The recent integration of Optometry Giving Sight with Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation will continue to support a collaborative approach that delivers better equality in eye care for all Australians, say Professo Kovin Naidoo, CEO, Brien Holden Vision Institute and Ron Baroni, Australian Country Manager, Optometry Giving Sight (OGS).
Despite being a developed country with an established eye care system, there are currently significant inequalities in eye health for some Australians. The Foundation believes partnering with existing health services to provide services directly, develop and deliver training for primary health care practitioners in eye care assessments and referrals, will continue to achieve significant and sustained vision outcomes in Australia.
The Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation partnered with the visiting optometrist scheme (VOS) in New South Wales (NSW) in 1999, and in the Northern Territory (NT) in 2007 to support and provide culturally safe optometry services to the Indigenous communities.
Working with VOS, the Foundation screened 13,058 people in 2017, 8,672 of those were prescribed spectacles and 1,793 referred for further treatment. These visiting services, funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under VOS, currently provide care to 200 regional, rural and remote locations across NSW and NT.
The Foundation is also co-leading a program funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, which directly aims to increase rates of annual retinal examinations for people with diabetes through the installation of retinal cameras in health facilities that provide services to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. Through a consortium approach, the Provision of Eye Health Equipment and Training program is designed to provide eye health testing equipment for diabetic retinopathy in more than 105 sites
across Australia, running until 2019.
Professor Naidoo and Mr. Baroni, said they were excited to foster an inclusive approach to delivering eye care by bringing the Foundation and OGS together. “We have always regarded Optometry Giving Sight as a part of the Brien Holden Vision Institute family,” said Prof. Naidoo. “By merging our operations, we become more effective and gain the opportunity to maximise the resources that we can dedicate to key program areas.”
Mr. Baroni said continued support from donations would be important to implement eye health programs. “We are all excited by the increased opportunity to come together and collaboratively work on our common mission – giving sight to all Australians. We encourage our Australian donors to support this new opportunity with renewed enthusiasm. Together we can continue to achieve more.”