The University of Melbourne’s Mobile Learning Unit, in partnership with the Centre for Eye Research Australia, has developed a new, clinically-focused course that aims to ensure primary health providers have direct access to the latest research findings about age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and can use this new knowledge in their management of patients with AMD.
The AMD for Primary Eyecare Practitioners online course has been developed by Professor Robyn Guymer and Dr Lauren Ayton for optometrists, as well as general practitioners with a particular interest in eye care, orthoptists, ophthalmic nurses and ophthalmology trainees.
Dr Ayton and Prof Guymer, who was recently recognised as Australia’s leading researcher in ophthalmology, and #3 expert in AMD globally, assembled a world leading team of experts to prepare the course content, including Prof Erica Fletcher, Dr Zhichao Wu, A/Prof Laura Downie and Dr Carla Abbott.
“We are excited to develop this interactive communication channel, from the researchers directly to the practitioners,” said Dr. Ayton. “Researchers represent at conferences and write scientific papers, but that’s a slow process to disseminate our learnings. The idea with this online course is that we can provide new information in a timely manner to primary eye care practitioners so that they, and their patients, can gain the benefit as soon as possible.”
One of the highlights of the course is detailed education on how to interpret ocular imaging. Traditionally, when patients went to see an eye care practitioner, clinical observation of the back of the eye would have been the main way to monitor disease. With the developments of modern technology, there are now additional ways to observe and document these changes. With this in mind, the course discusses new imaging biomarkers from optical coherence tomography, near-infrared imaging and autofluorescence.
Professor Guymer said the key feature of the course is its truly translational relevance. It will bring a new understanding of the disease, gained through interpreting multimodal ocular images, to the day-to-day practise of clinicians.
“We want practitioners completing the course to take away a new understanding of the disease that will impact on their everyday interactions with patients with AMD,” said Professor Guymer, who is Deputy Director at the Centre for Eye Research Australia.
The course also covers information on risk factors for AMD that inform eye care practitioners on patient prognosis. New information on potential interventions for intermediate AMD, and pharmaceutical and cell therapies for late disease, are detailed.
Additionally, through the ability to provide updates to the course, it will be an efficient way to share new information about experimental and approved therapies that emerge in the future, such as gene therapy, stem cells and the developments of new drugs.
AMD for Primary Eyecare Practitioners is available through the Mobile Learning Unit. It contains 10 hours of eLearning, with 10 case studies and eight units of self-assessments. Due to its online learning form, this course can be completed anytime, anywhere at the learner’s own pace.