Happenings and events from the optometry divisions in Australia and NZ
We are here to serve! One of the most important services we provide for members is the capacity to call their state division with a query. We love talking with members and are always happy to respond to a query or hear member views.
We get calls from members on all sorts of topics. Our members ask questions, share anecdotes or raise concerns about things like Medicare, buying or selling a practice and the pros and cons of franchising. Sometimes the topic is therapeutics, or legislative and administrative matters like patient record management or privacy laws. We receive a lot of calls about salaries and contracts. You would be surprised at the range of questions we are asked.
In a complex and changing optometry environment there are many issues our members are considering. When they call us and ask us a question it firstly gives us the chance to help and secondly helps us gather information about the key issues for our members. Members can trust that the information they give us is treated in confidence unless they explicitly give us permission to share it.
We encourage members to make contact with the office throughout the year. However big or small your issue, we welcome the communication. If we can give you a quick and easy answer we will. If not, we will try and find it or refer you to someone who can help. Sometimes we are able to put a caller in touch with another member who has dealt with a similar issue. We’re also interested if members just want to share a piece of news, or raise an issue they think we should consider as a policy or project matter for the Association.
Last year, we developed some information about prescribing and dispensing issues, in response to concerns raised by members and discussions with optometrists who’d contacted the office to ask for practical advice or share recent experiences.
We also welcome your input into our publications and Association activities. So if you have an idea for a Scope article, or a topic you’d like to see included in our Continuing Professional Development programs, feel free to give us a call, send us an email … or even write us a letter.
Either Kirsty Machon, our Policy Manager, or myself are only too happy to help out with queries. To contact us – Kirsty Machon, Policy Manager (email@example.com) or Terri Smith, Chief Executive Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call the office on (AUS) 03 9654 2122. Terri Smith
This month’s article is a post-script to the wonderful mivision article last month on World Glaucoma Day.
Glaucoma Australia, Pfizer and the Optometrists Association combined to run three days of vision screenings in Tamworth in regional New South Wales. Over the three days, we took retinal photographs and tonometry readings from over 350 people, detecting about three per cent of those attending with a significant, undiagnosed vision problem.
As well as glaucoma, we found instances of macular degeneration, diabetes and other retinal problems – all of which came as quite a surprise to the people involved. One of the great things about working in rural areas is the interest of and support from the media, who really do go out of their way to make sure that the community knows about what is being done and actively encourages people to get involved.
Over the three days I don’t think we ever had a waiting time of less than 20 minutes, and on many occasions, people were patiently waiting for up to an hour for their screening.
Being involved in these screenings is a great opportunity to connect with the local community and we were very grateful for the assistance offered by local optometrists Quynh Lam, Phil Anderton, Andrew Greer and Paul Harvey – it wouldn’t have happened without them.
And many thanks also to mivision, who very willingly promoted the event and got right behind the screening effort – very much appreciated! Andrew McKinnon
Queensland has a new government led by the first Australian female Premier to be re-elected (Anna Bligh).
Finally, Queensland optometry patients will be better off with access to an enhanced list of topical drugs from optometrists.
The OAA’s campaign was relentless and started well before the 21 March election was called by Anna Bligh. Some 50 dedicated members engaged in hundreds of meetings with candidates of both persuasions, sent letters to editors of local newspapers and called talkback radio asking for fair go for Queensland optometry patients. Several hundred more members mobilised their patients to send pre-prepared letters to Premier Bligh and Health Minister Robertson and contacted their local GP’s and pharmacists to do likewise.
The OAA targeted sitting members and other candidates with briefing papers and participated in many media interviews as well as writing letters to the editor.
From the outset, the LNP affirmed its support with the following public policy:
“Immediately upon election in March 2009 the LNP government will instruct the Optometrists Board of Queensland to amend the list of therapeutic eye drops prescribed by optometrists in Queensland to include all topical glaucoma medications and the uveitis topical medications Dexamethasone and Prednisolone thus bringing the list into line with those operating in most Australian states and territories.”
Optometrists prescribing therapeutic eye drops in Queensland must have completed training in ocular therapeutics approved by the Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand and be registered to so practice by the Optometrists Board of Queensland.
Labor was a less enthusiastic participant, but as the campaign wore on it came around, firstly with agreed undertakings on a glaucoma shared care model and later on timelines for delivery of two outstanding anti-inflammatory drops.
The result was a victory for the patients of Queensland. Their enthusiastic support of the OAA has delivered them a standard of optometric care long afforded to other Australians. Greg Johnson
This month see’s the start of the Rural and Remote Optometry program for the North West of WA for 2009.
Building on from the success of last year’s inaugural program, the volunteer optometrists are back for their second year of working in these remote communities.
In 2008, an additional 34 weeks of eye service to these remote and regional areas of the Kimberley and Pilbara was delivered. All available Aboriginal Medical Service locations were attended; providing sight and acute care for eye disorders and effectively triaging patients for tertiary care by specialists.
With almost 20 volunteers now available, the program continues to grow under the supervision and involvement of local optometrist, Margie O’Neill, based in Kununurra.
This year will be another important year in not only continuing to deliver this much needed service, but will also provide a lasting platform for the program to build upon well into the future.
Welcome to New Members
Each year the WA Division holds a welcome to New Members to WA evening. Twenty new members have now relocated to WA in the past 12 months and are well underway in their careers the west.
The evening was supported by Lynn Dowdell and Helen Gleave from Ciba Vision. Also in attendance were WA Registration Board members, Garry Fitzpatrick and Lisa Jansen, OAAWA President Geoff Smith and the WA Executive Councillors. Tony Martella
Optometrist exemptions have been approved for ketotifen 0.025 per cent and chloramphenicol for ophthalmic use.
The Medicines Classification Committee (MCC) considered the joint submission from NZAO and Novartis for the reclassification of ketotifen fumarate 0.025 per cent at their meeting in November 2008.
The result is that MCC has recommended that ketotifen be reclassified from restricted medicine to pharmacy-only medicine when for ophthalmic use in medicines containing 0.025 per cent or less, except when sold in practice by a registered optometrist.
The MCC also reviewed the classification of chloramphenicol and has recommended that it should remain a prescription medicine but be exempt from prescription status when sold in practice by a registered optometrist.
Provided no valid objections to the recommendation are lodged, the change came into effect by means of a notice in the New Zealand Gazette on 19 March 2009.
This is tremendous recognition of the diagnostic role that optometrists fulfil. The New Zealand Association of Optometrists