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Screening could abolish diabetic blindness says expert PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 10 December 2009

A screening program aimed at detecting the early signs of diabetic retinopathy (DR) could abolish diabetic blindness. This was the message from experts at a briefing to some of Australia’s leading diabetes and eye health specialists. Professor Paul Dodson, Director of the Diabetic Retinopathy Screening and Training Centre (HEDRSCE) said screening for diabetic retinopathy has a major impact on the reduction of blindness in the diabetic population. “Since HEDRSCE began its screening program in 1993, the rate of diabetic blindness in the population we serve has reduced by about a third”.“Ophthalmologists in Iceland, where they’ve implemented a screening program that works closely with diabetes clinics, maintain they’ve abolished diabetes related blindness completely. This is a staggering achievement.” Professor Dodson likened the screening program to those used to detect breast and cervical cancer. “A hard copy image of the retina is taken and analysed by trained professionals. If a problem’s detected, the patient is alerted and referred to an eye clinic for treatment”.

CERA Managing Director Jonathan Crowston said that to implement a similar program in Australia, the Government will need to be convinced of the social and financial cost benefits of early screening programs. “Approximately 200,000 Victorians are living with diabetes and we estimate that more than 2,000 have sight threatening diabetic retinopathy,” Professor Crowston said. “The UK experience provides a compelling case for support. The program ticks all boxes – it’s cost effective, it tackles a common and growing problem, the test is easy and painless and treatment is widely available”.

Professor Crowston said CERA is already developing a service that will use retinal imaging to predict diabetic retinopathy and vascular disease through its Retinal Vascular Imaging Centre (RetVIC). Diabetes is a major epidemic in Australia. It affects 1.7 million Australians, or roughly 8% of the population, and a further 275 Australians develop the condition every day. 2 DR is the highest cause of blindness in working-age adults.

Patients with diabetes are 25 times more likely to lose vision or go blind than those without the condition. “Diabetic Retinopathy – New Approaches to Management” was co-hosted by CERA, the NHMRC Centres for Translational Clinical Research in Major Eye Diseases and for Clinical Science in Diabetes, the University of Melbourne and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

 
Update on Cataract Surgery Rebates PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 27 November 2009

On 25 November 2009 the Senate passed a motion to disallow the Medicare rebates for cataract surgery items. This means that as of 26 November 2009 no rebates will be payable for MBS Items 42698, 42701, 42702 and 42718. Any further updates in relation to these items will be provided by circular and also on Latest News for MBS Online.

MBS online is available at www.mbsonline.gov.au

 
Australian Government and Vision 2020 Australia aim to eliminate blindness in region within 10 years PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 27 November 2009

The Fred Hollows Foundation has united with the Australian Government and other vision care organisations to eliminate avoidable blindness and reduce the impact of vision loss throughout South East Asia and the Pacific over the next 10 years.

The partnership is part of the Rudd Government's focus on improving living standards, health care and access to education in the Asia Pacific - and is a key element of AusAID's new Development for All disability strategy. The Hon Bob McMullan MP, Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, launched the partnership in Canberra today with a message that 80% of global blindness is avoidable, treatable or preventable.

As a result of this partnership, as many as 100 million people in South East Asia and the Pacific will have their vision restored or improved. The 2008 federal budget contained a $45 million commitment to improving eye health in the Asia Pacific. Since then, there has been much progress in establishing a Consortium partnership and developing an agreement to commence the first stages of this groundbreaking initiative.

 
New social media tools for people with disabilities PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 26 November 2009

Media Access Australia (MAA) has launched two new products as part of a review of accessibility features in popular social media websites to enable people with disabilities to take advantage of these sites. The first is the Social Media Guide to help people with disabilities find accessibility features in a number of popular social media tools, including Skype, Facebook, YouTube and many others.

MAA has also developed the Social Media Accessibility Review, reporting on the overall state of accessibility across social media. The products are available from www.mediaaccess.org.au/newmedia. You can access these products by navigating to the User Access Guide under New Media and goto Social Media.

 
ARC grants to help fight against bacterial infection PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Two Discovery Grants from the Australian Research Council (ARC) will help Sydney researchers develop novel new ways of protecting against dangerous bacterial infection. The ARC will provide funding of $300 000 to assist research at the University of New South Wales investigating the possibility of disrupting chemical communication in bacteria as a new way to fight infection. Research at Macquarie University seeking to develop new and natural methods to protect humans and animals against pathogens – before they invade the body – will receive $320 000.

According to the researchers, serious health problems caused by pathogenic microorganisms are in sharp increase due to an aging population, escalating numbers of immunocompromised people and the increased resistance of microorganisms to currently available antibiotics. Professor Mark Willcox, Chief Scientific Officer at the Institute for Eye Research, and a member of both project teams, says that due to the increased application of antibiotics for disease control, many pathogenic bacteria have developed resistance to existing treatments.

 
Vision Australia and Apple present info sesson about accessibility PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 19 November 2009

Apple's flagship Sydney store will host Vision Australia Senior Adaptive Technology Consultant David Woodbridge as he presents an hour-long accessibility information session on Thursday 19 November.

'Accessibility: Out Of The Box' will focus on the intelligent accessibility features that are built into Apple products. Apple has an ongoing commitment to ensuring wide access to technology. In recent years, it has released a number of accessible products that have been very well received by the local and international blindness and low vision community, namely the iPhone 3GS, the iPod Touch and the latest operating system, Snow Leopard.

Anyone with an interest in accessibility, technology or both is very welcome to attend this free presentation that proves everyone can enjoy technology. Accessibility: Out Of The Box runs from 5pm at the Apple Store, 367 George Street, Sydney.

 
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