The national rollout of the Ophthalmologist Local Education and Engagement Program (OLEEP) has commenced, with the first three official sessions being held in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

OLEEP is a collaboration between RANZCO and Specsavers and connects groups of Specsavers optometrists with local RANZCO ophthalmologists for a series of ophthalmologist-led education and professional development events. Rather than one-off CPD evenings, the focus of the OLEEP sessions is on ongoing, patient outcome- and feedback-based education. Each session involves reflection on both individual and group changes in referral patterns and patient outcomes using Specsavers’ professional benchmark summaries. This reflection guides the development focus of future OLEEP sessions, ensuring that the education provided is specifically targeted to the participating optometrists’ needs.

Following the success of the pilot cohort, the OLEEP program is now being rolled out across the Specsavers Australia & New Zealand store network, with the first non-pilot session being held on 14 May at Eastside Eye Specialist Care in Queensland. Ophthalmologist Dr Joshua Hann discussed appropriate diagnosis of glaucoma, and referral and co-management within the RANZCO pathways.

“We were very lucky to have Dr Joshua Hann do a presentation on glaucoma for us,” said Specsavers Victoria Point Optometry Partner Simone Young, who attended the OLEEP event. “He focussed on some of the signs that he looks for in glaucoma, what signs can be more concerning than others, and his management of glaucoma patients and suspects. By the end of the evening, everyone felt more informed and we’d enhanced the referral relationship between our local Specsavers stores and Dr Hann.”

The following night, on 15 May, Sydney Eye Surgeons in NSW hosted an OLEEP session, with attending Specsavers optometrists hearing from four ophthalmologists. Dr Mitchell Lawlor and Dr John Leaney discussed glaucoma cases and management, while Dr Brighu Swamy and Dr Peter Heydon spoke about diabetic retinopathy diagnosis and referrals.

The first WA OLEEP session was held on 22 May at Northern Eye Surgeons, with the evening also focussed on glaucoma. Dr Joshua Yuen discussed best-practice use of OCT in glaucoma diagnosis, and provided an update on the medical and surgical management of the condition.

These three sessions represent the start of the official OLEEP program, with another 50 sites currently in planning. The pilot cohort are also continuing their positive progress, with a consistent increase in referrals seen from the practices who attended the pilot OLEEP event. Three months after the pilot events, total referrals for the participating stores have increased from 5% to 6.3% of all patients, with glaucoma referrals increasing from 1.1% to 1.5% of all patients.

Dr Tu Tran, Ophthalmologist for Eyes First in Melbourne, the ophthalmology clinic that hosted the pilot OLEEP event, said, “We are proud to be involved with Specsavers’ local optometry education program. There has been very positive feedback [from the pilot cohort] on the format of the program, which included structured teaching and case discussions focussed on glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. The end result is greater consistency of referrals, clearer communication pathways and quality collaborative care.”

Specsavers Optometry Development Consultant Dr Joseph Paul, PhD, encouraged RANZCO ophthalmologists and Specsavers stores to get in touch by emailing for more information on how to join the program.

“We’re particularly interested in hearing from store partners based in regional areas who might be interested in helping to organise OLEEP events,” he said. “Not only is OLEEP an opportunity to engage in professional development tailored to your clinical team’s specific needs – it’s also an effective way to strengthen relationships between your optometrists and local ophthalmologists and improve patient care.”