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  • 16 Aug 2022 8:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Chloe graduated from UNSW in 2019 and initially worked full-time in retail optometry in Canberra. After 2 years, she wanted to experience a different side of optometry so began working part-time  in retail optometry and part-time at an ophthalmology practice. The ophthalmology practice is full scope, with a particular focus on refractive surgery and Dry Eye Disease.

    Tell us a bit about yourself and what made you want to do optometry: As a high myope myself, I have always been exposed to glasses, contact lenses, orthokeratology etc. This industry had always been an interest of mine from a young age. Sight is such an important sense and knowing that I can help make a small difference to people’s life and health is truly rewarding. 

    Describe a day in the life of optometry in an ophthalmological setting. Working in an ophthalmology practice is generally very fast-paced and is varied each day, depending on which doctor is working. I assist them by doing the work-up, taking scans and doing visual fields, setting up for intra-vitreal injections, collagen cross-linking surgeries and LASIK surgeries. I am also responsible for monitoring patients after their surgeries whether it’s refractive, glaucoma, cataracts or others.  Another part of the job is assessing patients’ eligibility for refractive surgery and taking care of dry eye patients. 

    What are a few of the most interesting things you’ve learnt and would like to share? Working at an ophthalmology practice, and one that is focused on refractive surgery, has exposed me to a variety of conditions that are not usually seen in retail optometry.  Some are just small fun facts and others are lessons in patient management and treatment; below are a few. 

    LASIK involves a laser to ablate a certain amount of the cornea to correct for refractive error. If the patient is myopic, then the central cornea is ablated. If the patient is hyperopic then the paracentral cornea is ablated. When LASIK is done on a purely astigmatic prescription, the ‘pattern’ that is ablated is not hourglass like what you expect to see on a corneal topographer. It is actually rectangular in shape since all that is being corrected is the cylinder!  It is visible under the microscope immediately after the surgery. The reason it appears to be hourglass on corneal topographers is the effect of averaging. 

    Misuse of contact lenses can lead to quite debilitating conditions, and not just scarring from corneal infections. Things like limbal stem cell failure can occur and the patient is left with impaired vision. It is important as primary eye health care practitioners that we educate contact lens wearers on hygiene properly and schedule regular follow-ups with them to prevent these things from happening to them. 

    Finally, not the most interesting but definitely most important, is to just listen to the patient’s concerns. The answer always lies in their chief complaint. 

    What has been the most rewarding experience so far? Being a part of the patients’ refractive surgery journey has been very rewarding. They go from needing glasses full-time to being completely glasses free after a surgery that only took 15 minutes. I also love that I get to know some patients really well, however it is bittersweet since they’re in so often because of some sort of pathology. 

    What do you like to do in your spare time? Living in a different city and being away from home has given me a lot of freedom to explore different hobbies like reformer Pilates, hiking, cooking and baking. I’ve made new friends that I’ve been able to explore Canberra with, through the good food and great hiking trails.  

  • 16 Aug 2022 8:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Student Year/Workplace: Final year optometry student at UNSW.

    Favourite Disease: Glaucoma – every case is never the same and I like the challenge of deciding whether to treat or not.

    What about Optometry really grinds your gears? (if any!): It's funny when you tell patients read the smallest line and they start reading the whole chart!   

    What drives your passion for Optometry? Being able to use my skills and knowledge to contribute to the world, one pair of eyes at a time.

    Something you discovered about uni not everyone may know? In university you’re mentored by some of the best lecturers and academics in the world of optometry. This is a rare time where you will have access to a literal encyclopedia at your fingertips. Be a sponge. 

    What is your go to place for food at uni?  I actually can’t answer this one but what I do know is that there’s 2 microwaves and hot water on level 2 if you ever want to heat up food or make tea!

    Something others may not know about you: I like to go camping and hiking. The last major hike I did was on Mount Kosciuszko which is Australia’s highest mountain peak. 

    What song do you play that instantly lifts your mood? Baby Powder by Jenevieve always lifts my mood! 

  • 9 May 2022 8:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Student Year/Workplace: Final year optometry student at UNSW.

    Favourite Disease: Keratitis, especially HSK due to its unique clinical presentation.

    What about Optometry really grinds your gears? (if any!): When patients are noncompliant with treatments. I am one of them when it comes to warm compresses...

    What drives your passion for Optometry?  Since I was a kid, my goal is to contribute something positive to the world, and optometry allows me to do that. Simple acts like prescribing glasses can improve someone’s quality of life immensely. Optometrists are also capable of detecting and managing sight-threatening (and occasionally life-threatening) conditions which are amazing skills to have - and I wanted to be able to do that. 

