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HomemioptometryOptometry Association Reports Jul 2010

Optometry Association Reports Jul 2010

Happenings and events from the optometry divisions in Australia and New Zealand


Andrew McKinnon

It is fascinating to sit on the sidelines and watch the media and marketing battle being played out amongst the big guys in optical retailing.

Its been many years since I worked directly in marketing, but I remember vividly the admonitions of many a senior and very respected marketer as I was learning the trade – don’t compete just on price.

So it is with surprise that I see Masterspecs proudly boasting that they and Specsavers are in a downward price spiral – ‘they cut their price, so we cut ours further’. And when you reach the point of paying people to take your product out of the store, then what?

There was an article in The Intelligent Investor (June 2006, Issue 201) a couple of years back that looked at the Top 10 most resilient and profitable businesses in Australia. Guess what – not one of them is a discounter by default!

Cochlear – premium hearing aids at a premium price. They survive because their product is head and shoulders above the competition in reliability.

Woolworths – positioned as “The Fresh Food People” – they’ve grown despite the incursions of discounter Aldi, overtaking Coles Myer in the process. Price is a marketing factor for them but not their driving ethos.

Harvey Norman – continues to record strong sales growth, well ahead of discounters like JB Hi Fi. They have taken the “premium brands, competitive prices” strategy – but not lowest prices.

So it is with surprise that I see Masterspecs proudly boasting that they and Specsavers are in a downward price spiral – ‘they cut their price, so we cut ours further’. And when you reach the point of paying people to take your product out of the store, then what?

Wanton discounting has an incredibly bad effect on profitability – and if our businesses aren’t profitable then we don’t have much of a future. Simple example: if you sell 10 items for AUD$100 each and your margin on each is AUD$50 then you make AUD$500 profit. If you discount each item by 20 per cent then your profit drops to AUD$300.

In order to get back up to your pre-discount profit level you have to sell not 10 items, not 12 items, but 17 items! So a 20 per cent discount requires a 70 per cent increase in sales just to get back to where you were in the first place! This is a very simplistic example, but it illustrates the point – discounting can have an enormous effect on your profitability. Think carefully!


Kirsty Machon

Over the time I have been with the Victorian Division of the OAA, I’ve noted substantial and real changes to how optometry relates to the other medical professions. Many of our members now have well-established links with optometrists and ophthalmologists and are leading the way in showing how optometry can support primary care. I’m aware of at least one former member now well-established in a medical career inspired by his work as an optometrist, and a current member on his way to completing a medical degree, both taking a wealth of experience and insight from clinical optometry.

Optometrists continue to work in hospital settings such as the Glaucoma Monitoring Clinic at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. Several optometrists are participating in an important demonstration project aimed at showing how optometry can contribute to the care of RVEEH patients in the community setting, providing monitoring for glaucoma, diabetes, and aged-related macular degeneration.

It’s all part of a welcome wider push to ensure our limited health resources are sensibly used. National registration covers the 10 medical professions, standardising important areas including CPD. The Australian government has recently announced that Primary Health Care organisations will replace the 110 Divisions of General Practice from 2011 to 2012, expected to reflect the whole gamut of clinicians and services that may be involved at any time in a patient’s care. And it was great to see the AMA President, Dr. Andrew Pesce, recently recognise in a media release that “first-line eye care is the domain of general practitioners and optometrists”.

An important aspect of all of this will be to continue developing relationships between optometry and general practice. We have started working on some projects to achieve just this. With the enthusiastic assistance and support of the RVEEH’s GP Liaison Officer, we have developed a Fact Sheet for GPs explaining how optometrists can help provide great eye care for patients, and how the Association can assist by facilitating referrals, or helping organise meetings between GPs who might want to meet local optometrists. And in partnership with the RVEEH, RANZCO and the Vision Initiative, we are developing an online CPD module for GPs which will cover at not just clinical issues, but referral and services, including how optometrists fit into the system.


Greg Johnson

National Registration Is Here

On 6 May 2010 we received a letter from Mr. Jim O’Dempsey, State Manager Queensland of the Australian Health Practioner Regulation Agency, in relation to national registration.

The letter confirmed much of what we already knew in that the regulation of health practitioners in Australia was changing and from 1 July 2010 there will be national registration and accreditation of 10 health professions including optometry.

Mr. O’Dempsey went on to say that the changes would affect all optometrists who are registered to practice in Queensland. Registrants could expect two important communications – one from the Optometrists Board of Queensland (OBQ) and the other from the Optometry Board of Australia (OBA).

The OBQ has already sent out annual notices for renewal of general and/or specialist registration for the 2010 to 2011 registration period. Practitioners must renew their registration with the OBQ to make sure they transition safely to the national scheme. Renewal of special purpose registration and for medical interns continues also on an anniversary date basis and is not undertaken in the general renewal period referred to above.

In terms of the OBA, it has written to practitioners to ask them to do three things:

1. Review the registration information included with the OBA letter, which details the practitioners’ registration information with the national scheme. (Any questions about practitioners’ proposed registration in the new scheme can be directed to the OBA’s call centre on (AUS) 1300 088 590).

2. Update contact details with the OBQ so only accurate and up to date contact information about each practitioner transfers to the national scheme. This can be done online with the OBQ.

