Optometry Australia’s membership down 25%

Optometry Australia’s membership is down by about 25 per cent since it claimed to have more than 95 per cent of all registered optometrists as members.

OA now claims 80 per cent membership, however some quick arithmetic in the light of figures released by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency figures published in March 2018 indicate it is more like 76 per cent of registered optometrists.

‘Peak body’ used to be a fair claim

Not so long ago, Optometry Australia (or the Australian Optometrical Association or any of the succession of names over the years it chose to operate under) used to make fair claim to being the peak organisation for optometrists in Australia, whether it was dealing with governments, health departments, other professions, the public or anyone else.

However, while that claim may still be a reasonable one, it is starting to look a little shaky.

Optometry Australia itself, in its submission prior to the Federal Budget 2018-19 stated its membership is 80 per cent of registered optometrists in Australia.

An actual membership figure was not provided (it rarely has been), however figures published in March 2018 by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency show there were 5521 registered optometrists in Australia at that time, meaning about 4,200 members of Optometry Australia.

What has happened?

What has

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By | June 24th, 2018|Associations|

Don’t fly blind when considering stem-cell treatments for eyes: RANZCO and SCA

Concerned about patients accessing stem-cell treatments for eye conditions that have not been subjected to appropriate clinical trials and approvals, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists and Stem Cells Australia, have joined up to launch an informative patient-information leaflet for people considering such treatments.

For a new stem-cell treatment, patients are advised to ensure it is part of an ethically-approved clinical trial.

The patient-information resource is designed to help patients make more-informed decisions about their eye care by encouraging them to ask five important questions about stem cells for eyesight before undergoing any form of stem cell treatment for ocular disease:

  • What are stem cells and how can they help?
  • What are the safety concerns?
  • Is there evidence that stem cell therapies work?
  • Stem cell treatments are still under investigation, so what does that mean for me?
  • How can I make an informed decision about my options?

Locally and internationally stem cell research is at the cutting edge and is attracting media attention. A recent Washington Post article, highlighted the fact that clinics are emerging offering high-risk procedures that are not yet scientifically proven:

RANZCO initiated the position paper identifying a role in guiding the Australian and New Zealand public around discriminating between evidence-based treatments and those that have not yet been

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By | June 24th, 2018|Research|

Specsavers tops $1bn in annual sales

Specsavers’ optometry/optical dispensing and audiology stores sales in Australia and New Zealand for the first time topped $1 billion during the company’s financial year ended 31 February 2018.

The figure for Australia was $1,013 million (£569.5 million), while New Zealand had sales of $130 million (£73 million), to give a total of $1,143 million (£642 million) for ANZ.

As at 31 February, there were 324 optical and 18 audiology stores in Australia to give mean average annual sales of $2.96 million per store, whereas in New Zealand the average for the 52 stores was $A2.5 million.

In the United Kingdom market, Specsavers had sales of £1,392 million ($2379 million), while in its seven other markets in Europe the company had sales totalling £578 million ($1,029).

Total revenue during 2017-18 for the Specsavers group increased by 7 per cent to £2.61 billion through sales of 20.5 million spectacle frames, 500 million contact lenses and 337,770 hearing aids.

The company has 2,800 joint-venture partners operating 1,978 optical stores and hearing centres. There are 32,500 employees.

Commenting on the 2017-18 year, co-founder Mr Doug Perkins said: “We are in the midst of a decade when eye health is transforming at unprecedented speed. The disruptive changes present an opportunity for us to support ways in which ophthalmologists and optometrists can

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By | June 24th, 2018|Business|

Glaucoma Australia launches referral response intervention program

Glaucoma Australia has launched a new patient-support program, in consultation with eye-care practitioners.

The new intervention-and-education program is designed to increase adherence and reduce vision loss – by minimising ‘drop-outs’.

“The first few months in my new role as chief executive officer have been spent reviewing what, when, why and how Glaucoma Australia collaboratively works with eye-health professionals and patients to eliminate glaucoma blindness,” Mrs Annie Gibbins, chief executive officer of Glaucoma Australia, said.

“The opportunity to fully engage collaborative partnerships, technology and consumer feedback to drive future excellence in service provision has been top of mind.

“The tragic 50 per cent undiagnosed and 40 per cent non-adherent statistics need a proactive patient-centred intervention which captures powerful data and helps drive future change.

“If every patient diagnosed with glaucoma is not being actively supported by Glaucoma Australia, we have much work to do.”

Following an extensive consultation and feedback period with key allied stakeholders from ophthalmology, optometry and pharmacy, an innovative and collaborative patient-support study has been created, offering personalised education and support targeted at critical, high-risk periods for patients.

“Glaucoma Australia is harnessing digital technology and smart electronic referral systems to promote screening for at-risk individuals, linking patients with support services and education resources.

“This ground-breaking work should imrpove detection rates and patient knowledge as well as

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By | June 24th, 2018|Health|

Lasik-surgery’s side-effects attract US attention

Side-effects of Lasik eye surgery is attracting increasing attention in the United States, with patients complaining about impaired vision and chronic pain that has led to job loss and disability, social isolation, depression – and even suicides.

In a feature article, The New York Times newspaper on 11 June reported

the Food and Drug Administration approved the first lasers to correct vision in the 1990s, with roughly 9.5 million Americans having had laser eye surgery, “lured by the promise of a quick fix ridding them of nettlesome glasses and contact lenses”.

The New York Times report said there is also a wide perception among patients, fostered by many ophthalmologists who do the surgery, that the procedure is virtually fool-proof.

However, as far back as 2008, patients who had received Lasik and their families testified at an FDA meeting about impaired vision and chronic pain that led to job loss and disability, social isolation, depression – and even suicides, the report said.

Even now, serious questions remain about both the short- and long-term risks and the complications of this increasingly common procedure, it said.

Nearly half of all people who had healthy eyes before Lasik developed visual aberrations for the first time after the procedure, the trial found. Nearly one-third developed dry eye for the first time.

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By | June 24th, 2018|Surgery|

Full-line US department stores to decline 18-20% by 2023

There are currently just under 6,000 full-line department stores in the United States but a report by Coresight Research predicts that number will decline by 1,100 to 1,200 by 2023 due to store closings, a drop of about 18 per cent to 20 per cent.

The report also noted that some department store companies, such as Macy’s, are placing more emphasis on the quality of the shopping experience, which may indicate that the department store sector will turn its focus to the “better-invested, higher-quality and probably smaller stores in higher-traffic locations in the next few years.”

By | June 24th, 2018|Business|

Ulysses comments …


Western civilisation

Perhaps the Ramsay Centre and the Australian National University, at odds over the latter’s decision not to offer a degree course in Western civilisation, might like to consider what India’s Mahatma Gandhi said when asked what he thought about Western civilisation:

“I think it would be a good idea.”


Telstra’s troubles

One of the nation’s favoured idle pastimes is to knock Telstrta for all of its disasters, such as what are no better than highway robberies of customers, failures to meet competition, downright rudeness of staff, and just about every other commercial crime against humanity you can think of.

It decision to sack 9,500 staff and then seek to add 1,500, for a net employment loss of 8,000 people, is probably the worst of its litany of commercial misbehaviours. The attempt by the company’s CEO to justify the sackings was received by investors with a big share-price drop, signalling little confidence that the recovery plan outlined by the CEO is nothing more than a a complete dud.

But the alarming new for we millions of Telstra customers is ‘we ain’t seen nothing’ yet’ should we be so unfortunate as to need a faulty service fixed. It’s been bad enough, before the axing of 8,000 jobs. Imagine what it’s going to be like when

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By | June 24th, 2018|Comment|


The Queen’s Birthday Honours were announced on 11 June:


Professor Robyn Heather GUYMER. VIC.

For significant service to medicine in the field of ophthalmology, particularly age related macular degeneration as a clinician, academic and researcher.

Dr Timothy Roger HENDERSON. NT.

For significant service to medicine in the field of ophthalmology, and to Indigenous eye health in the Northern Territory.

Professor Lawrence William HIRST. QLD.

For significant service to medicine in the field of ophthalmology through the development of clinical care techniques and eye disease management.


Dr Graeme Alfred POLLOCK. VIC.

For service to medical research, particularly to corneal transplantation.

Dr Sudarshan Kumar SACHDEV. NSW.

For service to the community, and to medicine, particularly to ophthalmology.

Ms Julienne TYERS. VIC.

For service to nursing, and to international eye-health programs.

By | June 11th, 2018|People|

ACOD graduates its first cohort of optical dispensers

The Australasian College of Optical Dispensers graduated its first cohort of optical dispensers at a function attended by 71 people in Sydney on 1 June, hosted by ACOD co-directors Messrs James Gibbins and Chedy Kalach.

There were 24 graduates from across Australia present out of the 56 in Australia and New Zealand who have completed the Certificate IV course in optical dispensing at ACOD.

By the time of a planned graduation function sponsored by the Association of Dispensing Opticians New Zealand in Auckland in October, it is expected there will be 30 course graduates in New Zealand.

Specsavers’ Katie Philp, dispensing advancement manager, welcomed the graduates and guests.

The ‘Student Experience’ address was given by Carly Clarke.

After the formal part of the function, the guests moved across to the Aquarium Wharf where they boarded for a harbour cruise for dinner and to view the lights of Vivid.

As the guests were disembarking at the wharf the fireworks of Vivid began to burst overhead, as a spectacular finale!

By | June 11th, 2018|Education|

Patient-question prompter launched by RANZCO and NZAO

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists and the New Zealand Association of Optometrists have jointly launched ‘The Choosing Wisely Patient Card,’ a patient-prompter, designed to encourage constructive questions from patients during eye-care consultations.

The prompter was launched at the RANZCO New Zealand Branch Annual Scientific Meeting by Nelson based ophthalmologist Dr Derek Sherwood. The RANZCO NZ Branch and the New Zealand Association of Optometrists have come together to create “an informative resource for patients receiving eye-health care”.
The patient card was developed by Choosing Wisely, an initiative which aims to reduce the use of unnecessary or unevidenced medical tests and procedures.

Choosing Wisely recognises that not all tests or procedures are helpful for all patients and therefore encourages constructive conversations between patients and health professionals in making decisions. The aim of the Choosing Wisely Patient Card is to help patients feel more comfortable and informed when having conversations with their eye-health care professional about their own eye care.
The patient card encourages patients to start an informed conversation by asking four “important” questions before undergoing eye-health tests:
• Why am I having this test?
• What information will it provide?
• What are the risks of the test?
• What happens if I don’t have the test?
“It is important that patients feel comfortable to ask

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By | June 11th, 2018|Education|