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.