The past 18 months have been anything but ordinary. COVID-19 restrictions and prolonged lockdowns across states and regions have impacted access to eyecare across Australia, restricting optometrists from providing routine care.
For patients with glaucoma, regular eye checks are very important. Consistent monitoring and management are key to avoiding preventable vision loss. In addition, for patients unaware they have it, being able to access routine eyecare is critical. For many, attending a regular eye check could be the difference between halting a condition in its tracks or suffering irrecoverable vision loss.
Impact on first-time glaucoma referrals
Specsavers saw a significant reduction in the number of patients – more than 8,000 patients in total – who were not referred for newly detected glaucoma in 2020 and 2021. Australia’s most locked down states, both NSW and Victoria, saw a reduction of more than 50% in the number of first-time glaucoma referrals in 2020 and 2021.
Type of referrals
Both NSW and Victoria saw glaucoma referrals decline by more than 40% during periods of lockdown in 2020 (compared to the same period the year before) and 30% in 2021.
Overwhelmingly, the negative impact on Australians’ eye health resulting from COVID-19 restrictions over the past 18 months points to a pressing need to ensure primary optometry services are always open and accessible to support patients with their eye health.