Sydney, Australia, 20 March 2018: The federal member for Kingsford Smith, Matt Thistlethwaite MP, today launched a children’s book, ‘The Flying Optometrist’, which captures the adventures of an optometrist travelling to remote Australia, helping introduce good eye health practices to young children.

Written by Joanne Anderton, the daughter of an optometrist, and published by Brien Holden Vision Institute and the National Library of Australia, the book is to be made available in 1000 primary school libraries across NSW.

Matt Thistlethwaite MP and Joanne Anderton

Professor Brian Layland, Chair of the Board of Brien Holden Vision Institute, says ‘The Flying Optometrist’ is an important educational tool that will help raise awareness about vision problems, in particular myopia.

“The prevalence of myopia is reaching ‘epidemic’ proportions worldwide,” he said. “Early detection is important if the condition is to be monitored, treated and the sight threatening conditions associated with high levels of myopia, avoided. However, there are major challenges in delivering eye care to all children and adults that need it, even in Australia.

“This book will help reach children, parents and teachers living in remote areas of Australia and educate them about eye health issues such as myopia. Also highlighting the important role that optometrists can play in safeguarding children’s health and enabling better future life outcomes simply through having better vision.”

 Matt Thistlethwaite MP, Prof Brian Layland, Andrew McKinnon (CEO Optometry Australia NSW), Yvette Waddell (COO, Brien Holden Vision Institute)

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About Brien Holden Vision Institute

Brien Holden Vision Institute is a non-profit translational research, education and public health organisation. It develops new solutions for vision care, especially for myopia and other refractive errors to eliminate vision impairment and avoidable blindness, thereby reducing disability and poverty.

Since 1999, Brien Holden Vision Institute has conducted a series of programs to help improve eye care for people living in remote Australia, particularly, Aboriginal Australians, including:

  • Working with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and funded by the Australian Government’s Visiting Optometrist Scheme, it has provided optometry services at almost 200 regional, rural and remote locations across NSW and NT, for over 10,000 people each year.
  • Co-leading a consortium installing equipment (including retinal cameras) at 105 sites across remote areas of Australia and training Aboriginal health workers, nurses, general practitioners, as part of an effort to increase detection of diabetic retinopathy, funded by the Australian Government.
  • Completed a five-year program in 2015, supported by the Australian Government, which saw improved service delivery and eye health outcomes for Aboriginal Australians; increased capacity of eye care workforce and supporting systems; practical and proven solutions (tools) to ensure sustainable change; national policy change influencing better outcomes; existing partnerships strengthened and new collaborations developed.

In child eye health, we are a founding partner of the global campaign Our Children’s Vision, along with Vision for Life – Essilor, with the objective of upscaling, accelerating and expanding access to eye health services to more children in more locations to screen 50 million children by the year 2020. Over 70 organisations have now joined the campaign, collectively delivering eye care to more than 16 million children so far.