By Helen Carter
Demand from colleagues led Optometry Australia national president Kate Gifford to create a website that is helping her fellow optometrists with their myopia patients.
The project that began as her own hard-copy summary and collection of myopia research papers soon grew into a helpful online information resource for optometrists.
The website is built around the Clinical Myopia Profile tool developed by Mrs Gifford over 10 years of managing myopia in her Brisbane practice. It translates the scientific data on myopia into a clinical framework for patient management that is useful for children, adolescents and young adults.
Practitioners can freely search the website and download the tool to create individual myopia risk profiles for their patients, which aid in management. Based on each patient’s genetics, environmental factors, and refractive and binocular vision status, the plan indicates the patient’s risk of development or progression of myopia.
Optometrists can use the tool to profile young people with normal visual clarity who are at risk of developing myopia, and children who are already myopic and risk further progression.
The website also provides customisable patient hand-outs, chair-side information, blogs, the latest research on myopia development including references, a quarterly newsletter detailing myopia control news and ‘how to’ guides.
‘What started as my own interest in the scientific literature led to conversations with lots of parents explaining myopia and its effects,’ Mrs Gifford said.
‘I developed the clinical profile as a communication tool and was asked to speak about it in Australia and globally including at British Contact Lens Association conferences and American Academy of Optometry conferences.
‘A lot of optometrists then asked me for copies of the profile and for a few years I emailed the document. More and more requests led to the information going online and now several hundred practices worldwide use it to profile and help manage their myopia patients,’ she said.
Optometrists can download a copy of the Myopia Profile by filling in their name and email address. Mrs Gifford’s optometrist husband Dr Paul Gifford is developing an electronic version which is being tested by 30 leading clinical and research optometrists worldwide.
This online software version is due for release later this year and Dr Gifford will describe its development and application in clinical practice at the Congress of the Orthokeratology Society of Oceania on the Gold Coast on 23-25 September.
‘Optometrists will be able to login their patient data and risk features and this will immediately output their risk and information for the parent and child,’ Mrs Gifford said.
‘We make these resources free because it gives optometrists the tools to manage myopia. Myopia control is a vitally important and growing area of optometric practice, and something we need to embrace as a profession, for the benefit of our patients.’
Mrs Gifford said it was a clinical imperative to act to control myopia.
However, a worldwide survey on myopia attitudes and practices, published in April 2016 in Contact Lens and Anterior Eye, found that while most practitioners said they were concerned about myopia and felt they were active in myopia control, the majority were still prescribing single vision spectacle corrections, which have demonstrated no useful propensity for myopia control.
‘They might just be talking about going outside more or having less screen time,’ she said. ‘There was definitely some hesitancy in putting control strategies in place.’
She said the Myopia Profile helped practitioners determine their approach and pointed them in the direction of management pathways and clinical communication tools.
‘It helps give optometrists the confidence and the tools to act for myopia control,’ Mrs Gifford said.
Free myopia CPD event
Kate Gifford will discuss establishing a myopia control practice at a free CPD event in Sydney on 31 July. The Brien Holden Vision Institute myopia event at UNSW Australia will celebrate the career of the late Professor Brien Holden.
The program will present the latest approaches to treatment, theoretical perspectives on myopia, and presentations on myopia control with and without optical devices. It will include lectures, clinical workshops and opportunities to discuss patient case studies.
Optometrists can earn 18 CPD points, including 2.25 therapeutic points, at the event.
Other speakers will be from the BHVI, UNSW Australia and the Centre for Eye Health. Register at www.brienholdenvision.org.