The Eye Health Aotearoa Trust (EHA) is adding its voice to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness’ (IAPB) call for improved eye health for all. EHA is proud to join IAPB, the overarching alliance for the global eye care sector as they are already supporting EHA’s efforts to improve New Zealanders’ access to quality and equitable eye health services.
New Zealanders are always shocked to learn just how broken our eye health services are. Sadly every day, Kiwis are going needlessly blind from preventable causes. The IAPB Vision Atlas points to New Zealand as one of the few countries with no eye health prevalence data. Successive governments have failed to prioritise eye health and vision care. EHA is determined to change that.
Globally, one billion people have vision loss, primarily because they do not have access to eye care services. An Australian survey in 2016 found that two-thirds of blindness could be addressed by simply providing people with the correct prescription glasses. We likely have a similar situation here, but we urgently need a New Zealand Eye Health Survey to confirm this as without basic data, it is impossible to know the scale of the problem.
EHA came about through a conversation on what can be done to address the gaps in the eye health and vision care system in New Zealand. It went through several evolutions, before rebranding in 2020 to be the Eye Health Aotearoa Trust: a national advocacy body campaigning, and seeking to partner with Government to improve equity of access to eye health services and prevent avoidable blindness.
John Mulka, Chief Executive of Blind Low Vision NZ and Interim Chair of EHA, understands the devastating impact of vision loss, he said, “research shows that people with vision loss are far less likely to be employed, three times as likely to experience clinical depression and twice as likely to fall.” “I’m committed to improving equity of access to eye health and vision care services, especially for Māori, Pacific and other groups disproportionately affected”.
“Saving sight begins with an eye health examination. “I’m delighted that EHA has joined the IAPB family.