Australians’ eye health at risk without early intervention

One million Australians have lost vision in one eye, with many at great risk of progressing to vision impairment in both eyes, according to a paper published in JAMA Ophthalmology.


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University of Melbourne PhD candidate Mr Joshua Foreman at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) said regular eye checks for people with unilateral vision loss (in one eye) are needed to prevent people progressing to bilateral vision loss and blindness (in both eyes).

Mr Foreman said: “Low vision or blindness in one eye can cause a loss of depth perception and impair visual fields, which makes patients more at risk of accidents, falls, injury and more reliant on carers.

“The recent National Eye Health Survey has shown that many cases of unilateral vision loss are caused by diseases that commonly affect both eyes like cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Patients with vision loss in one eye are at a higher risk of losing sight in both eyes from these diseases if there is no intervention. The good news is that a lot of these cases are avoidable.

“If Australians want to prevent blindness from age-related eye disease, we must ensure people with unilateral vision loss are receiving regular examinations and treatment.”

CERA Managing Director Professor Jonathan Crowston said: “This latest paper to come out of the data from the National Eye Health Survey provides further evidence to direct frontline eye health services to where we need them most.”

Most population health studies focus on blindness or low vision in both eyes rather than vision loss in one eye. The survey provides an accurate, evidence-based picture of Australia’s eye health and enables agencies and researchers to tackle blindness and vision impairment more effectively.

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