Getting your eyes tested even more important in 2020

With screen time and eye conditions on the rise, The Fred Hollows Foundation is urging people to get their eyes tested this World Sight Day (8 October).

The Foundation’s CEO Ian Wishart said it’s important for people to be proactive in looking after their eyes, even if they don’t think they have a vision problem.

“Eye health may not be considered a trendy issue, but it is a universally important one,” Mr Wishart said.

“People have been getting much more screen time this year while in lockdown or remote working, so it’s more important than ever to look after your eyes with regular eye checks.

“As people have moved to working from home they have spent less time outside walking, driving or commuting – time where they are focussing on something other than a screen.

“The first ever World Report on Vision released in 2019 by the World Health Organization shows that vision impairment is on the rise around the world. It severely impacts quality of life and can be detrimental to workforce participation, productivity and mental health[1].

“Older people have a higher risk of developing conditions such as cataract. But younger people need to take action too, as many eye conditions start in childhood and children in Australia are getting 10 hours or more of screen time each week[2].

“If you’ve been putting off that visit to get your eyes checked, don’t delay. Pick up the phone and book it in. Our eyes do a lot for us, so let’s look after them.”

The Global Health Alliance Australia’s Executive Director Misha Coleman added that eye health was at risk of getting pushed aside for other important health issues.

“Across all areas of global health, the great strides that have been made during the past few decades are under threat due to COVID-19,” Ms Coleman said.

“Economic impacts, restrictions on movement and travel, and the redirection of vital health resources towards the COVID-19 response have affected the important work of many of our member organisations and partners. Their work to improve global eye health has not been spared this impact.

“It’s never been more important to ensure that barriers to accessing eye care are addressed, particularly in low and middle income regions, where the prevalence of vision impairment is estimated to be four times higher than in high-income regions.”

Blindness and vision loss is three times more common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults than in other Australians, yet over one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have never had an eye exam. The risks are higher for those living in regional and remote areas.

The World Report on Vision revealed that more than 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment, with at least 1 billion (1 in 7 people) living with a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed.

To access the World Report on Vision, see https://www.who.int/publications-detail/world-report-on-vision

To find out more about The Foundation’s Indigenous Australia initiatives, visit https://www.hollows.org/au/indigenous-australia-strategy-2020-2024

For more information or interviews please contact:

Esther Au, Communications and PR Manager, E: eau@hollows.org M: 0423 375 562

[1] Source: p. 15, World Health Organization, World Report on Vision: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/world-report-on-vision

[2] Source: 26 March 2019, Australian Bureau of Statistics media release: Kids clock up 10 or more hours of screen time per week: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/latestProducts/4921.0Media%20Release202017-18