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This Sunday starts National Glaucoma Week PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 14 August 2009

The theme for this year’s National Glaucoma Week (August 16 – 22) warns Australians: ‘Don’t lose your driver’s licence to glaucoma’. National Executive Officer for Glaucoma Australia, Beverley Lindsell, said this theme was chosen because losing a driver’s licence generally led to major lifestyle issues related to mobility and independence. Licence loss can be a consequence of untreated glaucoma. “Our major message is that all Australians aged 40 and over must have their eyes checked at least every two years by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, or more regularly if they have a family history of the condition, hypertension, diabetes or a former eye injury.” Mrs Lindsell said research showed that drivers with moderate to severe glaucoma were six times more likely to be involved in an ‘at fault’ vehicle accident than those drivers not suffering from the condition.

Glaucoma is referred to as the ‘sneak thief of sight’ because it gradually and permanently destroys the side vision often without being noticed. Fortunately, the condition can be detected by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, with treatment available to halt or significantly slow damage to the eyes. A lead-up launch to National Glaucoma Week will this year be held at Parliament House in NSW on Thursday, August 13. A formal release of a TV Community Service Announcement featuring Glaucoma Australia ambassador, Ross Higgins, will take place along with a free screening session for Members of Parliament.

During National Glaucoma Week itself, a major campaign will take place in Rockhampton, Queensland, as part of an ongoing initiative to promote awareness of glaucoma in regional and rural areas where people are less likely to have regular eye check-ups. The campaign will include extensive media advertising and promotions, free public screening sessions and a community forum.

Mrs Lindsell said National Glaucoma Week activities were made possible though an community education grant provided by Pfizer Australia, with key support from the Optometrists Association Australia (NSW/ACT and QLD) and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO).

Vision Group Holdings recontracts with Doctor Partners PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 07 August 2009

Vision Group Holdings Limited commenced the formal process of recontracting with Doctor Partners in July and is pleased to announce the successful completion of phase 1 of this re-contracting process.

An initial group of 7 Doctor Partners have chosen to enter into new long-term contracts prior to expiration of their current contracts as a firm indication of their support for the Vision Group operating model and Vision Group Holdings. These Doctor Partners account for approximately 28% of Vision Group revenues and add to the established list of Doctors already contracted and committed long term.

Re-contracting of these 7 key Doctor Partners is a key milestone for Vision Group and the strength of their commitment reinforces the Vision Group’s ability to drive growth in a number of areas. Additional Doctors are also expected to re-contract early over the next twelve months.

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".
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