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HomemioptometryOptometry Association Reports Oct 09

Optometry Association Reports Oct 09



Continuing the Good Work on Therapeutics

Victoria continues to foster a positive and encouraging environment for its growing community of optometry prescribers and their patients. Recently, Health Minister Daniel Andrews signalled his confidence in the profession by devolving the responsibility for the approval of the therapeutic agents that can be used by optometrists to the Optometrists Registration Board of Victoria.

This system replaces a previous one in which the Minister was responsible for signing off on the list of agents able to be prescribed by optometrists. It has been welcomed by optometrists not only as recognition of the good work and pioneering contribution of Victoria in this area, but as a sensible and practical strategy for ensuring optometry patients get timely access to new ocular therapeutics as they come through the system.

On a related note, the Victorian Board has recently expressed its support for a proposal to instigate a new emergency management protocol for patients with acute angle closure. Acute angle closure is a painful and dangerous ocular emergency, which needs to be treated as promptly as possible. An important plank in this treatment is acetazolamide (Diamox), which can be given orally to patients to rapidly reduce intra-ocular pressure.

Currently, as optometrists are restricted to prescribing and supplying only topical ocular treatments, options for emergency management of patients with this condition have been restricted. Optometrists Association Victoria is offering its full support to a proposal which will be made to Minister Andrews to allow optometrists to be able to supply acetazolamide to patients with angle closure glaucoma in accordance with an emergency management protocol. We believe this is another step in advancing the interests of patients, and ensuring our qualified optometrists can deliver the highest standard of clinical management.

One area where Victoria does differ from other States relates to legislation governing optical prescriptions. Some States have legislation specifying the content that must appear on an optical prescription, but this is not the case in Victoria. From time to time, this has led to confusion about the use and interpretation of Expiry Dates on optical prescriptions, and the legal and clinical interpretation of expiration dates.


To assist our members and their patients, we have developed some general guidelines on the expiry of optical prescriptions. While it is not ‘illegal’ to dispense from expired prescriptions, the expiration date on a script is a very important clinical indicator for both a patient and for other optometrists as to how long a particular prescription is likely to be suitable and appropriate for an individual.

Our guidelines encourage optometrists to put expiry dates on prescriptions for both contact lenses, and glasses.

We also recommend optometrists who are asked to dispense from prescriptions written by another practitioner should observe any expiry date on the prescription, unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. We believe this is in the best interests of patients, to ensure that their prescriptions at any time are up-to-date, safe and appropriate. Kirsty Machon



We were up in Rockhampton recently doing some glaucoma screenings with Glaucoma Australia. This was the fourth screening of this type we’ve been involved in and the third in a regional city (thanks Pfizer for sponsoring them!).

What really struck me from this most recent event was the genuinely critical role that optometrists are going to be called upon to play in the health care system in the coming years.

For those of you who read this column you will know that I have raised the issue of how to get optometrists into regional areas and of the possible attractions of involving a regional university in undergraduate education. But the Rockhampton experience really put the criticality of the matter into stark relief.

In Rockhampton – a regional city of some 100,000 (including districts) – there are no public eye care services. Patients needing, say, cataract surgery must go to Brisbane. What is the waiting list in Brisbane? Indefinite.

The optometric service is in a better but still not very robust state. There are, I believe, about 12 optometrists in the district (not all of whom work full-time). A number of them are in the ‘retirement catchment’ – they will be looking to retire within the next five to ten years.

All the optometrists in the area are flat out – several are studying the therapeutics course so that they can help to close the gap for patients requiring eye care beyond our traditional role.

But what is most frightening about our experience in each of these regional centres is the proportion of the population who are (a) older and/or (b) overweight to obese and/or (c) who smoke.

All of these factors will drive demand for our services into the future. The fact that the demand will come in places where we struggle to recruit optometrists must be cause for great concern.

What must also be of concern is that we as a society don’t seem to have accepted the impact that our lifestyle choices will have on our future health and consequently on our health care system.

We often hear our politicians (mainly health ministers) extolling the need for people to lead better lifestyles – to practice preventive health care. Sometimes that can seem a bit abstract, the ‘it doesn’t apply to me’ syndrome.

Go and sit in a shopping centre for a couple of hours and watch the world go by – Houston, we have a problem and it is enormous! Andrew McKinnon



It is precisely eight years since Council purchased Optometry House at 58 St. Pauls Terrace, Spring Hill. Since then it has added an adjacent two-bedroom cottage, which is rented, and, most recently, an adjoining shop to the portfolio. These three properties form part of ‘St. Pauls Place Body Corporate’ of which I am the manager. A fourth part, a one-bedroom apartment is owned privately by a local couple.

The original building was constructed in 1850 and has long since been heritage listed by the Brisbane City Council, with the blessing of our Divisional council. The purchase of this beautiful old place was the result of careful financial control by some very thrifty OAA Treasurers over almost a century. They would be well pleased with the fruits of their labour, as well as the extraordinary growth in the valuation of the member’s assets.

