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Vision Australia and Orthoptics Australia To Collaborate in Eye Research and Education PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 24 March 2017

Optician ApparatusA new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Vision Australia and Orthoptics Australia aims to improve the early detection and treatment of eye conditions through a range of education and collaborative research initiatives.

Under the agreement, Vision Australia will provide an education program to Orthoptics Australia’s members about the strategies and services that are available to support people who are blind or have low vision, to live the life they choose.

Members will then be encouraged to discuss Vision Australia’s services and provide their resource materials to eye health professionals and their patients, to ensure people who are experiencing vision loss are well supported.

Another key focus of the initiative involves educating people with hereditary eye conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration to advise their family members to have a check-up.

“Orthoptics Australia is the first organisation I have signed an MOU with and certainly the first peak body that is enthusiastic about working together to progress change that is beneficial to everyone.

“The MOU has some really good elements. There is a particularly strong desire to work together and a common enthusiasm to explore extensions to Vision Australia’s scope of practice for orthoptists, further enhancing the value of the profession,” Vision Australia, Chief Executive Officer, Ron Hooton said.

Other long-term benefits of the MOU include the opportunity for collaborative research projects between the two organisations and the placement of orthoptic students within Vision Australia.

“Being able to work with a leading blindness and low vision organisation on research projects will enhance the results of our member’s work and deliver better outcomes to people living with blindness and low vision,” Orthoptics Australia, President, Julie Hall said.

“It’s essential that future generations of orthoptists get quality hands-on placements where they can work with the people they will support throughout their careers. Being able to get this experience early on in their education will enable them to build the skills and understanding to best support people who are blind or have low vision.”

BHVI Develops New Ocular Sensitivity Instrument PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 21 March 2017

BHVI ResearchersOcular discomfort has primarily been attributed to contact lens wear, refractive surgery, meibomian gland dysfunction and aging. It is something that we all experience from time to time; however, it could be an early symptom of more serious ocular diseases, such as keratoconus, shingles or herpes.

Efforts to diagnose, treat and understand the underlying causes have been hindered by a lack of suitable methods to quantify ocular sensitivity. Traditional instruments are either inaccurate, difficult to use or not generally available.

Dr Klaus Ehrmann, Director of Technology, Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI), and associates have developed a new instrument, based on the liquid jet concept, to measure ocular sensitivity, which can potentially enable practitioners to quickly measure discomfort and inform their diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

The instrument does this by propelling small droplets of sterile liquid through a micro-valve onto the surface of the eye. The sensitivity threshold is established by increasing the intensity of the stimulus until the patient reports a positive response. Mechanical, chemical and thermal stimulation is achieved by adjusting the properties of the liquid. The dedicated hardware and custom written software control all the operating parameters, including ejection pressure, precise position targeting, temperature and droplet size.

The instrument conveniently attaches to any slit lamp and is easy to use by unskilled operators. A complete measurement takes 2-3 minutes. With both the patient and the operator being masked to the applied stimuli, more reliable results can be achieved. This new method of corneal stimulation opens a wide range of new applications, ranging from detecting abnormalities in corneal sensation to diagnosing corneal diseases and monitoring the effectiveness of treatment options.

Ophthalmologists Remind Parents to Have Their Children’s Eyes Checked Regularly PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 16 March 2017

World Glaucoma Week 2017To mark this year’s World Glaucoma Week (12-18 March), the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) is reminding parents to have their children’s eyes checked regularly to ensure healthy vision.

“Glaucoma refers to a group of chronic eye diseases which cause damage to the optic nerve resulting in vision loss. Babies with glaucoma display specific signs that help diagnose glaucoma early on, if you know what you’re looking for and maintain an index of suspicion,” explained Dr Caroline Catt, a RANZCO Fellow and one of Australia’s leading Paediatric Ophthalmologists. “Early detection and proper treatment is instrumental as this can result in the reversal of some of the damage caused by childhood glaucoma and help delay the progression of the disease,” added Dr Catt.

Sydney mum, Mandy Ferreira, knows all too well about the devastating impact of childhood glaucoma. Her son, Darcy, was diagnosed with glaucoma in both eyes when he was only 11 months old. “I noticed a cloudiness in his eye and immediately rushed him to the doctor who referred us to Dr Catt,” said Mandy. Several painful surgeries and ongoing treatments saved Darcy from going blind. “We are extremely lucky that this was caught early on. We had never heard of childhood glaucoma before and, as a family, have learned that it is not an easy journey to travel. Darcy would have lost his vision had his condition been left untreated.”

“We cannot thank and give gratitude enough to Dr Catt. She has been more than amazing and has been behind the success of saving Darcy's vision. Without her, I dread to think what his life would be like now.” 

Court Dismisses Injunction Against SILMO Sydney Organiser PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 07 March 2017

Court RuleIn December last year, ODMA (Optical Distributors & Manufacturers Association of Australia) commenced a "urgent application" in the Federal Court against its former events management company, Expertise Events, for allegedly breaching its intellectual property right and obtained an injunction against Expertise Events' use of its own customer lists.

On 3 March 2017, Justice Burley of the Federal Court of Australia ruled against ODMA, ordered that the injunction be discharged in its entirety and found that ODMA had not made out its claims for an injunction.

