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Graduating Optometrists ready for Rural and Low Vision Practice PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 26 June 2009
The delivery of quality vision care in both Australia and New Zealand is facing many challenges. High on the list are the inequitable spread of optometrists between cities and rural regions and the well-documented health concerns of an ageing population.

The Australian and New Zealand University Schools of Optometry are working together to investigate potential strategies to address these service inadequacies through improvements to the undergraduate optometry education experience.

The one-year project is funded under a grant awarded to Associate Professor Barbara Junghans of the UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC).

The four schools of optometry are supported in undertaking the project by key stakeholders the Optometrists Association Australia and New Zealand Association of Optometrists. Major New Zealand optometry employer groups EYEPRO and Visique are also willing collaborators in project activities, alongside Luxottica and ProVision in Australia.

National surveys of optometrists are planned for release in partnership with the OAA in July 2009:

-Rural & Remote Optometry Services Survey
-Gerontology & Low Vision Survey

All optometrists throughout Australia are urged to participate and share thoughts and experience regarding graduate preparation for rural practice, and for delivering optometric services for elderly and low vision patients.
 
Fred Hollows Foundation launches new TV ad PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 25 June 2009

The Foundation has launched a new TV advertisement to help lift awareness and raise funds to overcome avoidable blindness.

Featuring the sound track ‘Shine On' by Australian band Jet, the TV ad shows archival footage of Fred Hollows, and how The Foundation is carrying on his legacy.

Jet first joined forces with The Fred Hollows Foundation last year to produce a video tribute about the life and work of the renowned eye surgeon, 15 years after his passing. Viewed over 25,000 times on YouTube, the video tribute has attracted a lot of attention and fantastic feedback from all over the world.

At the time, Jet's lead singer, Nic Cester, said he hoped the tribute clip would remind people about Fred's work and encourage them to support The Fred Hollows Foundation.

 
Cataract surgery: Not a luxury, but a vital sight-restoring procedure for Australians PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Australia’s medical eye specialists are concerned that patients may be forced to put off surgery to restore their sight, resulting in falls, possible fractures and depression. Ophthalmologists say this is a likely scenario of the Federal Government’s decision, in the 2009 Budget, to halve the Medicare reimbursement to patients for cataract surgery.

“Cataract surgery is not a luxury,” says Dr Iain Dunlop, President of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO). “We are not talking here about a cosmetic procedure. As the population ages, potentially every person in Australia will eventually develop cataracts. Untreated cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world.”

Dr Dunlop says that poor vision, as a result of untreated cataracts, can result in a greater risk of falls and fractures, social isolation and depression and the loss of ability to perform everyday activities. “At least 120,000 Australian’s each year now have surgery which involves the removal of the cataract and the implant of a sight-restoring lens,” says Dr Dunlop. “The result is dramatic. In more than 98 per cent of cases there is an almost immediate return to normal vision. Simply put, patients can see again. The benefits to them are enormous. But, if implemented, the Budget decision will cut the Medicare benefit in half, from about $623 to 312, making this vital surgery unaffordable for some. Pensioners and those without private health insurance will be hardest hit.

The already stretched public health system will be further congested. Cataract procedures may not be available in rural and remote areas and indigenous communities. There will be a greater cost to the community as a result of falls and fractures, and an increased demand on the public health sector and for support services.” Dr Dunlop says there is a misconception that because cataract surgery is so commonplace it is, therefore, simple to perform. “Technological advancements have allowed the development of an operation that is far safer yet, in fact, much more difficult to perform. “Today, cataract surgery is one of the most effective medical procedures, in effect a modern miracle. It is vital that this sight-restoring surgery remains within the financial reach of the many thousand Australians who will need it.”

 
President of the World Blind Union launches new book PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Maryanne Diamond, International and Stakeholder Relations Manager at Vision Australia and President of the World Blind Union was interviewed on ABC 666 Canberra on the launch of her book 'Disability, disadvantage and development in the Pacific and Asia'. The book encourages collaboration between international aid organisations and those working with people who have disabilities.

Maryanne discussed her experiences with Drive Show host Louise Maher on 11 June about being blind from birth and the difficulties and support received throughout her childhood and university. She spoke of being a mother of four, including a son with low vision, and her work. Maryanne also shared how her work in policy and advocacy has contributed to the support available for people who are blind or have low vision. Maryanne described how technology has made an impact on her life, particularly speech and braille software, the internet and Skype. She also emphasised the importance of accessibility.

 
Indigenous eye health update PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Since the start of the year, over 190 patients in 10 rural and remote communities in the Northern Territory have had access to a visiting optometrist.

Through the Outreach Optometry Project, The Fred Hollows Foundation facilitates and coordinates Optometric services to remote and rural communities in the Top End.

Many of these communities are very remote, and small places like Palumpa, located about 375km south west from Darwin, can often only be reached by plane during the Wet Season (December to May).

The Ready Readers Project works with participating remote community stores in the Northern Territory to stock a permanent supply of reading glasses.

The project is delivered by training store staff about reading glasses and the store is provided with a set-up package. This set-up package includes a stand that customers can use as a guide to show them if they can use reading glasses and if so, what power they can use.

The community also receives an eye health information session where community members can learn more about eye health in general.

 
Recipient of Order of Australia honoured PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 12 June 2009

Blind Citizens Australia congratulated Robert Jeffrey Altamore on receiving the Medal in the Order of Australia in the recent announcement of the 2009 Queen's Birthday honours.

Mr. Altamore, past President (2001 - 2007) and an active, long time member of Blind Citizens Australia has been awarded the Medal in the Order of Australia honour for his service to people with a vision impairment through advocacy roles with a range of organisations.

In announcing this years awards, Governor General Quentin Bryce said these "Awards in the Australian honours system represent the highest level of recognition accorded by our nation for outstanding achievement and service." David Blyth, President of Blind Citizens Australia, echoed the Governor General's sentiment.

 
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