At Optos, we believe equality should be encouraged each and every day.

As we continue to celebrate International Women’s Day at Optos, we’re shining a spotlight on women in business who are making a difference and paving the way for future female leaders within the health industry.

At Optos, we believe equality should be encouraged each and every day. Following on from March 8, we caught up with two of our successful female customers, Dr Shanel Sharma of Eye & Laser Surgeons in New South Wales, Australia and Sally Doyle at Fitzroy North Eye Care in Victoria Australia, who continue to empower others both within and outside their workplace.

Dr Shanel Sharma, Eye & Laser Surgeons
Dr Shanel Sharma, Eye & Laser Surgeons

Dr Sharma undertook Medicine at The University of New South Wales Australia and completed her Ophthalmology speciality training at Prince of Wales Hospital and Sydney Children’s Hospital. She then held the prestigious Professorial Senior Registrar position at Sydney Eye Hospital in 2006. Shanel was awarded her Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology in 2007 FRANZCO. Dr Sharma undertook Postgraduate fellowships in Strabismus at the Western Eye Hospital in London as well as a Paediatric and Strabismus Fellowship at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, the largest specialist Eye hospital in Europe.

“For me, #EachforEqual recognises that for every woman the choices are different, but whichever path you take, as long as you are true to yourself is an equal path.”

Dr Shanel Sharma, Eye & Laser Surgeons, MD, BSc (Med), MBBS, FRANZCO

Why did you choose ophthalmology as a career?

I always wanted to be a surgeon. When I was a medical student, I saw an elderly lady who was dying with leukaemia. She was crying with joy after she had seen her grandson for the first time since she had her cataracts removed. She made the comment that this was the greatest gift she could have been given as it had given her quality of life and she was OK with dying now. It made me realise I wanted to do ophthalmology as I would get personal joy from giving people quality of life. I also realised after sustaining an eye injury as an intern how much I valued my sight and wanted to help others retain or regain theirs.

What has your experience been like working as a woman in ophthalmology? What challenges have you faced?

I have had a wonderful career so far in ophthalmology and am so grateful for it. Every day I have the joy of knowing I have helped someone regain or retain their sight. The amazement that patients have of the gift we are able to give them, and the joy we bring others gives me a sense of personal fulfilment every day.

The greatest challenges I have faced have been personal ones. For me the juggle between my career and balancing my commitment to my children has at times been rather challenging. However, with the amazing support of my family and friends, I have been able to achieve some level of success.

On one occasion, a colleague asked me to stay back and urgently see a patient she was referring. To enable me to do so, this colleague picked up my kids from school. It is this amazing support that women have for each other that lets us all succeed.

I am currently in the midst of a startup, Beamers with colleague Dr Alina Zeldovich. We have designed and produced protective sunglasses to protect the eyes of young children at the time of their life when they have the least natural protective mechanisms. This project came out of the World Society of Paediatric Ophthalmology meeting in 2015, has been a new and exciting challenge. Adding this and an MBA at UNSW AGSM to the mix of family life with a young family and working in private practices in Bondi Junction and Miranda has definitely been part of the challenge I face, and thrive on.

What advice would you give to new female graduates starting out in ophthalmology?

The best advice I would give young graduates starting in Ophthalmology is to reflect on what they really want in life. With this in mind pursue the opportunities that allow you to fulfil your goals. Don’t let other people tell you what is important in your life – as only you will know what will give you happiness.

What or who is your biggest influence and why?

My biggest influence in my life has been my parents. My parents are both doctors, and my mother has been a role model for me. I have never felt neglected in my life, despite my mother’s dedication to her work.

I realised that despite my mother at times not being present for every activity I undertook as a child, I turned out OK. Hence, it has given me the security knowing, that for me, motherhood is a juggle, but one where I can still be good at both. I also have had amazing support from my husband who has shared the parenting and our clinical practice equally with me. My family have supported me incredibly and always been a sounding board throughout my life and career.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual, what does that mean to you?

For me, each for equal recognises that for every woman the choices are different, but whichever path you take, as long as you are true to yourself is an equal path.

Sally Doyle, Optometrist, Fitzroy North Eye Care
Sally Doyle, Optometrist, Fitzroy North Eye Care

Sally Doyle is an Optometrist at Fitzroy North Eye Care in Victoria Australia and completed her Optometry Degree at Melbourne University in 1990. Sally was one of the first optometrists in Victoria Australia to complete Therapeutics Training and has also done further study in Low Vision, Children’s Vision and Behavioural Optometry. Sally enjoys consulting in all areas of optometry and has served on the Optometrists Registration Board of Victoria for 9 years and on the Council of the Optometrists Association, Victorian Division for 5 years.

