The annual Australian Vision Convention did not disappoint. The weekend was filled with stimulating and refreshing discussions on a range of eye health and optometry practice issues, not to mention exhibits from suppliers who showed us their latest and greatest eye tech.
My life in optometry began when I was eight years old, helping sort lens blanks at the back of dad’s optometry practice. I am now running the family business, Vision Eye Health, on the Gold Coast, having graduated with a Master of Optometry with Distinction in 2017. I love all aspects of optometry, but my main passion is eye health, which is why I have now attended 10 AVCs!
Every break allowed us to continue the nerd-fest and marvel at the latest and greatest technologies on the market
This year, in particular, I felt the topics that were covered were more relevant than ever; encompassing everything from the myopia epidemic and how we can help control its effect on our patients, to empowering us to diagnose, treat and manage glaucoma – we can do it! For those of you who missed out on the event of the year, I will enlighten you with a snapshot of my favourite topics.
VIRTUAL REALITY VISION THERAPY
The latest vision therapy through virtual reality got everyone talking. Vivid Vision is a new gadget that is helping children and adults with amblyopia and vergence disorders to regain stereopsis. Vivid Vision is a device that allows the patient to play various video games, like basketball, to help them see in 3D. It works by presenting important game cues to the weak eye, so the brain is forced to use it, but in a way that is highly motivational for the patient. Who wouldn’t want to come to the optometrist to play games? It was very refreshing to hear the passion Sarah Sweeney (speaker and optometrist) has for our profession and to her credit, she has found a gold mine for vision therapy. I am very excited about what this new development holds for our profession and look forward to a wave of new research in this area.
Glaucoma – diagnosis to treatment, is a topic that sounds boring, but in reality was very inspiring. Therapeutically endorsed optometrists really can diagnose, manage and treat glaucoma. Dr Graham Lakkis refreshed us on best practice for detecting glaucoma and reminded us of the treatment protocols. He enabled us to reduce the pressure we may place on ourselves by reassuring us that monitoring is key and we needn’t make a diagnosis immediately. Dr Lakkis suggested that over a two year period, we take three visual fields within the first couple of months and another three visual fields in the last couple of months, to better establish progression. Ultimately, we can do so much more for our patients by taking on this responsibility, and we should as we have the knowledge and tools to do so.
OCULAR AND SYSTEMIC DISEASE
The links between ocular and systemic disease were touched on by both Dr Lindsay McGrath and Dr Graham Hay-Smith. They emphasised how both systemic diseases and their treatments can present in the eyes. There were a few surprises such as kidney disease being associated with Sjogren’s Syndrome and how thyroid dysfunction increases the risk of Xanthelasma. I would have loved greater detail on this topic, however, it was made clear that virtually every human body system has a disease that affects the eyes; from the obvious cardiovascular system to the urinary and reproductive systems. The eyes really are the windows to our health and well-being.
EYE CONDITIONS AND DRIVING
The effect of various eye conditions on driving is a topic I am quite passionate about. Professor Joanne Wood discussed the findings of her latest research on the functional impacts of driving with common vision impairments, including cataracts. It has been found that visual acuity alone is not necessarily the best predictor of a person’s ability to drive, but rather contrast sensitivity. This is an area in which I hope we can advocate change.
Dr Lindsay McGrath had the sobering task of clarifying how to really spot these nasty lesions that often leave us feeling bewildered and very uneasy. She revealed the more definitive signs while also reminding us of the numerous masquerades. It was surprising to discover the population at greatest risk of developing choroidal melanomas is those with oculodermal melanocytosis.
The Australian Vision Convention wouldn’t be complete without mention of the lively exhibition hall where optometrists, speakers, exhibitors and other industry colleagues gathered to share information and network. Every break allowed us to continue the nerd-fest and marvel at the latest and greatest technologies on the market. This included everything from dry eye masks and various optical correction options, to diagnostic tools and software, as well as finance providers who can help us facilitate the purchases of said gadgets.
Thank you to the sponsors, exhibitors and especially Optometry Queensland & Northern Territory, without whom, these high quality educational events would not be possible. It was great to see an increase in the number of attendees over the weekend, definitely a positive swing for Optometry Australia. We might just have to look at a larger venue in the upcoming years! Needless to say, for those of you who didn’t attend this year, you missed out on a great one. See you at the next AVC!
Rebekah Bormann graduated from Queensland University of Technology in 2017 with a Master of Optometry with Distinction. She is the principal of her family business, Vision Eye Health, on the Gold Coast.