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DOI: 10.1101/2023.05.25.23290454

The Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey (AEEHS): study protocol for a population-based cross-sectional study

R.Kha O. Macken P. Mitchell ...+7 B. Gopinath
Introduction: Vision and hearing loss are highly prevalent and have a significant impact on physical, psychological and social wellbeing. There is a need for accurate, contemporary national data on the prevalence, risk factors and impacts of vision and hearing loss in Australian adults. Objectives: The Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey (AEEHS) aims to determine the prevalence, risk factors and impacts of vision and hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous adults. Methods and analysis: The AEEHS is a population-based cross-sectional survey which will include 5,000 participants (3250 non-Indigenous aged 50 years or older and 1750 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 40 years or older) from 30 sites covering urban and rural/regional geographic areas, selected using a multi-stage, random cluster sampling strategy. Questionnaires will be administered to collect data on socio-demographic, medical, ocular and otological history. The testing battery includes assessment of blood pressure, blood sugar, anthropometry, presenting and unaided visual acuity, subjective or autorefraction, tonometry, slit lamp and dilated eye examination, ocular imaging including optical coherence tomography (OCT), OCT-angiography, retinal photography and visual fields examination. Audiometry, tympanometry and video otoscopy will also be performed. The primary outcomes will be age-standardised prevalence of cause-specific visual and hearing impairment. Secondary outcomes will be prevalence of non-blinding eye diseases (dry eye disease), patterns in health service utilisation, universal health coverage metrics, risk factors for vision and hearing impairment, and impact on quality of life. Ethics: The protocol for this study was approved by the University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC-2020/818) and Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) Research Ethics Committee (HREC-EO303-20211008). Dissemination of results: Our findings will be disseminated through presentation at meetings and peer-reviewed publications. Findings will also be widely disseminated by project partners with the aim of improving public health policy directives and equitable service delivery to prevent avoidable vision and hearing impairment in Australia.