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HomemioptometryOptometry Reports May 2013

Optometry Reports May 2013

Comment from Australia and New Zealand Optometry Associations.

A member called me recently to talk about closing their practice – things weren’t going well and they’d decided to call it a day.

Soon after, I was in the area and dropped in to have a look at the place. It was as if I’d been transported back to the 1970s.

Street appeal: 0. The front was drab and dirty, with flaking paint and faded signage. The street window had a crack in one corner and instead of a window display, a beige net curtain hung down, completely obscuring the inside.

The lesson is that we need to be constantly investing in our businesses

Interior appeal: 2. It was clean, but that’s about all you could say. Fixtures were old, as were floor coverings. Paint was intact, but very uninspiring. Frame stock was mixed, but with a lot of stuff that looked like it should have been pensioned off years ago. Lighting was very ordinary – the whole effect was down-market, drab and wholly uninspiring.

I left the practice thinking that I now completely understood why business was down and closure was seen as the only option – especially as within 300m there were at least three other practices that were bright, modern and inviting.

The lesson is that we need to be constantly investing in our businesses. If we stand still, we’ll perish. Here at the Association we’re constantly looking for new ideas, new ways to do things and new services to offer members. My own optometrist, Emmanuel Calligeros, has just put his own practice through the third major refit that I’ve seen in 15 years – and I thought his last fit-out still looked really good!

None of us can afford to be complacent – especially in today’s ultra-competitive environment – but it needn’t cost a fortune. A repaint and recarpet can cost just a few thousand, but add immeasurably to the ambience and appeal of the practice. Just changing displays around and enhancing the lighting can turn a tired-looking practice into one that encourages people in to look.

Take a few minutes to step outside
your practice and look at it through the eyes of your patients and the public – or better still, ask someone else to do it! If they don’t like what they see, do something about it!


Terri Smith

The Victorian Division Board has completed the Association’s strategic plan for the coming three years.

We’ve aimed for a simple, practical plan that responds to member needs. It is based on the views expressed in last year’s extensive survey, to which an impressive 60 per cent of members responded. Those views related to important matters, including the sustainability and viability of the optometry workforce into the future, remuneration and university training. Overwhelmingly, members wanted the Association to get the message out to GPs, health practitioners and the community that optometrists are accessible, highly trained and very capable of providing primary eye care to help meet community needs.

As well as reflecting on the views expressed, before developing our strategic plan we looked at the evidence: how our members are practising and where; age ranges; gender balance; hopes and dreams; future plans; and how optometrists balance work, family and life. Additionally, we looked at everything from CPD to publications, to advocacy priorities.

From all of that, we distilled five goals, which form the basis of our strategic plan. They are:

  1. Support optometrists to provide best practice eye care
  2. Increase the participation of optometrists in integrated models of patient care
  3. Engage with General Practitioners to promote the full scope of optometry practice to improve patient outcomes
  4. Work to ensure a high quality and sustainable workforce
  5. . Build a unified Optometry Association

To this end, we will develop a range of activities and resources linked to these five goals over the next few years. The full plan is available on our website at www.optometrists.asn.au/victoria. Alternatively, we can send you a copy if you contact the office.

Operation GP

Meanwhile we continue to work on Operation GP. This program involves looking for opportunities at all levels of General Practice, including student education, to help GP’s better understand the vital role of optometry in primary eye care. To date, we’ve been delighted with the response from members when asked for assistance in delivering this program. We will continue to seek your support!

The Challenges of Employment

In Victoria we are now in the position of having two optometry schools – Deakin University and the University of Melbourne. As a result of this, we are well aware that there will be an increasing number of graduates over the next few years. This will bring about increasing demand for clinical placements, which will certainly make it challenging for students to find both placements and jobs.

The Association has an important role in supporting individual members to make sure they are equipped to practice to a high standard, and to make sure a career in optometry is personally rewarding. We will continue to do this by providing advice, information, and education opportunities.