3. Access the OBA website at www.ahpra.gov.au to gain an understanding of obligations under the new national scheme.

Mr. O’Dempsey strongly urged practitioners to renew Queensland registration as early as possible.


Geoff Squibb

The Tasmanian division conducted another worthwhile Eye Health and Vision Screening and Safety and Awareness Campaign at Agfest in May. Agfest is Tasmania’s premier rural event attracting about 70,000 over the three days.

The Agfest Eye Centre’s screening consisted of visual acuity and colour blindness tests, intra-ocular pressure readings and a retinal photograph of each eye. The screening outcomes were then discussed with an optometrist who volunteered their time for the day. In addition to the screenings, Glaucoma Australia and Guide Dogs Tasmania also had displays. Hoya also participated for the first time with a safety glasses display.

At the time of writing, the data collected from the screenings and the survey has not been fully collated. However some observations indicated that quite a few of the intra-ocular pressure readings were approaching concern and far too many of those attending were not visiting an optometrist for a regular eye examination.

The Centre also welcomed a number of VIPs who undertook the screening and engaged in some very useful discussions. Premier David Bartlett MHA was one of the first to visit along with Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne MHA. Primary Industries Minister and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Bryan Green also attended. A number of members of the Tasmanian Legislative Council also showed interest, including the Hon Ruth Forest MLC who indicated she was prepared to move amendments to the Optometry Offences Bill that will soon be before Parliament.

Tasmania’s Lifestyle Congress

The Tasmanian division is pleased to announce a great array of speakers for TLC VI to be held at The Old Woolstore Hobart from 27 to 29 August this year.

Speakers for the ‘European Eye Wear Low Vision Seminar’, which is incorporated within TLC VI, include Dr. Alan Johnston, Andrew Maver will give a Pediatric Low Vision Update and seminar sponsor Graham Sheil from European Eye Wear will talk on Electronic Magnification.

The main TLC VI program features some outstanding speakers:

  • The annual Keith MacKriell Lecture, ‘The Y’s of Therapeutics’ will be delivered by Melbourne Teaching and Training Academic Dr. Alex Gentle
  • Dr. Chi Luu from the Melbourne University’s Bionic Eye Project
  • Dr. Ehud Zamir, who specialises in the treatment of Inflammatory Eye Disorder
  • Neil Murray, who specialises in Sports Vision
  • Dr. Phillip Anderton, Senior Visiting Fellow UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science
  • Joe Chakman, Chief Executive Officer OAA
  • Roseanne Gregory, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Guide Dogs Tasmania
  • Graham Wormell, Medical Malpractice Insurance
  • Prof.Noel Brennan, Contact Lens Specialist who will be keynote speaker at the Australian Contact Lenses Breakfast
  • Dr Paul McCartney, Tasmanian Ophthalmologist
  • Geoff Lawson, Optometrist, former test cricketer and mivision Contributor.

TLC VI will offer 31 CPD points for those attending and in addition the Tasmanian division will sponsor free online assessment so delegates may earn an additional 13 points, making a total of 46 points which meets the annual requirement.

Further information and registration details are available from Geoff Squibb CEO OAA Tasmania Division(AUS) 03 6224 3360.


Tony Martella

We now have all 30 of our members signed up for the ocular therapeutics course in WA, named the Graduate Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics. The course is being run by UNSW by correspondence, and will be held in WA.

This is the first time that a university has transplanted the course from interstate. There has been great cooperation with UNSW, particularly the head of school Professor Fiona Stapleton. They have been very flexible and that has allowed us to keep our costs down and minimise the disruptions for students by being away from home/work.

As stated in the Graduate Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics handbook, this course is designed to produce graduates with demonstrated ability to competently undertake safe and autonomous therapeutic management of a patient, including the ability to design, implement and monitor appropriate management programmes. “The course aims also to equip graduates with the skills to adapt to changes in the scope of therapeutic practice and to work in an integrated way with other health professionals.”

The course comprises 50 hours of clinical training in a range of settings (primary, secondary and tertiary centres) and a further 80 hours of self study and preparation of case reports.

Graduate Certificate in Ocular Therapy

Course outline: Commences 30 July and runs through to 2 November

  • Module 1: Biomedical foundations and legal requirements
  • Module 2: Clinical skills workshop
  • Module 3: Part A: Ocular disorders and their management: Glaucoma
  • Module 4: Part B: Ocular disorders and their management: All other disorders

Course Description (UNSW handbook)

“The didactic course is intended to ensure understanding of basic biological sciences, disease processes and their treatment, with particular focus on the ocular conditions and ocular manifestations of systemic diseases commonly encountered in Australian practice. The course aims to enhance optometrists’ skills, knowledge and management practice in the areas of ocular disease, ocular manifestations of systemic diseases and ocular trauma and emergencies and to work with the best interest of their patients.”

We are looking to share the courses in the therapeutics course with South Australia. So this means that this time around the Graduate Certificate will involve a little but of travel. The reason for this is that we are bringing in international speakers and they cannot travel to two separate locations. However, by next year hopefully the entire course will be locally based. We are allowed to have 30 members at a time in each state.