Optometry offers a continuous journey of professional development, with diagnostic and management techniques and technology constantly advancing. Here, Spectrum interviews two optometrists who are pursuing interest areas that extend a typical clinical practice.

Optometrist: Cleven Cui, Optometry Director at Specsavers Camberwell, VIC
Interest area: Paediatric optometry

When did you develop an interest in this area?
My interest in paediatric optometry first developed during university and, initially, it was the binocular vision aspect in this area that I thought was well taught. It appealed to me as it was presented in a mechanical way that I could apply to troubleshoot any problems.

How did you develop your skills in this area?
I was lucky to have had wide clinical exposure to a broad range of patients both at university and at various Specsavers stores. The volume of patients you see with Specsavers is great for clinical exposure to different situations and conditions. The Specsavers Graduate Program and Grand Rounds events also offered great opportunities to discuss various cases with my peers. This piqued my interest further and subsequently, I completed further study towards a certificate in ‘Management of Paediatric Patients’. This was in the form of online correspondence through the University of Melbourne.

How does this interest area fit into day-to-day practice?
It has expanded our clinics to a younger patient base. This allows us to build patient and customer loyalty from a young age and quite often brings in the whole family. I can also take internal referrals to ensure our little patients are getting the best care they require.

What do you enjoy most about exploring this area?
It gives me great confidence in dealing with the little ones and their parents. For me, it’s a matter of being good at my job and having the ability to inspire confidence in your clinical skills. It is particularly rewarding to see a management plan you put in place take effect and potentially change a child’s course in life because they can see, and see comfortably.

I’d recommend other optometrists interested in this area to go for it. There are plenty of courses available and most can be completed online. It’s incredibly valuable to a growing business to be able to cater to a wider audience, and your patients will be loyal to you for years to come.

Leila Alibasic

Optometrist: Leila Alibasic, Optometrist at Specsavers Deer Park, VIC
Interest area: Myopia control

When did you develop an interest in this area?
Early into my career, I was confronted with a significant number of kids with considerable myopia progression. While it interested me, I was also less confident in this area of optometry, so I decided I needed to do something to address this. When selecting a topic for my Year Two Project as part of the Specsavers Graduate Program, it was a no-brainer for me, and a perfect opportunity.

How did you develop your skills in this area?
It was a matter of doing research and applying it, and refining things along the way. As a starting point, I enrolled into the Brien Holden Vision Institute’s (BHVI) online myopia control course. This gave me some initial direction. I also utilised online resources, including Kate Gifford’s Clinical Myopia Profile hand-out and the BHVI’s Myopia Calculator. These were excellent tools, not only for my personal education but also for communicating with patients and parents. The Myopia Profile Facebook forum also gave me insight into other optometrists’ patient cases, methods and opinions.

The Year Two Project was a great way to explore this area further as it pushed us as graduates to think outside the box of everyday practice and better ourselves in a chosen area. The CPD allowance in my graduate contract additionally gave me the freedom to enrol in relevant courses.

How does this interest area fit into day-to-day practice?
My focus has been on low-dose atropine therapy and multifocal soft contact lenses, which can easily be incorporated into a busy practice. It’s not time consuming and no special equipment is required. The initial consult may require some extra discussion and explanation, but patient information hand-outs and online resources can aid with time management.

The support of my mentor and colleagues has also been great. Once I told them of my interest in this area, they all got on board. We shared knowledge and cases so that we could co-manage patients across the practice. I think this has enriched our clinical culture at Specsavers Deer Park.

What do you enjoy most about exploring this area?
It’s early days so I haven’t witnessed any results just yet, but I enjoy my newfound understanding in this area, and also recognise that I still have gaps in my knowledge that I’m addressing along the way.

What’s rewarding is that parents appreciate when you put the time and effort in to go beyond a standard eye test. Perhaps it empowers them to feel something can be done to help slow their child’s myopia progression.

Pursuing an interest area can be daunting but definitely rewarding. The lessons you learn from actively treating someone is more valuable than reading it in a book, journal or forum. In a large store network, pursuing an interest area is also a good way to make your practice stand out.