Residents in Dandenong at risk of eye disease will benefit from a successful health promotion program that aims to improve eye health and prevent vision loss.

Dandenong will be one of four Local Government Areas targeted by Vision 2020 Australia’s Vision Initiative over the next two years.

Since 2012, the Vision Initiative has been piloted in Darebin, Greater Geelong, Greater Shepparton and Latrobe.

In response to its huge success, the program will be expanded into the City of Greater Dandenong, as well as the City of Brimbank, the Shire of Campaspe and Swan Hill Rural City Council, which have all been identified as communities at increased risk of eye disease.

The Vision Initiative is an eye health promotion program working to eliminate avoidable blindness and vision loss in communities most a risk of eye disease or do not have regular eye tests.

People most at risk include people who are over the age of 40, smokers, people with diabetes, people with a family history of eye disease and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Vision loss is also linked to increased risk of falls, hip fractures and depression and can stop older Victorians from living healthy and independent lifestyles as they age.

Research shows that, if detected early, 75 per cent of vision loss is preventable or treatable.The four new Local Government Areas will receive individually targeted initiatives that are designed to meet the specific needs of each community.

These could range from training for primary health professionals, educational materials and local campaigns to raise awareness of eye health.The Andrews Labor Government provided $3.6 million in last year’s Budget to support Vision 2020’s programs.

This funding ensures more Victorians can access eye health programs that improve quality of life and outcomes for people at risk of eye disease.