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Aust N Z J Ophthalmol. 1997 May;25(2):125-31.

Visual acuity in an Australian aboriginal population.

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Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, United Kingdom.



Australia is a developed country. However, Aboriginal Australians have rates of blindness comparable to Third World countries. There have been well-funded eye health programs for 15 years in Central Australia. This paper examines if there has been an improvement in visual disability of one traditional group of Aboriginal Australians.


Results from an eye health survey of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara of South Australia in 1990 are presented. These data are compared with results for 'blindness' and 'poor vision' from a national survey undertaken in 1976. The two surveys were comparable in design, both were cross-sectional population-based prevalence surveys. Prevalence rates were adjusted for the size of the source population.


Young rural Aboriginal Australians have good visual acuity. Low vision and blindness (WHO definitions) occur in 19.6% and 10.4% of 60+ year olds, respectively. Women were more likely than men to be blind or have low vision (OR = 1.93; 1.06-3.58). There was a decline in 'poor vision' between surveys (OR = 2.86; 1.86-4.75) but not in 'blindness'.


Although there has been a reduction in the prevalence of visual disability in rural Aboriginal Australians, improvements in the provision of eye care for the elderly need to occur.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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