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In its fourth year running, Optometry Virtually Connected 2023 once again broke registration records and received high praise from attendees, cementing itself as a new staple of Optometry Australia’s annual calendar.

Optometry Australia’s annual online conference held this year on June 17-18 was the largest yet, with over 2,400 registrations and individual sessions reaching upwards of 1,000 simultaneous viewers. This year’s event delivered 28 live lectures and a combined maximum of 40 hours of quality assured education through two concurrent streams.

These two streams featured an international roster of leading experts in dry eye and myopia research on Day 1, and contact lenses and systemic diseases on Day 2, as well as a highly rated keynote address on the impact of AI and machine learning on optometry and plenary address detailing how optometrists can further contribute to public eye health for Indigenous Australians.

professor isabelle jalbert delivers her part of the plenary address
Professor Isabelle Jalbert from the UNSW Optometry and Vision Science team was one of the speakers of the plenary address.


In a delegate survey after the event, 73% of delegates this year have said they would very likely attend a future Optometry Virtually Connected, and nearly 90% answered that the content met or exceeded their expectations for the event.

Launched in 2020 by Optometry Australia during the pandemic lockdowns, this event has revolutionised virtual conferencing for the sector in Australia and the Asia Pacific region and has now become a permanent fixture in the Optometry Australia events calendar.

Looking into the future and the past

Among a program filled with exceptional content, some sessions received particularly high praise from delegates. Attended by almost all online delegates on Day 1, Saturday 17 June, Professor Andrew Turpin’s keynote address on the strengths and weaknesses of machine learning and how AI could be applied in optometry was one of the most successful sessions of Optometry Virtually Connected 2023.

This talk covered the differences between machine learning and AI, and discussed the ways that machine learning could be useful in optometry, particularly for rapid imaging.

professor andrew turpin demonstrating a neural network with fruits and vegetable examples
Professor Andrew Turpin delivering the keynote address about machine learning and AI, and the applications in optometry.


‘I’m interested in doing work with AI that’s useful, and my interest is more in an applied health-system point of view, like what kind of AI would be worthwhile in a medical situation, or in this context, for optometry,’ said Andrew, in an interview published before Optometry Virtually Connected.

To read more about Andrew and his work, you can read a feature article on his presentation here.

Two other sessions that were highly rated were entitled ‘Zap, squeeze, scrub, scrape and drape! Effective management strategies for dry eye disease’ presented by Alissa Maillet, and ‘Looking after the eyes to look after the brain: Neurodegenerative diseases and eye health’ by Marianne Coleman.

Among a series of innovative topics, another of note was a presentation on the impacts of bushfire smoke on the ocular surface by optometrist and researcher Suki Jaiswal. Read more about her research here.

A national event

While Optometry Australia members were invited to attend free, delegates also attended from beyond the national body. Over one hundred New Zealand delegates joined the virtual conference, and the event also saw a number of other non-member delegates register to attend.

This year’s event featured a Welcome to Country by Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Georgina Nicholson, who acknowledged the Traditional Owners of the land on which Optometry Australia operates.

Ten sponsors presented CPD presentations and answered questions from delegates live during the event, and these events were well attended and regarded by delegates as an equally engaging part of the two-day program. Each of the two days began with a movement and mindfulness exercise presented by Debby Lewis, which allowed delegates to ease into the streams with some light yoga.

CPD update for members

Recordings of all sessions from Optometry Virtually Connected are now available for Optometry Australia members on demand on the Institute of Excellence. Once logged in, you can navigate from the home page to the Optometry Virtually Connected sessions for 2023 via: On-demand category > Optometry Virtually Connected > OVC 2023.

All CPD hours for Optometry Virtually Connected have now been uploaded and are available to view in your Learning Plan for you to add your reflections.

If you have any feedback or queries about this year’s event, the on-demand sessions, or the upload of your CPD hours to your learning plans, please contact us at

Optometry Australia warmly thanks our sponsors for making Optometry Virtually Connected such a success. We will continue to review your feedback from the event, and we look forward to making Optometry Virtually Connected even bigger and better in 2024.

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Acknowledgement of Country

In the spirit of reconciliation Optometry Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.