Specsavers matches Federal Govt’s $1m funding for diabetes screening program

Specsavers is matching the Federal Government’s $1 million funding for the first year of a new national-diabetes-screening program, announced on 13 July.

Both the Federal Government and Specsavers have committed $1 million each for every year of five years – a total of $10 million over the first five years.

Major diabetes and eye-health groups have applauded the program to reduce vision loss and blindness in people with diabetes.

Combatimg diabetes-related blindness

The first such program is a major step in combating diabetes-related blindness and will assist early detection and treatment to protect the sight of over 1.2 million Australians living with diabetes.

Federal health minister, Mr Greg Hunt, on 13 July announced his department’s $1 million in funding for the first of five years, to commence development of the program outlined in a proposal put forward by the diabetes and eye-health groups.

Diabetes Australia will partner with Vision 2020 Australia, Oculo and Specsavers and engage all leading organisations in the eye-health and diabetes sectors across Australia to support the initiative.

Diabetes Australia’s chief executive officer, Professor Greg Johnson, said too many people with diabetes were missing out on eye checks that could prevent them from losing their sight.

Leading cause of blindness

“Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in working-age Australians. We are pleased the Australian Government

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By | July 14th, 2018|Health|

Glaucoma Australia launches referral response intervention program

Glaucoma Australia has launched a new patient-support program, in consultation with eye-care practitioners.

The new intervention-and-education program is designed to increase adherence and reduce vision loss – by minimising ‘drop-outs’.

“The first few months in my new role as chief executive officer have been spent reviewing what, when, why and how Glaucoma Australia collaboratively works with eye-health professionals and patients to eliminate glaucoma blindness,” Mrs Annie Gibbins, chief executive officer of Glaucoma Australia, said.

“The opportunity to fully engage collaborative partnerships, technology and consumer feedback to drive future excellence in service provision has been top of mind.

“The tragic 50 per cent undiagnosed and 40 per cent non-adherent statistics need a proactive patient-centred intervention which captures powerful data and helps drive future change.

“If every patient diagnosed with glaucoma is not being actively supported by Glaucoma Australia, we have much work to do.”

Following an extensive consultation and feedback period with key allied stakeholders from ophthalmology, optometry and pharmacy, an innovative and collaborative patient-support study has been created, offering personalised education and support targeted at critical, high-risk periods for patients.

“Glaucoma Australia is harnessing digital technology and smart electronic referral systems to promote screening for at-risk individuals, linking patients with support services and education resources.

“This ground-breaking work should imrpove detection rates and patient knowledge as well as

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By | June 24th, 2018|Health|

No scientific evidence that Irlen Syndrome exists: RANZCO position statement

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists has released a position statement stating there is no evidence that Irlen Syndrome exists and that there is no proof that supposed treatments, such as Irlen lenses, help those with reading difficulties.

“The real concern with diagnoses of Irlen Syndrome is that it can distract from genuine diagnosis and treatment, such as a comprehensive evaluation by an educational psychologist followed by the appropriate remedial educational input, RANZCO spokesperson Dr Frank Martin said.

“Any interventions that distract from and delay this evaluation could be detrimental to the effective treatment of any learning disabilities,” he said”.

“Irlen Syndrome is commonly defined as a perceptual processing disorder, suggesting that the brain is unable to properly process visual information from the eyes because of sensitivity to certain wavelengths of light. Symptoms are said to include poor concentration; difficulties with reading, writing and comprehension; glare sensitivity; headaches and poor depth perception.”

‘No sound theoretical basis or evidence the condition exists’

RANZCO’s Irlen Syndrome position statement states: “Despite Irlen Syndrome being first described in the early 1980s, there is still no sound theoretical basis or evidence that the condition actually exists. A diagnosis of Irlen Syndrome is based solely on symptoms with no quantitative physiological correlation.

“Treatments associated with Irlen Syndrome such as coloured

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By | May 6th, 2018|Health|

Caterpillar blindness alert in London

Forestry officials in London are warning parts of the British capital about an invasion of caterpillars whose long white hairs can trigger allergic reactions in humans, including eye and skin irritants, difficult breathing and even anaphylactic shock.

At best, the long white hairs can cause contact dermatitis, at worst they can cause death, the New York Times reports.

Caterpillars of the oak processionary moth were spotted emerging from eggs in mid-April, according to the Forestry Commission, which oversees forests in England and Scotland.

