Specsavers believes that everyone should have access to the best quality eye care and eyewear. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are three times more likely than other Australians to experience avoidable vision loss or blindness. That’s why Specsavers is proud to have a long-term partnership with The Fred Hollows Foundation and has contributed more than $3 million to its sight-saving work over the past nine years.

The Fred Hollows Foundation’s Indigenous Australia Program Manager Shaun Tatipata says the theme of ‘In This Together’ couldn’t be better suited for Reconciliation Week 2020.

“’In this Together’ is incredibly relevant in this time for us as a country. For us at The Fred Hollows Foundation, it’s about celebrating the contributions that we are all making to reconciliation whilst also acknowledging the work we still have to do.”

During COVID-19, The Fred Hollows Foundation’s priority has been to protect the safety of patients, communities, eye health workers and staff.

“COVID-19 particularly impacts vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or other chronic diseases. Poor housing and overcrowding also heightens the risk. Unfortunately, this means that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been at significant threat of the virus.”

The Fred Hollows Foundation has been working alongside communities and Community Controlled Health Organisations to safeguard Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples from the possible impacts of COVID-19 and is also working to grant remote communities access to sight-saving and urgent eye care they may need.

The Fred Hollows Foundation has been working with Aboriginal Community Controlled Heath Organisations to safeguard their communities from COVID-19 whilst also maintaining access to sight-saving and urgent eye care.

“In this time, we have seen communities and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector really seize control. They implemented a huge range of measures that meant there hasn’t been the outbreaks we all feared. Because of this leadership and because of the quick actions in helping to translate and transmit key messages, communities are aware of the risks and they know how to protect themselves,” says Shaun.

During COVID-19, Specsavers’ support is continuing to fund critical workforce delivering urgent eye care across parts of Western Australia. The support provided to Lions Outback Vision through the partnership with The Fred Hollows Foundation has meant that eye care for remote communities has remained accessible during this time.

Specsavers has supported Lions Outback Vision Van since 2017 and normally the Van tours Western Australia offering treatment and procedures to address key eye conditions including cataract, trachoma, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Outreach clinics can involve up to six staff, including an Optometrist, Ophthalmologist, Resident, two Ophthalmology Fellows, the vision van driver and a specialist health service provider such as the diabetic retinopathy or Aboriginal Eye Health Coordinator.

Specsavers’ support in 2019 helped the Lions Outback Vision Van to achieve the following:

  • 7,844 people screened
  • 137 cataract operations
  • 825 diabetic retinopathy and other eye health treatments
  • 2 ophthalmologist fellows supported.