One in nine Indigenous people 40+ have vision impairment or are blind: AIHW report

One in nine Indigenous people aged over 40 years have vision impairment or are blind, according to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released on 26 April.

Older Indigenous Australians are three times likely to suffer from vision impairment or blindness as older non-Indigenous Australians.

  • In 2016, the estimated prevalence of bilateral vision impairment for Indigenous Australians over the age of 40 was 10.5% and the prevalence of bilateral blindness was 0.3%.
  • Thar was three times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians, based on age- standardised data.
  • The three leading causes of vision loss for Indigenous Australians aged 40 and over in 2016 were refractive error (63%), cataract (20%) and diabetic retinopathy (5.5%).
  • The report foundrachoma is found in some remote Indigenous communities of Australia.

The report said the prevalence of active trachoma among 5-9 year olds has decreased from 14% in 2009, but plateaued in recent years. In 2016 the prevalence rate was 4.7%.

It said that in in 2015-18, around 84,000 (12%) Indigenous Australians had had an eye examination in the preceding 12 months and that the age-standardised proportion of Indigenous Australians who had an eye examination remained fairly stable between 2014–15 and 2015–16, but the proportion for non-Indigenous Australians increased resulting in a widening of the gap

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By | April 29th, 2018|Health|

33 complaints against optometrists in past year; 27 notifications closed, 15 being monitored

The annual report of the Optometry Board of Australia for 2016-17 (recently published) shows:

  • 33 notifications (complaints or concerns) were lodged with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency about optometrists in 2016/17.1
  • 1% of the optometry registrant base were the subject of a notification (compared with 1.6% of all registered health practitioners).2
  • Immediate action was taken twice; one case resulted in suspension of an optometrist’s registration while a notification was investigated.
  • One mandatory notification was lodged with AHPRA about an optometrist in 2016/17.
  • 27 notifications were closed.
  • 15 optometrists were being monitored for compliance with restrictions on their registration as at 30 June 2017. Most monitoring cases related to suitability/eligibility for registration.
  • 23 statutory offence complaints were made about the profession – all but one related to alleged advertising breaches.

The chairman of the OBA, Mr Ian Bluntish, says in the report the board worked in partnership with AHPRA to convict a person who held themselves out to be an optometrist.

Of all jurisdictions, Victoria (14 notifications) and Queensland (eight notifications) accounted for approximately two-thirds of all notifications relating to optometrists in 2016-17.

By | April 29th, 2018|Legal|

Kids who have general anaesthetic perform worse at NAPLAN: Sydney University study

Children who have a general anaesthetic in the first four years of life have substantially worse literacy and numeracy skills a new study has found.

University of Sydney researchers compared the developmental and NAPLAN results of nearly 38,880 children who had a general anaesthetic to 197,301 who had no exposure to anaesthetic.

Compared to children with no exposure to general anaesthesia, those exposed to general anaesthesia had a:

  • 17 per cent increased risk of poor child development
  • 34 per cent increased risk of lower numeracy scores on school tests
  • 23 per cent increased risk of lower reading scores on school tests.

The children were born in New South Wales at 37-plus weeks’ gestation without major congenital anomalies or neurodevelopmental disability.

When the researchers restricted their analyses to children who’d had only one hospitalisation involving a procedure requiring general anaesthesia, they found no increased risk for poor development or reduced reading scores, however the risk of poor numeracy scores remained.

“There are many reasons why a child requires surgery or investigation, and, in some cases, this may be lifesaving or unavoidable,” said the study’s senior author, Professor Natasha Nassar of the University of Sydney.

“For these children, our findings suggest that it is important to follow-up and monitor their literacy and numeracy skills when they reach school,

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By | April 29th, 2018|Surgery|

Medicare levy rise to be scrapped

Plans for a 0.5-per-cent rise in the Medicare levy from next year towards filling the $8 billion expected $57-million funding shortfall for the National Disability Insurance Scheme will not proceed.

The decision will mean savings ranging from $250 extra tax a year for persons on an income of $50,000 to $1,500 for those on an income of $300,000.

The $8-billion levy has been scrapped by the federal government on the ground that tax receipts are higher than expected and that there is no need for it.

By | April 29th, 2018|Health insurance|

Commonwealth leaders pledge support for vision-care initiative

Commonwealth leaders have committed to take action towards achieving access to quality eye care for all Commonwealth citizens.

At their Heads of Government meeting in the United Kingdom (CHOGM), Commonwealth leaders agreed for the first time to take action to ensure all citizens have access to quality eye care.

The leaders also tasked Commonwealth health ministers with discussing eye health regularly and asked that progress achieved toward bringing vision to all citizens is reported at future CHOGMs.

The Commonwealth comprises 53 nations, most of which were once British-ruled, and 2.4 billion people, 94 per cent of whom live in Africa and Asia.


