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HomemioptometryOptometry Association Reports Jun 09

Optometry Association Reports Jun 09

Happenings & Events from Australia & New Zealand’s Optometry Divisions

SRC Hits the spot

Hot on the heels of another successful SRC Optometrists Association Australia – Victorian Division launches a new look SRC for 2010. After more than a decade in the current facility we are moving SRC across the Yarra River.

Given the large number of delegates and the extensive trade show the current Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre has been the only venue available to SRC in Melbourne. The existing centre is about to be replaced by a state of the art new centre on the south side of the river so SRC will have a shiny new home from 2010.

The dates for 2010 are Saturday 15 May to Monday 17 May. The new home will allow us to expand our exhibition space and will see for the first time at SRC a small selection of frame suppliers included in the exhibition. Traditionally we haven’t had frames at SRC but we think it is time to give this a try.

The new venue has a six star energy rating, is light and bright and offers a terrific ballroom for the conference party. I can confirm the rumour that the conference party will move from the samba and rumba grooves of the 2009 party to pure Bollywood in 2010.

We are also pleased to introduce a new SRC logo to go with the new image. We think it hits the spot! Some of our keynote speakers have already been finalised. They are Prof. Susan Cotter (Southern California College of Optometry) and Dr. Richard J Madonna (State University of New York). They will be joined by a group of top quality speakers from across Australia presenting solid, evidence based clinical presentations.


We have developed a position paper on recycled glasses to help members decide what to do with the old glasses that their patients bring in wanting to donate them to a worthy cause. As the cost of producing glasses in developing countries reduces, there is less opportunity or argument for this recycling. We developed the position paper to help members better understand the issues involved. This can be found on our website at www.optometrists.asn.au/vic/reports/policies.Terri Smith


A cautionary tale …

One of our colleagues has received ‘the letter’ from Medicare – the one that says your practice profile is out of whack with the rest of your colleagues, please explain.

We’re in the process of helping to do just that, but what this has done is to reinforce a number of things that everyone in clinical practice needs to bear in mind every single day that they open their doors to the public.

Medicare benefits involve the payment of public monies, largely on the basis of trust.

Because public monies are involved, there is going to be a degree of scrutiny from time to time. This scrutiny can be uncomfortable even when you have done absolutely nothing wrong – its just not pleasant to have someone looking over your shoulder.

Medicare is a huge institution which works on statistical data – and this means that they are always looking for ‘outliers’ in the data. Thus if your profile is out of the norm, even if there is a very good reason for it, you will invite scrutiny.

Over time in clinical practice (and indeed in most fields of endeavour) we can tend to get ‘comfortable’ with taking short cuts which we know to be okay – its just that to an outsider, they might not seem ok at all.

As an example, remember at uni the lecturers hammered the notion that “if you don’t write it down you didn’t do it” – remember that? It’s true – and it can become a real issue when someone else starts looking closely at how you practice. How can you defend your assertion that you always do X when there is no evidence of X in the record?

When you are busy in clinical practice all day, it is easy to become detached from how the body of your peers views particular issues. The Medicare system works on ‘what is acceptable to your peers’ – if you are isolated from your peers, how do you know what they are thinking? This is one of the reasons why CPD is so important – you get a chance to talk to colleagues about a range of issues.

And finally, keep good, comprehensive records of everything that you do in practice. It can be a pain, but it is essential if the world turns pear-shaped in the future.

It is a good idea to step back every so often and look at how you run your practice – bad habits are easy to develop. More importantly, if you try to do this and think ‘I haven’t got time to be doing this’ then you really do have a problem! Andrew McKinnon


The Division is indeed fortunate to have a strong relationship with Diabetes Australia Queensland (DAQ). That relationship has led to a succession of doors being opened to optometrists and optometry patients.

The most significant development over the past year is in the area of participation in diabetes expos which are held throughout the state and which can attract up to six hundred patients with diabetes, plus supporting family members. The expos comprise a day-long seminar with topics including Diabetes – Understanding the condition, Changing behaviour and setting goals, Blood glucose monitoring – why, when, what and how, Exercise and diabetes, Foot care and peripheral neuropathy, The top five things you need to know about healthy eating for diabetes and, not surprisingly, Diabetes and your eyes. Presenters include gp’s, psychologists, diabetes educators, exercise psychologists, podiatrists, dieticians and optometrists.

Margate member Dennis Dwyer has already presented at three expos, the most recent at Redcliffe on 2 May. Lisa Penrose-Herbert will present in Cairns on 13 June and negotiations are continuing with members regarding dates in Mackay (30 May) and Mt. Isa (18 July). The Division supports presenters with PowerPoint presentations and sample bags which contain diabetes collateral.

President Shannon Pugh has formed a close working relationship with, relatively, new DAQ CEO Michelle Trute and both leaders attend their respective functions.

The Division has made good progress in its efforts to have public hospital patients referred to a private optometrist in the first instance rather than wait months, or even years, to get to the front of lengthening queues. This has worked successfully at the Ipswich hospital where waiting lists have been reduced by 50 per cent. It is hoped in time that all hospitals will adopt this approach and extend the service to all patients, not only those with diabetes.

We are also very fortunate to have the support of diabetes educators working in the state with reciprocal arrangements for attendance at professional meetings and presentation of lectures at each other’s CPD events. Greg Johnson


Glaucoma Co-management

Fifty-five optometrists successfully completed the assessment following the glaucoma CPD courses held in Hobart and Launceston earlier this year and have since had their endorsement confirmed by the Optometrists Registration Board of Tasmania. Only a small number of Tasmanian therapeutically qualified optometrists did not undertake the course. They will be given another opportunity later in the year as the Registration Board has determined that only those with the glaucoma endorsement will be authorised to prescribe any Schedule 1 substances in the future.

