Cataract in indigenous Australians: the National Indigenous Eye Health Survey

Authors

  • Hugh R Taylor AC MD FRANZCO,

    Corresponding author
    1. Melbourne School of Population Health
    2. Vision Cooperative Research Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Jing Xie MD PhD,

    1. Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria
    2. Vision Cooperative Research Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Anna-Lena Arnold BSc,

    1. Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria
    2. Vision Cooperative Research Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Nicolas Goujon MD MPH,

    1. Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria
    2. Vision Cooperative Research Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Ross A Dunn BAppSci(AppChem) GradDip(BIT),

    1. Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria
    2. Vision Cooperative Research Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Sarah Fox BA,

    1. Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria
    2. Vision Cooperative Research Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Jill Keeffe OAM PhD

    1. Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria
    2. Vision Cooperative Research Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Supported by the Vision CRC, International Centre for Eyecare Education, RANZCO Eye Foundation, Harold Mitchell Foundation.

Professor Hugh R Taylor, Harold Mitchell Chair of Indigenous Eye Health, Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Level 5, 207 Bouverie Street, Carlton, Vic. 3053 Australia. Email: h.taylor@unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

Background:  To determine the prevalence of vision loss due to cataract in indigenous Australians.

Methods:  A national, stratified, random cluster sample was selected in 30 communities across Australia. Data collection was undertaken in 2008. Adults 40 years and older were examined using a standardized protocol that included a questionnaire. The presence of visually significant cataract was assessed.

Results:  Response rates were good and 1189 indigenous adults were examined and overall recruitment was 72%. Low vision (<6/12–6/60) due to cataract occurred in 2.52% (1.63–3.41%) and blindness (<6/60) in 0.59% (95% CI: 0.24–1.21%). The cataract coverage rate (proportion of those with visually significant cataract who had been operated on) was 65.3% (95% CI: 55.0–74.6%). Projections suggest that there are 3234 indigenous adults with vision loss from cataract.

Conclusions:  Cataract remains a major cause of vision loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. There were no significant regional or state differences in the prevalence of cataract or of cataract surgical coverage, which suggests that increased cataract surgery services are required across the country to address cataract in indigenous Australians.

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