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HomeminewsCredentials of Behavioural Optometry Disputed

Credentials of Behavioural Optometry Disputed

Optometrists in Queensland who provide behavioural optometry services have called on Optometry Australia to represent them in a dispute with Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service.

The optometrists were part of a training workshop in preparation for a Paediatric Optometry Alignment Program (POAP) hosted by the Ophthalmology Department at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital (LCCH). Having been invited to, paid for, and attended the workshop, the optometrists were later advised that they would not be able to participate in the POAP because of their affiliation with the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists.

Advice published online to promote the POAP and advise eligibility criteria to participate in it was updated to state that the program is only available to optometrists that “have no affiliation with the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists (ACBO), including membership and do not identify with or otherwise practise or promote behavioural optometry services including referring to such services on websites or other publicly accessible mediums”.

A statement published by Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service stated, ‘children being treated by behavioural optometrists run the risk of a missed serious diagnosis or deterioration of an underlying problem, in addition to parents wasting time, effort and significant resources for these unsubstantiated, non-evidence based treatments… Behavioural optometrists are not eligible for alignment with LCCH’.

however if you critique Barret’s article, as ACBO has done in great detail, you will see that it was, and is, incorrect in its conclusions

The statements referenced a paper published in Ophthalmic Physiology in 2009, written by Barrett, A critical evaluation of the evidence supporting the practice of behavioural vision therapy, as evidence of the lack of a sound support evidence base for the practice of behavioural optometry.

Stephen Leslie, President of the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists told mivision that the Queensland optometrists who had been denied participation in the POAP believed on the basis of sound legal advice, that they had been discriminated against and defamed by comments made about behavioural optometry published online and in letters sent to GPs.

“Optometrists who practice behavioural optometry are AHPRA registered, and have the same qualifications as all optometrists. They have invested in all the equipment required for the POAP and more, and have gone on to pursue extensive additional study in the field of behavioural optometry. They are also Members of Optometry Australia and are entitled to all the benefits of Membership, including representation.

“Professor Gole referred to Barrett when stating there was no sound evidence base for behavioural optometry, however if you critique Barret’s article, as ACBO has done in great detail, you will see that it was, and is, incorrect in its conclusions. It has also been misrepresented and has been largely invalidated by research in the eight years since. We are concerned that statements made by Professor Gole will be detrimental to the practice of our members in Queensland and indeed to all optometrists practicing behavioural optometry.”

Mr. Leslie said ABCO requested support from Optometry Australia as the federal representative body of optometrists, however in the first instance, Optometry Australia advised it would not be representing its members on the matter.

In a letter addressed to Mr. Leslie, Kate Gifford, President of Optometry Australia put forward a “global picture view” of the issue as well as factors considered in Optometry Australia National Board’s decision. She wrote, “the Optometry Australia Board does not intend to enter into joint action with ACBO on this matter… there is no subcontext to this response, but a full scope view of the issue reveals complexity and consideration of the global benefit to the profession of
continued action.”

In response, Mr. Leslie said, “I replied to the National branch of the Association about concerns with their decision, sent an email to all ACBO members, and many have contacted their national rep / state councils about their concerns with the decision.

“I have discussed responses with national president Kate Gifford, and we have agreed we will continue discussions in an effort to find a way to resolve this issue.

“I’m cautiously optimistic – it’s a very complicated issue – but we believe members should be supported and everything possible done to help them and we’ll be continuing to work to make sure that happens”.

Genevieve Quilty, CEO of Optometry Australia told mivision discussions were underway. At the time of going to print, she said, “Optometry Australia has been formally approached by ACBO, in addition to members of ACBO and Optometry Australia members in relation to the actions taken at the LCCH in Queensland.

“Discussions are continuing with ACBO in relation to this matter.”