The Association is also clear that it has a broader role in promoting the profession. We want to work with universities and other agencies to promote high quality education, clinical placements, and post-graduate training. We will continue to work with students and new graduates.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the Victorian Division if you have a question or an idea. We always love hearing from members: (AUS) 03 9652 9100 or [email protected].


Tony Martella

The WA CPD education program continues ahead at full steam. The program is now fully subscribed for 2013 and continues to deliver a high standard of content for members. Our division hosted its first regional meeting for 2013 in March at Bunbury. Sponsored by Novartis, this was an excellent opportunity for networking and education for members from in and around the south-west corner of the State. Dr. Pete Heyworth, a local ophthalmologist and regular speaker at our regional division meetings, spoke on Updates on Ophthalmology with emphasis on recent developments on VEGF developments and treatments now
available for patients.

It is always wonderful to see ophthalmology and optometry working together in WA, and this meeting was no exception. Thank you to all of the eye care professionals who came along, to Dr. Heyworth for presenting and also to Novartis, which has agreed to support several of our CPD events this year.

Online CPD sessions now available

Through the auspices of University of West Australia, the division is now able to record all of our CPD sessions and upload them as a member resource. These audio-visual presentations will be available to access for 12 months from upload. As a result, OAA WA members can now access educational presentations for their reference wherever they are in the State. Links to each presentation will be sent to members within a week.


Cristy Ross

In February this year the QLD/NT Board reviewed its 2012/13 strategic plan and our top ten priorities. The aim was to assess performance and discuss the Association’s priorities for the 2013/14 financial year.

Board Directors and staff reviewed all goals identified under the themes; optometry students/QUT, appropriate remuneration, therapeutics, member services and communications, operations, marketing, and new graduates (2-5 years) and returning practitioners. They identified the status of each, based on level of action and/or achievement and discussed their relationship to the 2013/14 strategic plan.

After a solid day of review, all in attendance agreed strategic achievements across 2012/13 were tracking nicely, with plenty of opportunity for further achievement over the next two years.

The review process was seen as a great opportunity to discuss the efforts of the Association over the past 12 months, tick off goals already achieved and focus on amendments to the plan for the future.
As a result of that review, a slight re-focus on the top ten list of priorities was identified for 2013/14.

The new top 10 priorities to focus efforts on across the 2013/14 financial year are as follows:

Ensure a healthy operational position for the OAA QLD/NT division to ensure the delivery of goals and services.

Explore appropriate optometrist remuneration – investigate examples
within and outside of our profession of
gap billing vs bulk billing and encourage peer discussion.

Engage new graduate optometrists – facilitate a mentor network and invite their involvement in, and support of, specific CPD opportunities.

  1. Therapeutics – increase prescribing confidence by establishing a mentor network, regular cases in SEE and therapeutics CPD opportunities.
  2. Market our profession to GPs and Pharmacists through meetings with their associations to develop awareness plans and referral tools.
  3. Develop innovative and profitable education delivery options for AVC
    and NQV.
  4. Member services – facilitate regular branch meetings throughout QLD and NT.
  5. Communication – expand SEE magazine to include clinical cases and determine success by measuring and understanding readership.
  6. Member services – increase our event offerings and inspire collegiality through awards and professional recognition.

10. Market the ‘Eye Care? We Care!’ message to the community to encourage improved awareness.

The 2013/14 QLD/NT Division strategic plan and top ten priorities are online. Members are encouraged to view and provide comment on the goals and objectives identified, based on their level
of priority.

The strategic plan, which includes our vision, mission, values, strategies and tactics, defines the strategic direction of the division for the 2013/14 financial year and will again be reviewed in early 2014 in preparation for a new strategic plan in 2015.


