Energy levels were high among optometrists attending the annual conference of the Australian College of Behavioural Optometrists (ACBO) in Sydney late July.
Behavioural optometry is attracting growing attention as was evidenced by NACBO 2016, the annual conference for the Australian College of Behavioural Optometry, which sold out weeks before the event commenced.
Vision Therapy specialist and popular speaker Dr. David Cook was the main draw card for the conference, flying in from America to deliver the education program to an audience of 140.
An experienced clinician, lecturer, author and a diplomate in binocular vision and perception from the American Academy of Optometry, Dr. Cook generously shared his knowledge and experience of 35 years of working with patients with strabismus in his dedicated vision therapy practice in the USA. Over two days, he covered many of the complex aspects of the treatment and management of strabismus and amblyopia including the perception of space and the development of stereopsis, the development of vergence and accommodation skills and the key differences when programming therapy treatments for esotropia and exotropia.
Essentially, what he’s teaching us, is get the patient to think because as soon as you make the patient think, something changes with the way they see the world around them
With his engaging, interactive approach to education and pervasive enthusiasm, it’s easy to see why Dr. Cook is in great demand as a speaker in Canada, New Zealand and the United States. There was no time to sit back in these sessions. Delegates were up on their feet testing new approaches to vision therapy every few minutes, in doing so, gaining an in-depth understanding of the key messages.
Addressing Vision Vs Sight
Early on in the conference, former President of ACBO Dr. Paul Levi said he was pleased to have made the effort to travel from Western Australia to attend. “Behavioural optometry addresses vision and regular optometry addresses sight. Dr. Cook has some amazing information about this for us to glean. He’s presenting concepts and new ways of thinking that are important, that excite me.”
“If I go to a conference and get two or three concepts I’m happy with that. Already I’ve picked up new concepts about the way Dr. Cook thinks and presents to his patients – about how he awakens their consciousness. Essentially, what he’s teaching us, is get the patient to think because as soon as you make the patient think, something changes with the way they see the world around them.”
Optometrist and ACBO Fellow Bernie Eastwood also found plenty of valuable knowledge to be gleaned. “Dr. Cook’s clinical observations have led to the development of various vision therapy techniques, techniques that have allowed him to help his patients with strabismus gain greater visual function in their everyday lives. As any clinician knows, listening to what a patient is telling you they need and assisting them with that through your own clinical experience of what works for patients, is important in the development of good evidence based practice. Helping our patients is ultimately why we do what we do.”
The two-day education program was just part of a busy ACBO conference, which included the final workshop, assessment and graduation for vision therapists who had been participating in the College’s 18 month Practical Vision Therapy Program, and a separate vision therapy conference. A small exhibition area outside the main auditorium provided opportunities for delegates to explore new products and equipment from suppliers including BOC Instruments, CR Surfacing, Good Optical, Buffalo & Nak, and international exhibitors Vivid Vision and Eye Carrott.
Phantom of the Ocular
Conference delegates and graduates of the Practical Vision Therapy Program celebrated at a Phantom of the Ocular masquerade congress dinner held at the Park Royal Hotel in Darling Harbour. Two new Fellows of the Australian College of Behavioural Optometry were announced at the dinner; Evan Brown from Auckland and Connie Tsang from Melbourne.
Ms. Eastwood said NACBO provides the opportunity to catch up with wonderful colleagues. “Sharing of knowledge and mentoring is integral to ACBO’s culture, so when the group comes together the passion and enthusiasm is always contagious. This energy level was not lost on our wonderful sponsors who commented throughout the weekend that the fun vibe meant it almost wasn’t work for them! Add to that The Phantom of the Ocular gala evening with its magician, masks and capes and the NACBO weekend was complete.”
Veronica Kyrpos, CEO of ACBO said this year’s conference was an enormous success. “Enthusiasm for this conference gets better every year. Even the dinner was a sell-out with 120 people attending and making an enormous effort to dress in theme. There were some amazing masks – from a Ned Kelly / Futurama number through to a refractor head and of course plenty of glamorous masks in between.”