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Industry News

28 Nov 2023

ACO Expands Bulk Billing for Pediatric Eye Examinations

ACOThe Australian College of Optometry (ACO) has taken a significant step in prioritising pediatric eye health by extending bulk billing to all eye examinations for children under the age of 18. This move, effective since October 30, aims to eliminate financial barriers to accessing high-quality optometry care for the younger population.

The expansion of bulk billing covers all pediatric services provided by ACO, including its Children's Clinic and advanced Myopia and Binocular Vision clinics in Carlton. This inclusive approach also encompasses services offered at ACO's seven satellite clinics across Melbourne. The Myopia Clinic, established in response to the escalating rate of myopia, stands as Victoria's sole public health clinic of its kind.

ACO has consistently led the way in pediatric eye care excellence, with optometrists possessing expert training at the forefront. The Children's Clinic employs cutting-edge equipment and techniques to assess each case, with treatment plans tailored to individuals based on the best evidence-based practices to achieve optimal health outcomes.

In addition to clinical excellence, ACO maintains a steadfast commitment to public health optometry. As a not-for-profit organization, ACO strongly believes that financial constraints should not hinder families from accessing necessary eye care, including advanced services such as axial measurement available through the Myopia Clinic. Many of ACO's services are heavily subsidized and provided at a lower cost, including options for myopia control.

Zeinab Fakih, ACO Manager of Paediatric and Rehabilitation Services, played a pivotal role in securing the extension of bulk billing for all children under eighteen years. Fakih expressed enthusiasm, stating, "We are thrilled to be extending bulk billing to include all pediatric examinations at the ACO. We are very aware that risks to children’s eye health are increasing, particularly with the rising prevalence of myopia. Early intervention is essential to offer the best outcome for a child’s long-term eye health. Cost simply should not be a factor in whether a child can access eye care."

Kylie Harris, ACO Director of Operations, emphasized that the decision to remove financial concerns aligns with the ethos of ACO. Harris stated, "We are committed to ensuring high quality, equitable eye care for everyone who needs it, and as an organization, we'll always explore how to improve accessibility to our services."

In addition to addressing financial barriers, ACO's Children's Clinic welcomes children with complex needs who may face challenges in accessing care in other optometry settings. With highly trained optometrists, the public health pediatric clinic supports children with developmental or health conditions and special needs to access the care they require.

Eye care professionals are reminded that while referrals are not required to attend ACO, they are always welcome. The extension of bulk billing marks a significant milestone in ACO's ongoing mission to provide accessible and comprehensive eye care for all children in need.

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