Eye screening and care: navigating the treatment pathway

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
people begin life with generally very good vision. But as adults, they
experience higher rates of blindness and vision loss at younger ages than
non-Indigenous people. Regular checks and screening are critical to maintain good
eye health. They help prevent severe vision loss and blindness that can
result from some health conditions, like diabetes. However the treatment pathway
can be confusing for some patients, especially when it involves different
health professionals, seen at different times, and in different locations. And
it’s common for patients to drop out along the way. So it’s important that
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive care that is linked and
coordinated to help them along their eye care journey. Screening is a quick way to
detect eye problems. It can be done by a range of trained health care professionals
including: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and
practitioners, eye health workers and regional eye-health coordinators,
nurses and GPs, and optometrists. Eye checks are an important part of broader
preventative health efforts like health assessments for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people and chronic disease management. Eye checks usually
include: taking the patient’s case history, doing a vision test, and checking
the structure of the eyes for abnormalities. They sometimes also
include screening for conditions like: red reflex, diabetic retinopathy,
cataracts, and trachoma or trichiasis, as well as treatment for minor injuries. If
more tests or care are needed patients, can visit an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
To see an optometrist patients do not need an official referral. Optometrists
can do a checks screen for eye disease and vision disorder,s and provide
prescriptions for glasses or contact lenses.
To see an ophthalmologist, patients need a referral, and this can only be provided
by GP or an optometrist. An ophthalmologist should be seen if a
patient needs a diagnosis for an eye condition or treatment, including surgery. Early detection, prompt referral and appropriate treatment can prevent or
reduce the impact of many eye problems. Linked and coordinated eye care services
can help patients complete their eye care journey including: having an eye check
with a primary health care professional, visiting an optometrist for eye
screening and for prescription glasses or contact lenses, seeing an
ophthalmologist for diagnosis or treatment of an eye condition. For more
information visit our website

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