Info for Health Professionals
ICEE Media Release
NEW EYECARE CLINIC IN REDFERN
Many Aboriginal people are losing their vision because of preventable or treatable causes. Even in urban areas, Aboriginal people have higher rates of blindness and visual impairment, and attend eyecare practitioners in far lower numbers than other members of the Australian population.
Helping to combat this problem, an Eye Clinic equipped by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care (Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health OATSIH) has been established at the Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern. The Clinic will be officially opened on 18 July, 2000 by the State Minister for Community Services, the Hon. Faye Lo Po and with the support of Hon Dr. Michael Wooldridge, Minister for Health and Aged Care.
'Eyecare is one area of Aboriginal health requiring and receiving urgent review and attention. Aboriginal people in Australia suffer up to 10 times the level of blindness from preventable eye disease than non-Aboriginal people', said Professor Brien Holden, Chair of the International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE), one of the organisers of the clinic.
'For example, diabetes and associated eye disease has a high prevalence amongst the Aboriginal population, and the rate of cataract is double that of the non-Aboriginal population. Often simple problems, such as just requiring spectacles, are causing severe visual impairment.
'The Clinic at Redfern is designed to provide vision and eyecare, including the provision of spectacles and other optical aids, as well as educational programs to increase eye health awareness among the Aboriginal population and Aboriginal eye health workers.'
A Community Optometrist attends the clinic four days per week through the support of ICEE and the Department of Community Services, and a registrar from the Department of Ophthalmology at Prince of Wales Hospital attends for one session each week. The Clinic is developing a base program which could be adapted to suit the needs of other locations.
Over the past 3 months the Clinic has seen over 300 patients and dispensed over 200 pairs of glasses. The Clinical optometrist has also made two School visits to local schools to provide eye screening for the children, seeing around 30 children at each visit. As diabetes is a particular problem in the Aboriginal community, the Eye Clinic is working closely with the Medical Clinic at Redfern to alert and remind diabetic patients to receive regular eye checks.
Participants in the Clinic include the International Centre for Eyecare Education; The University of New South Wales; Department of Ophthalmology, Prince of Wales Hospital; VisionCare NSW; Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council; Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care - OATSIH, NSW Branch; Department of Community Services; and NSW State Government Aboriginal Health Branch.
'The official opening of the clinic will provide an opportunity to acknowledge the work of all the groups in making this possible, and to publicise to the Aboriginal and wider community this important initiative', said Professor Holden.
'We hope that the Clinic will be an important step in meeting the eyecare needs of the Aboriginal community, and providing vision for all.'
Event: Opening of the Redfern Eye Clinic, to be attended by representatives of the stakeholders, government, and community
Date and time: July 18th 2000; 10.15am arrival and seating, for 10.30am
Venue: Conference Room (upstairs), Aboriginal Medical Service, 36 Turner Street, Redfern, NSW
For further information contact Kylie Evans ph 9385 7406 email