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.


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|

New portable gel could save an injured eye

University of Southern California scientists and engineers have develop an on-the-spot, temperature-sensitive gel that could seal eye injuries on the battlefield before they have access to hospital facilities.

  • When a soldier sustains a traumatic eye injury on the battlefield, any delay in treatment may lead to permanent vision loss. With medical facilities potentially far away and no existing tools to prevent deterioration, medics are in a high-stakes race against the clock.
  • According to USC, a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers at USC is close to solving the problem. They have developed a reversible, temperature-sensitive temporary seal that changes from a fluid to a super-strong semi-solid when applied to the eye.
  • When the patient is ready for surgery to permanently close the injury, doctors can remove the seal by adding cool water.

Results of the study were published on 6 December in Science Translational Medicine.

“If you look at historical data over the last several decades, the rate of war-related ocular injuries has steadily increased from a fraction of a percent to as high as 10 to 15 percent. Some of that can be attributed to changes in warfare, especially with the use of improvised explosive devices,” corresponding author John Whalen, assistant professor of research ophthalmology at the USC Roski Eye Institute and member

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By | December 22nd, 2017|Health|

Digital pill to monitor medicine-taking

For the first time, the United States Food and Drug Administration has approved a digital pill – a medication embedded with a sensor that can tell medical practitioners whether, and when, patients take their medicine.

The approval, announced on 13 November, marks a significant advance in the growing field of digital devices designed to monitor medicine-taking and to address the expensive, long-standing problem that millions of patients do not take drugs as prescribed.

By | November 19th, 2017|Health|

Clash in UK over use of AMD drug

Bayer is weighing legal action and Novartis has expressed concern at plans by ophthalmologists in the north of England to use a drug developed to treat cancer as a lower-priced ocular drug.

Doctors from 12 clinical commissioning groups (CCG) plan to make Roche’s cancer therapy Avastin the preferred option for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), even though it is not licensed for that use.

Dr David Hambleton, head of the South Tyneside CCG, said the policy of using Avastin rather than Bayer’s Eylea or Novartis’s Lucentis could save the regional National Health Service £ 13.5 million (A$23 million) a year.

‘Clinical safety and effectiveness are paramount’

“Clinical safety and effectiveness are paramount but, as the legal guardians of finite NHS resources, we commissioners also have a duty to act efficiently, effectively, and economically,” Dr Hambleton wrote in the British Medical Journal.

“This is one choice that is morally, ethically palatable.”

Across England, savings from using Avastin could total more than £ 500 million (A$850 million), the journal reported.

The new policy from the North East and North Cumbria CCG Forum means doctors will tell patients that Avastin is the preferred choice, although they are still free to choose Eylea or Lucentis if they want.

‘Off-label’ prescribing is against General Medical Council guidance

However, doctors prescribing Avastin for AMD will be

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By | November 8th, 2017|Health|

Sunglass standard strengthened

The safety standard for sunglasses has been strengthened to ensure the safety of consumers in Australia, the small business minister, Mr Michael McCormack, said on 23 October.

The mandatory-compliance safety standard for sunglasses and fashion spectacles sets construction, performance and labelling requirements for sunglasses and helps consumers select appropriate sunglasses and avoid ones that would be unsuitable or hazardous.

“This safety standard has been strengthened to ensure it meets the highest of Australian standards,” Mr McCormack said.

“Australia has some of the harshest weather conditions in the world and in Summer especially you want to make sure the sunglasses you purchase are going to protect your eyes and do the job they are designed to,” he said.

“The strengthening of this standard closely aligns with International Standards which reduces complexity for suppliers so that we have consistent products on the market and consumers can buy with confidence.

“The safety of Australian consumers and their families is paramount.”

By | October 23rd, 2017|Health|

UK optometrists giving ‘shocking’ eye tests and prescriptions: survey

High-street optometrists in the United Kingdom are providing insufficient eye tests, with poor services leaving some with incorrect and potentially dangerous prescriptions, according to a survey by Which? magazine.

The magazines consumer testers visited independent optometrists as well as chains such as Boots Opticians, Optical Express and Specsavers.

43% of appointments rated ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’

Of the 30 appointments, 13 were rated by the panel as either “poor” or “very poor”. Independent optometrists were the only brands to avoid being given a “poor” rating.

Only one appointment out of the 30 was rated as “excellent”, which was also a visit to an independent optometrist.

The researchers visited each optician for a number of eye tests based on their market share.

Assessed by experts

The appointments were assessed by a panel of expert optometrists to see if the optometrist took an adequate patient medical history, to see how accurate the prescription was and to judge the quality of the diagnostic tests performed.

Prior to each visit, the researchers (all aged over 40) were given a thorough eye examination by two expert optometrists.

While the majority of the appointments resulted in prescriptions which would have corrected eyesight problems, not every visit had such a positive outcome.

‘Nonsensical’ prescription

The panel rated a visit to Asda as “very poor”, after leaving with a

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By | October 19th, 2017|Health|

Avoidable blindness to triple by 2050: UK report

New data reveals that following decades of declining avoidable blindness, the statistics for the conditions are expected to show ‘dramatic” increases between 2015 and 2050.

Published in The Lancet Global Health, the paper from the Vision Loss Expert Group (VLEG) identifies the leading causes of blindness and moderate and severe vision impairment (MSVI) in 2015.

Co-authored by Anglia Ruskin University’s Professor Rupert Bourne and Imperial College London’s Dr Seth Flaxman, the study reports that of the 253 million people worldwide who are currently blind or have MSVI, 123.8 million because of uncorrected refractive error, and 65.2 million due to cataract.

The paper reports that in Western Europe in 2015, uncorrected refractive errors accounted for 49% of MSVI cases and 15% of blindness. Furthermore, cataract accounted for 15.5% and 21% respectively.

Analysing data from 1990 to 2015, VLEG shows that during this period, 90 million people globally were treated or prevented from becoming blind or visually impaired.

However, with an increasingly ageing population, and with the prevalence of myopia and diabetes of the rise, authors predict a new era of blindness and vision impairment “where existing efforts are at serious risk of being overwhelmed, potentially leading to a threefold increase in blindness by 2050.”

Making vision count

The new data is mapped on the International Agency for

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By | October 17th, 2017|Health|