DARRELL BAKER – President, Optometry Australia – AT BLEPHAROSPASM AUSTRALIA INC. AGM 21 February 2020 – Perth, Western Australia
Darrell Baker is a local optometrist with two practices in Perth and is President of Optometry Australia, the controlling body for the training, qualifying and ongoing professional development of optometrists.
He was the Guest Speaker at our 2020 AGM and provided a fascinating insight into the current state of optometry in Australia and also gave us a glimpse into the future where we may be able to print our own glasses on our 3D printers.
Some highlights of his talk:
What is an optometrist?
Optometrist is a regulated term unlike the term optician which is now deprecated. In Australia this can be confusing. It is a term that originates in the United Kingdom, which differentiates Optometrists and Optical Dispensers as Prescribing Optician and Dispensing Optician. Because of the confusion, Australian legislation does not allow Optical Dispensers to call themselves Opticians, as it is too easily confused with an Optometrist.
An optometrist is required to undergo formal university training in a number of specialist medical areas. Some optometrists in Australia have trained in treating eye disease. Therapeutic Optometrists are able to treat most eye infections, inflammations, and glaucoma. They do not perform eye surgery.
This is a very familiar topic to most of us and Darrell detailed the symptoms:
- Irritated, stinging, or burning eyes
- Scratchy or gritty eyes
- Excess watering
- Blurred vision or eye fatigue
- Eye redness
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Light sensitivity
Darrell mentioned that some optometrists are now providing services such as Vision Therapy and Dry Eye treatments and that these are more likely to be independent optometrists rather than chains.
He then described the various treatments available which included:
Home remedies such as masks, drops and warm compresses.
Treatments carried out by optometrists such as therapy to open the glands in your lower eyelid if they have become blocked. It is conducted using special instruments that are non-sharp and safe. IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) is the most advanced dry eye treatment. It is not a laser and uses light in a very safe and scientifically tested manner to solve problems with the meibomian glands and other causes of dry eye.
Some people get great relief using glasses with the FL41 tint. One company supplying these lenses is CR Surfacing Laboratories. They have offices in Melbourne and Slama Optical Tasmania and Eingefasst Specialty Fitting in Western Australia are exclusive supply partners.
Optometry Australia holds monthly CPD (Continuing Professional Development) evenings. As our Chairman mentioned in his report Darrell is well aware of Blepharospasm having attended a professional development seminar many years ago when Dr Jeremy Raiter made a presentation and demonstrated injections.
As our educational efforts this year are being directed towards optometrists we are now working on repeating this event to provide optometrists with the information they need to recognize Blepharospasm so that those patients might be able to begin treatment sooner.