    Something you discovered about uni not everyone may know? The friendships we build here can change our life for the better. My friends are my family in Sydney. Not only do we study together during the 5 years of our optometry degree, but we also lift each other up as we navigate through our 20s (which I think we can all agree is a very confusing time!).

    So say hi to everyone, be kind and open to new experiences. You never know where it will lead you!

    What is your go to place for food at uni?  'Stellini' pasta bar at lower campus and 'Laksa Delight' in upper campus. And Caffe Brioso (aka the Coffee Cart) for a quick pick-me-up!

    Something others may not know about you: I do pole dancing and want to perform/compete one day!

    What song do you play that instantly lifts your mood? High Hopes by Panic! At The Disco.

  • 9 May 2022 8:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    My name is Yeghia Gharibian and I am a new member of the Young Optometrists subcommittee. I graduated from the University of New South Wales in 2020 and have been practicing full-scope optometry ever since, currently working in an independent practice in Northern Sydney. I am passionate about providing quality eye care services to patients and the wider community.

    Tell us a bit about yourself and what made you want to be an optometrist?

    I decided to pursue optometry as a career because I had a family member in the profession and was exposed to the industry early in my life. In high school, I decided to undertake my work experience at an optometry practice and really enjoyed and appreciated the time spent in clinic face-to-face with patients. Seeing the impact you can have on someone’s life by enabling them to see the world better was a truly unique and rewarding experience and I knew that was career path I wanted to take.

    What are you other interests outside of optometry?

    Outside of work hours, I spend a lot of time exercising which involves a lot of running, swimming, weightlifting and soccer. Specifically, I have played soccer since I was five years old for the same club and with childhood friends. This year, being an Australian-Armenian, I have the privilege of representing Australia with my club ‘Northern Homenetmen Football Club’ in playing soccer in Armenia. I am very excited for this opportunity and currently training very passionately. 

    Besides sporting activities, I also try to be an active Australian-Armenian by engaging in various community activities. In 2021, I was a part of the executive committee of the Northern Sydney chapter of the Armenian Youth Federation of Australia. In this role, I gained great fulfilment in improving the lives of others via providing educational activities, regularly volunteering and attending fundraising events and meetings. 

    The activities we have been involved in include “World’s Greatest Shave” for the leukaemia foundation and our group was ranked fifth in Australia for “The Push-Up Challenge” which is a great initiative that raised awareness for mental health. Furthermore, we participated in “Walk4Brain Cancer”, as well as raising awareness about the Armenian Genocide and Artsakh Humanitarian crisis through donating blood via the “Australian Red Cross Lifeblood” initiative.  

    In my downtime, I enjoy playing board and card games with my family, my favourites being chess, backgammon and UNO.  

    Tell us about the ACO course you have recently completed and what inspired you to undertake this?

    Last year, I completed the ‘ACO Certificate in Public Health and Leadership in Eye Care’ online course. The reason I enrolled in this course was because I wanted to learn how the public health system works and the role that optometrists have in it. 

    The course helped me learn about different issues faced in the public health system, how to advocate in the profession of optometry and also about different leadership styles based on evidence-based guidance. My biggest takeaway from this course was from the final assignment which challenged us to address an area of concern in the public health system. The topic I chose for my project was to raise awareness about myopia and reducing screen time via facilitating virtual educational activities for local schools that at the time were home-schooling due to the “stay-at-home” protocol and lockdown in Sydney due to COVID. Through completing this assignment, I felt that I was able to really make a positive impact on my community as an eye care professional during a time of uncertainty. 

    Do you recommend our members do this course? How would it help our members?

    Every Optometrist should have a basic understanding of how our health system works. We are not just eye professionals; we are health care professionals. We have a key role as leaders in protecting the safety and improving the health of our communities. Although this course is online, it challenges you to think outside the box and I encourage young optometrists to always be curious and work towards improving health and social outcomes for all.   

    The link to sign up for the course is https://www.aco.org.au/certificate-in-public-health-optometry/?utm_source=youngoptometrists and the commencement date is 16th May 2022.

    Do you have any advice for young optometrists out there who would like to pursue their passion but haven’t quite gotten started?

    I think it is important to initially take baby steps outside of your comfort zone because the beginning is always the most difficult part. Currently, I am taking steps towards improving my cooking skills and learning a third language by watching YouTube videos. The process has been challenging, but then again, small progress is better than none. 