By | April 29th, 2018|Health|

Essilor shareholders approve 6 directors for EssilorLuxottica

At the company’s annual general meeting on 25 April, Essilor International’s shareholders voted in favor of renewing the mandates of six of the company’s directors – Louise Frechette, Jeanette Wong, Antoine Bernard de Saint-Affrique, Bernard Hours, Marc Onetto and Olivier Pecoux.

Additionally, the shareholders appointed Ms Wong as director of the board of directors of EssilorLuxottica, the company that will be created upon completion of the pending merger of Essilor and Luxottica.

Executives from the two companies have previously said they expect the merger to become finalised in mid-2018. It has already been cleared by Australian, European and United States regulatory authorities, and is awaiting approval from Chinese regulators.


By | April 29th, 2018|Business|

Ulysses comments …  


Tax cuts a con

When oh when will we all wake up to the fact that big corporate tax cuts such as those wished for by the federal government just don’t work.

As any Economics 101 student soon gets to know, big tax cuts benefit investors through higher dividends and top brass with even higher salaries.

Sitting by are the rest of us, whose increased share of the cake is hardly worth noticing.

Tax cuts? A great big con.


Aren’t the banks doing well?

And speaking about cons, hasn’t the behaviour of the banks and financial-service providers been shown up as the royal commission looks into their behaviour?

One by one the big shots have sent minions along to face the music (most of whom seem to be trying hard, but largely ending up on toast).

The star of proceedings, gentle questioning in her soft voice, is senior counsel assisting, Rowena Orr, QC, (a.k.a. Rowena ‘Shock and Orr’), who has quietly taken apart witnesses after witness, slice by slice. A few witnesses have escaped her scalpel, but not many.

Hopefully the royal commission will lead eventually to a better deal for everyone, as a result of its findings, including the banks getting legislated out of the financial-advice business and forced to concentrate on banking services.

We can only hope.

By | April 29th, 2018|Comment|

Death of Bernie Egan

Bernie Egan, one of the best salesmen ever to open a sample case of spectacle frames and sunglasses, died on 29 March after several years battling dementia. He was 85.

Bernie began his lengthy career in the optical industry when he was apprenticed as an optical mechanic at Frank G O’Brien in Sydney’s Camperdown.

When O’Brien’s closed its prescription laboratory, he, and others, were taken on by nearby Australian Optical Company, whose laboratories were in every capital city (except Hobart) as well as Newcastle and Townsville.

That was the beginning of a long association with AOC and owner Polarizers Australia, culminating with appointment as a sales representative for AOC, covering the Sydney city and metro area and the southern half of country New South Wales. AOC was sold and became International Optical Company in 1977.

When Austria-based frames and sunglasses manufacturer Optyl opened its Australian subsidiary, Bernie was appointed its first sales representatives, his initial task being to assist optometrists, optical dispensers and optical mechanics understand the Optyl material, particularly how to handle this new material when glazing lenses and adjusting frames for best fit.

Optyl went on to become clear market leader, the material finding favour with wearers and practitioners alike, as it was light to wear, facial fittings remained in place and there

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By | April 18th, 2018|People|

Health-fund premiums rise by average of 3.95%

Premiums for cover by private health insurance companies rose by an average of 3.95 per cent on 1 April, with Bupa rising by the highest percentage – 3.99 per cent.

Medibank Private rose by 3.88 per cent, NIB 3.93, HCF 3.39, and HBF 3.75.

The proportion of Australians with hospital cover fell to 45.6 per cent in the December quarter amid concerns over high premiums, confusing policies and unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.

By | April 18th, 2018|Health insurance|

US retail giant Walmart in purchase talks with Humana health insurer

United States retail giant Walmart is in the early stages of talks to buy health insurer Humana, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and other news media on 30 March.

An acquisition would be the latest in a series of high-profile deals that could reshape the health care industry in the US, including CVS Health’s planned acquisition of Aetna.

The acquisition of Aetna was overwhelmingly approved by Aetna shareholders last month, but may face opposition from federal regulators over anti-trust and consumer-protection issues.

Walmart’s market capitalization is $US263 billion ($A341 billion) and the retailer posted $13.6 billion in net income in 2017 on revenue of $485.1 billion.

The company is the third-largest US optical retailer, with its optical business generating sales of $1.7 billion in 2016. It operates 3,575 units, including 3,000 Walmart Vision Centers and 575 Sam’s Optical Club outlets; National Vision operates additional Walmart Vision Centers.

Humana’s market value is $37 billion. In 2017, the company reported net income of $2.4 billion on revenue of $53.8 billion. Its vision-care-insurance business generated $2.2 billion in revenue in 2017.


By | April 18th, 2018|Business|