Utilization of eye health-care services in Australia: the National Eye Health Survey

Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2018 Apr;46(3):213-221. doi: 10.1111/ceo.13035. Epub 2017 Sep 6.


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.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eye Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Eye Diseases / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors