This year’s Tasmanian Lifestyle Congress (TLC) led on from the success of previous years. As a small state, with around 100 optometrists, TLC always feels a bit like a family reunion.
TLC on the beautiful island of Tasmania brings optometrists from interstate and covers a years’ worth of CPD (40 points total) across two and a half days. This year, the new venue of Wrest Point along the Sandy Bay waterfront, highlighted the natural beauty of Tasmania, and although it was a sunny weekend, it was spent as optometrists often are, inside. The social dinner on the Saturday night provided beautiful views across the Derwent River and Hobart’s twinkling night lights.
As always, TLC speakers brought enthusiasm and passion to their presentations. One of the key themes this year was collaborative care and co-management, with interdisciplinary co-operation and team work a consistent message. A range of speakers including optometrists, ophthalmologists and occupational therapists highlighted the benefit of patient-centered care and professional collegiality.
TLC’s opening evening included lectures on the importance of holistic patient care. Ophthalmologist and medical researcher Dr. Alex Hewitt discussed the promising avenues of genetic research in developing therapeutics for diagnosing and detecting glaucoma, the third most prominent hereditable disease.
Melinda Toomey presented on headaches and idiopathic intracranial hypertension which has a reoccurrence rate of around 28 per cent. This startlingly high number for a manageable condition highlights how collaboration with other health providers such as dieticians, ophthalmologists and GPs is beneficial to our patients’ overall wellbeing; not just their sight.
The annual Keith McCrill lecture was provided by Professor Alex Gentle. Across the weekend he covered a number of other interesting topics, including the practical management of ocular allergy and current ocular therapeutics.
Optometrist Amira Howari spoke on the importance of care with our diabetic patients – and how simply asking ‘What is the most challenging thing you are finding with your diabetes?’ opens the door for communication and effective management. Ms. Howari highlighted the importance of close communication with GPs, diabetic educators and specialists. Following on from this, Clin. Assoc/Prof. Nitin Verma AM spoke on advances in diabetic eye care.
LOW VISION, INDIGENOUS EYE HEALTH AND MORE
A morning of low vision lectures proved both informative and inspirational to improve our clinical care. Local optometrists Paul Graveson and Andrew Maver presented on topics including adaptive technology in low vision. This session was completed by occupational therapist, Naomi Gibson, who went through the top practical low vision aids and described a day in the life of a vision impaired individual. A discussion on technology highlighted the benefits of mobile/tablet apps for our patients. An example of this was Be my eyes, which relies on volunteers to read/describe a situation/document/item to the user.
Highlights of the full Sunday program included presentations by Dr. Alex Gentle and Joe Tanner on the topics of myopia control, focusing on the use of atropine and dual focus soft contact lenses respectively. It’s more apparent than ever that as optometrists, we need to own the space of myopia control to prevent severe future public health outcomes.
Jason Holland discussed DEWSII and the multi-pillar approach to dry eye management. Interestingly, he posited that the commonly used technique of lid scrubs with baby shampoo actually reduces goblet cell density, thus having the potential to worsen dry eye. Products designed specifically for lid scrubs were discussed as safer alternatives.
An Indigenous eye health update, presented by Mitchell Anjou AM, highlighted the fact that although great steps are being made to close the gap for vision, there is still a way to go. An interesting statistic reflected that while vision loss in Indigenous children is one fifth as common as in non-Indigenous children, the prevalence of blindness is six times more common in Indigenous adults.
Additionally a team of local ophthalmologists presented across the day on topics such as macular holes, micro invasive glaucoma devices, common oculoplastic conditions, oculoplastic reconstruction and flashes/ floaters.
With just over 100 delegates, TLC remains a boutique conference compared to some of its larger mainland counterparts. This enables delegates to ask presenters questions during breaks, providing additional to the educational aspect. TLC continues to reflect the close-knit, passionate and communal nature of Tasmania.
Tori Halsey B.Vissci M.Optom studied optometry at Deakin University before returning to Tasmania to work in 2016. She is currently the early career optometrist co-chair for Tasmania and has a role on the Optometry Tasmania Board. Ms. Halsey practices at Eyelines Optometrists in Rosny, Tasmania.