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Fred Hollows Foundation screens 6,000 patients in China PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 04 August 2009

The Fred Hollows Foundation, in partnership with Standard Chartered Bank and AIER Ophthalmology Hospital Group, has screened over 6,000 patients for diabetic retinopathy in China during the first half of 2009.

The screenings are part of a three year campaign to reduce avoidable blindness from diabetes in four major cities in China - Shanghai, Changsha, Chengdu and Wuhan.

Results for the period of January - June 2009 state that during this time three community health centres were equipped with basic eye care tools and equipment such as vision acuity charts, direct ophthalmoscopes, trial lenses and eye care education booklets. Thirty community health workers from these centres were trained in community-based screening and patient education, enabling them to now provide primary eye care service to the local people.

The campaign has also made great progress in its aim to raise public awareness of diabetic retinopathy. During the six month reporting period, at least 600,000 people were informed about prevention of blindness from Diabetes Mellitus through public awareness campaigns broadcast on local TV, radio and the Internet, as well as through the hosting of special days such as National Eye Day, World Sight Day and World Diabetic Day.

‘Dry eye’ on the increase during winter season PDF
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Australian News
Monday, 03 August 2009
At this time of year, in the cooler months when we spend more time indoors, in heated rooms, in front of fireplaces and rugged up in front of a TV or computer screen – itchy eyes and redness, pain or blurred vision often revisit. They are amongst the symptoms of the all-too-common condition ‘dry eye’.

If that’s you, then you are in good company; about 100 million people suffer from discomfort associated with the condition. With so many sufferers, it begs the question if the bard himself, William Shakespeare, suffered from the condition when he famously penned, “now is the winter of our discontent.”

The heating we use to scare off that winter chill could be one of the reasons why we are affected by dry eye. Moisture levels in the air are an important factor in maintaining comfort in our eyes and artificially-regulated environments that keep our workplaces, homes and other indoor spaces warm, can lower humidity. Another possible culprit is computer work. Spending hours staring at a computer screen decreases how often we blink - which helps to keep the eye sufficiently lubricated – and may lead to discomfort and/or dry eye. In severe cases dry eye can lead to vision loss.

According to organisers of the "Solving Dry Eye – An International Exchange" conference, to be held in Sydney from 3-8 August, ‘dry eye’ is the most common reason we seek medical help for an eye-related condition, is a major reason why people discontinue contact lens wear and affects around 100 million people worldwide. It occurs when we are unable to produce enough tears, tears of the correct composition to lubricate the eye, or when tears evaporate from the eye, thereby drying it out. The global dry eye market, which is currently worth over $1 billion, has products available which can minimise the effects of the condition, but these treatments are not fully effective.

Two leading Sydney institutions – The Institute for Eye Research, located at the University of NSW, and the University of Western Sydney – are looking to facilitate the development of new solutions to ‘dry eye’ by hosting this international exchange, which has attracted leading researchers from around the world.

Co-convenor, Associate Professor Tom Millar from the University of Western Sydney, says the conference will discuss potential therapies for dry eye and the current controversies regarding tear film stabilisation. “Our two organisations have managed to attract the best clinicians, ophthalmologists, physical chemists and rheologists from Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley and other leading institutions in the US, Japan, Scotland and Australia,” he said.

Professor Mark Willcox, co-convenor and Chief Scientific Officer at the Institute for Eye Research, says a critical component in developing more effective treatments for dry eye is our understanding of the tear film. “An important outcome of the exchange will be discussion on a number of current controversies regarding how the tear film is stabilised. Researchers will have the chance to decide on priorities for experiments as well as allocating responsibility for those.

The enhanced ability to co-ordinate research activities around the world will be of great benefit to our advances in this area,” he said.

While the research community works on developing a fully effective treatment for dry eye, there are several things that may help us avoid dry eye at this time of the year, according to Institute for Eye Research ophthalmologist, Dr Jukka Moilanen. "Based on an International Dry Eye Workshop Report, there are a few things one can do to decrease or prevent dry eye symptoms”, he said.

“Increasing the amount of fish in our diet will boost the intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, which reduces inflammation and hence dry eye symptoms. Adjusting air-conditioning to increase humidity at home, as well as at work, may also help. Placing computer monitors below eye level will keep the palpebral aperture smaller, meaning less area for drying of the tears. Eliminate, if possible, systemic medications that induce dry eye symptoms, such as antihistamines, antidepressants and additional hormones. Another thing we can do is taking care of the eye lids by cleaning and moisturizing and using artificial tears and gels when necessary.”

Accessible Etax to help clients lodge tax returns PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The start of a new financial year means it's time to think about preparing and lodging 2009 tax returns. Vision Australia have set up several TaxHelp locations to provide assistance to clients who are blind or have low vision from 14 July to 31 October 2009.

The Australian Tax Office has a range of publications and information services to help clients complete and lodge their returns accurately and on time.

