Invest in Eye Health Awareness, Education, Treatment and Rehabilitation so people know how to take care of their eyes at every stage of life
Our vision changes throughout our lifetime. Many New Zealanders currently don’t have regular eye examinations as they will only see an optometrist if their ability to see is being affected, and many aren’t aware that an eye examination every two years can detect early chronic diseases and save sight. Some New Zealanders, like those who have a Community Services Card, don’t have regular eye examinations.
These hard-to-reach New Zealanders (by geography and socioeconomic outcomes) are less likely to go to an optometrist. These populations may have never had an eye examination before, which is the first step in accessing treatments, supports, and rehabilitation. The 2016 Australian National Eye Health Survey showed that almost two thirds of vision impairment can be fixed with a pair of glasses. We can assume that the situation would be similar in New Zealand.
The Ministry of Health has been scoping a free annual health check (which includes an eye examination), for all SuperGold card holders (approximately 723,000 New Zealanders). Work to scope the initiative has yielded a range of options about how this could be achieved and by whom in the health sector.
It is recommended that the Ministry of Health utilize the combined expertise available with Eye Health Aotearoa to determine the specifics of what an eye examination should constitute.
Provide funded eye examinations as a first step towards increasing equitable access to eye health services for SuperGold card holders and hard-to reach populations such as Māori and Pacific Island Communities. Implementing the annual health check policy (including eye examination) for SuperGold Card holders and Maori and Pacific Island communities where the prevalence of vision is known to be disproportionately high.