Eye examinations and eye health
Vision loss from diabetes, cataract and refractive error (the need for glasses) is common in Aboriginal communities in Victoria and 94% of vision loss is unnecessary as it is preventable or treatable. Regular eye examinations, early detection and treatment of eye problems helps prevent vision loss. An eye examination with an optometrist generally takes about 40 minutes and allows investigation of all aspects of how your eyes are functioning. Your eyes will be tested for eye diseases such as cataract, diabetic eye disease, macular degeneration, glaucoma, dry eye, binocular vision problems (how the two eyes work together) and your glasses prescription. Drops to dilate the pupil are usually used (especially if you have diabetes) to allow the optometrist to check the health of the retina, macula and optic nerve at the back of the eye. If cataract surgery or laser treatment is needed, the optometrist will arrange a referral to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) in a public hospital eye clinic or you may choose to see a private specialist.
Children’s eye examinations will help to find any eye problems that affect your child’s ability to see clearly and comfortably for near vision and long distance vision.
Victorian Aboriginal Spectacle Subsidy Scheme ($10 scheme)
The Victorian Aboriginal Spectacle Subsidy Scheme (VASSS) is a “Closing the Health Gap” initiative funded by the Victorian Department of Health and administered by the Australian College of Optometry in partnership with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and a network of optometrists in regional Victoria.
It provides glasses at a subsidized rate of $10 for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live in Victoria. A range of metal and plastic frames approved by community Elders is available to choose from. Depending on your glasses correction, single vision lenses for long distance and/or reading, bifocals or multifocal lenses are available. Transitions lenses and spare pairs are not available under the $10 scheme but are available at extra cost (ask you optometrist for details).
Any person who identifies as part of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community is welcome to attend any of the ACO services and can access the Victorian Aboriginal Spectacle Subsidy Scheme. There is no requirement to hold a Pensioner Concession Card or Health Care Card.
For more information regarding eye care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities please contact:
Genevieve Napper Manager Aboriginal Services,
, 9349 7400
- Victorian Aboriginal Eye Health Strategy
- Australian Indigenous Health Info Net
- ACO Aboriginal Services Information Sheet
- Aboriginal Culture and Health Resources