Following the success of the 2016 National Eye Health Survey (NEHS), VISION 2020 Australia and the Centre for Eye Research Australia are planning a follow-up survey to, for the first time, accurately track progress in reducing the burden of blindness and vision impairment.
Carla Northam, CEO of VISION 2020 Australia, says: ‘Our work is not done. Equipped with the robust baseline data from 2016, Australia is well positioned to conduct a follow-up study. ‘High-quality national data collected at two time points will allow for projection of the trends in vision impairment and major eye disease in Australia at a level of sophistication that has not been possible before. ‘It will also strengthen Australia’s eye health and vision care evidence base, helping to guide future resource allocation, policy development and economic analysis for effective service delivery in Australia.’
The NEHS was the first comprehensive national survey of the prevalence and causes of vision impairment and blindness in Australia, providing a critical foundation to build on. A number of public health and environmental factors highlight the need for a second study, including:
the disparity in major eye disease rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, such as diabetic retinopathy and cataract
the differences in the prevalence of vision loss between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
the marked increase in the ageing population, where it is estimated that almost 85 per cent of all vision impairment will be among those aged 50 years or more
the rapid rise in the prevalence of diabetes, and consequently diabetic eye disease.
Data from a follow-up NEHS has the potential to help address these factors and reduce the human and economic burden of vision loss, estimated to be $16.6 billion each year1.
Ms Northam says: ‘VISION 2020 Australia wants the survey to be a truly collaborative partnership between the government, non-government and private sectors.
‘We are now seeking project partners to join us and we encourage any interested parties to reach out.’
VISION2020 Australia and the Centre for Eye Research Australia anticipate that testing preparations for the next National Eye Health Survey will commence in 2017, with data collection to take place from September 2018 until April 2019 and results to be launched in 2019.