$2m allocated for Aboriginal and Torres Strait people’s prescription glasses

The federal government has allocated $2 million to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with easier access to affordable prescription glasses.

Health minister Mr Greg Hunt said the investment would allow Vision 2020 Australia to work with state and territory governments to streamline, standardise and improve their schemes that provide subsidised glasses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

‘Current arrangements can make it difficult to obtain affordable glasses’

“There are inconsistencies in current arrangements which can make it difficult for many of our these people to get affordable glasses,” Mr Hunt said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have three times the rate of vision impairment and blindness as compared to non-Indigenous Australians.

“That is totally unacceptable, especially when almost two-thirds of impaired eyesight can be corrected by prescription glasses.”

Indigenous health minister Mr Ken Wyatt said introducing a nationally-consistent system to simplify and ensure better access to affordable glasses would significantly improve people’s vision and overall quality of life.

‘Significant barrier to education and employment’

“Not only does poor vision adversely affect a person’s general wellbeing, it can be a significant barrier to education and employment, and can restrict a person’s mobility and social interaction,” Mr Wyatt said.

“The cost of prescription glasses often deters Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from visiting an optometrist to

Read More >

By | August 12th, 2018|People|

AMA submits revised Code of Conduct to Medical Board

The Australian Medical Association has submitted a revised draft Code of Conduct to the Medical Board of Australia – Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia (2018).

The president of the AMA, Dr Tony Bartone, said on 7 August the document is “very important” for the medical profession and for patients, and that all doctors must have the opportunity and ample time to consider any changes, even minor changes, to the Code.

“It is of the utmost importance and necessity that the board ensures all doctors are aware of these public consultations, and have sufficient time to respond, as they are the ones legally subject to the provisions of the board’s codes and guidelines,” Dr Bartone said.

“We note the board has now extended the public consultation until 17 August 2018.

“The format of the code – both the current code and the draft revised code – contains a combination of clear, explicit statements intermingled with vague, ambiguous ‘motherhood’ statements.

“The clear, explicit statements provide doctors with sufficient guidance to meet the expected standards of ethical and professional conduct, but the more ambiguous statements do not, making it extremely difficult and distressing for doctors who are then unsure how to fulfil their obligations under the code.

“It is vital that the board

Read More >

By | August 12th, 2018|Associations|

MDFA announces macular degeneration education sessions up to November

The Macular Degeneration Foundation of Australia has announced the dates and venues of its education sessions up to November. They are:

  • Taree,NSW: 14 August, Club Taree.
  • Port Macquarie, NSW: 15 August, Port Macquarie Race Club.
  • Forster,NSW: 16 August, Club Forster.
  • Gold Coast, Qld: 27 August, Southport Community Centre
  • Tweed Heads, NSW: 28 August, South Tweed Sports Club.
  • Coffs Harbour, NSW: 4 September, C.ex Coffs.
  • Nambucca Heads, NSW: 5 September, Nambucca Heads RSL.
  • Central Coast, NSW: 10 September, Terrigal Uniting Church.
  • Brisbane, Qld: 13 October, Geebung RSL Club.
  • Brisbane, Qld: 15 October, Queensland Eye Institute.
  • Maroochydore, Qld: 16 October, Maroochydore RSL Club.
  • Noosa, Qld: 17 October, Villa Noosa.
  • Hobart, Tas: 3 November, Grand Chancellor Hotel.
  • Newcastle, NSW: 12 November, Belmont 16s.
  • Maitland,NSW: 13 November, Maitland Leagues Club.

Bookings: 1800 111 709.       

By | August 12th, 2018|Conference|

How Bill and Melinda Gates see the world over the next 15 years

Bill and Melinda Gates have outlined their vision of what the world will look like 15 years from now, and it is confidently optimistic, The Washington Postreports.

According to the Gateses, the number of children dying before the age of five will be cut in half; polio, guinea worm and river blindness will be wiped off the face of the Earth; and the African continent will be able to feed itself.

‘State of the Union’

The couple announced those goals in their foundation’s annual letter – which over the years has become a sort of ‘State of the Union’ for the development world and has become influential in shaping the agendas and framing the debates for the greater global aid and health communities.

In a joint interview with his wife before the letter was released, reported by The Washington Post,Bill Gates said he hopes their foundation’ new commitments will serve as a catalyst in the coming years for other work that ensures every person on the planet has his or her basic needs met.

“Does that kid have a chance to have a good education? To not suffer from malnutrition? These are the primary issues we’re trying to point resources at,” Mr Gates said.

“While philanthropy provides only a small fraction of the money going toward

Read More >

By | August 12th, 2018|Health|

Ulysses comments …


Why do organisations, when preparing submissions to politicians (usually ministers) and when usually seeking something, always seem to address the subject of their missive as ‘The Hon’?

As background, I recently came across an example online where ‘The Hon’ concerned was being asked to provide support for a no-doubt-worthy cause.

Said ‘The Hon’ was one of three federal ministers who earlier had to make grovelling apologies to a court in Victoria which they had criticised, thereby running the risk of having to face allegations of contempt of court.

Fortunately for the three, the court accepted their eventual apologies and they were off the hook.

Why use ‘The Hon’? Politicians as a group are not particularly ‘honourable’, as implied by that form of address. And they probably aren’t impressed by its use; if anything, they’re probably contemptuous of its use.


By | August 12th, 2018|Comment|

Australian company wins unprecedented approval for blindness-treatment drug

An Australian company has won unprecedented approval from the United-States Food and Drug Administration for a new drug to treat the second-most-common preventable cause of blindness in the world – river blindness.

The current treatment is 20 years old.

The company, Medicines Development for Global Health, based in Melbourne, has become the first not-for-profit company in the world to register a medicine with the US FDA.

