Winter 2012 iNews
Allergies, Dry Eye and Contact Lenses
Speaker Associate Professor Mark Roth
Tuesday August 28, 7-9 pm
Amies Theatre, Australian College of Optometry, Cnr Cardigan and Keppel Sts, Carlton VIC
Eye rubbing has been identified as a high risk factor in keratoconus and should be avoided as much as possible. However as many keratoconus patients also suffer from allergies which can cause severely itchy eyes, it is important that they ensure proper management of these allergies to prevent worsening their keratoconus and to facilitate contact lens wearing.
Current research also shows an increase in the prevalence of all types of allergic responses in the eye and dry eye continues to be a major impediment to contact lens wear. Recent advances in diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve management outcomes and early diagnosis and treatment of the signs and symptoms can help patients more comfortably wear their lenses.
This presentation will review the latest thinking on allergy and dry eye diagnosis, in particular, focussing on the latest treatment options.
With the springtime allergy season approaching, this will be a must-attend presentation for all keratoconus patients.
Associate Professor Mark Roth is a clinical optometrist with a degree in pharmacology. He is currently in private practice and is also a Principal Fellow in the Department of Optometry & Vision Sciences, the University of Melbourne. He has extensive experience as a therapeutic practitioner and a contact lens specialist. As an advocate for therapeutic progress in optometry, he contributes to various association, registration board and government committees. A/Prof Roth lectures widely at conferences in Australia and overseas and is involved in many optometry therapeutics and contact lens teaching programmes.
Please email us now to register for this seminar or ring on 0409 644 811.
Entry by donation
The DVD of Professor Jonathan Jackson's presentation on Contact Lenses: a Challenge for Optometrist and Patient is now available from the Association. To order, please contact Mary Veal on 0409 644 811 or by email.
Pricing and payments details can be found on our Video and Podcast information page
MEETING WITH HEALTH FUNDS OVER CONTACT LENSES
Keratoconus Australia continues to press for action to lower the cost to patients of specialized contact lenses for keratoconus. The creation of a keratoconus clinic at the UM Eyecare in Melbourne last year was a major step towards assisting financially disadvantaged Victorian members obtain top quality contact lens fits at reduced prices.
We continue to lobby the private health funds to provide higher optical benefit caps and rebates on claims for the specialized and indispensable lenses required by keratoconus patients.
To this end, the Association met with representatives of the health funds in late July to discuss these issues. The health funds were receptive to our arguments. But they continue to shy away from any commitments that would increase their overall cost structures. So while they offer annual limits of up to $800 for items such as alternative therapies, optical benefits remain capped at the $250-300 mark. Meanwhile RGPs essential for most kc patients are lumped in with sunglasses and soft contact lenses and attract rebates of around $100-150 per lens.
Fund representatives said they would reconsider the situation - and in particular, defining specialised RGP lenses as a medical device. However, they emphasised that it would be too costly for them to lift optical benefit caps and that it was the role of government to assist financially disadvantaged people to gain access to treatments required for their long term health.
In the meantime, we have prepared a letter which members can download and print to send along with their contact lens claims to their private health fund. Please send this letter to your health fund EVERY TIME you submit a claim for a rebate on your new contact lenses.
Letter to request a higher rebate from your health fund (in pdf format)
NEW COMMITTEE MEMBERS REQUIRED URGENTLY
KA's Vice President, Matt Vaughan, has received an offer he could not refuse and is moving overseas again soon. Matt has achieved some good progress in our campaign for a fairer deal on contact lenses for keratoconus in 2012 and we thank him for his efforts.
Heidi Littleford has also been forced to step back from her role on the committee to meet other commitments. Heidi will still be available to provide support to members on issues around Living with KC.
As a result, we urgently require new committee members to ensure that the Association continues to function properly and provide the services required by people with keratoconus. Please contact Jennifer Toom by email if you are interested in assisting the Committee.
