Improving eye health for Australia’s Indigenous population
Improving the disproportionally high rates of vision loss in Indigenous Australians battling Type 2 diabetes is what drives optometrist and PhD student José Estevez.
Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic levels among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with more cases of vision loss and blindness observed as a direct consequence of Type 2 diabetes.
“Currently we know that Type 2 diabetes-related blindness is a big problem. The rates are anywhere between three to seven times higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when compared to other Australians, but we don’t specifically understand what’s driving these poorer outcomes,” José said.
“Through my research, I hope to better understand the underlying complex factors leading to vision loss in individuals with type 2 diabetes.”
During his optometry degree, José spent many months in regional and remote locations where he saw firsthand the inequalities between those living in rural regions compared to those in the city.
Now, as he undertakes his PhD research at SAHMRI thanks to KTDRA’s support, he hopes to understand the issues behind blinding diabetic retinopathy and develop a model of care for management and screening of these eye complications.
“My first goal during this research is to gain a greater understanding of the important factors that contribute to high rates of vision loss, including the social, demographic, psychological, behavioural, clinical, biological and genetic risk factors that can increase the risk of blindness.
“Then we can drive specific interventions that can make a difference. I think we can definitely achieve equitable eye health care for all.”
We look forward to keeping you updated on this important research.