My name is Julie and I’m currently in the final year of my optometry degree at Flinders University. For the last 6 weeks, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to complete my placement at Innovative Eye Care Woodville, an industry-leading practice with state of the art technology and highly experienced practitioners. Prior to this placement, I have had limited exposure to certain specialised areas including orthokeratology, scleral lenses, dry eye, binocular vision and paediatrics; but now I feel much more confident in seeing these patients.
With the prevalence of myopia growing worldwide and more importantly the increased risk of visual impairment associated with higher degrees of myopia through pathological changes, a significant amount of research has been completed on ways to reduce the progression of myopia. Myopia control including orthokeratology and low dose atropine eye drops are recommended in patients of a certain age who demonstrate progression. These patients are generally monitored through refractive error changes and axial length, both requiring reliable and accurate measurement through proper techniques when taking scans. In terms of orthokeratology, it was interesting to see how experts order, assess the fit and change parameters accordingly. Not only is orthokeratology used in myopia control, it can also be used for hyperopia and may provide a multifocal effect in patients with presbyopia.
A range of conditions including keratoconus and corneal grafts cause an irregular corneal surface and hence, glasses are unable to allow the patient to achieve satisfactory vision. In these cases, customised RGP or scleral lenses are a better alternative. It was interesting to see how RGP and scleral lenses are designed and modified to allow for appropriate fit, comfort and vision. This process generally required taking additional scans with the lens on the eye, which I am now confident in doing.
Ocular surface condition such as dry eye can have a significant effect on the patient’s life. Comprehensive dry eye work ups were observed including non-invasive dry eye analysis. It was good to see discussions about IPL (intense pulse light) and Blephex as options for dry eye management, as this is not readily available in general optometric practices. I found it very beneficial in patient education when demonstrating anterior eye conditions with the use of photos, including showing patients the Demodex mites under the microscope. The use of ocular therapeutics was also observed on numerous occasions for various conditions.
In terms of binocular vision, it was fantastic to see that optometrists at this practice offer both glasses to reduce symptoms as well as vision training to improve the patient’s binocular status when indicated. Up to this day, I have had limited in-practice experience with vision training especially in children, so I found it enlightening to see patients return for vision training on multiple occasions and comparing the results every couple of weeks. It was also very interesting to learn about the use of tinted lenses for symptoms of pattern glare, as I have only read about it in my studies and not seen it in everyday practice.
Overall, it has been a true pleasure to complete my placement with the highly-trained team at Innovative Eye Care. It was fantastic to see an optometry practice thrive through providing comprehensive eye examinations and increasing their scope of practice. The vaste amount of knowledge I have gained during this placement will be applied to my future optometry career.