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New Glaucoma Guidelines

Posted in 'General' on April 10, 2013 by Stuart Macfarlane

Revised Guidelines for use of scheduled medicines, which increase care choices and improve access for patients with, or who are at high risk of developing, chronic glaucoma, were released today by the Optometry Board of Australia. 

Assessment for glaucoma is a cornerstone of optometry practice. The revisions to the Guidelines enable optometrists whose registration is endorsed for scheduled medicines to prescribe topical anti-glaucoma medicines for patients diagnosed with chronic glaucoma, or who are at high risk of developing the disease.

Optometrists whose registration is endorsed for scheduled medicines have undertaken accredited training in ocular therapeutics in order to meet the Board's Endorsement for scheduled medicines registration standard, and are required to meet higher continuing professional development standards than other optometrists.

Optometrists whose registration is endorsed for scheduled medicines still have the option of either referring patients with chronic glaucoma to an ophthalmologist for ongoing management or entering into a shared care arrangement – and many practitioners are likely to continue to do so where access to specialist care is not an issue.

The Chair of the Optometry Board of Australia Mr Colin Waldron said the revised Guidelines were an important step in increasing access to quality eye health care, particularly in areas where access to specialist case is an issue due to geographic location and/or social disadvantage.

"The education and training of optometrists has changed significantly over the past decade to include core prescribing competencies. The competency standards address differential diagnosis and treatment options including when not to prescribe and when to refer. Glaucoma management in collaboration with patients' other health care practitioners is at the centre of this training", said Mr Waldron.

"These revised Guidelines allow optometrists whose registration is endorsed for scheduled medicines to practice to the full scope of their training, which means that more people will be able to access glaucoma treatment and on-going care."

Macular Degeneration Awareness Week 26 May to 1 June 2013

Posted in 'General' on April 30, 2013 by Stuart Macfarlane
Australian of the Year says it's personal-
Let's Stop Australians going blind!

Championing Macular Degeneration Awareness Week, Ita Buttrose Australian of the Year 2013,
and Patron of the Macular Disease Foundation Australia, is leading the fight against macular

Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in Australia. One in seven
Australians over the age of 50 (1 million people) show some evidence of macular degeneration and
this will rise 70%, to 1.7 million, by 2030 in the absence of prevention and treatment measures.

Logan Central Optometrist Stuart Macfarlane is reminding people over 50 years to have their
eyes tested and macula checked in the lead up to Macular Degeneration Awareness Week.

For Ita Buttrose it's personal, "I was terribly upset when my late father told me he had macular
degeneration. As a journalist and author, dad always started the day reading a couple of
newspapers, suddenly this was no longer possible. I couldn't imagine not being able to read again.

'Macular degeneration is a devastating disease' said Ita.

Optometrist Stuart Macfarlane says, "There are some key ways we can fight this disease and the
first step is to have an eye test and macula check. Secondly, do not ignore any changes in vision.
Early detection can literally save your sight. Contact your optometrist immediately if you have any
sudden changes in your vision'

CEO of the Macular Disease Foundation Australia, Julie Heraghty said, "Many people would be
surprised to know the importance of diet and lifestyle in reducing the risk and progression of macular
degeneration. In fact, smoking causes blindness, so don't smoke. Eat dark green leafy vegetables,
fresh fruit, fish and take appropriate supplements if required'

Australians should also be aware of the symptoms of macular degeneration which can include one
or more of the following:
Difficulty with reading or any other activity with fine vision
  • Distortion where straight lines appear wavy or bent
  • Distinguishing faces becomes a problem
  • Dark patches or empty spaces appear in the centre of your vision

"Every Australian over 50 should have an Amsler grid in their home to test for symptoms of macular
degeneration. The grid should never replace an eye test and any sudden changes in vision noticed
while using an Amsler grid should be reported immediately to your eye care professional,” said

"Macular Degeneration Awareness Week is a great reminder to make an appointment to visit your
optometrist today and to contact the Macular Disease Foundation Australia on 1800 111 709 or visit for a free information kit and Amsler grid,” said Ms Buttrose.

About the Macular Disease Foundation Australia

The Macular Disease Foundation Australia (formerly the Macular Degeneration Foundation) is the
national charity committed to reducing the incidence and impact of macular disease in Australia.

In January 2013 the Macular Degeneration Foundation proudly changed its name to the Macular
Disease Foundation Australia to champion all macular diseases primarily macular degeneration,
along with diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion and macular dystrophies.

For further information on macular degeneration, phone the free call number 1800 111 709 or visit

About Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in Australia. All Australians
over the age of 50 years should have an eye test and make sure their macula is checked. The
macula is the central part of the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The
macula processes all central visual images and is responsible for the ability to drive, see colours
clearly, read and recognise faces. Macular degeneration causes damage to the macula, resulting in
central vision loss.

About Optometrists Association Australia
Optometrists Association Australia is the peak professional association for Australian optometrists.
Visit for further information.