Eye care professionals from around Australia flocked to Melbourne to attend the Southern Regional Congress in the first weekend of June. This was the last of the winter SRCs – in 2014, SRC will be hosted from March 1-3.
Terri Smith, CEO of the Optometrists Association Australia’s Melbourne division said she was thrilled with delegate numbers, which totalled 972 (including over 400 from outside of Victoria), and with the response to both the educational content and the exhibition.
“There are plenty of ways for exhibitors to communicate with optometrists these days, but at SRC they were able to meet up with existing and prospective customers face-to-face, to reinforce relationships and to promote new products,” said Ms. Smith. “Similarly, our face-to-face educational sessions provided valuable opportunities to ask questions and exchange experiences or observations about the content with colleagues.”
“Last year we asked delegates to provide feedback and we tried to take a lot of the suggestions received on board. Our educational committee has worked really hard to shake up the educational program by finding different ways to present the information. Our aim was to ensure there was plenty of evidence based clinical content, but also to ensure the workshops were a lot of fun,” said Ms. Smith.
Our educational committee has worked really hard to shake up the educational program by finding different ways to present the information
She said the main emphasis of the educational programs was to provide practical information that could be put into action immediately after the conference. “We also had the big picture presentations on the latest research and some smaller workshops that focused on specialisations, such as children’s vision.”
The Carl Zeiss Breakfast Symposium kicked off the conference, with 377 delegates getting in early, to hear ophthalmologists Dr. Devinder Chauhan and Professor Jamie Craig, deliver their insights on how they use OCT in clinical practice, and how it helps them detect and manage retinal conditions and, in particular, glaucoma.
Tasmanian optometrist and ‘Nerdzilla’ radio personality Andrew Hogan delivered an entertaining presentation on social media, uploading as he went, images and messages to Facebook so delegates could see for themselves how the tool can work effectively in practice.
An interactive breakfast, hosted by Professor Daryl Guest and Dr. Anne Weymouth, attracted 500 delegates who were asked to share experiences on the topic ‘an exploration of unexplained vision loss in the white eye’ both at their table and with the room.
Ms. Smith said SRC 2013’s two international speakers, Dr. Blair Lonsberry Clinical Director and Professor of Optometry at Pacific University and Dr. Jim Thimons Medical Director at Ophthalmic Consultants of Connecticut were extremely well received, generating “friendly competition around who was
the best speaker”.
Bausch and Lomb’s symposium attracted 450 delegates eager to hear the dynamic discussion that results when the likes of Alan Saks from New Zealand, Emmanuel Calligeros from Sydney, Mark Hinds from Queensland and Jessica Chi from Victoria come together.
Avni Parikh from Bausch and Lomb VisionCare (Australia and New Zealand), led the panel discussion, which she said was rich in clinical content. “The panel gave insights into their clinical reasoning behind prescribing contact lenses and the ways in which they minimise contact lens drop outs in their successful contact lens practices.”
According to Emmanuel Calligeros the symposium’s panel format was an extremely effective. “Because the convenor guides the discussion, panel members’ contributions are unscripted. So what the audience gets to hear is real experiences and opinions – they get the benefit of all these people’s backgrounds.”
Rapid Fire Contact Lens Discussion
New to SRC this year was a rapid fire session featuring a discussion on ‘Contact Lens Controversies’. Four contact lens specialists: Dr. Laura Downie, Ms. Kate Johnson, Mr. Alan Saks and A/Prof. Craig Woods, comprised the panel. Each had a firm three minutes to present their case on a given topic. Audience members posed questions via key pads.
Topics covered included debate as to whether it is still ethical to fit hydrogel contact lenses, what age is too young to be electively fitting children with contact lenses, and where the future of the contact lens industry is likely to progress to by the year 2030.
Discussion also focused on the future of contact lenses including: drug delivery contact lenses, myopia control modalities, contact lenses as medical indicators (for monitoring health factors), and even the prospect of virtual reality devices.
As a group, the panel concurred this is an exciting era for contact lens practice, with technological advancements progressing at a rapid rate.
In 2014 SRC will take place from 1–3 March. Ms. Smith said the exhibition dates have been moved due to logistics associated with booking the Melbourne Exhibition and Conference Centre.
“Now that planning is underway, we’re excited about holding SRC in the warmer months – I’m sure delegates will love heading out of the exhibition centre at the end of the day for a walk along the Yarra River in the warm afternoon sun. With five hours of daylight left, they’ll have time to jump on a tram and head to St Kilda beach for a swim. Perfect.”