Specsavers Australia & New Zealand’s (ANZ) focus on outcome-led optometry has resulted in increased detection of glaucoma, it was revealed at the sixth Specsavers Clinical Conference (SCC6).

With delegate numbers increasing year on year, SCC returned to Melbourne in 2017 after four years on the road in Sydney and Brisbane. More than 600 delegates, including over 70 non-Specsavers optometrists and approximately 90 optometry students, converged at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre for one and a half days of clinical professional development from Saturday 2 to Sunday 3 September. A total of 32.5 Australian CPD points, as well as 7 NZ CD points and 2.75 general points, were on offer across the two days.

In his opening address for the main clinical conference, held on the Sunday, Specsavers ANZ Optometry Director Peter Larsen highlighted the impact that optometric self-reflection can have on patient outcomes. Referencing the benchmark reporting Specsavers began piloting last year, Peter revealed that early data on glaucoma referrals had shown an impact on detection rates.

He attributed this positive outcome to the optometrists who had used the clinical benchmark reports produced by Specsavers to reflect on how they practised, and then taken steps to improve their performance in order to effect change in patient outcomes.

Following the successful pilot, these reports will now be available to all Specsavers optometrists across Australia and New Zealand, and Peter said that through continued collaboration with RANZCO, he would soon be able to discuss and quantify how the network as a whole had reduced blindness across the two countries.

Peter Larsen

Peter’s speech preceded an engaging ophthalmology-led program of world-class speakers, with topics discussed including practical tips on comprehensive glaucoma care, an update on corneal disease, clinical pearls for the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy, advancements in the classification and treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and information on emerging technologies in optometric practice.

The clinical conference was complemented by an all-day exhibition, hosting stands from SCC6 Platinum Sponsors Acuvue, Device Technologies and Novartis, and Gold Sponsors Alcon, BOC Instruments, CooperVision, Hilco and Zeiss. Also represented at the exhibition were several universities’ optometry schools, Optometry Australia, Young Optometrists NSW/ACT and the state-based Early Career Optometrists groups, The Fred Hollows Foundation, the ACO and Oculo, along with various Specsavers Support Office teams. Glaucoma Australia completed the roster as a first-time exhibitor.

As in the previous two SCCs, a series of clinical education sessions were held on the Saturday afternoon prior to the conference proper. A record number of almost 500 delegates attended the half-day event to learn from three ophthalmologists how to interpret OCT images for glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and AMD.

Attendees also heard from international guest Dr Carl Glittenberg, Senior Clinical Advisor to Topcon Europe Medical and Senior Global Manager for Medical Affairs for Topcon. Dr Glittenberg travelled from the Netherlands to deliver a presentation on why OCT screening is the future of optometry on the Saturday, as well as a fascinating overview of the past, present and future of imaging technology in optometric diagnosis on the Sunday.

This was of particular interest, given Specsavers has selected the Topcon 3D OCT-1 Maestro from Device Technologies as its OCT machine of choice. The rollout of Topcon Maestros has commenced in Specsavers’ Australian stores, with more than 100 expected to be installed in Australian and New Zealand stores – accompanied by a bespoke training program – in the coming 12 months.

Following the Saturday program, delegates enjoyed drinks and canapes as they networked at Left Bank Melbourne as part of the traditional SCC Welcome Event.

SCC7 is pencilled into the calendar for 8-9 September 2018, and while the venue is still to be confirmed, it will likely take place again in Melbourne.

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