Importance: National data on eye health-care service utilization will inform Australia's eye health policy.
Background: To investigate the utilization of eye health-care services by Australians.
Design: Cross-sectional survey.
Participants: Indigenous Australians aged 40 years and older and non-Indigenous Australians aged 50 years and older.
Methods: One thousand seven hundred thirty-eight Indigenous Australians and 3098 non-Indigenous Australians were recruited from 30 randomly selected sites, stratified by remoteness. Sociodemographic, ocular history and eye health-care service utilization data were collected, and an eye examination was conducted.
Main outcome measures: Recentness of eye examinations, types of providers used and associated risk factors.
Results: Approximately 67.0% of Indigenous Australians and 82.5% of non-Indigenous Australians underwent an eye examination within the previous 2 years. Indigenous status (P < 0.001), male gender (P < 0.001), Outer Regional (P < 0.001) and Very Remote (P < 0.001) residence were associated with less recent examinations. Participants with >self-reported eye disease or diabetes were most likely to have been examined within the past year (P < 0.001). For Indigenous Australians, older age was associated with recent eye testing (P = 0.001). Those with retinal disease and cataract were more likely to see an ophthalmologist (P < 0.001), and those with refractive error were more likely to see an optometrist (P < 0.001). In Regional Australia, non-Indigenouspeople were more likely to see optometrists (P < 0.001), and Indigenous Australians were more likely to utilize other, non-specialistservices (P < 0.001).
Conclusions and relevance: Eye examination frequency has improved in Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians compared with previous population-based research. Further improvements are required in risk groups including Indigenous Australians and those living in Regional and Remote areas.
Keywords: eye health care; eye test; indigenous health; national survey; population health.
© 2017 Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists.