Ophthalmologist agrees to repay $750,000 after engaging in inappropriate practice

An ophthalmologist has agreed to repay $750,000 for engaging in inappropriate practice in connection with rendering Medical Benefits Schedule items 42702, 42740 and 42788.

The ophthalmologist’s rendering of the three MBS items were reviewed by the director of the Professional Services Review.

According to the director’report, the ophthalmologist acknowledged engaging in inappropriate practice in connection with rendering all of those items; agreed to repay $750,000; and will be reprimanded by the director.

Due to the nature of negotiated agreements and secrecy limitations imposed by the legislative scheme, no practitioners who have entered into agreements with the director are named.

However, the director has the power to disclose the names and addresses of practitioners who are found by a committee to have engaged in inappropriate practice and who are subject to a final determination.

  • Item 42702 is for ‘Lens extraction and insertion of intraocular lens, excluding surgery performed for the correction of refractive error except for anisometropia greater than 3 dioptres following the removal of cataract in the first eye.
  • Item 42740 is for ‘Intravitreal injection of therapeutic substances, or the removal of vitreous humour for diagnostic purposes, 1 or more of, as a procedure associated with other intraocular surgery.
  • Item 42788 is for ‘laser capsulotomy – each treatment episode to one eye, to a

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By | November 28th, 2017|People|

Flinders University wins $9.4m for glaucoma-blindness research

The federal government on 24 November announced a $9.46 million grant to Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health for genetics research aimed at preventing glaucoma blindness, through personalised treatments.

The Minister for Aged Care, Mr Ken Wyatt, said the grant would help tackle the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness.

Personalised treatment through genetics

“The potential to personalised treatment through genetics is exciting because glaucoma already affects approximately 300,000 Australians, with up to 80 million predicted to suffer from the disease worldwide by 2020,” Mr Wyatt said.

“It’s long been known that a family history of glaucoma means increased risk but there are no symptoms or warning signs in the early stages.

Glaucoma can be controlled

“Testing is vital and, although there is no cure, with treatment glaucoma can be controlled and further loss of sight either prevented or slowed.”

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve is slowly destroyed. In most people this damage is due to an increased pressure inside the eye as a result of a build-up of fluid.

Sight loss is usually gradual and a considerable amount of peripheral vision may be gone before people are aware of any problem.

The research grant will support the work of Flinders University Professor Jamie Craig along with three other key

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By | November 28th, 2017|Universities|

A look at the future: US study


‘The Future of Optometry’, presented at the recent Vision Expo West, was a look at the future, based on a comprehensive study conducted by Jobson Medical Information designed to appraise the current and future state of optometry in the United States.

The presentation looked at likely changes in practice operations, as well as practical action points to adapt to evolving business dynamics through to the year 2025

The study found that demand for eye care has two components: demand for corrective products (particularly spectacles and contact lenses) and services, as well as for medical diagnosis and treatment, including surgery. The first category has been the traditional stronghold of optometry, and the latter has been the main focus of ophthalmology.

‘Eye care is a huge business’

Among its findings was that eye care is a huge business, with more than three-quarters of the adult population wearing vision correction devices, with an estimated $US33.5 billion pent annually by American adults for refractive eye examinations, eyewear and contact lenses. Another $US28.6 billion is spent for medical and surgical eye care, meaning total eye-care demand per capita is nearly $US200 annually.

The study found that demand for eye care is higher among older people, both because a higher proportion of people over 40 need vision correction and

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By | November 28th, 2017|Overseas|

Former Specsavers manager jailed in UK

A former manager at Specsavers Swindon in the United Kingdom has been jailed for a year after issuing cash refunds to himself and misusing the company credit card.

Mr Simon Backhouse appeared at Swindon Crown Court, where he reportedly pleaded guilty to theft and false accounting.

According to the Swindon Advertiser, he spent £16,553 ($A28,880) on himself using the credit card over a two-year period.

A company spokesperson confirmed to Optician he had joined Specsavers Swindon in October 2012 and was promoted to store manager in June 2015.

A Specsavers statement said: “Following a pattern of suspicious activity, an internal investigation found evidence that Mr Blackhouse had been defrauding the business. Confronted by superiors in March 2017, Mr Blackhouse admitted the fraud. He was dismissed and the matter was handed over to the police.”


Bulk-billing rate 85.9% for GP visits

More Australian patients are visiting their GP without having to pay, with

The bulk-billing rate for GP vsits for the September quarter increased to 85.9 per cent.


By | November 28th, 2017|People|

George and Matilda Eyewear’s owner: $7.6m after-tax loss


  • Revenue of $16.2m generated in first 16 months
  • Current liabilities $15.9m, including $7m borrowings
  • Shareholders have $10.1m equity; seeking finance

IPIC Holdings Limited, owner of the George and Matilda Eyecare (G&M) brand, had a loss of $7.6 million after tax on revenue of $16.2 million in its first 16 months of operations, to 30 June 2017, according to its [first] audited financial report for the period.

The company’s auditor has expressed concern about its ability to continue as a going concern, however its directors are confident it will be able to do so.

As at 30 June, current liabilities were $15.9 million, including $7 million in current borrowings, while there was shareholders’ equity of $10.1 million.

40 practices

IPIC is a company limited by shares that is incorporated and domiciled in Sydney and which now has 40 practices providing optometrical and optical-dispensing services (including retail sales of frames, lenses, contact lenses and sunglasses), mainly under its George and Matilda Eyecare banner.

