We as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 10 times more likely to get eye diseases which could lead to blindness than other Australians.
There are lots of reasons for this. One reason, that we can all do something about, is not wiping dust, dirt and grime into our eyes. If you have dirt on your hands or face and wipe or rub your eyes (which is something everybody does every day) you can easily spread infections into your eyes. These infections can cause eye disease.
Not rubbing your eyes is a simple and easy way of not spreading eye infections.
Of course, it is easier said than done, especially if your community hasn’t got basic services like decent housing and water. But the Federal Government has pledged to spend whatever money is needed to reduce the unacceptably high levels of eye disease and blindness in Indigenous communities.
Federal Health and Family Services Minister, Dr. Michael Wooldridge, recently received a report on eye disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities written by a Professor High Taylor, who is the director of the Centre for Eye Research Australia.
The report said that Federal and State/Territory Governments should work together to develop regionally based services to help Aboriginal people who have eye disease. The Minister said he would do everything possible to ensure the levels of blindness in Aboriginal communities were lowered from their current unacceptably high levels.
“It’s a disgrace that trachoma remains a blinding disease among Australia’s Indigenous population,” he said. In some regions of Australia there has been little or no improvement over the last 20 years.
If steps are not taken now, diabetes is projected to cause even higher rates of blindness in the near future, “We must bring all parties together to ensure there are real improvements,” Dr. Wooldridge said.