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A healthy view of Aboriginal eye health

April 30, 2019

As part of our ongoing commitment to closing the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians the hospital has partnered with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) to deliver an Ophthalmology clinic.

The service will run fortnightly on Wednesdays at VAHS and will help to provide eye care in a culturally safe environment. Patients can be referred from anywhere across Victoria and will have their vision assessed by both an Orthoptist and an Ophthalmologist. They will then have the option to be treated at VAHS, or if requiring surgery, they will be referred to the Eye and Ear.

The Ophthalmology clinic will join the existing Healthy Ears clinic at the site, offering a set of eye and ear health services to the Victorian Aboriginal community.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to experience higher rates of preventable or treatable blindness from conditions such as cataracts or diabetic retinopathy. Early intervention is a key step to reducing these incidences and it is crucial this can be conducted in a culturally appropriate environment.

Ophthalmologist An Ly is confident in the success of the model.

“Based on the success of the Healthy Ears Clinic that the hospital has run at VAHS for the past 5 years, it is clear that the Aboriginal community are more likely to attend their appointments when offered a familiar and culturally appropriate health setting,” he said.

“Approximately 90% of vision impairment and blindness amongst the Aboriginal community is preventable or treatable, and what we hope to achieve with this clinic is not only to address the high prevalence of preventable vision loss, but to ultimately promote and encourage Eye health care in the Aboriginal community by supporting the fantastic work of Aboriginal Community Controlled Healthcare.