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EyeQ Optometrists Launch Associate Network PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 22 May 2015

EyeQ Optometrists Ltd (EQO) have recently announced the launch of an Associate Network supporting independent full-scope optometry practices to compete in Australia’s congested optical retail environment. EQO is an Australian-owned, optometrist- led company with currently a total of 19 practices across all mainland states. Of the 19 practices, 16 are corporate-owned practices, with two Optometry Australia State Presidents among the first 3 Associate sites.

A founding director and current Executive Chairman of EQO, Sydney optometrist for 36 years, Ray Fortescue stated, “EyeQ has worked on developing this Network concept over a number of years. We needed to create systems and strategies which allowed our practices to be both profitable as well as professionally satisfying for the optometrist and practice staff while providing expert care to our patients. We also noted that many Generation X, Y and Next optometrists were not sufficiently confident utilising the existing business support options available, to commence a new practice or even to take over an existing independent practice on their own.”

The first Associate in the EyeQ network was Darrell Baker, the current Optometry Australia President in Western Australia, who has located in Karrinyup, Perth, commencing to trade in his own right on September 1st 2014. In Darrell’s words, “After many years in a large independent group- practice the time had come to branch out in my own practice. Obviously I was very comfortable with my clinical ability and experience but as so often happens in a multi-site group there were areas of practice management which had not been my responsibility and as such, I was looking for that support in any new venture I might consider. I felt that I needed more than a buying group could offer.”

He added, “After assessing all the available options, EyeQ Optometrists’ seemed to be the perfect fit. With a common vision and philosophy of ensuring the long term viability of the ideals of independent optometry, previous interaction with the executive team of EQO also gave me confidence and trust in those whom I would be dealing with. The first 7 months of the EyeQ experience have reinforced those initial views.“

“The business strategies now available through EQO deliver all that I could ask for. Most of the business back-end tasks are taken care of including marketing, payroll and accounts payable. There is constant innovation and an ability to move quickly when required. The recent launch of the revamped website which includes an e-tail CL site is a good example of where this company is heading. I see a great future for myself, EyeQ and independent optometry as more Associates join the Network,” he concluded.

The extent of the support systems available to an EyeQ Associate is quite broad. The key components which are on offer include comprehensive merchandising, marketing, training and back office functions.In early-December 2014 the second EyeQ Associate opened their doors. Bayd Rosenbaum opened a brand new practice in the idyllic seaside town of Merimbula in NSW and is very happy with the early signs he is experiencing.

“It is a big step to “Greenfield” an independent Optometry practice in today’s competitive market. With the advice and direction of EyeQ we have got off to a very encouraging start. The design phase and practice fit out has been relatively trouble-free. Our initial training, support on opening day and ongoing assistance has been wonderful”, commented Bayd.

“One of the founding partners in EyeQ Optometrists, Tony Ireland from EyeQ Ulladulla, was instrumental in steering me to the Network opportunities they had been developing. To say we are happy would be an understatement. So much of the “back end” practice management and support burden is taken care of by the National office team, freeing myself and my wife to spend quality time with our young family which is critical in our work/life balance. We look forward to a long and rewarding relationship with EyeQ,” he added. In Tony Ireland’s words “starting a new small business we expected to spend time on accounts and admin, but were very pleasantly surprised the EyeQ Optometrists National office does all this for us. It means we get the benefits of running a small business without the downside of out-of-hours bookwork.”

The EyeQ board and management team consist primarily of experienced optometrists, including Peter Rose from the NSW south coast who is well known to many in the industry with 36 years of practice behind him. The Chief Operating Officer is Ms Lily Wegrzynowski, also a very well known face across the country, an optometrist and former OA State president in WA. Ray added, “The extensive optometric experience in our executive team allows EyeQ to better relate to the needs of the independent practitioner. We understand the challenges of practice management. We respect the ideals of delivering a committed holistic approach to the eye care needs of all. Our offer appears to be “hitting the spot” following numerous enquiries already, with minimal announcements to the market as yet.”

Further endorsement of the strength of the EyeQ opportunity is the latest addition to the Associate network. Yet another OA state president, David Foresto who has held the position as President of OA Queensland/NT since 2012 has joined EyeQ at Spring Hill, a Brisbane CBD practice in April 2015.

The appeal for David was "being in a health care precinct like Wickham Terrace and having a strong focus on specialised contact lenses I wanted a practice where I can maintain absolute clinical independence whilst having the back-end monotony of book keeping and payroll taken care of for me. I'm looking forward to an exciting future for Foresto EyeQ Optometrists as well as the optometric profession which I love and will continue to serve" stated David Foresto.

A low key launch, with some high profile early adopters has announced the EyeQ Optometrists Network as a genuine player in this dynamic marketplace. Independent full scope optometry now has a viable Australian-owned, optometrist-led alternative to the current offerings with a goal to create a legacy to help fulfil the needs of future generations of optometrists.

Eyewear Startup Introduces Prescription Glasses With "Unlimited" Colors, Looks and Styles PDF
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Feature Story
Thursday, 21 May 2015

Eye ChangeU.S. eyewear start-up company Eye Change has recently introduced a new and unique eyewear system that allows you to invest in just one pair of glasses and have the option of "unlimited" colors, looks and styles. Simply change the 'rims and trims' anytime you want for an entirely new look. An inlaid magnet and tongue and groove system ensures a secure attachment system for both the front piece, aka the 'rim' and the temples, aka the 'trims'. The company's motto is: "Eye a new frame of mine!"