“#Eachforequal to me means we are all just as important as each other; we all have something to contribute, have something to learn and we have a way in which we can assist others to learn”.

Sally Doyle, OD, BSc(Optom) FACO, FACBO

Why did you choose optometry as a career?

I wanted to work with people and was interested in Science. Optometry has fitted this perfectly which is why I am still in the same profession nearly 30 years later. I love that I can keep learning and continue to provide a better service to my patients.

What has your experience been like working as a woman in optometry? What challenges have you faced?

My experience has been very positive and extremely rewarding. I have met many amazing individuals from whom I have learned, any continue to learn so much. I also learn so much from all the patients I see. They assist me in my journey of knowledge acquisition.

In all aspects of life we come across people who have different values and beliefs.  Being female we encounter some who perhaps do not believe in equality and this is something that I have learned to stand up to over the years and has made me much more aware of treating all individuals as equals on all levels. Juggling children, career and running my own practice has been challenging but extremely rewarding. My children have become more resilient and independent and hopefully I am a good role model to my own daughters. It is exciting to see that my children’s generation are much more aware of treating all people equally.

What advice would you give to new female graduates starting out in optometry?

Optometry is a great career and can easily be combined with raising a family and working part time. Watching my own children develop has taught me a lot about how vision develops. There is so much to continue learning and so many ways that we can improve how we treat our patients and the service we provide. I am currently enjoying my journey into neuro optometry and how we can help those with concussion and brain injury.
For any new graduate, I would recommend to continue learning!

What or who is your biggest influence and why?

My strong female friends form all aspects of my life are my great role models and influencers’.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual, what does that mean to you?

#Eachforequal to me means we are all just as important as each other; we all have something to contribute, have something to learn and we have a way in which we can assist others to learn.

Low Vision: Raising Awareness About Visual Impairment

During Low Vision Awareness Month we all have the opportunity to raise awareness about visual impairment and rehabilitation for those who are living with low vision.

What is Low Vision?

Low vision is the term used to describe significant visual impairment that can’t be corrected fully with glasses, contact lenses, medication, or eye surgery, it includes:

  • Loss of best-corrected visual acuity to worse than 20/70 in the better eye.
  • Significant visual field loss. Tunnel vision (lack of vision in the periphery) and blind spots are examples of visual field loss.
  • Legal blindness. In the United States, legal blindness typically is defined as visual acuity of 20/200 or worse (in the better eye, with the best possible vision correction in place) or a field of view (visual field) that is constricted to 20 degrees or less.

Disability statistics from the 2014 American Community Survey show that 2.3 percent of individuals ages 16 and over have a visual disability or low vision.

The following are the definitions of visual acuity, according to the World Health Organization. These ratings are for vision in the better eye with the best possible prescription corrective lens:

  • 20/30 to 20/60: Mild vision loss, but near-normal vision
  • 20/70 to 20/160: Moderate low vision
  • 20/200 to 20/400: Severe low vision
  • 20/500 to 20/1,000: Profound visual impairment
  • Less than 20/1,000: Near-total blindness
  • No light perception whatsoever: Total blindness

What Causes Low Vision?

Many eye diseases and conditions can cause low vision, such as:

optomap image exhibiting glaucoma
optomap fa image exhibiting both Wet AMD and Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

Depending on the cause of low vision, there may be medications or surgical alternatives that can help slow disease progression in order to assist in providing as much vision, for as long as possible. Those who think they may have a vision impairment that interferes with their ability to perform everyday activities should see an eye care professional for a comprehensive eye exam. If your eyecare professional finds that you have vision loss that cannot be corrected adequately with standard eyewear, medical treatment or surgery, they can assist you with your next steps.

To find a provider who uses optomap technology in order to assist their patients in detecting and managing low vision, please visit our website.

Be AMD Aware and Take Control of Your Eye Health

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults over age 50 and it affects about 2.1 million people in the US. Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to preventing vision loss. AMD is a degenerative disease that happens when part of the retina called the macula, is damaged. The macula is the part of the eye that delivers sharp, central vision needed to see objects straight ahead. Over time, the loss of central vision can interfere with everyday activities, such as the ability to drive, read, and see faces clearly.

