Eye care org calls for cataract surgery funding in 2021-22 federal budget
Slashing extended waiting lists for routine yet potentially eyesight-saving cataract surgery is one of the priorities under a plan proposed by the eye health and vision care sector in a submission to the 2021-22 Federal Budget.
The proposal, submitted by Vision 2020 Australia calls for expanded delivery of public cataract surgery, along with the development and roll out of innovative and sustainable service models and national protocols to support enhanced access to cataract surgery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.
The submission also proposes tackling some of the highest rates of blindness in the work in Papua New Guinea through a targeted program of workforce, infrastructure, and outreach services and making it easier and cheaper for older Australians with permanent vision loss to get the technology and support they need.
According to Vision 2020 Australia, around 840,000 Australians are currently living with vision loss, and that by 2030 the figure could exceed 1 million people.
Vision 2020 Australia CEO Judith Abbott emphasised the importance of clearing the long-term backlog of Australians waiting for cataract surgery, saying that it “will transform the lives of many Australians while delivering cost savings to government.”
“If older Australians who develop vision loss can get the support they need quickly and easily, they can be set up to live safely in the community and keep doing the things they love without relying on ongoing government services – that’s good for everybody,” she said.
This is especially true for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities who wait around 57% longer for cataract surgery than other Australians, with some people waiting years for surgery.
“We are proposing investment in a small number of high priority, high impact initiatives to prevent that occurring and ensure people living in both Australia and our nearest neighbour Papua New Guinea have the gift of sight,” Abbot said.
Vision 2020 Australia is the national peak body for the eye health and vision care sector, representing around 50 member organisations involved in local and global eye health and vision care, health promotion, low vision support, vision rehabilitation, eye research, professional assistance and community support.