Kimberley residents now have access to quality eye care thanks to a new regional Lions Outback Vision hub being officially opened to the public in Broome on November 28. The newly decked-out hub includes a full-service eye clinic with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, education and training spaces and facilities for multi-disciplinary use by visiting specialists. This will allow Lions Outback Vision to provide permanent specialised eye health services in Broome and run outreach programs to 20 remote communities and five towns across the Kimberley. Lions Outback Vision McCusker director Dr Angus Turner said Lions Outback Vision would now be able to meet the high demand for eye care in the Kimberley. “The populations here in the remote parts of WA have more blindness and more complications from eye disease so access to eye care is essential,” he said. “We have been servicing the region for years but it became obvious that we needed to be based up in the North West. This region was crying out for eye care, closer to home and more accessible for people. “Broome’s new hub is going to make such a difference for access to eye care and allows us to be able to take eye care professionals into communities.” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have more than three times the normal rates of blindness with 11 per cent of the North West Aboriginal population being vision impaired or blind. Diabetes is also a major contributor to vision loss with Aboriginal people having 14 times the rate of vision loss from the disease than other Australians. With the new Kimberley Hub established, Dr Turner said Lions Outback Vision could also start to deliver eye disease prevention programs. “We’ve started a school screening program and that enables us to go to towns like Lombadina and check kids’ vision and talk to them about healthy eating and preventing diabetic eye disease which is one of the leading causes of vision loss,” he said. Praising Lions Eye institute for their tireless work, Senator Patrick Dodson said having an eye care hub in a remote part of Australia was vital. “Lions Eye services are now enabling communities to come into a town like Broome and get the quality of service and the professional attention they need,” he said. While the new hub will allow Lions Outback Vision to do almost all eye care in-house, Dr Turner said eye surgery availability was another issue. “At the moment it takes a one-year wait to get surgical treatment at the hospital,” he said. “We would love to see a day surgery built next door to the Kimberley Hub and we’re working with Yawuru people to provide a service that can ensure eye surgery within weeks, not years.” The Lions Outback Vision team treated more than 13,800 patients and performed more than 900 eye surgeries in 2021.