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HomemioptometryOptometry Association Reports Oct 2008

Optometry Association Reports Oct 2008

Happenings and events from the optomerty divisions in Australia and NZ


Terri Smith

Every week, we receive calls at the Victorian Division office from both members and patients seeking information or raising concerns relating to the dispensing of glasses.

On at least a weekly basis, we receive calls at the Victorian Division office from both members and patients seeking information or raising concerns relating to the dispensing of glasses

Our National office recently produced a policy document on provision of prescriptions, and reiterated its view that it should be the dispenser, not the prescriber, who carries the cost of re-making or replacing glasses that the consumer is not happy with, unless the script is incorrect.

This position makes perfect sense, but unfortunately it is not always so straightforward. In Victoria it is particularly complicated by our consumer protection laws and bodies that have no parallel in other states. Unfortunately, we have seen several findings made against prescribing optometrists in such disputes.

We have recently developed guidelines to help members deal with this thorny issue. Our guidelines stress the need for effective communication, an understanding of the law and the need to maintain clear and impartial records. We also recommend members should make clear to their patients from the outset if they have policies relating to the replacement costs of glasses or lenses purchased elsewhere.

If you would like a copy of the guidelines, feel free to call the office on (AUS) 03 9652 2122 or go to www.vicoptom.asn.au.

We are also developing some information for practitioners to either give to patients or to display in their practice. It is meant to help patients understand the risks associated with having their prescription dispensed at a different practice.

Many of our members call us with queries about any range of topics. We are always happy to talk to members and find that we are almost always able to help – even with quite obscure questions! If we can’t answer your question we generally know someone who can. Your queries often spark an idea for a resource or project. Please don’t hesitate to call. We are here to help.


Greg Johnson

For the first time in many years the Queensland/NT Division is looking at an election for Council. For some time, nominations for Council have equalled the number of positions available and thus an election was not required. However, this time, the number of nominations exceeds the number of positions available and so, this month (October) will be an extremely active one for candidates as they state their cases for election and lobby colleagues. From a staff position, an election is a lot of hard work, but from an organisational position, it is a reflection of democratic health! It will be an exciting month.

Shannon Pugh is the only nominee for President, for the fourth consecutive year, whilst Vice-President Henry Heron and Treasurer Nancy Atkinson are also unopposed. The will be a full-on election for the final five Councillors and results will be announced at the 8 November Annual General Meeting.

The new Council will have its first meeting shortly after the AGM and the first agenda item will be the establishment of committees for 2008/2009. Currently the committees comprise Centenary 2008, Conduct, Education, Forster Report, Health Professions Networks and Membership. Apart from Centenary 2008, it is likely that the remaining committees will continue.

The Conduct committee is a busy one indeed and members deal with complaints against members and determination of a raft of awards and scholarships. The Education committee will chart the Division’s CPD program for 2008/2009, including Queensland Vision, Best of Queensland Vision Darwin and Townsville, OAA Practice Expo and Diabetes and Optometry Seminar/Dinner. The Forster Report committee (named after the enquiry into health in 2005) is gaining momentum as it targets individual public hospitals for a greater role for optometrists in list reduction. The Health Professions Networks committee will similarly pursue increased scope of practice for optometrists and better integration of the health workforce. The role of the Membership committee is to try to motivate the Division’s eleven branches to have regular clinical meetings.

And finally, I pay tribute to the Queensland Vision Initiative’s departing Project Officer, Cassandra Koutouridis. Those of us associated with the QVI have been privileged to have worked with Cassandra. She has been an inspirational and high-achieving member of the team and will be sorely missed. We welcome scientist and researcher Dr Jane Fleming to the position and wish her well.


Tony Martella

In this months report, it’s worth recapping some of the activities of the previous months that we have not yet reported upon, due to printing deadlines. August was one of the busiest months this year for the division, principally due to WAVE Conference 2008. It was yet again a highly successful event and another great conference that continues to grow in its popularity due to its diversity of education topics offered.

