The blind spot in Australia’s aging population


With research suggesting Australia’s population of people aged 65 and over is tipped to increase to 6.66 million by 2041, an increase of 54 per cent over the 2021 population[1], Optometrists are bracing for an unwelcome surge in the number of Australians affected by serious eye conditions such as Glaucoma.

Glaucoma is the world’s leading cause of blindness, affecting 300,000 Australians with those aged over 50 most at risk. Concerningly 50 per cent of Australians are unaware that they have the disease because they haven’t had an eye test[1].  

Bupa Optical Optometrist, Karen Makin said it’s important older Australians are vigilant about getting regular eye tests to ensure any issues are detected and treated early.

“There is no doubt an aging population increases the national incidence of eye diseases, especially Glaucoma. That’s why it’s vital that awareness of the importance of eye tests is championed at government, medical provider, and family levels alike.

We strongly encourage everyone, but particularly men and women over 50 years of age to visit an optometrist every 2 years for an eye test … It’s just a short consultation, but it could be the first step in saving your eyesight.

Karen Makin, Bupa Optical Optometrist

There are a series of tests an optometrist does, as part of a standard eye test, to check for Glaucoma. These include examining the optic nerve and retina to pick up any early signs of the disease and measuring eye pressure. 

“If there are any suspicious results, then your optometrist will discuss the options available which may include referral to an eye specialist,” Karen said.

This advice is being reinforced during World Glaucoma Week, March 12 – 18, a worldwide initiative that seeks to shine a light on the disease. 

See here for more information on Glaucoma.

To book an eye test at your local Bupa Optical store, visit here.

[1] New Population Projections for Australia and the States and Territories, with a Particular Focus on Population Ageing | CEPAR

[2] Risk Factors for Glaucoma | Glaucoma Australia