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ACO National Conference

The Australian College of Optometry’s national conference at the legendary Melbourne Cricket Ground in October provided a record number of delegates with cutting edge knowledge on eyecare, new tools for practice and opportunities for social engagement.

A highlight of the national conference was a keynote presentation from Laureate Professor Hugh Taylor AC. Professor Taylor is a recognised authority on Indigenous eye health – he is the Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne and his current work particularly focuses on indigenous communities and the elimination of trachoma.

At the conference, he spoke about the challenges that confront Indigenous communities when it comes to delivering ophthalmic services. Additionally, he analysed recommendations that were made in ‘Roadmap to Close the Gap’ which responds to the unmet demands of ophthalmic services in Indigenous communities.

Ophthalmic surgeon Dr. Daniel Chiu was the ACO’s second guest speaker. A retinal specialist who recently returned from sabbatical leave in the USA and UK, Dr. Chiu spoke about anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) treatment for neovascular age-related macular degeneration and why some cases are resistant to it. Additionally, he spoke about the role of combination therapies and multi-target treatment regimes that may overcome the problem of resistance to anti-VEFG therapy.

A fascinating breakfast symposium, presented by Associate Professor Andrew Metha, examined the science behind images

A fascinating breakfast symposium, presented by Associate Professor Andrew Metha, examined the science behind images – differentiating ‘optical illustrations’ from ‘visual illusions’. A/Prof. Metha explained the historical importance of visual illusion in understanding how the brain creates its sense of reality and described the dissociation between physical reality and subject perception that gives rise to a visual illusion.

A symposium on alternative approaches to the clinical management of glaucoma, presented by Dr. Jesse Gale, Dr. Heathcote Wright and Dr. Nathan Kerr was moderated by the ACO’s Piers Carozzi. Various treatments and approaches to reducing intraocular pressures were discussed, including minimally invasive glaucoma surgery. Optometrists were reminded about the importance of recognising whether treatment is in fact necessary.

Among a broad cross section of topics covered during the two-day conference were presentations on the provision of public health, thyroid eye disease, treatment of meibomian gland dysfunction, amblyopia and allergic ocular diseases.

Delegates enjoyed the opportunity to collect 40.5CPD points in a fun, collegiate atmosphere, where networking opportunities with colleagues and conference trade partners were frequent, peaking at the cocktail party on Saturday evening.

Speaking of the conference, Maureen O’Keefe, Chief Executive Officer said “The ACO National Conference is fast gaining a reputation as a must-attend quality conference for optometrists. We wish to thank all our sponsors for their support this year and in particular Opticare our platinum sponsor”.

In addition to Opticare, the ACO conference sponsors were CooperVision; Designs for Vision; Device Technologies; Good Optical Services; Guide Dogs Victoria, RimOptics; Zeiss.