Initiatives introduced by your Association will see the eye health sector grow and unite for the benefit of eye health professionals and the community.
Optometry Australia is committed to driving excellence in eye and vision care, and to realising better eye care for everyone. In September 2016, we launched the awareness campaign, Good Vision for Life, to ensure the broad community understands the value of good eye health and the role optometrists play as primary health care providers.
Our most recent evaluation of the initiative has shown a substantial increase in the number of people over 18 years of age motivated to make an appointment with an optometrist. Approximately 1.3 million people were motivated to make an appointment as a result of the campaign in 2018, compared to 1 million in the 2017 survey. Although there are other contributing factors, Medicare data has shown an increasing trend in children’s eye exams. Awareness campaigns embed understanding and create habits, so it is pleasing to see these upward trends.
The multi-pronged campaign includes a specific video on children’s vision, screened in Sydney’s CBD as part of the Sydney Film Festival. We are all aware of the coming myopia epidemic so it is vital that parents have a high awareness of their children’s eye health and the need for eye exams, especially before they start school. We believe the Good Vision for Life campaign is positively contributing to parent’s knowledge and understanding, with the children’s vision video viewed approximately 370,000 times and with 45 per cent of our generated mainstream media coverage dedicated to this topic.
Our campaign evaluation asked respondents if they would see an optometrist for excessive eye associated watering, redness, pain or discharge. Those answering in the positive have risen by 28 per cent since 2016. Beyond building community awareness, we continue to work with pharmacists and General Practitioners to ensure they refer patients to optometrists for eye conditions. We are also working on a number of initiatives with RANZCO to ensure appropriate referral pathways enhance patient care.
Awareness campaigns embed understanding and create habits, so it is pleasing to see these upward trends
Most mivision readers will have read that O Vic has joined forces with the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association (ODMA) to replace SRC and ODMAFAIR with O=MEGA19. It is significant news, and not just because this will be the largest conference and expo in Australia by a very wide margin.
From my perspective it’s significant because the Boards of the two organisations have come together and showed the ambition, the unity, and, frankly, the maturity to do something that benefits the profession of optometry and the optics industry more broadly. In my few years with O Vic, I’ve been surprised at the way the eye health sector manages to find so many ways to pick holes in competitors, and, sadly, even allies’ models of business. I commend Rob Sparkes and the ODMA Board, and the O Vic Board that I serve, for this unanimity of purpose.
Readers may also be aware that I’ve recently launched a bid for the World Congress of Optometry to come to Melbourne in 2021. Should this be successful – it’s a big ‘if ’ and competition will be very tough – we’ll align the WCO with O=MEGA21. That would really be something to see.
The strategic vision of O Vic is to deliver O=MEGA, and hopefully the WCO, but also to present a model to our members for amalgamation with our South Australian colleagues. These three items have strong synergies for us. Should we be able to deliver them, we feel we’ll be a more effective association and have greater capacity to deliver services and lobby for the issues that matter to our members most.
We’ll work to bring together the best parts of the two organisations, sharing resources that will improve value. We’re currently talking with members about this important project in the lead up to our 2018 AGM, which is when we’ll vote on the amalgamation proposal. If anyone wants to talk to me about this work I can be contacted through the O Vic office.