People who are blind or have low vision can now go online and prepare and lodge their tax return using e-tax which is available on the Tax Office website.

E-tax is fast, secure and easy to use and in most cases returns are processed and refunds paid into a nominated bank account within 14 days.

E-tax is compatible with common screen reader and/or screen magnification software.

Odmafair 09 attendance down compared to 2007 PDF
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Australian News
Monday, 27 July 2009
Total visitation for ODMAFAIR was 5458 this year compared to the previous edition of 2007 which accounted for 7365 visitors. Nevertheless, it was by all accounts a successful exhibition.  The only sector with lost visitation was in the visitor category of 'Practice Staff'.

At this year's ODMAFAIR the winners for the best stand awards are (there are 4 categories of stand awards in 2009):
- Best stand over 54sqm (custom). Winner: Hoya
- Best presented stand up to 54sqm (custom/enhanced DBS). Winner: Luxol
- Best presented in DBS (9 or 18sqm). Winner: Occhio Group
- Best presented Galleria Stand. Winner: ProOptics

The winner of the Silmo Prize went to Ms Vicky Tranis, Optometrist, St Kilda Eyecare, St Kilda, Victoria
The $1000 gift cert winners were:
  • William Treble, Treble Optometrist, Killarney Heights, NSW
  • Malcolm Lee See, Malcolm Lee See Optometrists, Kingaroy, QLD
  • David Ford, Eyecare Plus, Grafton, NSW
  • Suzanne Sahely, 20/20 Sight'N Style, Mornington, VIC
  • Peter Weston, Eyewear on Pako, Geelong, VIC
Winners of Mivision/Eyetalk Kingfisher Bay Resort holiday packages were:
  • Naomi Arnold, Somerville & Merrin, Toowoomba, QLD
  • Ross Ferrier, G & W Eye, Gosford, NSW
  • Deborah Hammond, Stephen Hammond Optometrists, Nambour, QLD
  • Margaret Lam, The Eyecare Company, Sydney, NSW
  • Karen Sullivan, Belle Soleil, Ballina, NSW

Richard Grills, Chairman of ODMA, made the following address at the post-ODMAFAIR exhibitor function:

"Our industry needs a strong ODMA and ODMA cannot be strong and functional without a successful ODMAFAIR. ODMA could not function without the funds raised by ODMAFAIR and therefore the industry in general would not receive the benefit of the services and activities conducted on behalf of all the member companies. Without ODMA the companies in our industry would only have an individual voice and the whole optical industry would suffer.

As you all know, ODMA provides a wide range of services to its members and additionally, some recent important achievements are as follows:
  • Elimination of the duty on spectacle frames and the retrospective refund of $8M to frame distributors throughout Australia.
  • The current Government advertisement program pertaining to eye testing and maintenance of good vision has been lobbied for by ODMA and other groups such as the OAA and Vision 20/20.
  • The ODMA optical retail guide has been distributed to all independent practices and this shows ODMA's intention to ensure that education is continued as part of our platform.
  • ODMA has proposed and is implementing student business education seminars at the University of NSW and hopefully in the near future this will also be offered to the other two Optometry Schools in the country.
  • Seminars on successful independent practice have been conducted by ODMA with great success at the Southern Region Conference and the Queensland Vision meetings.
With all of these factors in mind, it is extremely disappointing that member companies chose not to attend ODMAFAIR and some actually set up in opposition to our event. I firmly believe that these companies are very short-sighted and ODMA should encourage them to rethink their participation in the next ODMAFAIR in two years time.

These activities could not be achieved without the efforts of the ODMA Board, who give a lot of time and effort on the members' behalf with no reward for this service to our industry. Finola and Tina, the ODMA Secretariat, provide our Board with tremendous support and this is greatly appreciated by all. Exhibition Management, the exhibition contractors for ODMAFAIR, as usual have excelled to make ODMAFAIR 09 a totally successful event".
MD Foundation launches third wave of television and radio advertising campaign PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 23 July 2009

The Macular Degeneration (MD) Foundation is again running a world-leading MD awareness advertising campaign. This third wave of national television and radio advertising commenced on 19 July and will run for six weeks. The advertisements send a powerful message about MD, and actively encourage people to have their eyes tested.

The "How's Your Macula?" advertising campaign by the MD Foundation is proudly supported by Novartis.

The community service announcements on television and radio highlights the importance of getting your eyes tested, ensuring your macula is checked and the critical nature of early detection.

Vision Australia's global adventurer to appear on ABC's Parenting Blind PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 16 July 2009

ABC Radio National recently recorded a 30 minute documentary "Parenting Blind" featuring our Enfield Community Development Officer, Nick and his wife Heather Gleeson.

The program explores the sensory world of three blind parents as they feed, clothe, nurture and manage their children.

Parenting Blind will be broadcast on "360" on ABC Radio National on 18 July at 2pm and repeated on 22 July at 1pm.

More information, links and photographs are available on the 360 website. The program will be available for download after the broadcast.

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