Australians are being urged to have regular eye tests to help prevent permanent vision loss in their later years.
Three-quarters of cases of vision impairment and blindness in older Australians could have been prevented with regular eye checks, said Dr Peter Hendicott, the Director of Optometry at the Queensland University of Technology Health Clinic.
"More than half a million Australians over the age of 40 are vision impaired or blind," said Dr Hendicott.
"Around 75 per cent of these people have conditions that were preventable or treatable if diagnosed earlier."
Dr Hendicott said that it was too late to wait for symptoms of vision impairment to appear before visiting an optometrist.
"A survey undertaken by Vision 2020 Australia shows that 66 per cent of Australians think there are noticeable symptoms to indicate early eye disease, but this is simply not the case," he said.
"Very often these conditions have no obvious symptoms until they are well advanced at which point treatment options and the chance of retaining vision are much less.
"A simple, regular eye test with an optometrist is vital for early detection and preventing permanent vision loss."
Dr Hendicott said vision impairment and blindness have a significant impact on an individual’s wellbeing and their contribution to the community.
"Older people who are vision impaired or blind are less likely to work than their peers, are more likely to be depressed, have falls or accidents – including traffic accidents – and tend to enter nursing homes earlier and die younger," he said.
(Source: Queensland University of Technology: October 2008)