Eye Change has partnered up with Vision Craft, an Essilor partner lab in the Michigan, US. According to Eye Change's website, their timeline is expected to be like: "Manufacture a minimum of 10 more mainframes to choose from within the next 2 months with the goal being 15-20 different mainframes by summer’s end. Surely, with 20 different styles and shapes, there will be a flattering frame for most faces." They also mention "Beginning early in 2016, we will be opening our first Kiosks in some of the higher end Malls for a ‘more hands’ on experience. This allows you to try on and really experience the many different looks that Eye Change will be offering."

The company is also listed on kickstarter.

OA: "Australian Government Remains Blinded to Eye Needs" PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Kate Gifford, the Chair of Optometry Australia (OA), the national professional body for optometrists, expressed her disappointment with the Australian Government's decision to ignore calls to reverse cuts to the optometric Medicare rebate.

"A five per cent cut to Medicare rebates for optometric consultations has been in place since 1 January 2015. Combined with the freeze on Medicare indexation to July 2018, the cut is threatening the sustainability of optometric services, particularly those located in areas of socio-economic disadvantage.

“Despite our ongoing calls for smarter investment in optometry under Medicare, the Budget has failed to provide the necessary relief for optometrists and their most vulnerable patients.”

“The recent cuts to optometry under Medicare are impacting thousands of Australians most at disadvantage such as pensioners, health card holders, those on low incomes, children and people living in residential agedcare facilities. We are greatly concerned that the Government’s reduced investment in Medicare is deterring many of these patients from seeing an optometrist when they need to.

There was a win for optometrists and patients in rural and remote areas with the Government extending eligibility for the use of telehealth services under Medicare to optometrists, to support the use of video consultations with ophthalmologists.

“We know that people living in regional and rural areas have higher unmet need for eye care than those living in metropolitan regions and so extending telehealth services under Medicare to optometrists is a logical step to support better access and co-ordination of eye care services. Despite this welcome addition under Medicare, the Budget has failed to deliver the necessary significant investment required to ensure optometric care is accessible and sustainable for all Australians into the future.

“When you consider that 80 per cent of all vision impairment is preventable or treatable, we continue to question why the Australian Government has ignored our calls to help us to reduce this damning statistic,” Mrs Gifford said.

Optometry Australia has been calling on the Government to reverse the five per cent cut to the optometric rebate, at minimum for socio-disadvantaged Australians. “The Government appears blind to the needs of these Australians. Instead of discouraging, it should be encouraging Australians to see an optometrist regularly in order to help reduce the $1.36 billion that vision loss costs the Australian economy annually,” Mrs Gifford said.

"Hydrogels" Boost Ability of Stem Cells to Restore Eyesight and Heal Brains PDF
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Ophthalmology and Optometry
Tuesday, 19 May 2015

hydrogel syringeUniversity of Toronto scientists and engineers have made a breakthrough in cell transplantation using a gel-like biomaterial that keeps cells alive and helps them integrate better into tissue. In two early lab trials, this has already shown to partially reverse blindness and help the brain recover from stroke.

Led by University of Toronto Professors Molly Shoichet and Derek van der Kooy, together with Professor Cindi Morshead, the team encased stem cells in a "hydrogel" that boosted their healing abilities when transplanted into both the eye and the brain. These findings are part of an ongoing effort to develop new therapies to repair nerve damage caused by a disease or injury.

Conducted through the University of Toronto's Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, their research was published in the recent issue of Stem Cell Reports, the official scientific journal of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

Stem cells hold great therapeutic promise because of their ability to turn into any cell type in the body, including their potential to generate replacement tissues and organs. While scientists are adept at growing stem cells in a lab dish, once these cells are on their own—transplanted into a desired spot in the body—they have trouble thriving. The new environment is complex and poorly understood, and implanted stem cells often die or don't integrate properly into the surrounding tissue.

The researchers also showed that these new cells could help restore function that was lost due to damage or disease. One part of the Stem Cell Reports study involved the team injecting hydrogel-encapsulated photoreceptors, grown from stem cells, into the eyes of blind mice. Photoreceptors are the light sensing cells responsible for vision in the eye. With increased cell survival and integration in the stem cells, they were able to partially restore vision.

"After cell transplantation, our measurements showed that mice with previously no visual function regained approximately 15% of their pupillary response. Their eyes are beginning to detect light and respond appropriately," says Dr. Brian Ballios, an expert in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine for retinal degenerative disease, who led this part of the study.

Luxottica Extends Prada Eyewear License PDF
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Monday, 18 May 2015

Luxottica Group and Prada s.p.a. have announced the renewal of an exclusive license agreement for the design, production and worldwide distribution of prescription frames and sunglasses under the Prada and Miu Miu brands. The 10-year agreement will extend through December 31, 2025.

Adil Khan, Luxottica’s CEO of Markets, commented: “We are extremely proud of our collaboration with Prada Group and the beautiful and innovative frames we are creating together. Prada and Miu Miu are truly global and iconic brands and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership in the years ahead”.

Patrizio Bertelli, Prada Group’s CEO, said: “We are very pleased to announce the renewal of our co-operation with Luxottica which, thanks to its leadership in the international markets, is the ideal partner to boost our brands’ identities.”

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