    Do you find it easy to juggle your optometry career and your other passions?

    I think it is easy because the other passions help me become a better optometrist as I find time away from optometry helps me be more energized to tackle stressful situations when they occur. It helps you not be fixated on one thing and at the same time helps diversify your skillset and mindset.    

         

  • 22 Jan 2022 10:07 PM | Anonymous

    Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into optometry

    Hello, I'm Joanna! I’m a full time optometrist just starting my fourth year out at a practice in the inner city area. When I was about 15 years old, I had an eye test with an optometrist who was so friendly, helpful and welcoming that it completely changed my perception of the optical industry. From then on it opened my eyes to a wonderful career opportunity which I currently find myself in! 

    In my free time, I also bake cakes and macarons for all the sweet tooths in Sydney! 

    How did you get into what you’re doing in your time outside optometry?

    It all started during the first COVID lockdown in 2020- everyone was doing a bit of iso-baking and iso-cooking back then. What I really found exciting was that there were so many different and new things I could bake and eat. Each baking experience was more challenging and more fun than the last. 

    Personally, I didn’t think my baking was too bad so I took it a step further and started an Instagram page for my bakes where people can order custom cakes and macarons.

    Where can we follow you?

    You can follow me on my Instagram page @boujeebakessyd!


    Tell us about your most memorable experiences

    For Lunar New Year last year the design for my CNY macarons proved immensely popular and I may have bit off a bit more than I could chew. I spent 2 full days baking until 3am to get all my orders on time which I don't recommend for anyone haha. After baking 500 or so macaron shells I finally managed to get it all done. I was so happy with the final product so it made it worth it in the end!

     

    Do you find it easy to juggle your optometry career and your other passions?

    It can be challenging juggling the logistics of baking cakes and macarons around full time work and getting them delivered on time. Luckily for me some of the baked goods can be done over several days so it gives me a bit of breathing space after a long day at work.

    Does time away from optometry help you appreciate it more?

    I would say so! Baking gives me that creative outlet that I need and optometry keeps me grounded and balanced.

     

    Do you have any advice for young optometrists out there who would like to pursue their passion but haven’t quite gotten started?

    Take that leap of faith and just do it! Be open minded and manifest your dreams. The best way to learn is through practice and experience :) Good luck!!



  • 22 Jan 2022 9:56 PM | Anonymous

    Student's Corner is a space which is designed to introduce some of the amazing Optometry Students - delving deep into their likes, dislikes, struggles and current mood. Introducing Karuna Darvesh!

    Name: Karuna Darvesh

    Student Year: 5th Year, Master of Clinical Optometry Student at UNSW

    Favourite Disease: Retinal Detachment

    What about Optometry really grinds your gears? (if any!): When patients do not take urgency of referrals seriously.

    What drives your passion for Optometry? After learning about the intricate nature of the visual system I have learnt to appreciate my eyesight so much more and want to ensure that no one misses out on enjoying the beautiful gift of clear sight.

    Something you discovered about the uni not everyone may know? There is a club and society for everyone. Through becoming involved in different clubs and programs you may learn more about yourself, meet new people and find your true passions.

    What is your go to place for food at uni? Stellini Pasta Bar in lower campus has incredible pasta!

    Something others may not know about you: I have obtained a Brown Belt in Karate and I will soon be having my graduation in Bharatnatyam - a major form of Indian Classical Dance which I have been learning for 9 years.

    What song do you play that instantly lifts your mood? “A Whole New World” from Disney’s Aladdin.

  • 12 Sep 2021 4:28 PM | Anonymous

    In our day-to-day practice, we never know what eye disease is going to walk through the door. Whether you work in a small rural town or the hustle and bustle of the city, it is essential as an eye care practitioner to have a plan of action to be able to appropriately manage any eye emergencies that may arise. Without a triaging process in place for emergency cases, issues can arise in moments where time is of the essence.  

    Triaging can begin at the time of appointment booking and can start from before the patient even steps foot into the practice. Training staff who book appointments to ask relevant questions and identify red flags can help determine the urgency with which the patient is to be seen. Examples of red flags include moderate/severe eye pain, photophobia, redness of the eye, reduced vision and foreign body or penetrating eye traumas as well as flashes or floaters. 

    Once our patient is finally in the chair, where do we start? 

