 55 and over
Over 13 Million Australians (55%) had one or more long-term vision disorders in 2017–18
Females experienced a higher prevalence of long-term vision disorders (59%) than males (51%) in 2017–18
Treatment for vision disorders involves a wide range of health services including primary care and specialist care services.
Primary care services involve the initial diagnosis, treatment and referral of the condition, and the provision of continuing care through consultations, monitoring and follow-up. This includes general practice and optometry.
Secondary or specialty care services generally follows primary care services if needed, and involves treatment of specific diseases and organ systems. For eye health, these include ophthalmology and hospital services.
These services provide treatment for vision disorders in many ways, including eye checks, prescription of glasses or contact lenses, prescription of medications or injections, and surgery .
Primary care for visual impairment often begins with a visit to a General Practitioner (GP) or optometrist. In 2015–16, eye disorders accounted for 1.9% of Australian GP consultations . The GP plays a key role as part of the primary care system in preventing and treating visual impairment. GPs can provide information on eye health and vision care, perform immediate eye checks and prescribe treatment for some eye problems . If necessary, the GP can provide referrals to optometrists, ophthalmologists or hospitals .
Optometrists also play an important role in the primary care of eye health. Optometrists have access to specialist equipment and education to assist with the testing of visual acuity and diagnosis of visual impairment. Optometrists also serve as a referrer to ophthalmologists for specialist care.
In 2017–18, there were 9.4 million Medicare claims for optometrist consultations for 7.2 million patients .
Specialist care usually occurs within hospitals or specialist care facilities. Primary care facilities will refer patients with vision impairment that cannot be corrected through simple medication or visual aids to ophthalmologists. Ophthalmologists receive and follow specialty training in the treatment and correction of vision impairment and follow procedural guidelines [5, 6].
Specialist care also involves hospitalisations to perform surgery and specialist treatment. Ophthalmologists are often required to perform surgery to correct visual impairment .
In 2017–18, there were 957,933 Medicare claims for surgical operations by an ophthalmologist .
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