Eye Health and Chronic Disease Specialist Support Program

The Eye Health and Chronic Disease Specialist Support Program (EH&CDSSP) aims to provide ongoing culturally appropriate chronic disease specialist support, such as optometrists and ophthalmologists, to rural and remote Aboriginal communities of South Australia including Port Augusta, Whyalla, Murray Bridge, Coober Pedy, Ceduna, Koonibba, Yalata, Oak Valley, and most communities within the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

Another aim of the program is to promote the importance of eye health and heighten awareness around the strong, yet under-acknowledged, correlation between eye health and chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. The presence or extent of these diseases is often first detected in people only as a result of undergoing a routine eye examination. Therefore, the State Coordinator and visiting eye specialists aim to screen as many Aboriginal people with chronic diseases as possible during each community visit.

The EH&CDSSP coordinates a team of visiting eye specialists to most regional Aboriginal health services. There are currently five optometrists and six ophthalmologists in the program.

In each community visited, clients are able to have a consultation with the eye specialist(s) including a thorough vision and visual acuity check, retinal examination, and eye pressure check, followed by medical advice, on-the-spot treatment, or referral for treatment at a suitable location. Patients may be referred to the Flinders Medical Centre, Royal Adelaide Hospital or Alice Springs Hospital, most commonly for cataract surgery, laser therapy for diabetic retinopathy, or ocular plastics in relation to acute trichiasis. Following each community visit, statistics are recorded particularly around the prevalence of active trachoma and trichiasis.

For more information, please email Desley Culpin or phone 08 8273 7200.