    Case History

    A thorough history and symptoms-taking can go a long way, providing us with a working diagnosis as well as guiding our clinical investigation. In many cases, the aetiology can be determined based on symptoms and presentations as well as the patients’ experience. We can uncover risk factors, if current treatments are working, relevant medical histories, medications, and pre-existing conditions, all of which can also guide possible treatments to help patients. Important questions to ask include:

    Is it unilateral or bilateral?Any discomfort or pain? Is it getting better or worse? Is the pain constant, intermittent, worse with eye movements? Where is the pain located?Any photophobia?Any loss of vision? Sudden or gradual loss? Total or partial loss? What was the pre-incident vision like? E.g. strabismus or amblyopiaAny discharge? Is it clear/mucus-like/sticky/yellow?Any redness or itchiness?Any recent trauma?Any surgeries? Previous refractive surgery? Was it done overseas (missed follow-ups)?Any systemic illness? Allergies? Medications?Are they a contact lens wearer? Are they compliant or overwearing their lenses? Are they currently using eye drops? How often? When did they last use them? How old is the bottle? Are they preserved?Has this happened before?Any flashes or floaters?Any diplopia?Any headaches? Where are they located? How often? Any history of migraines/visual auras?

    • Is it unilateral or bilateral?
    • Any discomfort or pain? Is it getting better or worse? Is the pain constant, intermittent, worse with eye movements? Where is the pain located?
    • Any photophobia?
    • Any loss of vision? Sudden or gradual loss? Total or partial loss? What was the pre-incident vision like? E.g. strabismus or amblyopia
    • Any discharge? Is it clear/mucus-like/sticky/yellow?
    • Any redness or itchiness?
    • Any recent trauma?
    • Any surgeries? Previous refractive surgery? Was it done overseas (missed follow-ups)?
    • Any systemic illness? Allergies? Medications?
    • Are they a contact lens wearer? Are they compliant or overwearing their lenses? 
    • Are they currently using eye drops? How often? When did they last use them? How old is the bottle? Are they preserved?
    • Has this happened before?
    • Any flashes or floaters?
    • Any diplopia?
    • Any headaches? Where are they located? How often? Any history of migraines/visual auras?

    The next step is to perform a detailed clinical examination. 

    Visual Acuity

    It is of extreme importance to perform visual acuity testing in emergency eye cases, both as a visual measurement and for legal purposes. We must always keep in mind that a visual acuity of 6/6 does not necessarily mean nothing serious is occurring. Both eyes should be measured individually using occlusion, whilst being careful not to apply too much pressure to the covered eye. Improvement with pinhole indicates residual refractive error and a best corrected visual acuity should always be obtained in these situations. 

    Gross Observations

    Do not forget to look at the patient as a whole! Check if there is anything immediately obvious, for example, if the eyes are at the same level or lacerations/bruises.

    Cover Test and Motilities

    Performing cover tests at both distance and near is important to assess for nerve palsies. Ocular motility testing is essential to ensure all extraocular muscles are working correctly. It is important to perform in cases of trauma (e.g. blow-out fractures) as well as for nerve palsies, in patients with diabetes, if any complaints of diplopia or systemic conditions such as thyroid eye disease. The Hirschberg test is simple and easy to perform and we can ask the patient to report any pain with eye movement or diplopia. 

    Slit Lamp Biomicroscopy

    One of the most crucial parts of the red eye assessment. A systematic approach is best from anterior to posterior, looking at the:

    • Eyelashes and eyelids (including lid eversion) - check for signs of blepharitis (anterior and posterior) or debris (cylindrical dandruff/crusting/scaling), papillae or follicles, concretions, pseudomembranes or true membranes and if any foreign bodies are present.
    • Sclera/episclera/conjunctiva - check for redness and discharge.
    • Cornea - check for endothelial oedema, epithelial cysts, negative fluorescein staining patterns, corneal staining (with or without stromal glow), ulcers, dendrites, infiltrates and keratic precipitates/pigment.
    • Anterior chamber/angle - is the angle narrow? Is gonioscopy indicated? Perform Seidel test to check for any aqueous leakages.
    • Iris/pupil - check for anterior or posterior synechiae, if iris atrophy is present and for any laser peripheral iridotomies. Is the pupil round or distorted (corectopia)?
    • Lens - check if the patient is phakic or pseudophakic? Observe for cataracts or embryonic remnants. If pseudophakic, any posterior capsular opacification or dislocated intraocular lens?
    • Anterior vitreous - observe if there is any pigment in the anterior vitreous (Schaffer’s sign - signifying a retinal tear/hole/detachment).