Managing director of the company, Mr Mark Sullivan, said while FDA approval for the company’s drug, moxidectin, was a “momentous achievement” for any pharmaceutical company, it was “a particularly rare and exciting event” for those trying to treat neglected diseases.

The FDA gave its approval for the treatment, which is swallowed as a tablet, in June after the application was submitted in October 2017.

Mr Sullivan established the Melbourne-based not-for-profit company in 2005 with the sole purpose of filling the gap left by the big pharmaceutical companies by developing medicines that were based on need for treatment rather than the patients’ ability to afford them.

His company has been working for five years on the development of the drug and is now planning to develop it as a new treatment for scabies, a common problem in indigenous communities.

Priority review voucher scheme

The company has also won a priority review voucher under a scheme set up

Read More >

By | August 1st, 2018|Business|

Ultra-rapid cooling of eye may provide effective non-pharmacologic anaesthesia

The first-in-human feasibility trial comparing non-pharmacologic, ultra-rapid focal cooling and standard-of-care pharmacological anaesthesia showed the novel method was quicker, was well-tolerated by patients and resulted in similar patient-reported pain scores, according to a speaker American Society of Retina Specialists annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

“Ultra-rapid cooling of the eye was well-tolerated and provided effective non-pharmacologic anaesthesia, Dr Cagri Besirli, MD, PhD, said.

“This first-in-human proof-of-concept study indicates that ultra-rapid cooling may be useful for ocular anaesthesia, and we believe that this novel method may be an improved way of delivering anaesthesia and improve patient care of intravitreal delivery,” DrBesirli said.

Current methods have drawbacks

“Thecurrent methods of ocular anaesthesia have a variety of drawbacks, including patient risk for corneal toxicity and subconjunctival haemorrhage. Additionally, surgeons must wait between three and 10 minutes for the anaesthesia to take adequate effect, he said.

Dr Besirli and colleagues created a focal cooling device to provide patients with ocular anaesthesia.

“You put the device about 3 mm to 4 mm from the limbus … activate the cooling and the cold temperatures rapidly penetrate the deep tissue, block the nerve conduction, and once you have this within 10 to 20 seconds, you perform intravitreal injection using standard technique,” he said.

To test the feasibility and efficacy of the technique, 22 patients were included in a single-centre,

Read More >

By | August 1st, 2018|Surgery|

Optometry Victoria and South Australia considering merger

Optometry Victoria and Optometry South Australia are considering a merger, with discussions reported to be advanced.

If the merger proceeds, the body will be named Optometry Victoria and South Australia. Other state and territory organisations have a joint name, such as Optometry New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory.

The decision on whether that occurs will rest with floor members of both state divisions of Optometry Australia, who will vote on the proposal in October.

The move is largely regarded as being beneficial, as the South Australia office is only staffed part-time while the Victoria office operates full-time and has more resources.

Also, training and CPD events would cater for the combined membership, including availability of larger combined members’ buying power for exhibitors at the annual Southern Regional Congress, now to be renamed O-MEGA19 following it being organised jointly with the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association of Australia and Optometry Victoria, as announced last month.

It is understood the national board of Optometry Australia fully supports the proposed merger.

By | August 1st, 2018|Associations|

AMA encourages more to become organ donors

The Australian Medical Association is urging more Australians to use this week – DonateLife Week 2018 – to register to become an organ donor, and to share and discuss that decision with their family and friends.

AMA president, Dr Tony Bartone, said Australia is a leader in organ and tissue transplantation, in terms of transplant outcomes, but our donation rates lag well behind world donor leaders like Spain, Portugal, and Croatia.

“Australia’s donation rates are continually improving as a result of reform measures introduced since 2009, but there remains potential for significant further growth,” Dr Bartone said.

Insufficient too meet demand

“In Australia, as with all developed countries, there continues to be insufficient donated organs to meet the needs of those who might benefit from transplantation.

“By increasing Australia’s rate of organ and tissue donation, more individuals and their families have the opportunity to benefit from receiving life-enhancing organs and tissue transplants.

“This has a positive impact on the health-care system as transplantation of organs and tissues, such as kidneys and corneas, is cost-effective compared to the expense of providing ongoing treatment for those waiting for a transplant.

“Around 1400 Australians are on the transplant waiting list at any time, with a further 11,000 on dialysis.

“Donation happens infrequently as fewer than two per cent of people in Australia who

Read More >

By | August 1st, 2018|People|

Early morning sun gazing in India may cause chronic solar retinopathy

The early morning religious ritual of sun gazing may be causing patients in India to experience chronic solar retinopathy with macular changes and a decrease in visual acuity, according to a speaker at the American Society of Retina Specialists 36thannual meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

“Sun gazing as a ritual can cause chronic solar retinopathy. Macular changes on OCT and fundus are very characteristic. Any person with these characteristic macular changes should always be asked about sun gazing,” ophthalmologist Dr Shaileen Parikh, DO, of Ahmedabad, India, said at the meeting.

The retrospective case series presented included 36 patients who were examined after complaining of a mild decrease in visual acuity or were seen for a routine eye examination.

Best corrected visual acuity of the cohort ranged from 20/20 to 20/80, with a mean of 20/40, Dr Parikh said.

Thirty patients were found to have a history of sun gazing for more than one year, he said.

After a fundus examination, Dr Parikh said 70.8% of eyes had subretinal yellowish deposits and 59.7% had retinal pigment epithelium mottling; mean central foveal thickness in the cohort was 175 µm.

Other common OCT findings were central foveal thinning, lamellar macular holes and a collection of materials with hyperreflectivity in the foveal space, he said.


By | August 1st, 2018|Health|