Taking action on World Sight Day (10.10.2013)
Written on the 10 October 2013
This year’s theme for World Sight Day – today – is Universal Eye Health and I joined the Minister for Health, David Davis at the Australian College of Optometry in Carlton for the launch.
It is estimated that there are more than 575,000 Australians who are blind or vision impaired and this figure is expected to double by 2020. At least 75 per cent of vision loss can be avoided by having regular eye examinations and taking proactive measure to preserve sight.
Compared to the rest of Australia, Indigenous Australians have six times the rate of blindness, three times the rate of low vision and 94 per cent of blindness – all preventable or treatable.
Australia is also at the tipping point in terms of our ageing population and almost half our population is now aged over 40 years – that’s around 575,000 people with vision impairment. Of these, about 66,500 people are blind and it’s expected that by 2020, vision loss in Australia will rise to almost one million and blindness to about 102,750.
We need to take action.
The Victorian Coalition Government is already redeveloping of the iconic Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and work is expected to be completed in late 2017.
The Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital is an important component of our health system, delivering more than half of Victoria’s public general ear surgery and 90 per cent of the State’s specialist eye surgery.
In the year of the hospital’s 150th birthday, this project will set it up for a long and productive future.
The redevelopment will enable the hospital to better meet the current and future demand for elective and emergency surgery in the ophthalmology and ear, nose and throat specialties, and greatly assist it to continue to provide quality State-wide services.
The Coalition Government had committed to funding the RVEEH redevelopment in the 2012/13 and 2013/14 State Budgets The project is jointly funded by the Victorian and Commonwealth governments and the hospital.
The Eye & Ear development was part of more than $4.5 billion worth of health infrastructure already underway through the Coalition Government.
In addition, the Victorian Coalition Government funds Vision 2020 Australia for the Vision Initiative, providing $2.55 million over three years to deliver an integrated health promotion program that aims to prevent vision loss among at risk groups.
Today, we saw the launch of four new eye health pilot projects aimed at strengthening relationships between the health and eye health sectors across four Local Government Areas in Victoria. As part of the program, communications campaigns will be run in these areas to increase awareness of eye health and vision car for at-risk groups.
For more information visit Vision 2020 at: http://www.vision2020australia.org.au/