During AMD Awareness Month in February, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is reminding people that even though there is not currently a cure for AMD, there are a number of things you can do to slow its effects and prevent blindness, early detection being a critical first step. Treatments for macular degeneration depend on whether the disease is in its early-stage, dry form or in the more advanced, wet form that can lead to serious vision loss.

What is AMD?
– AMD is a common eye condition and a leading cause of blindness in those 50 and older.  Aging can cause the macula to slowly degenerate and reduce central vision.
– AMD often advances so slowly that vision loss does not occur for many years and traces of the disease can go unnoticed.  In others, the disease may progress faster and lead to vision loss in one or both eyes.  Over time, objects in vision may not appear as bright as they once were and a blurred area in vision is common, further leading to blank spots in vision.
-AMD ultimately results in a loss of central vision that can interfere with simple everyday activities.

Dry Vs Wet AMD
Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula.  These new blood vessels tend to be very fragile and often leak blood and fluid. The blood and fluid raise the macula from its normal place at the back of the eye. Damage to the macula occurs rapidly. With wet AMD, loss of central vision can occur quickly. Wet AMD is considered to be advanced AMD and is more severe than the dry form.

Dry AMD occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye. As dry AMD gets worse, you may see a blurred spot in the center of your vision. Over time, as less of the macula functions, central vision in the affected eye can be lost gradually.

The most common symptom of dry AMD is slightly blurred vision. You may have difficulty recognizing faces and may need more light for reading and other tasks. Dry AMD generally affects both eyes, but vision can be lost in one eye while the other eye seems unaffected.

One of the most common early signs of dry AMD is drusen. Drusen are yellow deposits under the retina. They often are found in people over age 60. Your eye care professional can detect drusen during a comprehensive eye exam.

Steps to Take Control of Your Eye Health

Regular comprehensive eye exams. AMD often has no symptoms prior to onset, so getting regular exams is critical to diagnosing and treating eye disease in its early stages.

Quit smoking. Numerous studies show smoking increases the risk of developing AMD, and the speed at which it progresses. Smokers are twice as likely to develop macular degeneration compared with a nonsmoker.

Eat a well-balanced diet. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-packed foods, such as salmon and nuts, may reduce the risk of AMD.

Take the right kind of vitamins. Vitamins may delay the progression of advanced AMD and help people keep their vision longer if they have intermediate AMD or advanced AMD in one eye.

Exercise regularly. Exercising three times a week can reduce the risk of developing wet AMD by 70 percent. Studies also show that physical activity may lower the odds of both early and late-stage AMD.

Monitor your sight with an Amsler Grid. This simple routine takes less than one minute and can help people with AMD save more of their vision. Using this grid is essential to finding any vision changes that are not obvious, so you can report them to your eye care professional.

AMD Detection
AMD is usually detected during a comprehensive eye exam. During an eye exam, you may be asked to look at an Amsler grid. The pattern of the grid resembles a checkerboard. You will cover one eye and stare at a black dot in the center of the grid. While staring at the dot, you may notice that the straight lines in the pattern appear wavy. You may notice that some of the lines are missing. These may be signs of AMD.

If your eye care professional believes you need treatment for wet AMD, he or she may suggest a fluorescein angiogram. In this test, a special dye is injected, and pictures are taken as the dye passes through the blood vessels in your retina. The test allows your eye care professional to identify any leaking blood vessels and recommend treatment.

Clinical Summary Sheet – Peripheral changes found in 97% of Patients with AMD

Peripheral Retinal Changes Associated with Age-Related Macular Degeneration
The 12-year follow-up of a study known as the Reykjavik Eye Study evaluated subjects with optomap color and autofluorescence imaging and found that 67% of subjects in the study had peripheral AMD-like changes. Additionally, a subsequent study, knowns as the OPERA (Optos Peripheral RetinA) study found that peripheral retinal changes were more prevalent in eyes with AMD than in those without. Drusen were evident in the majority of the eye with AMD in both the mid and far periphery. These studies go to show that AMD may be more than a “macular” condition but one that involves the entire retina. Other research also shows that optomap UWF icg captured significant peripheral changes in 80% of AMD patients. These studies all contribute to the benefits of ultra-widefield imaging in the diagnosis and management of AMD. Future longitudinal studies of peripheral changes in AMD and their impact on visual function may also contribute to further understanding of the disease. Click here for more information regarding these studies or visit our website to learn more about optomap and how it helps eyecare professionals to manage eye disease.

