Generous donation to UNSW Optometry Clinic
[Pictured above, Kathleen Watt, Clinic Director and Tony Consentino, BOC Instruments]
The UNSW Optometry clinic, students and staff thank Tony Cosentino of BOC Instruments for his long and valued association with the UNSW Optometry Clinic. He supplied the first AO phoropter heads to the clinic in 1972 and has been supporting the school ever since. With almost 50 years’ experience in the industry he has seen a lot of developments in ophthalmic instruments.
Tony is keen to ensure that students have access to the technology of tomorrow whilst they are in the clinic. His continued commitment to future optometrists has been evident with loaning and continual upgrading of instruments. BOC Instruments supplied the clinic with an upgrade to the Tonoref III autorefractor, tonometer, keratometer and pachymeter.
In addition to all of the support we have already received, BOC Instruments has donated over $70,000 worth of equipment to the clinic. This very generous donation is highly appreciated as it will allow the clinic to continue to provide our students and patients with access to the latest diagnostic equipment available
Layal Naji blogs about optometry helping asylum-seekers
[Pictured above, Layal Naji at the Newtown Asylum Seeker Centre]
When I was first invited to practise at the provisional eye clinic at the Newtown Asylum Seeker Centre, I was elated that the efforts of myself and colleague/dear friend Homma Ebrahimi (through our honours research project) had culminated into a working pathway for Asylum Seekers with no access to Medicare to be able to have both comprehensive ocular examinations, and access to relevant goods such as spectacle correction or therapeutic eye drops.
But anticipation rarely mirrors experience; upon entering the facility, I was greeted by a middle-aged woman with blood red hair, styled with blunt bangs, and an edgy undercut. She was dressed in tartan pants tucked into knee-high socks, suspenders, and a beanie. Health Manager Kerry. My inner/repressed Avril Lavigne was screaming. I knew this place was going to be something.
After becoming so accustomed to automated procedures in corporate Optometry (à la autorefractor, NCT, automated phoropters, and retinal photography), working at ASC has brought me back to foundations and allowed me to re-examine my appreciation of the art of Optometry. Be it the gold standard of applanation tonometry, or the benefits of natural viewing posture with trial frame refraction (particularly relevant to patients who use eccentric directions of gaze), this clinic has also reminded me of the benefits of these foundational techniques that cannot always be obtained from automated contraptions. Keeping it real though, that is not to say that retinoscopy and refraction for a high astigmat with no method of focimetry besides ‘lens neutralisation’ is an art form that I look forward to partaking in! So if anyone has a spare focimeter to donate, it would be much appreciated! On that note, I would like to thank UNSW Optometry Clinic and the Essilor Vision Foundation for being so generous in donating their equipment and prescription spectacles respectively.
I have gotten to know the stories of each patient I see, and have learnt so much about how the patient’s circumstance and state of mind influences the approach we as clinicians should take with communication. For instance, I have a young patient who had fled 3 countries, and remained stateless** through it all. Never having a place to call home, never having given rights or living in a place where he is not a second class citizen imparted a severe distrust in institutions within him. Of course that would account for his fearful and distrustful stance upon first meeting me. It is our role as primary care givers to disarm that fear by getting to know the patient. And this goes beyond the traditional confines of optometry. Many would agree that our field can be one of the least confronting or invasive type of health care assessment, and in my experience here, I could see how I functioned as a portal for trust in the health care system. Said patient had poorly controlled diabetes and a complex related to insulin therapy, even though he terribly needed it. As a result, he has a cataract causing vision in his left eye to be best corrected to 6/48, no improvement with pinhole. It stemmed from the memory of his mother passing away while taking insulin medication (even though it wasn’t the cause of her passing). Through building rapport, (in this case as simple as bonding over how the pinhole worked!) I was able to open the dialogue on his diabetic management, and warm him to the idea of insulin therapy.
One fundamental lesson I have learnt is not to make assumptions about asylum seekers; I have seen the spectrum from patients who were too embarrassed to request free single vision spectacles, and another who presented to the ASC wanting breast augmentation surgery!
Through my work at the ASC, I have learnt how to communicate despite language barriers, and less predictably, got the opportunity to have an in-depth understanding of the patient, with access to blood work, medications taken, and emotional histories. My experience here has shown me the value in and encouraged me to pursue knowledge of the patient’s health status more formally, and also to be more patient. I was surprised to know that this kind of impact is universal across patients of all backgrounds; the practice I work at formally is in an affluent area, and one day I detected an epiretinal membrane with vitreo-macular traction in a patient on routine review. She was from China, visiting her daughter on holiday. She came back into the practice a few months later for a clinical review, and I was met with the predictable reaction of front of house asking if it could be a ‘quick one’. Upon probing I found that because of her diagnosis here, she developed a confidence in the surgeries available in Australia, and so arranged for a second trip back here just for the operation. Subsequent to the membrane removal, the patient developed a cataract, and wanted counselling on its cause and prognosis, because she had felt so much trust from her first consultation with me. I was thankful for my experience with ASC because it allowed me to have the patience and understanding that really embodies the value of ‘quality and continuity of care’ as opposed to being overly-fixated on convertible tests… patients are people too!
Aside from my clinical life, having such an active role at the ASC has helped me in my personal life and pulled me out of an inner slump and into an active mindset. It continues to be both a challenging and rewarding experience.
The school welcomed students from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Optometry and Vision Science and the Institut Superieur D’Optique in France in July this year. Students from Hong Kong were on a four week placement while the students from France spent six weeks in the clinic. It was fascinating to learn from the students how eye care is delivered in different parts of the world and to compare their training. The feedback we received from the students was overwhelmingly positive. The clinic patients were also impressed. In addition to all the benefits of having international guest, hosting students on placement has given our students the opportunity to attend international placements on exchange.