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Sarah Sweeney

By Helen Carter

Journalist

Queensland optometrist Sarah Sweeney has received ACBO’s 2020 Keith Woodland Award for outstanding contribution to behavioural vision care.

The Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists (ACBO) presented the award which commemorates Keith Woodland as one of the pioneers of behavioural optometry in Australia. It was first awarded in 1989 and recognises altruistic service and significant contribution to behavioural vision care.

‘I am very humbled and thankful to receive this award,’ Ms Sweeney said. ‘It means a lot to me. I am passionate about my career and my clients and having this recognised is very encouraging for me.

‘This award inspires me to continue studying neurology to be better able to understand how to help these patients become liberated from their chronic conditions.’

Ms Sweeney graduated from the Queensland University of Technology in 2000, is therapeutically qualified, and achieved Fellowship of ACBO in 2007. She has served on the ACBO Fellowship Exam Board, as a clinical supervisor in the 4th and 5th year specialist clinic and lecturer in the QUT School of Optometry and Vision Science, guiding and teaching techniques for binocular vision assessment of children and adults.

During her undergraduate studies in 1997, she began working for Roberts Alexander Optometrists, the largest behavioural group in Queensland at the time, as a casual.

‘I was given the opportunity to observe many complicated cases and play a role in delivering vision therapy programs,’ she told Optometry Australia.

‘The area of interest I now find myself in is extremely rewarding. Our clients have reported their symptoms to many practitioners over many years without any solutions.

‘They are relieved to finally feel understood, to know there is a cause for their difficulties and that there is help available.

‘We have helped clients drive again, go shopping again and begin reading for leisure again. They have slowly regained their sense of confidence and of self.’

Binocular vision anomalies

In 2019 Ms Sweeney established her own practice, Artios Optometry in Brisbane. The practice began operating in 2020 and she spends most of her time in consultation and rehabilitation of binocular vision anomalies caused by concussion, whiplash, head trauma, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, stroke, adrenal fatigue and spectrum disorders.

‘We use a behavioural philosophy in our consultations and treatment, focusing on the entire person and their history,’ she said.

‘We liaise with an extensive network of occupational therapists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths and nutritional GPs to support each client and their symptoms.’

Meanwhile, the ACBO President’s award for significant contribution to behavioural optometry was awarded in 2020 to managing director of BOC Ophthalmic Instruments, Tony Cosentino.

Mr Cosentino celebrated the 100th anniversary of BOC this year. He joined British Optical Company (BOC Instruments) in 1980 as a technical consultant before becoming general manager in 1989. Tony  and his wife Luisa bought 50 per cent equity in BOC in 1995 when he took over as managing director, and completed family ownership in 2013.

Mr Cosentino has travelled great distances over the years to supply and instal consulting room equipment for the Opening Eyes program of the Special Olympics organised around Australia by ACBO members and led by Newcastle optometrist Susan Walton.

 

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