Set Your Sights on Glaucoma Awareness

Approximately 120,000 Americans have gone blind from glaucoma, accounting for 9-12% of all cases of blindness. January has been named National Glaucoma Awareness Month as an important time to spread knowledge of the sight-stealing disease. Typically starting in the periphery, glaucoma has no onset symptoms and once vision has been lost, it will not return.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that progress gradually, stealing sight, without showing symptoms. The word ‘glaucoma’ is actually an umbrella term for a group of eye diseases that damage the delicate fibers that run from your eye to your optic nerve, which is the nerve that carries information about the images your eye sees to your brain. Damage is often the result of high fluid pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma can affect people of all ages but is most prevalent in middle-aged adults and the elderly. While there is no cure, surgery or medication can slow its effects and help to prevent further vision loss.

Types of Glaucoma

There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), and angle-closure glaucoma. These are marked by an increase of intraocular pressure (IOP) or pressure inside the eye. When optic nerve damage has occurred despite a normal IOP, this is called “normal tension” glaucoma. Secondary glaucoma refers to any case in which another disease causes or contributes to increased eye pressure, resulting in optic nerve damage and vision loss.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world and as previously stated, the most common form exhibits virtually no symptoms. Peripheral vision is often the first to go but is often unnoticed which is why glaucoma in many cases goes undetected. The best way to detect, prevent, treat and protect vision from glaucoma is routine, comprehensive eye exams. It is also important to know who is at risk of developing glaucoma in order to adequately prepare. Those at higher risk include people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent. Other high-risk groups include people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted. 

CSS – optomap Shows Equivalence for Glaucoma Assessment

Results from published clinical studies suggest that optomap may play an essential role in glaucoma management.  optomap provides details needed for specialty exams, while simultaneously delivering an integrated view to the eye.

optomap enables eyecare professionals to discover, diagnose, document and treat ocular pathology that may first present in the periphery, such as glaucoma. Currently, the gold standard tool for glaucoma detection is a clinical examination with a dilated slit-lamp bio-microscopy carried out by a glaucoma specialist to assess the optic disc. Recent studies suggest that UWF imaging may be suitable for diagnosing glaucoma in situations where slit-lamp biomicroscopy or digital color stereoscopy are not available. Another study also confirms that optomap has almost perfect agreement with color digital stereoscopy when assessed by a glaucoma specialist. Continued reading on this study can be found here

optomap is a fast and easy addition to a standard comprehensive eye exam. To find out more information on how optomap can enable you to detect and manage glaucoma in your patient base, contact Optos, today.

2020 Vision: A Look into Your New Year

As 2019 has come to a close and 2020, also known as “the year of the eye” is upon us, it is important to focus on new habits that promote good health. At Optos, we stand by the idea that eye health, including regular comprehensive eye exams, including optomap, should always be at the top of your list.

Eye health is very commonly left off the list of resolutions made. Many resolutions encompass things such as eating habits, exercise and other surface health conditions, where eye health is often overlooked.

The first step to preserving eye health is scheduling a comprehensive eye exam that can assist in detecting any changes in vision and overall health. A commitment to a yearly eye exam can aid in the strides to prevent illness rather than treat it as it appears. Many adults with no eye-related symptoms will often forgo an annual eye exam, while many ocular diseases are asymptomatic in early stages.  Early detection of these diseases can have a significant impact on courses of treatment and the probability of positive outcomes. Your eyes are windows to the live action of blood vessels, nerves and connective tissues throughout your body. Abnormalities spotted in the eye are often the first signs of disease lurking elsewhere.

Following a healthy diet is often a popular New Year’s resolution and an important one at that. Many of us indulge throughout the holidays and look forward to a healthier new year. Eating a balanced diet is good for not only overall health, but also aids to promote good eyesight. Vitamins A, C, E and omega-3 can do wonders to help keep your eyes healthy. Alternately, a poor diet can contribute to vision loss.

Cutting back on smoking and alcohol consumption can also be a beneficial resolution to promote both overall and eye health. These habits can have a negative impact on vision and can increase the risk of eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Optos offers optomap, an ultra-widefield retinal imaging method that facilitates early detection from vision impairment or blindness, and other systemic disease. optomap captures more than 80% of the retina in a single image, whereas small-field methods reveal only 10 – 15%. Our eye care partners generally include optomap as part of their standard comprehensive eye exam.

As you finalize your resolutions this year, whatever they may be, we urge you to make preventative eye health a priority. Ask your eye care professional about optomap today.