Thomson, N. & Paterson, B. (1998). Eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peNational Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Clearinghouse, Edith Cowan University
Place of Publication
Perth, Western Australia
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Clearinghouse
As with many other aspects of health status, it is most probable that prior to the European settlement of Australia in 1788 the eye health of Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders was excellent. In fact. their eye health was almost certainly better than that of Europeans of the time. There are no definite data from early post-settlement times, but this conclusion appears reasonable from the results of a number of thorough surveys conducted as late as the 1940s and 1950s ( 1-4) Despite finding some severe preventable problems, particularly trachoma (a form of infective conjunctivitis - see Appendix l for more details), these surveys documented the relative rarity among Aborigines of common ocular abnormalities. including degenerative causes of blindness. These findings were largely confirmed in the most extensive survey of indigenous health ever undertaken, the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program (5).