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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin
 

Volunteers support Indigenous eye health

Daniel Gerasimou, optometrist at the Maribyrnong OPSM clinic in the western suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, was one of 20 volunteers who travelled across the country to Mornington Island in north Queensland (QLD) to volunteer his time as part of the OneSight Indigenous eye health program.

Over three days, clinics were held at Mornington Island's Save the Children Centre where Dr Gerasimou and other volunteers provided free vision screenings and eye health education to more than 180 members of the local community.

Of the people screened, more than 130 members of the local community needed glasses to correct vision problems, and 29 needed referrals to ophthalmologists or general practitioners to check and manage possible eye and other health conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy.

'Volunteering for one of these programs is something that I have wanted to do for a very, very long time,' Dr Gerasimou said. 'I, like a lot of people, recognise that there's a big gap in Indigenous and non-Indigenous health care in Australia, especially in regional or remote communities. I really wanted to be part of closing that gap.'

Dr Gerasimou, who has been an optometrist for the past six years, said the experience had been fantastic. 'We met all the patients who were really, really friendly and very open and welcoming...most of the eye problems weren't severe at all, just untreated. Most of them essentially needed glasses, and that's something we might take for granted, but it makes a huge difference to someone's life. It was really the small things that made the biggest difference.'

OPSM's OneSight Indigenous eye health program was launched in 2012 in the north QLD town of Mount Isa, and has since helped more than 2000 Indigenous Australians.

Source: Star News

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Last updated: 24 April 2013
 
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