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HomemioptometryOptometry Association Reports Jan 2011

Optometry Association Reports Jan 2011

Happening and Events from Australia abd NZ


Andrew McKinnon

I recently had an opportunity to visit the OPSM Eye Hub in Melbourne. Mightily impressive!

Regardless of where you practice or what your mode of practice is, we all need to hope like mad that this venture succeeds.

By choosing to launch a very up-market offering in the midst of the $199 storm, Luxottica have taken a gamble – let’s all hope it pays a dividend!

The reason is very simple and has nothing to do with the financial fortunes of Luxottica.

What success will mean is that the mainstream public (for whom OPSM is an iconic brand) have accepted that quality – both in service and product – has an important and tangible place in their perception of their eye care needs.

At the moment, all of us are being assailed by a torrent of cut price, 2-for-$199 deals which many in the profession regard with very thinly veiled disdain. But had the market heavyweight gone down the same path, the marketplace might have looked very hostile indeed.

By choosing to launch a very up-market offering in the midst of the $199 storm, Luxottica have taken a gamble – let’s all hope it pays a dividend!


Terri Smith

With the holiday season over, you will now be starting to plan the year ahead.

For the 2010 optometry graduates, planning will take on particular significance, as they start to put down roots in the profession and think about their career options.

Last year’s inaugural Careers Expo provided an invaluable opportunity for at least one graduate we are aware of, who has finalised a job offer after meeting an independent Melbourne-based optometrist at the expo. The Careers Expo proved very popular with members as well as students, and we are very pleased to be running the event again on Sunday 6 March 2011.

Individual members, practices and corporate employers are welcome to participate in the Expo. If you’re employing or planning to employ optometrists, or simply want to meet with fourth and fifth year students, you’re welcome to attend. Come along and set up a display so that the students can get to know you, and your practice. It’s free for members. Contact our office for more information and to register.

On the day of the careers expo, we make a presentation to students, introducing them to the Association and our work. This is a valuable opportunity to ensure the students understand the full range of support and services they can receive as OAA members and is the start of an important relationship with our future members.

In the first half of 2011, we’ll invite the 2010 graduates to the Association for an informal dinner and discussion session. These sessions allow us to find out how students are going, and get a sense of their expectations and experiences as they settle in to working life.

In 2011, all optometrists will need to plan ahead to meet the CPD requirements and other registration standards set by the Optometry Board of Australia. Remember that on your re-registration before 30 November 2011, you will need to declare that you are compliant with the CPD requirement of 40 points per year, including 20 of these relevant to therapeutics if you are therapeutically-endorsed. We have made sure that attending SRC will allow you to obtain these points, and we will also offer additional general CPD sessions throughout the year. Keep an eye on Scope and your Association e-bulletins for these opportunities. Make sure we have your current contact details.

If you’ve not yet obtained a CPR certificate, we’re continuing to offer our popular CPR evening sessions. Dates so far for 2011 are Tuesday 15 February and Tuesday 19 April. More dates will be set throughout the year.

In the interim if there is anything else we can help you with call (AUS) 03 9652 9100 or email us: [email protected]. We love hearing from members.


Greg Johnson

The delegation from the OAA met with Queensland’s Shadow Health Minister Mark McArdle in Canberra in December 2010, to brief him about opportunities to make an impact on state hospital waiting lists as well as national developments in legislation relating to cosmetic contact lenses and prescription expiry periods.

The OAA was represented by Divisional President Kate Johnson, National CEO Joe Chakman, National Deputy CEO John Beever, National Policy Manager Genevieve Quilty and me, the Queensland CEO.

Successive health ministers have acknowledged that private optometrists have the potential to dramatically reduce public hospital waiting lists; however at this stage those ministers have not acted to implement such a strategy.

Privately, the OAA has made partial progress with both the Ipswich and Toowoomba hospitals and, with the cooperation of visiting ophthalmologists, patients are given the choice of remaining on the list for up to a year or being diverted immediately to a local optometrist. In the case of Ipswich, in relation to patients with diabetes, this initiative has resulted in a 50 per cent reduction in the waiting list.

As well, the OAA has established a relationship with the Australian Diabetes Educators Association Queensland under which it convenes regular continuing professional development events to inform diabetes educators of the impact that private optometrists can have on public lists and we encourage them to refer more patients to optometrists in both public and private settings.

The Division’s goal is to work with Queensland Health to identify a strategy under which patients with ocular conditions presenting at all public hospitals are, in the first instance, given the option of consulting a private optometrist. In turn, the optometrist will treat the condition, refer to another specialist or redirect back to the hospital using existing referral protocols.

