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Tuesday / December 7.
HomemioptometryPromoting Optometry’s Critical Role to Improve the Nation’s Health

Promoting Optometry’s Critical Role to Improve the Nation’s Health

Optometry Australia is asking members to support its efforts to improve delivery of eye health, and have its critical role in the nation’s health better recognised.

Collectively, optometry has a strong and powerful voice that can drive change. This is despite being relatively small in numbers compared to other health and medical professions.

It often seems that the community has become indifferent to the serious impact of eye disease

We have shown before that, when Optometry Australia takes the lead and supports you – our members – to take collective action, our passion and commitment gets results:

  • 1975 – Successfully lobbied to have optometry consultations included in Medicare,
  • 1993 – Won the battle to remain in Medicare when the Government wanted us removed,
  • 2007/2008 – Secured rights for optometrists able to prescribe therapeutic medications, to be PBS prescribers,
  • 2000–2010 – Supported state optometry associations to secure therapeutic prescribing across the country,
  • 2010 – Supported the profession to transition to a national registration system,
  • 2015 – Fought and were successful in getting the Medicare fee cap removed, enabling you to set your own fees, and
  • 2021-2024 – Our collective voice will improve the way eye health is delivered for the betterment of the community, while ensuring that optometry is recognised and valued for the critical role it plays in the health and well-being of our nation.

We are committed to ensuring you, as highly skilled optometrists, have the opportunity to work to your full scope to benefit the community, and to lead the evolution of professional scope to meet the changing needs of our communities.

POLICY PLATFORM LAUNCHED

We were pleased to launch our policy platform – Working Together for Better Eye Care – in June. Its purpose is to ignite an important conversation about the timely diagnosis and treatment of eye disease in Australia. With an ageing population, eye disease is increasing but unfortunately our health system is failing too many Australians who are unnecessarily impacted by vision loss or blindness because they do not have access to timely and affordable eyehealth care. You, as optometrists, can play a central role in supporting better access to the eye care our communities need.

Collective Voice 

Let everyone hear our strong collective voice as we create the change that fixes the problems.

It often seems that the community has become indifferent to the serious impact of eye disease. We are still struggling with issues that were identified a decade or more ago – many of them have arguably gotten worse. Only about 50% of patients with diagnosed diabetes get the eye examinations they need. While significant progress has been made, we have not closed the gap in Indigenous eye health, with First Nations Peoples three times more likely to be blind or visually impaired. A tsunami of age-related macular disease is rapidly approaching. Public ophthalmology wait times for many treatments are unacceptably long. Collaborative eye care remains in its infancy. We will reach out to ophthalmology, so together we can develop innovative models of collaborative care to ensure systemic changes to improve access.

While Australia’s 6,000 registered optometrists perform 10 million eye checks annually, and are the first port of call for 80% of people, Australia’s optometrists are seriously under-utilised compared to our counterparts in similar developed nations. Working Together for Better Eye Care identifies readily achievable actions that better use the skills of optometrists to enhance patient access and increase the efficiency of Australia’s eye-health system. It is in our hands to work together to drive these changes.

With the next Federal election looming, and the Aged Care Royal Commission highlighting the health and well-being issues faced by older Australians, now is the time to demand concerted action. We will work with you to pursue change for our profession and our communities.

Collectively, we have a strong voice that can and will change the way eye health is delivered for the betterment of the community. Working together we will ensure that optometry is recognised and valued for the critical role it plays in the health and well-being of our nation.

Lyn Brodie is the National Chief Executive Officer of Optometry Australia. 

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