Timely access to eye health treatments prevents or slows down vision loss
If people access the right treatment at the right time, they can either have more time to adapt to vision loss, or carry on with their lives. But each year, more people are going blind and losing their vision due to lags in accessing treatments. Eye health professionals care about providing the best eye health for New Zealanders, yet system level issues mean there is an overwhelming demand for these services. This could be resolved by working with eye health professionals to decide where to target extra funding, where it can improve systems and support the professionals to deliver timely eye health services.
Rapid access to support at the time of vision loss is essential if people are to maintain their confidence and independence.
People with newly diagnosed eye conditions should be told what support and services are available.
For example – Glasses loan scheme. Someone on a low income or benefit may not know about Work and Income’s glasses loan that helps with the cost of eye examinations and glasses. We know that currently people are falling through the gaps, and managing a deteriorating quality of life, before they access the right support and services. Systems for providing all people diagnosed with a vision threatening condition should be put in place to enable a rapid assessment of the needs of the individual, immediate advice and onward referral to appropriate health, social care, and consumer group support services.
When people experience vision loss, they should have timely and rapid access to rehabilitation and low vision services to help them learn to live with vision loss. Trained professionals deliver essential support services. Counselling supports people to come to terms with vision loss. Services like adaptive daily living training enable people to continue living independently. Habilitation teaches children to live with vision impairment at each stage of life. We know that currently many people experience a deteriorating quality of life because they do not access comprehensive vision rehabilitation services. Currently there are not enough trained professionals to deliver these services. Investing in rapid access to comprehensive vision rehabilitation could provide social returns on investment as high as $3 for every $1 invested.
Advocate for timely access to quality treatment services to prevent or slow down vision loss. Working with eye health professionals to inject funding and resources into the right treatments will remove existing backlogs, ensure timely access to treatments, and decrease avoidable vision loss in New Zealand.