Fred Hollows’ big vision to beat blindness

Ralph Dingul having a health check. Photo supplied by The Fred Hollows Foundation.

The Fred Hollows Foundation is working to close the gap in Indigenous eye health according to their newly released annual Global Results data.

Last year the Foundation supported over 1,000 cataract operations and over 16,000 people were screened for eye conditions.

Manager of the Foundation’s Indigenous Australia Program Shaun Tatipata said despite these considerable achievements, the Foundation’s work to end avoidable blindness is still as relevant as ever.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are still three times more likely to be blind than other Australians,” Mr Tatipata said.

“That’s why The Fred Hollows Foundation is working with communities and our partners to restore people’s sight and promote greater awareness of the need to have your eyes checked.”

A routine eye-check turned into a vision-saving operating for Ralph Dingul, a 59-year-old from Roper River in the Northern Territory.

Already blind in his left eye from an injury five years ago, Mr Dingul was diagnosed with a cataract in his right eye at an eye check at Wurli-Wurlinjang Aboriginal Health Service.

Located in Katherine, Wurli-Wurlinjang is a partner of the Fred Hollows Foundation.

Left untreated, Mr Dingul would have had no vision in either of his eyes.

The Foundation organised and funded an intensive surgery day in Darwin last year and the surgery was successful in more ways than one.

A check up after his operation revealed that his left eye could be fixed too.

Mr Tatipata said the Foundation is continuing a proud history of working with Indigenous Australians and supporting organisations and healthcare workers to strengthen their systems and restore sight.

“The Foundation has a strong commitment to investing in the future generations of eye health professionals. Last year, The Foundation trained 147 people, including three surgeons and 130 community health workers,” Mr Tatipata said.

Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health workers is one of the best ways to close the gap in eye health outcomes and creates a strong base for long-term success.”

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