Eye health project

Many eye conditions, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, do not have noticeable symptoms in their early stages, although if detected or treated early, are preventable. Regular eye examinations are an effective measure for identifying common eye problems and can prevent avoidable blindness and vision loss.

General practice plays a crucial role in reducing avoidable blindness and vision loss and its associated burden of disease, including identifying those at higher risk of eye disease.

While eye disease can occur at any age, risk factors include:

  • Being over 40 years of age
  • Smoking
  • Having hypertension
  • Having diabetes
  • A family history of eye disease.

First Nations people and those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities may face additional barriers in accessing tailored and appropriate support for their eye health.

Eye health project background

The Victorian Department of Health (DH) funded Murray PHN to partner with Eastern Melbourne PHN to lead the development and implementation of a quality and systems improvement pilot project, to improve eye screening and detection of eye conditions/disease for at risk groups across Victoria to reduce the prevalence of avoidable blindness and vision loss. The project was undertaken in partnership with Vision 2020 Australia, Gippsland PHN, North Western Melbourne PHN and Western Victoria PHN.

Beginning in March 2023, 48 general practices were engaged across the five participating Victorian PHN regions. Practices undertook activities with a focus on developing and implementing quality and sustainable system improvements to support the ongoing identification and appropriate referral to eye health professionals of people at risk of developing eye disease or vision loss. Practices were supported with resources included in an orientation package, training and quality improvement coaching.

Key project results

At the end of October 2023, 46 practices completed the project including 10 from the Murray PHN region. Evaluation of the project by an independent evaluator is underway, with a full report expected in April 2024. Click here to view a summary of the key project outcomes.

Free online training modules and webinars

To support the project, our partner Vision 2020 Australia, the peak body for eye health and vision care organisations in Australia, developed a range of online professional development opportunities, including self-paced modules and live webinars. These modules, as well as the webinar recordings, remain freely available to all Victorian healthcare professionals. Also, three of the modules are now RACGP approved CPD activities.

Click here to download a training flyer.

To access the training, register on the Vision 2020 Australia training platform:

Quality improvement activities

The project provided opportunity for general practices to share learnings gained from applying the model for improvement (Plan Do Study Act) to their ideas for embedding eye health preventative care into their everyday systems.

Some quality improvement ideas tested and implemented by participating practices include:

  • Creation of an optometry referral template for importing into a practice's clinical information system, with versions available for Medical Director and Best Practice (To upload the template to your clinical software, right-click on the relevant link and save a copy of the file on your desktop. From your clinical software, upload the template saved on your desktop)
  • Update the practice's clinical information system address book with local optometry service provider details (listings available via the National Health Service Directory)
  • Update the practice's new patient intake form to include the question, "When was your last eye check?"
  • Include eye health screening as part of all health assessment and GPMP templates
  • Using clinical software or data extraction tools to identify patients with risk factors for eye disease and setting a reminder to ask them, "When was your last eye check?"

Resources

  • Focus on eye health document developed by Murray PHN's quality improvement consultants
  • Collateral for display in waiting rooms and for patients: Vision 2020 Australia. To order, click here.
  • KeepSight is a national eye check recall and reminder system for people with diabetes, led by Diabetes Australia. Healthcare providers can access the free digital platform to register patient details.
  • Good Vision for Life is a hub of information that includes a search function to find a local optometrist, plus information about healthy eyes.
  • Patients who are blind or have vision loss can be referred to Vision Australia for support to live the life they choose.
  • Glaucoma Australia provides free education and support to people living with glaucoma and produces resources to promote early detection.
  • The Victorian Eyecare Service allows eligible Victorians to receive subsidised glasses, contact lenses and visual aids
  • The Victorian Aboriginal Spectacles Subsidy Scheme provides $10 glasses for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Victoria
  • The NSW Spectacles Program provides glasses and vision aids to eligible recipients.

 

Page last updated 8 February 2024