Sights set on improving eye health in regional WA

Residents of rural, regional and remote Western Australia will have better access to eye health care with an Australian Government investment in the Lions Outback Vision Van.

Page last updated: 30 June 2015

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30 June 2015

Residents of rural, regional and remote Western Australia will have better access to eye health care with an Australian Government investment in the Lions Outback Vision Van.

Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash said more than $560,000 will be invested in the Lions Outback Vision Van.

“The Vision Van will provide mobile eye health care for rural and remote residents. This includes optometry and ophthalmology. As a rural MP, I understand the challenge of driving hours to access health care – so this is a great project,” Minister Nash said.

“Indigenous adults, many of whom live in rural and remote Australia, suffer six times more blindness than non-indigenous Australians with 94 per cent of the vision loss preventable or treatable. Yet, 35 per cent of Indigenous adults have never had an eye examination.

“The Lions Outback Vision Van will help close the gap in eye health by providing up to 3,600 patient consultations each year. WA is a massive state and specialist services visiting local communities will allow eye health issues to be spotted earlier and outcomes improved,” Minister Nash said.

Lions Outback Vision was established in 2010 with the support of the Eye Health Institute and the University of Western Australia.

With the new van, Lions will travel around 25,000 km a year, spending up to two weeks in in each of 16 towns; Albany, Esperance, Kalgoorlie, Leonora, Wiluna, Newman, Roebourne, Karratha, Port Headland, Broome, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Kununurra, Exmouth and Carnarvon.

The service will be integrated with the existing Rural Health Outreach Fund (RHOF) and Visiting Optometrists Scheme (VOS) – so that patients get the full range of care available.

The Vision Van will have four consulting rooms for comprehensive eye care including treatment of cataracts, refractive error, trachoma, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

Minor surgical procedures can also be performed. Any major procedures would be done in consultation with existing facilities including Aboriginal Medical Services.

“In the Kimberley alone, there are 1,000 indigenous people with diabetes who require an annual eye examination. These people can now access specialist eye health services.

For more information on visit the Lions Outback Vision website.

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

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