During the 16 months to 30 June, IPIC’s principal activities were the acquisition of optometry practices, as reflected by acquired goodwill of $25,949,806.

Cashflow indicates the business generated $27.3 million from financing activities, which was predominantly used to acquire optometry businesses. As at 30 June, IPIC had $2.5 million in cash and

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By | November 22nd, 2017|Business|

Visually-impaired driver jailed in UK after killing pedestrian

A driver in the West Midlands in the United Kingdom has been sentenced to three years in jail for killing a pedestrian he could not see due to his low vision, according to press reports.

According to The Express and Star, driver Peter Scriven’s Nissan car struck 65-year-old pedestrian Arthur Fletcher, who was thrown onto the other carriageway and killed in Dudley last December.

The report from Wolverhampton Crown Court said Mr Scriven, 60, was blind in one eye and had reduced sight in the other but had not been for an eye examination or disclosed his condition to the DVLA. He could not read a registration number more than three metres away when tested.

Mr Scriven pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was also given a three-and-a-half-year driving ban.


By | November 22nd, 2017|Legal|

Ulysses comments …


Ah, the joys of retailing

A director of Myer, which has been the subject of strong attacks by its biggest shareholder, Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments, particularly claims that the retail giant’s directors lack retail experience, has defended them in the dailies, citing his own retail experience.

Among his claims to retail fame in one newspaper was that he is also chairman of retailer Baby Bunting, supplier of a range of kids products. It was right beside a report showing that Baby Bunting’s share price is down nearly 50 per cent in the past 12 months to $1.41 at present.



And real estate too

Speaking of share prices of listed companies, one of the directors of IPIC Holdings Limited (which owns retail optical brand George and Matilda Eyecare) is real estate big noise John McGrath, founder and a director of the eponymous ASX-listed real estate company McGrath Limited.

McGrath Limited listed as a public company in December 2015 with a share price of $2.10; the price is now down to around 55c.

Good grief.

By | November 22nd, 2017|Comment|

ODMA denies financial information to members at AGM – all 5 of them

The Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association of Australia Limited denied financial information to the five floor members present at its annual general meeting held in Sydney on 8 November.

The chairman of ODMA, Mr Robert Sparkes, declined to answer questions from a former director of the company, Ms Gaye Wymond, about several aspects of the company’s financial information provided to members 19 days before the meeting (it should have been provided two days earlier) and the chairman’s report handed to members present that day.

Aspects of the company’s financial information asked about by Ms Wymond but not answered by Mr Sparkers included, inter alia:

  • The total legal costs in the company taking the former organiser of its trade fairs, Expertise Events, to the Federal Court last December for an “urgent” ex-parte hearing of an application for an injunction preventing use of ODMA’s database to promote the SILMO Sydney exhibition, as well as the costs of Expertise Events’ successful appeal against the injunction in February, when the injunction was thrown out in its entirety by the judge. The chairman declined to provide that information.
  • Separation of the figures for Eye Talk, a publication bought by ODMA three years ago, (costing 73 per cent of current assets at the time: Ed.). The chairman said

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By | November 19th, 2017|Business|

Dispensing college launching CPD program for graduates

A continuing professional development program commencing early next year will be available to graduates of the Certificate IV course in dispensing conducted by the Australasian College of Optical Dispensing.

The CPD program will require qualified dispensers to gain a minimum of 60 points from the program every three years.

It is planned for CPD sessions to be held in most states as well as in New Zealand, with ACOD graduates not being charged to attend, while other optical dispensers who attend will be charged a modest fee.

The ACOD is launching the CPD program to fill what is sees as a need not being catered for in the majority of jurisdictions – post-Certificate IV regular training sessions to increase dispensing knowledge.

The ACOD is in its first year of operation having become a registered training organisation last December.

The most frequent organiser of CPD events is the Australian Dispensing Opticians Association in Victoria, while the New South Wales-based (ADOA NSW) organisation does little, if anything, in that regard, despite regarding itself as the national body for dispensers.

Curiously, a recent visit to Specsavers’ very big laboratory and warehouse facility in Melbourne organized by ADOA (Vic) caused an outcry online by some members of ADOA (NSW).

The exchange of ‘letters’, notes, insults and whatever are interesting for their

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By | November 19th, 2017|Education|

Poor-sighted driver given suspended sentence after fatal accident

A man in the United Kingdom convicted of causing death by careless driving has been given a suspended three-month jail term after driving into the path of a motorcyclist just a few weeks after having his eyes tested.

According to BBC News, the driver, Mr William Searle, 74, told Exeter Crown Court he “did not see” Jerry Daniell’s motorcycle as he drove off a garage forecourt in Newton Abbot, Devon last September.

He reportedly told the court this was two weeks after having an eye examination at Specsavers, but he failed the number-plate test wearing his glasses on the day of the tragedy.

An ophthalmologist told the court that Mr Searle’s diabetes may have resulted in the development of blind spots, and he was banned from driving for 18 months.

A Specsavers spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragic accident. If a visual field and visual acuity assessment are required by DVLA to inform decisions on individual driving licence renewals, applicants are referred to their choice of Specsavers store for the visual assessment.

“The optometrist has accompanying responsibilities to ensure all applicable General Optical Council guidance and requirements are followed. The outcome of the assessment is then sent to the DVLA which makes the licensing decision.”


By | November 19th, 2017|Legal|