Council is now confident that it has delivered a home that will serve the profession well for at least another 100 years. A development plan is now before the Brisbane City Council, the success of which will improve the lot of members, staff and council. The most significant part of the plan is to extend the shop’s front wall out some five metres to include a former Body Corporate ‘common area’ – this will deliver an additional 30m2 of bonus area to the OAA.

An internal door will connect Optometry House to the ‘shop’ effectively delivering one, larger working premises. An open plan reception area with several workstations will occupy the former shop area and the impossibly small Council room will be relocated from the upper level of Optometry House to the ground level thus giving councillors and visitors a much more comfortable space in which to conduct meetings.

Optometry House’s lower level ‘Cellar’ is under-utilised by members and special interest groups for meetings, as it is very old and drab. It will undergo a facelift with fresh paint, new carpet, drapes, kitchenette and air-conditioning which will hopefully make it much more appealing as a venue. There is no charge for members using this facility or for special interest groups such as ACBO, CLSA and Queensland Vision Initiative Inc. The acquisition of the shop also included more car parks, a large storage area and additional toilets.

We are all very proud of Optometry House and these low-cost changes will deliver a much more useable space to members and stakeholders. Greg Johnson



Numbers Up at TLC V

Tasmania’s Lifestyle Congress V held at The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel during August attracted the best attendance in the event’s five year history. Optometrists Association Australia Tasmanian President Tim Powell said he was delighted with the number of registrations and trade exhibitors. Both were up about 20 per cent on 2008 and continued the upward trend of successive congresses. Powell attributed the growth to the excellent array of speakers and the inclusion of the inaugural European Eyewear Low Vision Seminar.

TLC V commenced with the traditional Hypotheticals at Tasmania’s historic Parliament House, hosted by Daryl Guest and featuring some of the Congress speakers. This format for the opening session of Congress has proven popular due to the setting and the entertaining yet informative format.

Hypotheticals host Daryl Guest was surprised on the evening when Tasmanian President Tim Powell presented him with the Association’s Award of Merit in recognition of his contribution to optometry in Tasmania, nationally and internationally.

The keynote speaker at this year’s congress was Professor Joseph Sowka, Professor of Optometry at Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry. Professor Sowka specialises in glaucoma and has authored many books and papers on the subject, as well as lectured throughout the world. His interactive sessions were very well received.

The annual Keith Mackriell lecture ‘Post-op Care by Optometrists in a Regional Setting’ was given by Townsville optometrist Gary Page.


Tasmania Focuses on Low Vision

The inaugural European Eyewear Tasmanian Low Vision Seminar was an outstanding success. Held in conjunction with the fifth annual Tasmania’s Lifestyle Congress the half-day seminar attracted 86 delegates. Optometrists Association Australia Tasmanian President Tim Powell said that the response was overwhelming and far exceeded expectations. Powell said that the TLC V organising committee had identified a dearth in continuing educational activities for optometrists and other eye health professionals working in low vision.

Delegates travelled from all Australian States to attend the seminar with many also registering to attend the TLC V program which also featured further presentations on low vision. Professor Jan Lovie-Kitchin from the Queensland University of Technology School of Optometry was the major speaker at the seminar. Professor Lovie-Kitchin’s lectures catered for those with limited knowledge and experience dealing with low vision clients as well as advanced and up-to-date treatments for those with experience working with low vision patients. Seminar sponsor Graham Sheil from European Eyewear was impressed with the outcome saying the response coupled with the first-rate speaker and facilities allowed for excellent interaction between the lecturer and the audience.

The Association is keen to promote low vision eduction and to stage similar seminars on a regular basis. Geoff Squibb



This year’s New Zealand Association of Optometrists (NZAO) annual conference is to be held in Christchurch on the 15 to 18 October at the Christchurch Convention Centre.

The 79th annual conference offers an interesting and stimulating programme, with a greater emphasis placed on non-therapeutic topics – in response to members’ feedback. Alongside this, there will be a focus on children’s vision, to coincide with the recent developments in the B4 school screening program. This will provide attendees with the opportunity to up-skill themselves and be as up-to-date as possible in this area.

Keynote speakers at this year’s conference include, Dr. Susan Cotter, O.D. from the Southern California College of Optometry, U.S., who has specialised in children’s vision since 1984; and Dr. Lou Lipschultz, a graduate from Eastern Illinois University and Illinois College of Optometry, U.S. and the founder of Vision Rehab Inc., a company that owns several low vision centres and provides management services for other eye care professionals.

Evening functions will include cocktails with conference sponsors, an Alan Styles memorial debate and the Annual Conference dinner.

Members are encouraged to take advantage of the 2009 NZAO Conference to expand their knowledge and enjoy the many social events on offer.

To register, go to: www.nzao.co.nz/upload/ConfRegForm09.pdf

Send registration forms to: NZAO National Office, PO Box 1978, Wellington 6140 or fax: (NZ) 04473 2328. The New Zealand Association of Optometrists