Justice Burley said that the evidence was that claimed losses would be because of the competition that a new fair brings rather than any alleged misuse of ODMA's intellectual property. His Honour held that the evidence did not establish the claim that Expertise Events used the data for the purpose of diverting ODMA business to SILMO. Rather, the Judge found that the evidence suggested that Expertise Events had independently created its exhibitor lists from internet sites.

Commenting on the Court’s ruling, Mr Gary Fitz-Roy, organiser of SILMO Sydney Optical Fair said, “I am very happy because not only does it show we have done nothing wrong, it means ODMA’s own members will not be affected because a number of them are exhibiting at SILMO Sydney. ODMA's actions could have potentially harmed its own members’ results”.

“Some of ODMA’s own members are supporting a new and exciting fair as well as a number of optical wholesalers who have never exhibited at an Australian optical fair.  There needs to be proper competition in this space, so people have choice.  It is a shame that ODMA has spent so much money in legal fees in going to Court over this”, said Mr Fitz-Roy.

His Honour ruled that ODMA’s submissions concerning diversion of its business, and harms flowing from that, were speculative but added that the question whether they could be made out at a final hearing was a question for another day. Further, Justice Burley found that the evidence did not indicate any material harm would occur to ODMA if the injunction was discharged, that any loss would be compensable in damages and that the evidence did not establish ODMA’s claims regarding the Expertise Events’ use of information to promote SILMO Sydney.

ODMA obtained a stay of that order and told the Court that they wanted a chance to appeal Justice Burley’s ruling.

Mr Fitz-Roy said, “I am sure many people in the industry – including optometrists, optical dispensers and other professionals – along with its own members will now ask what was achieved by ODMA initiating an injunction without notice and incurring legal costs that could amount to tens of thousands of dollars, especially given the threat of an appeal.”

“I am also sure that most people would believe that ODMA’s money would be better spent on promoting the success of independent optometry practices and other optical wholesalers rather than being concerned about our new and exciting trade fair. We know the market wants something new that will spark up and excite the industry, excite but most importantly deliver new brands for the industry and for consumers. SILMO Sydney fair will seek to unite the industry not divide it” said Mr Fitz-Roy.

SILMO Sydney is set to open Thursday 09 March at the new International Convention centre.

Ophthalmologists Warn Cases of Blindness from Illegal Laser Pointers on the Rise PDF
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Australian News
Monday, 06 March 2017

Laser PointerPerth’s Lions Eye Institute has warned parents about the dangers of illegal handheld laser pointers bought online. Lasers pointed into the eyes can damage retinal tissue leading to catastrophic and irreversible visual loss.

Ophthalmologist Dr Chandra Balaratnasingam (Dr Bala) said doctors have witnessed an increase in eye damage caused by lasers. Dr Bala said this type of eye injury was becoming more common in children and teenagers as laser pointers bought overseas or online often did not comply with Australian safety standards.

“The output of laser pointers purchased in Australia is very tightly regulated,” he said. “However, many people purchase them online from countries where there is no regulation and the output of these lasers can be more than 20 times what is considered safe. “What we are finding is the rise in laser-induced retinopathy parallels their growing availability from unregulated manufacturers.”

Dr Bala said anecdotally pre-teen and teenage boys who were curious and risktakers were more likely to experiment with lasers. He said parents needed to ensure the lasers they purchased were from a reputable company and preferably within Australia. “The number one message is that these lasers are not toys and can easily cause inadvertent injury to the retina and vision loss,” Dr Bala said.

Lasers on the red wavelength are typically safer than those in the green wavelength and are preferable for use in presentations and lectures.

“While people are well aware of damage to the eyes that occur in sports or as a result of sun exposure, many people are not aware of the dangers of hand held laser pointers,” he said.

The Guild Pharmacy Academy and Optometry Australia Develop Eye Care Course PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 03 March 2017

Course BooksThe Guild Pharmacy Academy of Australia (GPAA) says that eye drops are the sixth largest over-the-counter medicinal category in pharmacy and that some eye conditions, such as dry eye and allergy eye, can be chronic or recurrent and may require ongoing management with medicines available in the pharmacy.

According to GPAA, pharmacy assistants have an important role to play in the eye care of all Australians as they often are the first contact point for customers seeking assistance with common eye conditions and they also play an important role in referring customers with chronic or persistent eye health conditions to their pharmacist.

As a result, The Guild Pharmacy Academy, Optometry Australia (OA) and Novartis Alcon® Pharmaceuticals have recently collaborated to develop Pharmacy Health Solutions: Eye Care, an online course to assist pharmacy assistants in providing advice and guidance to customers seeking assistance with self-limiting conditions of the eye with non-prescription medicines. The course has been approved for 45 minutes of QCPP Refresher Training and complements the Academy's existing Pharmacy Health Solutions: Eye Care course for pharmacists, developed last year with Optometry Australia and Novartis Alcon® Pharmaceuticals and accredited for 3 CPD Credits.

OA acting CEO Kirsty Machon said the organisation would be looking at a number of potential education topics of mutual interest. "We are interested in providing pharmacists with information and education on diabetic eye disease, red eye, and the purchase of ready-made spectacles," Ms Machon said. "We believe pharmacists have valuable insight for optometrists on issues in pharmacology, such as providing updated knowledge on risk and mitigation of drug side-effects and how to discuss this with patients, common interactions of systemic drugs prescribed by medical practitioners and ophthalmic topical medications, and technical issues such as reporting of adverse events."

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