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Optometrists invited to join surface challenge.

With its annual scientific meeting fast approaching, 2008 is the first year that optometrists have been able to join the Medical Contact Lens and Ocular Surface Association (MCLOSA), writes Ryan Bradshaw.

The society, which was formed over 40 years ago, has now opened its doors to hospital optometrists, and is looking for more to join before its November 21 meeting. President and ophthalmologist, Andrena McElvanney, explained: "We know that some hospital optometrists will be attending the meeting, and hope we will have more joining soon. We have applied for CET points.

"Although we are essentially a society of ophthalmologists, last year at the agm, we put it to our members and it was agreed to include hospital-based optometrists as associate members."

MCLOSA is a sub-specialist interest group looking at cornea and external eye disease, focusing particularly on microbial infections, corneal dystrophy, inflammation of the eye and surface manifestations of disease.

The society also reviews current contact lens practice, the clinical care and management of patients who wear contact lenses and the role of contact lenses in different eye diseases.

Ms McElvanney, a sub-specialist in cornea and external eye disease at Epsom & St Helier NHS Trust, said that the main role of MCLOSA is to promote education of complex contact lens and ocular surface issues.

"The patients we work with have special needs and cannot be fitted in a general optometry practice," she said.

"They may be patients who need complex rigid lenses, or may need scleral lenses, or they may have ocular surface disease problems that require a therapeutic contact lens.

"We may see patients with rare conditions, such as Stevens Johnson syndrome or advanced keratoconus, which need specialist medical care which would not be possible in the normal contact lens practice.

"We aim to promote education locally, and we have carried out roadshows in various eye units around the UK in order to impart knowledge of medical contact lens practice."

Ms McElvanney commented that there is an increasing need for optometrists to work in this field.

She said: "Hospital optometrists are more involved with medical contact lens practice nowadays. Aphakic lenses have taken a lesser role with cataract surgery so hospital optometrists have been given a greater role managing patients from a clinical point of view.

"Hospital optometrists can benefit from being members of MCLOSA as they can present their own work. If they have a speciality interest in hospital-fitted contact lenses, such as scleral lenses for keratoconus, which are a complex fit, this will give input into both our side of things and help us work together as ophthalmologists and optometrists to promote the best for the patient."

This year's meeting will include a variety of high-quality speakers and delegates from around the world to discuss cutting edge issues in the sector.

The format of the meeting is a contact lens symposium, and will focus on state-of-the-art contact lens practice, with BCLA president Sarah Janikoun speaking on contact lenses for keratoconus.

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There will be a further symposium with Professor Roger Buckley speaking about contact lens infections, and there will also be lectures on herpes keratitis and new drugs available for fungal keratitis.

Each year, in tribute to former MCLOSA president, Jonathan Kersley, the society invites an important speaker for its centrepiece lecture. This year, Peter McDonnell, the vice president of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, will give a comprehensive overview of keratoconus past, present and future.

With around 100 members, MCLOSA meets four to five times a year to generate sponsorship and get high-calibre speakers and lecturers from all over Europe.

Ms McElvanney added that the Association is trying hard to improve understanding of ocular surface disease.

"We are really taking ocular surface disease to the next stage and by providing a society where colleagues can discuss the work we can promote it at a much higher level than we have before," she said.

"With education we are promoting ocular surface disease as a sub-specialist entity. A lot of the time it is underrated by the general public as just a general condition where you apply eye drops for dry eye.

"With ocular surface disease you have to break it down scientifically and see what the cause of the disease is, what part of the tear film is affected and which is the best drug available to treat it.

"With knowledge of the underlying ocular surface disease pathology we can give the appropriate treatment for each patient and also provide regular medical follow-ups for those patients."

And with the annual scientific meeting approaching, Ms McElvanney explained the Association still has many ambitions for the future, some involving optometrists.

"In the next year, we are planning to expand our membership, particularly among junior doctors and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists to ensure there is sufficient knowledge of contact lens practice.

"Secondly, we would like to continue to improve our links with optometrists as we are seeing more taking an interest in hospital work, coming out of their private practice and doing a session a week in a hospital.

"I believe the future involves dual care with optometrists and ophthalmologists working together."
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Title Annotation:HOSPITAL OPTOMETRY
Publication:Optometry Today
Date:Sep 19, 2008
Words:854
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