The caterpillars’ hairs, which can be released as a defence mechanism or carried by the wind, contain thaumetopoein, an irritating protein, the Forestry Commission said.

“Those who are allergic can become sick. You can go into anaphylactic shock and have your airways close up. The airborne hairs set up a whole different ballgame.”

British officials have issued similar warnings in years past as they have battled to stop the spread of the insect. This year, the Forestry Commission began treating trees in a “control zone” around the infected area with biopesticides, which use viruses or bacteria that mostly harm the target pest. The treatment is expected to continue through to late May or early June, with trees at more than 600 sites expected to be targeted, the agency said.

“We advise people not

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By | May 3rd, 2018|Health|

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|

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|

Findings of National Eye Health Survey

The population-based National Eye Health Survey of 1738 indigenous and 3098 non-indigenous Australians has found that the age-adjusted and sex-adjusted prevalence of unilateral vision impairment and unilateral blindness were higher in indigenous Australians than in non-indigenous Australians (18.7% and 2.9% vs 14.5% and 1.3%).

Uncorrected refractive errors and cataracts were leading causes of unilateral vision impairment in both populations (70%-75%).

While unilateral vision impairment and unilateral blindness are highly prevalent in Australia, most cases are avoidable, and health care interventions that address unilateral vision loss are therefore warranted, the researchers said.

Of the 1738 indigenous Australians, mean (SD) age was 55.0 (10.0) years, and 1024 participants (58.9%) were female. Among the 3098 non-indigenous Australians, mean (SD) age was 66.6 (9.7) years, and 1661 participants (53.6%) were female.

The weighted prevalence of unilateral VI in indigenous Australians was 12.5% (95% CI, 11.0%-14.2%) and the prevalence of unilateral blindness was 2.4% (95% CI, 1.7%-3.3%), respectively.

In non-indigenous Australians, the prevalence of unilateral VI was 14.6% (95% CI, 13.1%-16.3%) and unilateral blindness was found in 1.4% (95% CI, 1.0%-1.8%).

The age-adjusted and sex-adjusted prevalence of unilateral vision loss was higher in indigenous Australians than non-indigenous Australians (VI: 18.7% vs 14.5%; P = .02; blindness: 2.9% vs 1.3%; P = .02).

Risk factors for unilateral vision loss included older age (odds ratio [OR], 1.60 for each decade

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By | March 11th, 2018|Health|

Intravitreal injection overtakes cataract surgery in Australia

Intravitreal injection overtakes cataract surgery in Australia

The rate of intravitreal injection has overtaken cataract surgery in Australia, according to a paper in Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, published by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists.

The authors – Haiying Chen, Wei Wang and Mingguang He – state that the intravitreal-injection rate increased rapidly from 2007 and has overtaken the cataract surgical rate, while the cataract surgical rate was plateauing.

By 2016, the intravitreal-injection rate and the cataract surgical rate were 16,020 and 6,970 per million population per year, respectively.

By | January 21st, 2018|Health|

COAG calls for membership applications for medical and optometrical boards

The Health Council of the Council of Australian Governments is calling for applications for appointment to the Medical Board of Australia and the Optometry Board of Australia, as well as for 14 other national heath-care boards.

The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme regulates more than 670,000 registered health-care practitioners and over 150,000 registered students.

It also accredits over 740 approved programs of study delivered by over 330 education providers.

Information: statutoryapppoitments@ahpra.gov.au.

Applications close on 27 January.

By | January 21st, 2018|Health|

Ophthalmologists and optometrists both miss AMD 25% of the time: United States study

Ophthalmologists and optometrists fail to diagnose age-related macular degeneration approximately 25 per cent of the time, according to a recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology (1).

The cross-sectional study, which included 1288 eyes (644 adults) from patients enrolled in the Alabama Study on Early Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ALSTAR), also revealed that 30 per cent of the undiagnosed eyes in the study had large drusen, a known risk factor for wet AMD.

The authors reviewed the medical records of 644 adults 60 years or older who were enrolled in ALSTAR. To be eligible, the person’s medical record from the most recent comprehensive dilated examination did not indicate a diagnosis of AMD in either eye, and the medical record notes did not contain terms that signified the signs of AMD. Each patient in the ALSTAR study had digital colour fundus photographs taken, which were reviewed by masked, trained graders who determined the presence or absence of AMD findings according to the Clinical Age-Related Maculopathy Staging (CARMS) system. The types of AMD-associated lesions also were noted.

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By | January 7th, 2018|Health|