Currently, vision loss affects almost 575,000 Australians, yet 75 per cent of vision loss is preventable or treatable.
“The best way to save your sight is to have your eyes tested regularly to detect potential problems, especially if you have diabetes or a family history of eye disease, says Nedlands Optometrist Damon Ezekiel.
“The likelihood of developing blindness or vision loss increases significantly with each decade of age. Australians over 40 should be especially vigilant and access support services as soon as they may notice changes to their vision and eyes,” said Damon.
A 2010 Access Economics report into the impact of vision loss in Australia, Clear Focus, found that over 400,000 Australians with vision loss could have their sight restored. The report estimates that the number of Australians with vision loss is projected to rise to around 801,000 by 2020 if these conditions are not addressed. The total economic cost of vision loss in Australia was estimated to be $16.6 billion in 2009.
Damon said that while blindness and vision impairment may not be life threatening, the effects can be debilitating.
“People with vision loss are twice as likely to fall and be socially dependent, three times more likely to suffer from depression, and are admitted to nursing homes up to three years earlier than the rest of the population,” Damon said.
“Australians have access to some of the best technology and eye health care in the world. I urge you to make an appointment to get your eyes checked and not wait until it’s too late” said Damon.
More than 80 per cent of vision loss in Australia is caused by five conditions:
- Macular Degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in Australia, affecting central vision.
- Cataract – the eye condition responsible for the largest single direct health cost with cataract removal the most common of all elective surgery procedures.
- Diabetic Eye Disease – almost all vision loss caused by this condition can be prevented by timely treatment.
- Glaucoma – early diagnosis and treatment are important to control glaucoma and protect sight. Half of those with glaucoma are undiagnosed and untreated.
- Refractive Error – over half of the people who present with vision impairment could have their vision improved with the correct glasses.
Damon recommends having an Eye Test at least once a year.
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