To celebrate the diversity of our teaching, research and professional staff and the undergraduate and postgraduate students at SOVS, for the first time, co-convenors of the Alumni events, from the clinical and research domains, were appointed (Dr Minh Phan and Associate Professor Nicole Carnt).   

Dr Minh Phan is a Postdoctoral Research Scientist working with preclinical models for dry eye study (2D and 3D tissue culture models) and patients with dry eye disease. She is an Early Career Researcher (0-8yrs post doc). Associate Professor Nicole Carnt is an optometrist and mid-career researcher with a genetic epidemiology program on contact lens infections, encompassing research students from Nepal, India and Saudi Arabia. Her research in the UK has given her a unique patient centered research perspective combined with laboratory studies.  

In April 2021, we were delighted to present, our first online Alumni event on – Evidence based care of the paediatric patient in Australia. This topic aligns with our strong commitment to evidenced based care, led by Associate Professor Isabelle Jalbert in our school and the growing Public Health and Health Systems Research stream led by Head of School Professor Lisa Keay.  The expertise in the UNSW Optometry Clinic and contributions from a multidisciplinary panel of clinicians, meant it was a big session but hugely successful. 

We were excited to have four distinguished keynote speakers across multiple disciplines: Associate Professor Ann Webber, a primary care Optometrist with special interest in paediatrics, Associate Professor Chyrisse Heine a Speech Pathologist and Audiologist, Ms Danielle Morgan, Deputy Head of Orthoptics at Sydney Eye Hospital and Professor Parth Shah, a Sydney Ophthalmologist with a passion for strabismus surgery and paediatric care. The evening also included a panel discussion led by UNSW Staff Optometrist Paediatric Lead Ms Amanda Lea and a Q&A session where there was an opportunity to ask questions of our presenters. 

As we know, care of the paediatric population is a challenging area of optometric practise due to a number of factors. Specialised techniques for assessment, designing and evaluating management plans are part of this challenge. Managing parent and carer expectations adds another area of complexity. Knowing when and how to escalate the patient to ophthalmological care is key. An area of practise not always considered is inter-disciplinary care.  A series of pre planning meetings ensured views were presented in a balanced and insightful manner.  

We had over 200 registrants, mostly registered optometrists, and included current and former vision science students, masters and doctorate scientists and clinicians as well as professional staff. All presenters and audience were offsite, and we used the UNSW Media Studios to deliver the panel and Q&A session, through a Zoom Webinar. The edited recording was available for three months for registrants on the SOVS YouTube channel. 

Our second Alumni event for 2021 was planned to be on ocular surface disease - a major strength of SOVS. However, COVID-19 got in the way and our efforts were diverted to ensure we graduated our optometry and vision science students with as much hands on practice as possible in the latter part of 2021.   

We did miss drinks, snacks and socialising in the SOVS Optometry Clinic and so will be planning our next event in 2022 as a hybrid event. We hope to see you there! Stay tuned for 2022! 

Associate Professor Nicole Carnt
Optometry Alumni Liaison 

Dr Minh Phan
Vision Science Alumni Liaison 

Previous alumni events

  • During 2020 and with the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, event organisers embraced the virtual world and moved from face-to-face to online conferences, as did all continuing professional development (CPD). 

    We are lucky enough here at the School to have a large number of our academics give back to the profession by helping out with CPD.

    Our academic staff delivered 18 presentations and authored eight CPD articles.  Topics ranged from aged macular degeneration, collaborative care and artificial intelligence (Dr Angelica Ly), Glaucoma and clinical case series (Dr Jack Phu), ocular therapeutics (Dr Alex Hui), Dry Eye (A/Professor Maria Markoulli) and microbial keratitis and Optometry in COVID19 Pandemic (Dr Nicole Carnt) and colour vision (Professor Michael Kalloniatis).

    We are grateful for these contributions which highlight the diversity and breadth of expertise and the world class research that we are undertaking here at the School of Optometry and Vision Science.

    January 2020

     

    Dr Angelica Ly

    Written

    Mivision Journal

    Topic: AI in the Eye, Nam J, Ly A and Nivision-Smith L

    Mivision

    February 2020

     

    Dr Angelica Ly

    Presentation

    Bright Eyes Cataract Update

    Topic: Referral options for cataract surgery

    Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the ACI Ophthalmology Network

    March 2020

     

    Dr Jack Phu

    Presentation

    Super Sunday     

    Topic: The Glaucoma Red Flag Showdown          

    Optometry NSW/ACT 

    Dr Angelica Ly

    Presentation

    Macular Disease Foundation Australia Research Update

    Topic: Game changers in AMD

    Macular Disease Foundation

    Dr Angelica Ly

    Presentation

    New Graduate Survive and Thrive Event
    Topic: Optometry outside the consulting room

