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Report on Little Australians’ Eyes

2020 is the year of good vision for life.

It’s not just a catchy phrase, but a great outlook for vision Australia-wide. Optometry Australia recently released their 2020 Vision Index Report and I thought it would be great to share some key facts for the little people in our lives.

Glasses on a book

Key Points for all Australians

The first section of the report provides information which helps give us a large-scale picture of what is happening around the country.

  • 76% of Australians consider eyesight their most important sense.
  • 31% of us still believe that eating carrots will help us obtain better eyesight, when it is more of a balanced diet with a variety of healthy foods that will help us best.
  • 59% of us worry about the quality of our eyesight and 60% of Australians have found their eyesight has decreased with age.
  • 68% of Australian parents have taken their kids for an eye examination.

Little People and their Little Eyes

When we take a closer look at the Little People section of the report, we find these awesome little findings.

  • 79% of Australian parents believe their children have great eyesight.
  • 72% of Australians believe their children should have an eye test before starting school.
  • 35% of the children who have visited an optometrist needed prescription glasses.
  • 45% of parents don’t get their children’s eyes tested because they believe there is nothing wrong with them.

What does this all mean?

The statistics are interesting and show that as Australian parents we tend to contradict ourselves. While we believe eye tests are important for children, even before school, the numbers are showing that we aren’t acting on our concerns. This matters because of those children getting their eyes tested, around one-third are requiring prescription glasses.

When you look deeper into the parents who are taking their kids to get their eyes tested, the reasons vary as to why they go. Just over half (53%) of kids eye tests are done as part of a regular health check-up. This is how we caught Dane’s vision problem. The other reasons drop down between 2-8% each and include; teacher recommendation, notice squinting, or complaining of poor vision. This shows the importance of nurses and doctors to include eye tests in their child health checks. But it also shows that not all eye conditions have an obvious symptom, so being proactive with checks is vital.

Screen time can often be a big debate in families and between families. How much screen time is too much, and what are the outcomes of prolonged screen time? The Optometry Australia 2020 Vision Report said that 44% of parents aged 18-34 are worried about the effects of screen time on children’s eyes. While this rate drops in older Australians (aged 55+) by almost half, down to 28%.  As we move more and more into an age of screen and technology, this issue will continue to grow.

Along with screen time, another issue facing young eyes is UV rays and sun damage. According to the report, 55% of Australian kids do not have UV safe sunglasses. Almost every adult you know will slap on a pair of sunnies when they leave the house, but we don’t seem to find it that important for children. The report findings say the main reason (38%) that adults do not buy sunglasses for their children is that they are worried the children will break or lose them. The ones who do buy sunglasses say they mainly do it (64%) because they want to protect their children’s eyes from sun damage. Kids in sunnies is a debate close to my heart and I am currently championing local Queensland schools to make sunglasses a required, or at least recommended, uniform item.

Australians Knowledge of Eye Conditions and Disease

One more interesting piece of information from the study was how knowledgeable we are on eye conditions and diseases. For the most part we have at least heard of or knew about cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Less of us know about myopia, astigmatism, or diabetic retinopathy. Most Australians, around 75%, have never even heard of presbyopia, keratoconus, pterygium, and amblyopia. This information shows us that there is still a way to go with keeping Australians informed with eye health.

Our Children’s Eyes in 2020

To summarise the Optometry Australia report for 2020, regarding our children, it’s obvious we are starting to think more about our kids’ eyesight and what may and may not affect it. However, our actions don’t necessarily reflect our beliefs, which means we still have work to do. Screen time is a growing issue for young parents and the effects of UV rays are starting to gain momentum.

Let’s hope 2020, the year of good vision, brings about greater awareness, education and action in looking after our kids’ vision in Australia.


To see the full report, click here