Central Australian Ocular Health Study: design and baseline description of participants


  • Financial disclosure: The authors have no proprietary or financial interest in this study. Partial equipment grants for the study were received from:
    • Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia: B & L Lowe Grant
    • NH & MRC: Centre for Clinical Research Excellence

Dr John Landers, Flinders Medical Centre, Flinders Drive, Bedford Park, SA 5042, Australia. Email: john.landers@bigpond.com


Purpose:  To describe the design and demographic characteristics of a study to determine the prevalence of ocular morbidity among indigenous Australians living within remote central Australia.

Methods:  1884 individuals aged 20 years or older, living in one of 30 remote communities within the statistical local area of ‘central Australia’ were recruited for this study. Participants were recruited as they presented to the eye clinic at each remote community. Patients underwent visual acuity testing and subjective refraction. Following this they had a comprehensive ocular assessment. A baseline description of the participants is presented.

Results:  1884 participants were recruited including 689 (36.6%) males and 1195 (63.4%) females. This equates to 36% of those aged 20 years or older and 67% of those aged 40 years or older living in central Australia. 55% of participants were diabetic and 20% of participants were symptomatic of an eye condition, but the majority of these only had presbyopia. Combined, those who presented due to diabetes (regardless of symptoms), due to presbyopia, or without any symptoms made up 95% of the sample.

Conclusion:  Despite being recruited through clinics, the majority of participants presented for a ‘check-up’ because the clinic was available and not due to symptoms. Therefore, the data we collected may be used to establish the current prevalence of ocular morbidity within the indigenous community living in remote central Australia with particular reference to those aged 40 years or older. As such, this can help to determine the current and future needs of this population.