    Optometry NSW/ACT and UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science

    Dr Angelica Ly

    Written

    Guest Journal Editor

    Topic: Editorial, Ly A

    Pharma Journal

    Dr Alex Hui

    Presentation

    WAVE@Home

    Topic 1: Antibiotic Selection in Infection Management

    Topic 2: Oral Antibiotics and Antivirals in Eye Care

    Topic 3: Pain Management for Optometrists

    Optometry Australia

    April 2020

     

    Dr Jack Phu

    Presentation

    2020 Australian Vision Convention 

    Topic 1: The optometrist’s guide to angle closure spectrum disease 

    Topic 2: Does this patient have glaucoma? Critical appraisal of clinical information 

    Optometry Queensland/NT 

     

    Dr Jack Phu

    Presentation

    Student Online Clinical Case Education Program  

    Topic: The Glaucoma Red Flag Showdown 

    Optometry NSW/ACT 

    Dr Nicole Carnt

    Written

    Luxottica Magazine 

    Topic: Managing Optometry Through SARS-CoV-2 and Beyond (recommissioned for 2021)

    Luxottica

    A/Professor Maria Markoulli

    Presentation

    Alcon Webinar

    Topic: Dry Eye Disease

    Alcon

    A/Professor Maria Markoulli

    Presentation

    Alcon Update

    Topic: Dry Eye Disease

    Alcon, Adelaide

    May 2020

     

    Dr Jack Phu

    Presentation

    Centre for Eye Health Webinar 

    Topic: Evidence-based management of angle closure glaucoma 

    Centre for Eye Health, UNSW Sydney

    Dr Angelica Ly

    Presentation

    Optometry Australia Online

    Topic: The future of optometry in AMD and how it can change the way your practise today

    Optometry Australia

    July 2020

     

    Dr Nicole Carnt

    Presentation

    AVC

    Topic: Management of Microbial Keratitis

    Optometry Association, Queensland

    Dr Angelica Ly

    Presentation

    Macular Disease Foundation Australia Webinar

    Topic: The role of the optometrist in AMD: your partner in eye care

    Macular Disease Foundation Australia

    Dr Angelica Ly

    Written

    Macular Disease Foundation Newsletter for Health Care Professionals

    Topic: Getting into the zone with OCT-angiography - Macular Disease Foundation

    Dr Alex Hui

    Presentation

    ACO Webinar Series

    Topic: Optometric Infection Management and Culture and Sensitivity Testing

    Australian College of Optometry

    Dr Alex Hui

    Presentation

    ECONA

    Topic: Oral Medications in Eye Care

    Early Career Optometry NSW/ACT Group

    August 2020

     

    Professor Michael Kalloniatis

    Presentation

    ACO CPD Seminar Series 4 Lecture 2

    Topic: Colour Vision: basic concepts and cutting-edge clinical techniques applied to clinical practice

    Australian College of Optometry

    September 2020

     

    Dr Nicole Carnt

    Written

    Mivision

    Topic: Social Media Marketing in Practice: Evidence for Success

    Mivision Journal

    Dr Angelica Ly

    Presentation

    Doctor of Optometry Student Conference

    Topic: Collaborative care: what is the future for optometry?

    University of Melbourne

    Dr Angelica Ly

    Written

    Pharma

    Topic: AMD Masterclass: FAQs about reticular pseudodrusen and AREDS supplements, Trinh M, Ly A. Pharma Journal

    October 2020

     

    Dr Angelica Ly

    Presentation

    Optometry Australia Webinar

    Topic: Integrating eye, brain and body: a new era of preventative optometry (co-presentation with M Yapp and J Tong)

    Optometry Australia

    November 2020

     

    Dr Nicole Carnt

    Written

    Mivision

    Topic: Contact Lens Wear: Non-Compliance and Infection

    Mivision Journal

     

    The School is regarded internationally for its strengths in contact lens, anterior segment, retina and vision science research. Staff members are internationally recognised as being at the forefront of contact lens research, including the development and commercialisation of research in this area. Find out more about our researchers and their area of expertise.

  • Alumni learn about initiatives to improve diabetes outcomes

    On the 18th September 2019, alumni warmly welcomed attendees and speakers, led the panel discussion for the evening and encouraged everyone to stay for supper to speak to our poster presenters. This evening highlighted that combating diabetes and its complications requires a whole life and multidisciplinary approach. Through this gathering, our alumni learned how many of our clinicians, community leaders and researchers are working together to achieve better care for patients with diabetes. Professor Lisa Keay welcomed all alumni to the evening and led a lively panel discussion.

