Treatable eye conditions are detected early, so that interventions can be applied to preserve vision and prevent any further vision loss.
Challenges:Since there are cost-effective treatments for many eye conditions that prevent further vision loss and blindness, early detection of eye disease is imperative. Early diagnosis is also important for those people with sight-threatening eye conditions for which no treatments currently exist, to enable important career, financial and lifestyle decisions to be made.
Glaucoma, some forms of macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and trachoma are examples of eye diseases which can be treated effectively to preserve vision, if detected early. In the case of diabetic retinopathy, early diagnosis and treatment may prevent up to 98% of severe vision loss in people with diabetes.
However, Australian community studies show that a significant amount of eye disease remains undetected and untreated. For example, Australian data indicate that a significant proportion of people with diabetes are not being screened adequately for diabetic retinopathy. Screening can be part of the systematic care of all people with diabetes and can be facilitated by many different professionals. There are many advantages to integrating eye checks and screening for diabetic retinopathy into comprehensive mainstream primary health care services that utilise patient recall and information systems and maintain disease registers.
Many eye diseases and disorders have no symptoms or early warning signs. In addition, people tend to believe that decreasing vision is just part of ageing and have little knowledge about available treatments. It is essential therefore that the community and all health care providers are aware of the importance of good eye health and the need for regular eye tests, particularly for those aged 40 and over, those with a family history of eye disease, or those in other high risk groups.
In their routine work with clients, health care providers and other professionals have the opportunity to prompt and remind people to get their eyes tested. Eye checks can also be built into routine health assessments, such as that carried out by well baby clinics, aged care assessment teams or during hospital admission procedures. The role of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in delivering primary and community care health clinics in rural and remote areas means that the service is well placed to educate, appropriately refer and do primary eye care.
Many vision problems begin well before children reach school. Parents, care-givers, child and family health nurses, teachers, general practitioners and paediatric health care providers have a role in ensuring that children with potential eye problems are referred appropriately for expert diagnosis and treatment.
|Key area for action 2: Increasing early detection|
|Primary health care||
|People with diabetes||
National initiatives that impact on early detection of eye disease
- National Early Childhood Agenda
- National Public Health Action Plan for Children
- National Chronic Disease Strategy
- National Diabetes Strategy
- National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Program