The 2019 Tasmanian Lifestyle Congress (TLC) was held at Wrest Point, Hobart, along Sandy Bay’s picturesque waterfront. The highly anticipated annual conference attracted delegates locally and from interstate, and showcased everything that’s great about optometry in this tiny, increasingly popular, island state.
Now in its 15th year, TLC 2019 offered an impressive line-up of speakers and supporting trade show exhibitors, all of whom embraced the opportunity to meet with delegates. Additionally, for the first time, TLC offered a dispensing stream, supported by the Australasian College of Optical Dispensing, which drew attention to the vitally important role our dispensing colleagues play within the industry.
During the conference, Andrew Hogan was presented a certificate of Merit for his many years of dedicated work and contribution to the board of Optometry Tasmania. Andrew has taken a step back from the board following his very busy term as Optometry Australia president. He continues to run the TLC education committee, ensuring the event’s success.
EAST TIMOR EYE PROGRAM
Professor Nitin Verma presented key findings on the East Timor Eye Program, which began in 2000 as a humanitarian project to re-establish eye health services after Timor Leste gained independence from Indonesia. Professor Verma’s lecture highlighted how successful programs are an international collaboration across multi-disciplines with the key focus on sustainability. The East Timor Eye Program aims to make Timor Leste self-sufficient in eye care services by 2020 and help eradicate preventable blindness by 2025.
Saturday’s conference opened with a low vision oriented morning, with lectures delivered by Dr Joanne Woods and Naomi Gilson. These lectures discussed topics which optometrists can apply in every day clinical practice, such as how we can assess and aid vision impaired patients. More sensitive topics, including determination and discussion surrounding visual fitness to drive, were particularly useful.
INDIGENOUS EYE HEALTH
Mitchell D Anjou gave us an Indigenous eye health update. With 5.5% of the Tasmanian population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, closing the Indigenous eye health gap is a substantial area of concern within our island state. Mr Anjou highlighted the progress made so far – in 2008, Indigenous Australian’s had six times the rate of blindness compared to the general population. In 2015, this had been reduced to three times. As for 2020 Close the Gap goals, Australia is on track to eliminate trachoma – in 2008 the prevalence of active trachoma was 20% and it’s currently under 5%.
Julia Kwok highlighted the five year clinical trial results of the CooperVision MiSight 1 day lens – discussing efficacy and safety. Ms Kwok discussed the role of alternative myopia control methods and comparative research on low dose atropine, which shows that although it slows myopia progression, it doesn’t appear to impact axial length growth – which is where a majority of myopic risks come from. Her presentation highlighted the point that there is no safe level of myopia.
COLLABORATIVE CARE WITH OPHTHALMOLOGY
Sunday’s lecture series was provided by an impressive line-up of local ophthalmologists, including Dr Simran Mangat, Dr Zoe Gao and Dr Rob Abell, who discussed a wide variety of cases from oculoplastics, to glaucoma, anterior eye and cataracts. A very simple yet helpful pearl I took away from these speakers was when referring patients for cataract assessment, it is wise to initiate treatment using a non-preserved lubricant drop four times a day. This will maximise stability of tear film, aiding in accurate preoperation measurements, which aids in better post-operation outcomes.
National president of Optometry Australia, Darrell Baker, presented an update on Optometry Australia’s strategy for the future – Optometry 2040. He detailed key trends shaping the future of optometry, including the integration of evolving technologies, increasing scope of practice, big data driving decision making and changing social demographics. A point highlighted was the changing demographic of the optometric workforce. Our profession is becoming more female and younger, a change reflected by our current Optometry Tasmania board, which includes new members Tran Dang and Sib Payne.
TLC highlights the best of Tasmanian optometry – its humble size, beautiful location and wonderful talent showcased what our little island state is capable of. Within Tasmania we have approximately 100 optometrists who are collaborative and supportive. Sadly this year, Optometry Tasmania lost two close colleagues with the sad passing of Alison McGregor and Michael Knipe, whose contributions to optometry within our state were significant and will be truly missed within our communities.
Tori Halsey B.Vissci M.Optom studied optometry at Deakin University before returning to Tasmania to work in 2016. She is the early career optometrist cochair for Tasmania and has a role on the Optometry Tasmania Board. Ms Halsey practises in Hobart.