The OAA delegation informed Mr. McArdle that in recent years a number of young people have suffered infection and loss of sight by using, and even swapping, cosmetic contact lenses. Sale of these devices is unregulated and they are freely available at markets, takeaway food outlets and music festivals without instruction on how to insert, remove, care for and dispose of the items. We contend that these devices should only be available on evidence of a current prescription from an optometrist or preferably only for sale by an optometrist.

We told him that we supported initiatives in other state/territories to define expiry dates for all contact lenses and spectacles prescriptions and to confirm that copies of prescriptions should be made available at no cost.

Not surprisingly, with a state election due no later than mid-2012, the Shadow Minister was keen to examine policy that might correct the disparities in the state and the Division will continue to work with him in that regard. Deputy Premier and Health Minister, Paul Lucas has also requested a briefing to be held early this year.


Tony Martella

As of 20 November last year, optometrists in Western Australia received therapeutic endorsement to prescribe topical eye medications. As a result, patients can now obtain the same treatment in WA that patients in every other state of Australia currently have access to. This is a significant achievement for Western Australia and one that the state’s OAA has worked hard on for a substantial amount of years.

The UNSW post graduate Ocular Therapeutics course will again be available and will recommence in mid 2011. The 2010 intake will complete the inaugural OT class by April and will increase the number of endorsed optometrists in the state to about 50.

Following the WA division’s successful participation in the state’s annual homeless projects, the realisation of establishing permanent clinics at St. Patricks Community Centre in Fremantle as well as in the City of Perth is now becoming a reality. The first permanent clinic will be established mid year and will be staffed by members of the Association who are able to volunteer their time. The optical industry has also come forward with support by providing ophthalmic equipment, lenses and spectacles. OAA WA will still continue to participate in the annual homeless projects, as we have done in the past, but we hope that the need for once a year projects will be taken up by the regular clinics.

Sadly, we lost a much loved and respected member of the Association last November. Judy Glover was most recently based in the north-west of WA at Port Hedland. During a long career, she worked for the Association for The Blind and held numerous other roles. Judy loved living and working in the north-west. She was passionate about helping others and promoting eye health in remote communities – she firmly believed in bringing optometry to where it is needed. This led Judy to join the original group of volunteers in the north-west optometry team which provides clinics and eye health to the area’s communities. The clinics are run by WA member Margie O’Neill and on a voluntary basis by members.

As a testament to Judy’s passion and as a way of remembering a great and committed person, Judy’s family and OAA WA has arranged for a memorial scholarship to be established in her name that will enable final year optometry students to work with the north- west team for clinical and practical experience. The work experience will give students invaluable exposure to, and appreciation of, life and medical conditions in the vast outer regions of the state. Thanks to Judy and her family, this important scholarship will not only change the professional education and learning by optometrists taking part but will also significantly improve standards of eye health for people living in Australia’s most remote communities.

Anyone who wants to help by donating to the memorial scholarship, or anyone who is interested in applying, should contact the OAA WA office on (AUS) 08 9321 2300 for details.


Geoff Squibb

During the past year the National Board has engaged in discussions with divisions to explore the possibilities of restructuring the Association from a federated organisation to a unified national organisation where members belong to the national body, not a state division. This will have significant implications for both individual members and the state divisions. Consultations will continue throughout 2011 and if a consensus is reached to pursue this model, further consultation and a vote by members will be required. Information will be provided to members as it becomes available.

A number of our local members achieved newsworthy recognition in late 2010. Micheal Knipe was elected National President at the OAA Annual General Meeting. Andrew Koch was appointed to the Provision Board and Brett Jenkinson was appointed a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry at the Academy’s Annual Convention in San Francisco. Congratulations to Specsavers Optometrists, Rosny Park which won the Gold Award at the 2010 Eastern Shore Business Awards.

The Association recently appointed a new sub committee. The role of the Low Vision sub committee is to prepare discussion papers, refer issues to the Board or investigate matters referred by the Board. Nicholas Gan, Andrew Maver, Jill Shepherd, Brian Sims and Geoff Squibb are all members of the Low Vision sub committee.

The Association’s public awareness campaign, which has been supported with funding from the Tasmanian Government, is about to kick off. The campaign highlights the importance of regular eye examinations for early detection of conditions which may cause vision loss and blindness. It will run from late this month (February) through to May as a lead up to our promotion and screenings at Agfest.

Speaking of which, we are currently seeking volunteers to assist at Agfest at Carrick. OAA Tasmania will promote eye health and provide eye health and vision screenings during the event, which takes place from 5 to 7 May. This is an extremely worthwhile cause – please let us know as soon as possible.