The Association is also investigating opportunities for those who do not currently have ocular therapeutic endorsement to gain the necessary qualifications without having to leave their employment and home for long periods of time.

The Tasmanian Association President Tim Powell said that an external course with a limited amount of contact hours would not only suit Tasmanian members but a number of optometrists from other States as well.

The Association again promoted eye health and safety at Tasmania’s major rural exhibition, Agfest in May. New South Wales Executive Director, Andrew McKinnon again provided valuable assistance and co-ordinated a joint promotion with Glaucoma Australia thanks to sponsorship from Pfizer. About 60,000 people attend the three day event each year and although the major focus is on rural pursuits, craft and outdoor activities are also featured. The interesting program attracts patrons from both rural areas, cities and towns and Tasmanian CEO Geoff Squibb said it was an ideal setting to spread the message about regular eye examinations. The eye vision and eye health screenings provided by optometrists who volunteered their time, alerted many to potential problems and a number were referred to their local optometrists for more detailed examinations.

Tasmania’s Lifestyle Congress V and Low Vision Seminar

Tasmanian CPD Co-ordinator Andrew Hogan is delighted with the initial response for information about this year’s Congress which will include the European Eyewear Low Vision Seminar for the first time.

Both forums will be held at the Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel from 14-16 August and TLC V will feature Prof. Joseph Sowka, Professor of Optometry at Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry in Florida (USA).

Further information and registration details are available from Tasmanian CEO Geoff Squibb (AUS) 03 6224 3360 or email: [email protected] Geoff Squibb


WAVE 2009

The Western Australian Vision Education (WAVE) 2009 Conference is again fast approaching. It will be held on the 28- 30 August. The Esplanade Hotel and Convention Centre will once more be the venue for WAVE situated in the historic port city and tourism precinct of Fremantle.

WAVE has become well known for its unique hands-on clinical workshops as a part of the education program that delegates can expect. Two such workshops this year include: The use of 3D OCT’s in optometry, and The Practical Aspects of Modern Dispensing.

The OCT workshop will be of special interest and will include the practical demonstration and use of these devices by the delegates.

Some other topics of interest on the program include:

  • Emmanuel Calligeros, Contact Lens specialist – Prescribing Trends, Contact Lens Compliance and Loyalty.
  • Dr. Peter Herse, Institute of Learning – Starting Clinical Research and Multidisciplinary Low Vision.
  • Dr. David Mackey the new Director of the WA Lions Eye Institute and specialist ophthalmologist in genetic eye diseases – The Genetics of Glaucoma.
  • Dr. Dimitri Yellachich, retinal specialist – Developments in Electronic Eye Prosthesis.
  • Prof. Bernard Pearn-Rowe, Head of Discipline of General Practice School of Medicine University of Notre Dame Australia and former AMA WA President – What’s wrong with General Practice?
  • Prof. Paul McMenamin Honorary Professor, Centre for Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences/Lions Eye Institute, The University of Western Australia – Immune Cells in the Cornea: The hidden Sentinels in the Fight Against Microbes.

Contact OAAWA on (AUS) 08 9380 6688 or email: [email protected] for more details or to register. Tony Martella


The B4 School Check (B4SC), a new nationwide child health screening programme, is slowly becoming operational in all District Health Board regions. The programme was established by the former Labour government in February 2008 as a means to ensure that all four and five year old children get the best possible chance to succeed at school.

The B4 School Check includes very basic screening of visual acuity with the sole aim of detecting children most at risk of developing amblyopia. Although the vision screening is extremely limited it is posing something of a problem with respect to the referral protocols for Well Child screening. Generally, if an element of a Well Child screen yields results requiring referral for diagnosis or treatment the child and family are referred into the care of the General Practice Team. This does not work so well for referrals due to reduced visual acuity. Optometry would be an obvious choice for the referral but unfortunately this would mean the patient’s family could be required to pay.

Clearly, this raises ethical issues for the Ministry of Health which are perhaps exacerbated by the known anticipation of high levels of false-positives that will occur. The Ministry of Health has consulted widely in its efforts to create protocols which appropriately balance the risks, costs, and benefits of any particular preferred route.

The proposed protocols are positive for optometry in that the full scope of practice is written into the document which clearly signals that the optometry scope includes diagnosis, treatment and management of amblyopia without restriction on age. Importantly, provision is made for parents to opt for referrals to optometry instead of a hospital clinic. However, the protocols also require direct referral to ophthalmology when a number of ‘red flags’ are present. Examples include cloudy cornea or absence of red reflex. The protocols also suggest that referrers should consult with NZAO about Optometrists available in their area who have appropriate training, experience and interest in seeing younger children. The NZAO is currently consulting with members about how the Association might respond to this challenge.

There has been considerable excitement amongst New Zealand optometrist since the New Zealand Medicines Classification Committee (MCC) recently considered changes to classification of pharmacyonly eye preparations sold over the counter. This has resulted in alteration to the classifications for a range of eye drops and ointments being gazetted and now makes them available to be stocked and supplied by registered optometrists.

NZAO Education and Research Fund (NERF) was established in 2008 by the New Zealand Association of Optometrists. NZAO recently announced that NERF is to fund the first Postdoctoral Fellowship for New Zealand Optometry within the Department of Optometry and Vision Science (DOVS) at the University of Auckland. The call for applications has been published widely to members of the Association and to the NZ academic community. NERF is committing NZD$220,000 over a three-year period to support the Fellowship. The position is viewed by the NZAO as a starting point for the necessary long-term investment required for the development of research capacity within the NZ profession. As part of the award, the Fellow will be expected to contribute to the goals of NERF by presenting research to the NZAO Annual Conference and being involved in the continuing professional development of NZAO members. The New Zealand Association of Optometrists