AIHW report: Close to 50% of Australians wear glasses, contact lenses due to eye problems

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Eye exam
A patient undergoes an eye exam at the Remote Area Medical (RAM) health clinic in Inglewood, California August 11, 2009. Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released a new report stating that almost half of Australians tend to wear glasses or contact lenses due to eye problems, and over 50 percent of the population had at least one long-term eye health condition in 2011 to 2012.

According to the report, nearly 12 million Australians had an eye problem in 2011 to 2012. Most people experienced long- and short-sightedness, and the number of patients increased in recent years.

There has been an increase from 22 percent to 26 percent between 2011 and 2012 in the number of patients affected by long-sightedness, while those affected by short-sightedness also increased by 2 percent from 21 percent.

AIHW also found that more older Australians had long-term eye conditions. The number of people at age 55 and over affected by an eye problem have increased to 95 percent, compared with 11 percent of people aged zero to 14.

“Eye conditions were more common among females than males, and much more common among Indigenous Australians than non-Indigenous Australians,” said AIHW spokesperson Mardi Ellis in a press release.

The report also shows higher rates of preventable blindness and vision loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous Australians were found to have higher risk of having complete or partial blindness compared with non-Indigenous Australians.

Moreover, it was found that Indigenous people are nearly one and a half times more likely to develop cataracts. However, AIHW said that these patients are less likely to take cataract extraction surgery than other Australians.

“Some improvements have been seen, however- cataract extraction among Indigenous Australians has increased from 5.6 per 1,000 population in 2010-11 to 7.3 per 1,000 in 2013-14, while the rate for other Australians remained steady,” Ellis said.

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