In a reversal of the norm, several Specsavers stores in Australia and New Zealand have opened their doors to local ophthalmologists to provide them with a glimpse of optometric practice. As described in the reports below, these ‘engagement evenings’ have helped to establish new, and strengthen existing, professional relationships, and have encouraged greater collaboration and understanding between ophthalmic professionals.

Specsavers Hornby
In New Zealand, 14 local optometrists from across seven stores met at Specsavers Hornby for an evening of case discussions. Joining them was retinal specialist Dr Ainsley Morris, who provided an ophthalmologist’s perspective.

In addition to the cases that had been prepared for presentation at the event, discussions extended to cases the optometrists had seen earlier that day, including retinal macroaneurysm and wet age-related macular degeneration.

“I was also able to show Dr Morris through the store and explain the patient journey,” Optometry Partner Ian Russell added. “This was the first time she had been in a Specsavers store.”

Specsavers Shepparton and Benalla
Back in Australia, the Specsavers Shepparton and Benalla stores in Victoria held a combined case presentation evening, which included a visit from ophthalmologist Dr Andrew Atkins.

Both optometrists and retail team members attended the evening, and Shepparton Optometry Partner Chris Mouser noted that, for the latter, “it was an introduction to the side of optometry that happens in the small rooms behind closed doors”.

The cases – which included glaucoma, herpes simplex keratitis and cystoid macular oedema – were presented in the context of optometry. However, Dr Atkins provided additional clinical pearls to better align the attending optometrists’ referrals for cataracts, and offered insight into the medical management of herpetic disease with oral medication.

Specsavers Nowra Central
Optometry Partner Louise Winkler said the engagement evening held at her store in Nowra Central, New South Wales, offered the optometrists and store managers in attendance an opportunity to raise questions they would not normally have a chance to ask.

Guests socialised at Specsavers Warnbro Centre’s CPD evening prior to the case presentations

Visiting ophthalmologist Dr Smita Agarwal and her practice manager fielded queries on a broad range of topics – from dry eye management and multifocal intraocular lenses to how to manage emergency patients and the key elements to include in a referral letter.

The evening yielded many positive outcomes. Dr Agarwal invited the optometrists to spend time at her practice and contact her for advice on patients. “This is a bonus for us, particularly on weekends, as there are no ophthalmologists on call in Nowra,” Louise commented.

The ophthalmologist had also noticed the adoption of OCT at a number of Specsavers stores and expressed interest in potentially co-managing glaucoma patients with the Nowra Central team in future. “She offered to go over OCT report interpretation with us and provide tips on using the technology,” Louise said.

Specsavers Warnbro Centre
The Specsavers Warnbro Centre team in Western Australia welcomed ophthalmologist Dr Michael Wertheim as well as 10 optometrists from five neighbouring stores to join them for their CPD evening.

The night started out with guests socialising over refreshments supplied by sponsor Johnson & Johnson. This was followed by a brief presentation from company representative Stephanie Bahlar on Johnson & Johnson’s new Acuvue Vita contact lens.

The evening was structured to give each store the opportunity to present at least one case, with Coates disease, ocular ischaemic syndrome, and uveitis among the conditions explored. Dr Wertheim led discussions after each case, contributing his expertise.

“He gave us tips on management and conditions that he felt were still best referred to ophthalmology, and shared his treatment options for dry eyes and blepharitis,” Warnbro Centre Optometry Partner Satvinder Bansal said.

He added that all of the optometrists had been engaged, actively contributing to the post-case presentation discussions. “There was keen interest in doing similar events each quarter, with the possibility of holding workshops on corneal foreign body removal as well,” he said.

As previously reported, Specsavers Cannonvale in Queensland hosted a similar engagement evening with four local GPs, which was also said to be highly successful.

Comments from attendees

“I really enjoyed having the ophthalmologist [Dr Ainsley Morris] give us her perspective on how she diagnoses similar cases, as well as the insight she gave on how the public hospital clinics treat advanced diabetes.” – Specsavers Hornby event

“It was very informative, good to hear some different perspectives and approaches, and a good refresher.” – Specsavers Shepparton and Benalla joint event

“I feel more comfortable now in referring patients for a second opinion.” – Specsavers Nowra Central event

“I really enjoyed myself and thought it was a great format of presentations and feedback / interaction with Dr [Michael] Wertheim. I was looking forward to this more than a typical CPD night and would love to do it again.” – Specsavers Warnbro Centre event

Specsavers Hornby’s event was attended by 14 local optometrists from across seven stores