The second Specsavers Dispensing Conference (SDC2) featured a heavy academic focus, with an illuminating presentation on blue light headlining the event.

SDC2 took place from 12 to 17 August 2018 in a roadshow format as a series of one-day conferences in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. In total, the events attracted almost 400 attendees, including non-Specsavers dispensers, who were invited to attend SDC for the first time.

In opening the event, Richard Couch, Head of Dispensing Advancement, listed some of Specsavers Australia & New Zealand’s achievements, as well as its future direction.

“We’ve equipped well over 1,000 team members with new skills as part of our continued focus upon the Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing,” Richard stated. “In the past 12 months, as part of our rollout of the OCT platform, we have conducted over 300,000 eye scans, and that number is set to increase to around four million in the next year or so as we continue to invest in technology, training and development, and product development. It is clear that professional dispensing plays a critical role in the mission to transform eye health, so it is imperative that we continue to stretch and develop ourselves as professionals in this space.”

The conference program included a number of plenary sessions, including a topical presentation on blue light presented by Emeritus Professor Stephen Dain from UNSW. Professor Dain presented evidence that indicated that, contrary to popular media portrayal, blue light is not inherently dangerous. Rather, it is the amount of exposure to blue light that needs to be considered and which will determine the level of threat. He also offered evidence-based information and recommendations that dispensers could convey to their patients on blue light.

Delegates enjoyed highly interactive workshops with special international guests Alicia Thompson and Miranda Richardson from the UK’s Association of British Dispensing Opticians. Alicia discussed how facial features should be taken into account to enable the dispensing of appropriate and flattering frame styles, and walked the delegates through how to create a frame front template customised to an individual’s unique facial characteristics. Miranda presented a variety of spectacle prescriptions, ranging from basic to complex, and engaged in live case discussions with delegates to demonstrate areas that needed to be considered beyond a prescription’s numbers for an optimal dispense.

Professor Joanne Wood from the School of Optometry and Vision Science at QUT, representing Carl Zeiss Vision, also held a detailed lecture on how eye diseases can impact driving. She presented interesting findings from a number of research studies on the relationship between driving and vision, and responded to questions about licensing and regulatory requirements.

In addition to the plenary sessions, delegates were given an opportunity to select from a number of presentation streams depending on their areas of interest and dispensing skill level. These included a lecture on how to facilitate the best training journey for optical dispensing students, presented by the Australasian College of Optical Dispensing’s James Gibbins; a workshop on how to apply and utilise ISO tolerances to improve dispensing outcomes, conducted by RMIT’s Timothy Haigh; and a discussion of certified vs compliant prescription safety eyewear, facilitated by Trent McInerney of Rx Safety.

Dr Vincent Nguyen from the University of Technology, Sydney also shared his experiences and knowledge of vision rehabilitation and how dispensers could assist those with low vision, and Dr Lewis Williams from the International Association of Contact Lens Educators presented an overview of how contact lenses were developed, current technology and how to deal with a range of contact lens issues that might arise.

The event concluded with drinks and canapés, giving attendees the opportunity to network with the speakers as well as other optical dispensers and students.

Steve O’Leary, Director of Product and Dispensing Advancement, said, “In an unregulated market, it is encouraging to see Australia’s optical dispensing professionals demonstrating a strong interest in advancing their knowledge, and proactively working towards developing their skills to provide increasingly better service for customers. Specsavers is committed to supporting and furthering this interest through the delivery of high-quality professional development opportunities for optical dispensers.”