Purpose: To describe the self-reported vision, history of eye disease and general health of indigenous Australian participants in the National Indigenous Eye Health Survey.
Methods: Using a multistage cluster sampling methodology, 30 geographic areas, stratified by remoteness, were selected to provide a representative population of indigenous Australians aged 5–15 years and 40 years and over. Before an eye examination, participants completed a questionnaire about their eye health and eye care facilities consulted, satisfaction with their vision and general health.
Results: A total of 1694 indigenous children (49.2% female, mean age 9.5 ± 2.9 years) and 1189 adults (61.0% female, mean age 53.1 ± 9.7 years) participated. Three-quarters of adults (259/342) and 88.4% of children (129/146) wore the right distance glasses. Adults from remote areas were less likely to have refractive error (P = 0.002) as well as males versus females (P = 0.02). Similar results were found for children. Adults wearing appropriate distance glasses were as satisfied with their vision as people with normal vision who did not need glasses (P = 0.6). Both groups were more satisfied with their distance vision than people with poor presenting vision (P = 0.007). Self-report of cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration did not match with clinical findings (P < 0.001). Over 37% of adults (417/1187) and 1.3% of children (22/1691) reported having diabetes.
Conclusion: The National Indigenous Eye Health Survey provided information to guide future planning of eye health prevention strategies for indigenous Australians. Findings indicate the importance of correcting refractive error to improve quality of life. Prevention messages should be renewed in appropriate sociocultural formats.