Specsavers has released the inaugural State of the Nation eye health report, which provides a comprehensive overview of the status of eye health in Australia and New Zealand, as well as new data and insights based on analysis of more than six million patient journeys.

The report shows that by 2020, over 270,000 Australians will experience vision loss or blindness due to one of a number of eye conditions that could have been managed. Amongst the conditions, 41,900 will stem from glaucoma, 91,300 from age-related macular degeneration, 126,400 from cataracts and 13,440 from diabetic eye disease.

Dr Ben Ashby, Specsavers Australia & New Zealand Director of Optometry Professional Advancement, said the report offers the industry deeper insight into eye health conditions on a scale that has not previously been available.

“Use of the secure digital referral platform Oculo has enabled us to aggregate significant health data and uncover trends in eye health that were previously unknown. For example, in the past year, Specsavers optometrists who have introduced OCT technology and use it systematically on every patient have seen detection rates double for suspected glaucoma.

“Capturing eye health data has also enabled the creation of industry benchmarking reports, which provide optometrists with the opportunity to understand national average referral rates and ensure their practice is consistent with other practitioners.”

For New Zealand, the report highlighted the need for country-specific eye health data. To date, no New Zealand specific eye health research using the analysis of the nationwide optometric population has been published, with eye health figures currently extrapolated from Australian research. New data would account for the nation’s diverse and ageing population and help the industry to adopt the correct strategies to support patients.

“New Zealand is leading the way internationally when it comes to service,” Dr Ashby commented. “Just this year, the rollout of OCT as part of a standard eye exam for all patients was completed at 52 Specsavers practices at a cost of $6.5 million. However, without current and accurate New Zealand-specific data, we are not in a position as an industry to implement effective strategies to achieve our common goal of eradicating avoidable vision loss for Kiwis.”

The State of the Nation report also discussed the importance of taking a collaborative approach towards eliminating avoidable blindness.

“Accurately detecting, diagnosing, supporting and treating clients in isolation is no longer enough,” Dr Ashby stated. “As an industry, we need to collaborate further if we want to truly improve health outcomes for Australians and New Zealanders and work toward ensuring these countries no longer have people living with avoidable blindness and vision loss.”

The full State of the Nation eye health report can be downloaded at spectrum-anz.com/sotn