Meanwhile, former KA secretary, Belinda Cerritelli, has been appointed National Advocacy Adviser at Vision2020 Australia. We congratulate Belinda on her new position and look forward to working again with her as part of our ongoing collaboration with that organisation.
AUSTRALIAN KERATOCONUS BOOK OUT NOW
Leading Australian eye specialists have published a book aimed at explaining all aspects of keratoconus and its treatments to patients and their families. Entitled Users manual for people with keratoconus: from glasses to corneal grafts and everything in between, this book lives up to its promise by first describing keratoconus, how it is diagnosed, its symptoms and how it can affect your life.
While there is no cure for keratoconus, the authors detail how the disease can be effectively managed with vision correction (glasses and contact lenses) and these days, even halted thanks to the new corneal collagen crosslinking procedure. Corneal grafts and other surgical treatments are also discussed along with other new areas of research into keratoconus.
The chapter on contact lenses, which provide the vast majority of keratoconus patients with vision correction, is extremely detailed and provides information on the various types of lenses today for keratoconus and their care.
The authors - Dr Michael Loughnan, Dr Jim Kokkinakis, Richard Lindsay, and Prof Gerard Sutton - all have extensive experience in treating patients with keratoconus. Their book is a welcome contribution to the understanding of this little known disease which causes significant vision loss to thousands of young Australians every year.
The book is available online from Wilkinson Publishing, select bookstores or from the authors' practices. RRP $19.95.
CHEAP KC CONTACT LENSES FROM MELBOURNE EYECARE
We would like to remind members about the University of Melbourne's (UM) new keratoconus teaching clinic, which is now providing a complete range of contact lenses for keratoconus at unbeatable prices.
The clinic, located at the University's newly expanded Melbourne Eyecare practice in Swanston St, Carlton, still has appointments available for new patients.
Keratoconus Australia members are eligible for a 50% discount off normal prices for all contact lenses fitted at the teaching clinics. This discount has been negotiated by KA with the UM and is usually available only to UM teaching staff and their families.
Due to the limited number of appointments available at the clinic, the Association is hoping that only members experiencing serious financial difficulties will seek to access this service.
We do not recommend this option to patients requiring urgent eye care or immediate replacement of or modifications to their contact lenses.
In this regard, members wishing to take advantage of the UM Eyecare offer should note the following conditions:
• all contact lenses will be fitted by groups of four student optometrists under the supervision of a teaching specialist with extensive experience in managing keratoconus
• patients should anticipate spending two hours for a first consultation and the need for multiple visits over several months to achieve the best possible outcome for their vision correction. There may be long waiting times for the initial appointment, depending on demand
• the keratoconus clinic will operate on Tuesday afternoons (weekly) and Wednesday mornings (fortnightly)
• Eye tests done in the Keratoconus clinic are covered by Medicare.
• Contact lenses dispensed by the UM Eyecare practice will include a 6 month warranty
KA members requiring contact lenses for keratoconus can contact the UME practice on 03 9349 1714 or email to make an appointment.
The UM Eyecare practice is located on the corner of Faraday and Swanston Sts Carlton, immediately opposite the tram terminus at University Gate 3 (pedestrian entrance) and some 100m up Swanston St, beyond the Dental Hospital.
One of our key objectives is to provide support for people with keratoconus and their families. If you have just been diagnosed with keratoconus, or are having trouble with your contact lenses or are considering surgery, perhaps we can assist you. We have information on a wide range of treatments and can put you in touch with others who have had similar experiences.
Please feel free to contact us with any queries or concerns.
LOCAL SUPPORT GROUPS
Members in Sydney, the Gold Coast-Brisbane area, and Adelaide are trying to set up groups locally. Please contact the Association if you are interested in joining a group in one of these areas. As discussed in the past, Keratoconus Australia operates from Melbourne and is unable to maintain support groups around the country without assistance from local members.
If you are interested in coordinating a group in your own local area, please contact Jennifer Toom by email.
ON THE NET*
Surveillance of keratoconus contact lens wearers crucial in the early months to prevent discontinuation
(*registration may be required to view some sites)