Lessons learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic: supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health care

Jose J. Estevez, Ben R. Hamlyn, Mitchell D. Anjou AM, Sarah Nicholls, Lauren Hutchinson, Skye Cappuccio

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

Abstract

Over recent years there have been notable improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health outcomes, such as an increase in overall screening and treatment coverage rates of common eye diseases and decreasing rates of blindness.1–4 However, vision loss remains at least three times more prevalent amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than among other Australians. Eye diseases and vision problems are the most common long-term health conditions reported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and place a significant burden on the lives of individuals.2,5,6 Several factors contribute to the burden of vision impairment and continuing eye health inequities, including limited access to care, geographical remoteness, income inequality and under-resourced disease prevention services.7 These issues are confounded by additional factors, including poor awareness of cultural safety and health and well-being notions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by health care practitioners.8 The Australian optometry workforce is well suited to enable healthcare access and support better eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Visiting optometry services, many of which are supported by the long-standing and Australian Government-funded Visiting Optometrists Scheme (VOS), provide access to care to many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including remote areas where optometry services are otherwise unavailable, as well as in Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services (ACCHS) and Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) in regional and metropolitan areas

The impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic in Australia has been significant and wide-ranging...
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
JournalClinical and Experimental Optometry
Early online date4 Sep 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Sep 2022

Keywords

  • Blindness
  • COVID-19
  • equity
  • eye health
  • Indigenous Australians
  • inequality
  • telehealth
  • vision impairment
  • vision loss

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