Almost 1 in 3 Australians had an optometry service
In 2018–19, 30% of Australians had a Medicare-subsidised optometry service, accounting for 41% of all Medicare-subsidised allied health services. Between 2013–14 and 2018–19, people who had a Medicare-subsidised optometry service increased slightly from 27% to 30% (Table 4).
Northern Territory PHN had the lowest rate of optometry use over all 6 years
Across PHN areas, in 2018–19, use of optometry services ranged from 22% of people living in the Northern Territory PHN area to 34% in the Central Queensland, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast PHN area. The Northern Territory PHN area consistently had the lowest percentage of people who had an optometry service compared with other PHN areas—only 20% to 22% of people in the Northern Territory PHN area used these services between 2013–14 and 2018–19. This may be due to a range of factors, see Interpreting the data for more details.
Optometry service use generally increases with age
In 2018–19, 17% of people aged under 15 had an optometry service compared with 54% of people aged 65 and over (Figure 8), likely due to age-related vision loss or impairment (healthdirect 2018b). This trend is evident over the 6 years.
Box 8: Optometry services
Optometrists provide a wide range of services including vision-testing, prescription of glasses and contact lenses, assessment and reporting on fitness to drive, and diagnosis and treatment of other eye conditions (AHPA 2017b). Since January 2015, Australians aged under 65 are eligible to receive a Medicare-subsidised comprehensive eye examination every three years and annually for those aged 65 and over. See Interpreting the data section and Technical Information for more details.
Figure 8: Percentage of people who had a Medicare-subsidised optometry service, by age groups, 2013–14 and 2018–19
Chart: AIHW. Sources: AIHW analysis of Department of Health, MBS claims data; ABS ERP.