Key findings of Optometry Australia survey revealed

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Medicare remuneration and striking the right balance between workforce supply and demand are the key issues currently concerning Optometry Australia (OA) members, according to results taken from its biennial survey.

Of the 870 members who participated, 96% believed OA should focus on lobbying the government for changes to Medicare remuneration, while 87% said it was important to ensure there was not an oversupply or undersupply of optometrists.

Concerns over Medicare rebates were further highlighted by 25% of respondents indicating that they intended to decrease their number of bulk-billed consultations in the next five years.

The competing interests between sub-groups of optometrists and the challenge of representing the perspectives of all members was reportedly another concern, as was the relationship between OA and RANZCO.

A spokesperson from OA clarified that concerns regarding the relationship stemmed from the fact that many members wanted OA to communicate their disappointment with recent referral pathways developed by RANZCO.

“They [referral pathways] did not reflect the reality of the experience of many of our members who work collaboratively with ophthalmologists to help ensure that quality eyecare is readily accessible to patients. Optometry Australia made that point to RANZCO at the time, noting it was a missed opportunity to highlight how their fellows and our members work together for the best patient outcomes,” the spokesperson said.

“It’s important to our members that we have a relationship with RANZCO that is open and genuinely consultative with us as the voice for the profession, regardless of the environment in which optometrists practice.”

Members also believed it was important for OA to lobby for new Medicare items (94%), appropriate regulatory requirements (90%) and conditions for effective collaboration with other health professionals. 

Furthermore, 82% would like to see optometry’s scope of practice extended, while members also thought OA should be lobbying the government about potential changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, improving conditions for regional optometrists and ensuring disadvantaged groups had access to eyecare services.

According to the survey results, the vast majority of respondents – 89% – would recommend OA membership to colleagues, graduates and other optometrists. The main reasons given for being a member included professional indemnity insurance, representation to government, being a part of the professional body and access to CPD. more

Applications open for online eye banking course

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Applications are now being accepted for the new ‘Graduate Certificate in Eye Banking’ course offered by The University of Melbourne (UoM). The course, which begins in September, is specifically designed to support eye bankers and associated disciplines. more

Presentation proposals requested for behavioural optometry congress

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 more

World first trial of robotic eye surgery a success

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In a medical first, UK doctors have employed a robot to perform a series of delicate operations to remove fine membrane growth on the retina, paving the way for similar precision-based surgeries in the future. 

Currently, surgeons perform this procedure without robots however, the procedure is so delicate even the pulsing of blood through the hands is enough to affect the accuracy of the cut and possibly cause small amounts of haemorrhaging and scarring. However, a trial of the groundbreaking surgical system, developed by Dutch medical robotics company Preceyes BV, found the use of robots could minimise this risk. 

The trial involved 12 membrane-removal surgical procedures in a UK hospital, with six performed in the traditional manner and the other half using the robotic process. Five of the patients in the traditional surgery group experienced micro-haemorrages and two had a retinal touch – which means there was an increased risk of retinal tear and detachment. Conversely, the robotic group resulted in only two micro-haemorrhages and one retinal touch.

The robot, controlled by a surgeon, functions like a mechanical hand and is equipped with seven independent motors capable of movement as precise as one micron. It can operate in and out of the eye through a single hole less than one millimetre in diameter. 

Study lead Dr Robert MacLaren, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Oxford, designed the robot with ophthalmologist Dr Marc de Smet from Netherlands.

During the recent meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), MacLaren said the technique was “a vision of eye surgery in the future”. He added the challenge was to devise a way to increase the accuracy and avoid causing damage to the retina during surgical procedures.

“The robotic technology is very exciting, and the ability to operate under the retina safely will represent a huge advance in developing genetic and stem cell treatments for retinal disease,” MacLaren said in an interview with LiveScience.

Meanwhile, his colleague de Smet said the researchers were at the early stages of what he described as a new, powerful technology.

“We have demonstrated safety in a delicate operation. The system can provide high precision [at] 10 microns in all three primary directions, which is about 10 times more precise than what a surgeon can do.”

This is especially important in procedures like the ones performed in the trial, where surgeons have to remove a membrane that is only 10 microns thick – about one-tenth the width of a human hair – without damaging the retina. Complicating the procedure is the fact that the eye of the anaesthetised patient jiggles with each heartbeat.

MacLaren said he hopes to next use the robotic system to place a fine needle under the retina and inject fluid through it, which could aid in retinal gene therapy.

IMAGE: Dr Robert MacLaren, University of Oxford professor of ophthalmology more

Over 50s urged to get eyes tested for macular degeneration

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Only 6% of Australians aged between 50 and 64-years-of-age believe an examination for eye disease is their top health priority according to research released by the Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) this week.

The research, released in conjunction with Macular Degeneration Awareness Week (May 21–27), suggested family and work commitments, combined with time spent caring for ageing parents, were the major reasons people in this age group were not getting eye tests. This is despite the fact that one in seven Australians aged over 50 have some evidence of macular degeneration, and that people with a family history have a 50% chance of contracting the disease.
MDFA patron Ms Ita Buttrose said it was concerning eye health was such a low priority to ageing Australians.
“This at risk group of Australians clearly is not heeding preventative health messages. They are juggling family, possibly career and community activities, while trying not to let down those around them. However, they could be letting themselves down by not investing time in their own eye health,” she said.

“I make sure I look after my sight as I’ve seen firsthand with my late father how devastating living with vision loss can be, but I also know that early detection can save sight. My Uncle Gerald is proof of this. Thanks to treatment that has maintained his sight he was still driving at 92.”

Meanwhile, MDFA CEO Ms Julie Heraghty urged all Australians over 50 to have an eye test and macula check. 

“Vision is critical to maintain quality of life and independence, so it is vital that those over 50 have regular eye tests as prevention, early detection and timely treatment can save sight,” she said.

IMAGE: Julie Heraghty, MDFA CEO more

Fake optometrist convicted a second time

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 more

Australian ophthalmic universities gain Top 10 ranking

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 more

ACO launches online contact lens course

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Australian College of Optometry (ACO) has announced a new online course designed to enhance the understanding of contact lens practice. more

CERA asks for contributions to help cure inheritable disorders

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 more

Mental health issues a concern for patients with wet AMD

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 more

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