    Our first keynote speaker was Professor Glen Maberly, senior staff specialist endocrinologist, who informed us about the Western Diabetes Initiative. This initiative calls for all levels of government, health and community services to work together to effect lasting change. Professor Maberley cited research that suggests that 17% of adults have diabetes and 30% have prediabetes, and these percentages increase by 1% every year on average. By targeting diet and increasing activity levels by identifying programs. The Western Diabetes Initiative’s plan is to energise all levels of government, the private sector, non-government organisations, universities, schools and health practitioners, to effect lasting change to prevent diabetes from developing, or to prevent secondary complications from developing through appropriate management. Primary prevention tasks are to improve food consumption, increase physical activity and build a healthy environment. For example, did you know that suburbs in Western Sydney regularly experience temperature highs that are 10 degrees higher than other parts of Sydney that may be cooled by sea breezes? This means that outdoor activity and exercise can be challenging so improving liveability through developing walkable and bicycle-friendly paths that is shaded by greenery is important, as well as identifying indoor programs that are easily accessed. Professor Maberly suggested that HbA1c testing as a screener test in all people may be a useful way to pick up pre-diabetes or diabetes in most of the undiagnosed population based on their finding of asymptomatic presentations to hospitals in Western Sydney for other reasons. Lifestyle coaching, community programs, supportive apps, community pharmacies, health pharmacies and community eye programs were also suggested as being essential for secondary development and management. Mr Joseph Nazarian explained that through his involvement in the Western Diabetes Initiatives, he worked to reduce waiting time for patients with diabetes to be seen by an eye care practitioner in his community through reducing some of the burden for eye examinations on the local hospitals. He reiterated how grateful patients are to be considered in this way.

    Associate Professor Gerald Liew provided the perspective of ophthalmology in managing diabetic eye disease. Through a series of interesting case studies, A/Prof. Liew demonstrated that diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathy may be treated using anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor medication injected into the globe to reduce the development of new, leaky blood vessels. There was still an important role for pan-retinal laser photocoagulation to reduce the oxygen demand of the retina, hence the need for new blood vessels. Laser photocoagulation may also be targeted at leaking blood vessels by sealing leakage. He also highlighted cases where patients did not return for follow up consultations until one eye had already developed severe diabetic retinopathy. This tied in well with Dr Amira Howari’s explanation about Keepsight, an eye check reminder programme for people with diabetes. Colleagues are encouraged to sign up to the programme (see https://www.keepsight.org.au/health_professional for more information)

    Next, Associate Professor Isabelle Jalbert explained that optometrists are providing appropriate care in more than 67% of patient encounters. Where optometrists could do better was in history-taking, particularly the need to ask for the duration of diabetes (as longer duration is correlated with higher ocular complication risk), adequacy of blood glucose control and the presence of high blood pressure. Physical examination of the iris for signs of diabetes was also often missed.  Optometrists thought barriers to appropriate care might be forgetting that diabetes is not only a posterior eye problem, and corporate pressure to get appointments down to 16 minutes or record cards which are not structured enough for this information to be recorded efficiently. The iCareTrack Study Group are working to address these issues to improve care for patients.

    The students, staff and associates of the Centre for Eye Health and the School also presented posters during the refreshment breaks about research and clinical work undertaken in this area. Three teams sought to understand pathological changes to the physiology of the eye and visual system in people with diabetes. Dr Markoulli, Dr Edward Lum, Dr Juno Kim, Professor Mark Willcox and Mr Shyam Tummanapalli reported on corneal nerve morphology and tear film substance P in diabetes and its reduction associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Dr Lakshmi Bodduluri, Professor Stephen Dain, Dr Mei Ying Boon and endocrinologists, Dr Shihab Hameed and Associate Professor Charles Verge, reported that children with type 1 diabetes, no diabetic retinopathy and poor blood glucose control, have poorer blue-yellow chromatic sensitivity and thicker foveal, full retinal and inner retinal thickness than age-matched controls. Colour sensitivity and thresholds were quantified using the UNSW SOVS Colour Vision Suite, which may be useful to monitor the severity of the visual deficit prior to the development of diabetic retinopathy. Two research teams were represented by, Mr Rajendra Gyawali (iCareTrack Study Group) and Ms Belinda Ford (team at Westmead hospital and the George Institute for Global Health) focussed on auditing the appropriateness of care and appropriateness of referral of patients with diabetes in Australia and Western Australia respectively.  The Centre for Eye Health explained the services of their Retina Clinic, which has no cost to the patient, where staff will take the time to explain findings to clinicians and patients, arrange ongoing follow up (including returning to the referring clinician) and the provision of detailed reports.

    Alumni also had the chance to catch up with friends, colleagues and staff during the evening.