Interest also continues to grow from interstate members, with a record number making the trip west this year. Many have commented how keen they are to source their CPD requirements away from the larger style conferences by attending conferences such as WAVE. It was great to see them attend and we welcome their participation.

To all the supporting companies and members who took part in WAVE we are thankful for their ongoing support. We look forward to continuing to grow WAVE as a part of helping members achieve their ongoing CPD requirements and providing a vehicle for bringing the profession together.

Plans are already well underway for next year’s conference with another exciting and diverse education program being developed.

Mark your diaries now for WAVE 2009. It’s on from 28 to 30 August.

Back in late July and August OAAWA also took part in the Queensland Practice Expo and NSW Student Seminar respectively. The intent was to specifically meet and introduce the graduates to potential employers and to also attract those interested in moving interstate to begin their careers in optometry.

Several months later, potential is now becoming a reality with several graduates beginning to make the move out West. Most will soon start arriving within the next four to six weeks with the view to starting in the New Year. To these new WA members, we look forward to having them become a part and contributing to the WA profession and wish them all the best.

To the NSW and Qld Divisions of OAA, our thanks once more for providing these great forums as a means of bring graduates and potential employers together.


The New Zealand Association of Optometrists

System Failing Kiwi Kids with Vision Impairment

The group Parents of Vision Impaired New Zealand (PVINZ) has released a report stating that up to 20 per cent of New Zealand children have vision impairment, including those who need glasses to correct their vision problems. The report claims children with mild and moderate vision impairment and their families are not getting the support they need because of problems with vision screening services, poor parent and educator information and limited access to assessment and intervention services.

The report, published by See Here and entitled ‘Improving Services for Children With Mild and Moderate Vision Impairment in New Zealand’, states that changes in health and education policy are needed to ensure vision problems in Kiwi children are detected early and get the help they need. See Here Project Manager, Janet Digby, says: “The current policies are not allowing equal access to screening, assessment and intervention services for all families.

“Children in New Zealand are currently screened for some vision problems at four, five and 11 years of age. A new and comprehensive check being introduced this year will be done before children go to school and will include some vision screening. This will replace the vision screening currently done with five year olds,” says Janet Digby.

A review of the latest New Zealand Vision and Hearing Screening Report (2005/06) showed a large difference between vision screening participation rates for European (77 per cent), Maori (45 per cent) and Pacific children (29 per cent). The See Here report is calling for free vision assessments for all children suspected of having vision impairment.

Dr Peter Holst of See Here says: “It is not realistic to expect families to access hospital optometrists if they can’t afford private care. At the moment, assessment services for children with a suspected vision loss are often only provided by private sector optometrists. That means families have to pay to have their child’s vision tested and creates an inequality of access between those who can afford private care and those who are forced to access the handful of optometrists working in hospitals, through the public system.”

The report says that funding for children’s glasses is also limited, and only available annually to families of children under 16 with a Community Services Card or High User Card. No funding for other interventions is provided, unless the child’s vision impairment is more severe.

Janet Digby claims there is an inequality of care when compared to children with hearing impairments, who do not have to pay for hearing aids or other assistive devices. All these devices, including repairs, are fully funded by government.

Paul Manning, Executive Officer of Parents of Vision Impaired representing more than 2000 members nationwide, is concerned families are not getting the help they need because of the cost of assessment and lack of adequate intervention services. Paul says, “Many families need a test and a pair of glasses for their child but under the current arrangements they can’t afford it. There is also a misconception about the vision screening conducted in schools. Parents think if their child passes the vision screening their vision is okay, but the screening does not check near vision.”

New Zealand Association of Optometrists (NZAO) Executive Director Lesley Frederikson, says the association supports the introduction of publicly funded vision assessments for all children referred through vision screening. She says, “This change in policy would, at least provide parents with a clear diagnosis for their child.”