A new program aims to build local capacity for eye care within more than one hundred Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care services across the country.
The program, Provision of Eye Health Equipment and Training, is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and will run until June 2019. Five organisations - Brien Holden Vision Institute, Australian College of Optometry, Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, Centre for Eye Health, and Optometry Australia - will combine their expertise to deliver equipment and training to build local capacity for eye care within the recipient health services.
The Government has committed $4.8 million of funding to provide retinal cameras along with training and support for the health services using the equipment. The main goal is to support increased rates of annual retinal examinations for people with diabetes (cameras are a non-invasive way to initially screen the central retina) and then refer patients for a more comprehensive eye examination when required.
On successful completion of the project, the health services will have greater capacity to support their clients’ access to eye care, by appropriately triaging people with eye complications of diabetes to the required comprehensive eye examination and treatment services. The project will receive guidance from a project reference group of representatives from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health service and eye care sector.
Anna Morse, Australia Programs Manager, Brien Holden Vision Institute spoke positively about the program:
“It is great that the Government are providing retinal cameras for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services, to provide another way for point-of-care screening for diabetic retinopathy in the primary health care setting. Most importantly, we hope this results in more people being referred and receiving the comprehensive eye exams and ophthalmology treatment that will prevent the vision loss that diabetes can cause. We are really keen to work with these primary health care services across Australia to assist them to support their patients’ access to eye care services.”