MDFA has advocated for affordable access to low vision aids and technologies for over a decade. Consecutive Governments has seen the issue passed from one portfolio to another with no resolution or ownership.
In early 2016, MDFA commissioned The George Institute for Global Health to undertake desk research to elevate MDFA’s baseline of data and client case studies. The result was ; ‘Low Vision, quality of life and independence: A review of the evidence on aids and technologies’ by Macular Disease Foundation Australia produced in collaboration with The George Institute for Global Health.
The report highlights the evidence base supporting the benefits of aids and technologies for those with vision loss and blindness in order to connect and engage with the world, maintain independence and enhance quality of life.
However, despite these benefits, there are barriers to accessing low vision aids in this country particularly for those most in need - the 100,000 older Australians with vision loss and blindness. The major barrier is cost.
MDFA’s recommendations in the report are three-fold:
1. The establishment of a nationally funded, accessible, affordable and consistent low vision aids and equipment program to replace the current state/territory government programs.
2. Increased investment in research to accurately quantify the impact of low vision aids, technologies and services can have on quality of life and independence for people with low vision and blindness, particularly new technologies.
3. Financial support for aids, demonstrated to improve quality of life for people with functional vision loss, is established in private health insurance policies.
As part of the program, MDFA also undertook a cost estimate of a federally funded low vision aids and technology program which was reviewed by The George Institute and signed off by The George Institute.
Based upon a series of market assumptions, an initial cost estimate of a federally funded program suggested that an annual allowance of between $667 and $2,400 per person per annum, dependent on vision, should be provided, resulting in an annual program cost (after stabilisation) of between $30 million (30% uptake) and $49 million (50% uptake).
The Low Vision Report and cost analysis is now being used as a tool to call meetings with the new Minister in Health and Aged Care.
Download the report >>