24 Aug 2021
Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey Launched
The Centre for Vision Research at The Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR) and partners including the University of New South Wales, The George Institute for Global Health, the Brien Holden Foundation and Macquarie University have announced the Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey, the second national eye health survey sponsored by the Australian Government Department of Health.
The survey will examine close to 5,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and non-Aboriginal Australians over a period of two years, beginning in the coming months.
Professor Paul Mitchell AO, Director of WIMR’s Centre for Vision Research who will lead the study, says “Having a thorough and accurate understanding of the prevalence of eye disease and hearing loss in Australia is essential. It allows us to anticipate and plan prevention and treatment approaches that address the issues of vision and hearing loss now, and well into the future.”
Vision 2020 Australia CEO Judith Abbott welcomed the launch of the survey as an important investment which will provide critical data for use by government, the sector and other stakeholders. “Vision 2020 Australia members across the eye health and vision care sector are keen to both contribute to the project itself and utilise the data it provides. This data will let us track our progress towards preventing avoidable vision loss, by enabling us to see what has changed since the first National Eye Health Survey was conducted”, she said.
Macquarie University has provided support to ensure assessment of ear health occurs in parallel to the collection of data on eye and general health measures in this Survey. The ear health component of this Survey will be led by Professor Bamini Gopinath, Cochlear Chair in Hearing and Health at Macquarie University Hearing. Professor Gopinath says, “We have a unique opportunity to expand the scope of the Second National Eye Health Survey to also establish prevalence, risk factors and impacts of hearing loss in Australia. This will not only help to determine the current state of hearing health in Australia, but it will provide vital information to the Government to assist in its policy development, guiding future resource allocation and hearing health service delivery.”
The survey will also provide a valuable data source for Australia in reporting against the new global eye health targets that were recently adopted at the 2021 World Health Assembly.
“Australia played a key leadership role in securing support for those targets and this next survey will be critical in reporting against them,” Ms Abbott said.
Professor Mitchell says, “Our study will use new, non-invasive imaging technologies to help improve eye disease detection rates. Importantly, it will assess a broad representation of people from across Australia. We will also look to assess potential links between eye disease/vision and hearing loss and critical health and/or social outcomes. The WIMR Centre for Vision Research and partners are honoured to have been entrusted with this important study, and proud to be playing this vital role in improving the vision and hearing of all Australians”.