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The Australian Government announced on 14 May 2013, a $16.5 million commitment over four years to continue trachoma control activities in Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia, to improve eye health for around 20,000 Indigenous Australians.
Vision 2020 Australia has welcomed the announcement but feel that more needs to be done to close the gap in vision.
Vision 2020 Australia CEO, Jennifer Gersbeck, said 'Australia is the only developed country in the world where trachoma is endemic, and despite falling rates in this country, it still affects 60% of outback Indigenous communities. We must not forget that trachoma is only one condition which impacts the eye health of Indigenous Australians.'
'Four conditions are responsible for 94% of vision loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. More needs to be done to eliminate uncorrected refractive error, cataract and diabetic retinopathy which can lead to vision loss and in some cases blindness if undetected,' she said.
Ms Gersbeck said there was currently a significant disparity between the eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and mainstream Australians.
'Blindness rates in Indigenous adults are six times higher, and vision impairment nearly three times higher, than that of the wider Australian adult community. What is worse, despite 94% of vision loss among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being preventable or treatable some 35% of adults have never had an eye exam,' she said.