Libby Boschen

Plans are locked into place for SA Blue Sky Congress, from 15-16 November, and registration is now open. This year, to ensure we have space for a continually growing audience of delegates as well as trade exhibitors, we have moved our entertaining and zany education event to the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Seminars in the educational component of the conference will offer delegates a total of 36 CPD points (including therapeutic points) and there’s no doubt that the speakers who will deliver those seminars are exceptional.

For the first time in Australia, US based Dr. Paul Chois will address local eye care professionals. Dr. Chois is currently pulling capacity crowds in the US and Canada where his expertise, knowledge and up-beat presentation style often result in delegates sitting in the aisles.

Dr. Chois draws on both his personal and professional experience when speaking to the eye care profession. An award winning lecturer, writer and optometrist who specialises in diabetic eye disease, Dr. Chois was diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1 at the age of five and developed proliferative diabetic retinopathy in 1986. He has had multiple laser treatments to save his own vision. If you think you’ve heard everything there is to know about diabetes and the role of optometry, think again!

Other speakers at this year’s Blue Sky include Dr. Neil Shuey, a highly qualified neurologist with subspecialty training and experience in neuro-ophthalmology, neuro-otology and neuro-immunology; Dr. Lauren Ayton who will speak about the bionic eye and television presenter Ms. Dorinda Hafner who will speak on food as a medicine.

Even though we’ve booked a bigger space for this year’s conference, we’re expecting SA Blue Sky to sell out, so register early. Go to www.optometrists.asn.au/southaustralia for details.

Join our Webinars
As well as Blue Sky Congress, the SA OAA has plenty of online educational seminars coming up throughout the year. Everyone is welcome to attend our webinars, which are booked in for the following dates:

  • 7 May: Steve Leslie presents on how to maximise your patient’s weekend sports performance, for three CPD points;
  • 29 June: Dr. Geraldine Moses presents on the definition of an adverse reaction, for three CPD points;
  • 24 September: Dr. James Thimons, online from the US, will present on a topic to be confirmed, for three therapeutic points.

If you haven’t tried one of our popular online real-time education events, why not give it a go? Go to www.optometrists.asn.au/southaustralia for details.


Geoff Squibb

The ninth annual Tasmanian Lifestyle Congress (TLC IX) will be held at the Old Woolstore Hobart from 23–25 August 2013. Alcon will once again be the Gold Sponsor at TLC. This year’s Congress will celebrate the centenary of the passing of the first legislation by a parliament in the British Commonwealth to regulate optometry as a profession.

The Tasmanian Parliament passed that legislation in December 1913 and the Governor of Tasmania Peter Underwood is hosting a reception at Government House on Friday evening 23 August to mark the occasion. To accommodate the vice regal reception, TLC IX will commence at 1pm.

Keynote speakers this year will be Prof. Joe Sowka and his wife Dr. Lori Vollmer from Florida USA. Both have lectured previously at TLC and rated very highly on the delegate evaluation. Queensland OAA President David Foresto will deliver the 2013 Keith Mackriell Lecture – Autoimmune Disease and the Eye. David’s presentations have also been rated very highly at conferences he has spoken at.

Ophthalmologists Guy Bylsma and Fabian Burgess will cover cataracts, glaucoma and therapeutics. In addition to the visiting speakers, several local members will present case studies. The European Eyewear Australian Low Vision Seminar will be held on the Saturday morning with Prof. Jonathan Jackson from the Australian College of Optometry as the keynote speaker.

The CooperVision Congress dinner, which is always very popular, will be held at one of Tasmania’s major tourist attractions MONA – the privately owned museum of old and new art.

A total of 40 CPD points, including 20 therapeutic points, will be available. The full registration fee is AUD$660 or the early bird rate prior to 30 June is only AUD$620. For those requiring additional CPD points, the Cornea and Contact Lens Society will be conducting a number of workshops on Thursday 22 August and on the morning of Friday 23 August.

Details of the TLC program and the registration form are available for down loading on the Association’s web page: www.optometrists.asn.au/tasmania.