    Pupil Testing

    Pupil testing is a crucial assessment of both the afferent and efferent visual pathways. We test for direct pupil responses as well as consensual, with the swinging torch test used to determine if a Relative Afferent Pupillary Defect is present. We must also measure the difference between pupil sizes in light and dark illumination as this can be used to diagnose certain conditions such as Horner’s Syndrome.

    Intraocular pressure

    Intraocular pressure is necessary to measure, with a normal range of 10-21mmHg and a difference greater than 2mm serving as a prompt for further investigation. High intraocular pressures can be indicative of acute angle closure, ocular hypertension, primary and secondary glaucomas (e.g. neovascular glaucoma) as well as certain types of uveitis (e.g. Posner Schlossman). A lower eye pressure in the affected eye could also be a sign of uveitis.

    Gonioscopy

    Gonioscopy is important to assess the anterior chamber angle and rule out angle closure. Check out our blog on gonioscopy here for further information: https://www.yoptoms.com/Blog/10498873

    Ophthalmoscopy

    We must always look at the posterior eye, dilating when indicated to rule out certain sight-threatening conditions such as retinal detachment or intraocular foreign bodies. A systematic approach involves assessing the optic disc, macula, blood vessels and retina both centrally and peripherally.

    Infection Control Procedures 

    Many ocular emergencies present as a red eye. With any red eye assessment, we must keep in mind certain procedures and precautions throughout the examination. These include washing our hands, wearing gloves if required, cleaning equipment using alcohol wipes as well as using minims or strips for assessment to avoid contamination (dilation drops and anaesthetic drops) and using separate tissues and fluorescein strips for each eye in case of viral infections.

    Sight-threatening and life-threatening emergencies can manifest in many ways. Below is a summary guide of the Australasian Triaging Scale, a clinical tool used by emergency clinics such as Sydney Eye Hospital to determine the maximum waiting time for certain eye emergencies. 

    Triage Category 1: Immediate referral for life-threatening conditions.

    Triage Category 2: Assessment and treatment required within 10 minutes, otherwise sight-threatening. Examples of conditions include chemical burns (irrigation to be initiated from the outset – no waiting!), penetrating eye traumas (place shield if possible), sudden painless vision loss (Central Retinal Arterial Occlusion) or severe ocular pain (acute glaucoma).

    Triage Category 3: Assessment and treatment required within 30 minutes. Examples of conditions include painless vision loss (Central Retinal Vein Occlusion), presence of a hypopyon and an ‘8-Ball’ hyphema (total anterior chamber filled with blood). In these instances, there is a potential for adverse outcomes or relief of severe discomfort.

    Triage Category 4: Assessment and Treatment start within 60 minutes, otherwise there is a potential for adverse outcomes or relief of severe discomfort. Examples include corneal foreign bodies (non-penetrating), painful red eyes, flash burns (secondary to welding), retinal detachments (with a positive history for trauma/injury) or a smaller hyphema.

    Triage Category 5: Assessment and treatment within 2 hours. These conditions are less urgent and tend to be chronic or minor in nature. Examples include conjunctivitis, blepharitis, chalazion or dry eyes.

    Cases of red eye are common in optometric practice and there can be a myriad of causes, some mild in nature that require chronic management and others acute that require immediate attention. If a patient presents with any of these red flags, same day referral to an ophthalmologist may be required.


  • 5 Sep 2021 3:11 PM | Anonymous


    My name is Edward Lee and I have been practising optometry for about 2.5 years now. I was born and raised in Sydney for 18 years before moving to brisbane where I went to university at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), graduated and started working at Specsavers indooroopilly for 2 years. Recently in 2021 I moved back to Sydney and have been managing an independent practice in parramatta called “Eyes Only”.

    Tell us a bit about yourself

    If I'm not testing eyes and scrolling/making tiktoks, you can catch me soaking in the sun.

    Hobbies include anything outdoorsy: hiking, kayaking, walking by the water, tanning at the beach.

    I’m also a bit of a travel bug and really enjoy solo travelling, sightseeing, taking in new cultures and enjoying all the yummy food and wine they have to offer. RIP to previous and future travel plans due to COVID-19 :(

    What made you want to study optometry/be an optometrist?

    My family was the biggest influence, we have a small family in Australia but nearly everyone is in the optical industry. My mother is an optometrist and my father has been in the optical industry managing 1001 Optical for the past ~30 years. My 2 uncles are in the optical industry and I also have an aunty that’s an optometrist. Growing up, all the chats at the dinner table were about eyes, glasses, contact lenses so I knew from a young age that this was what I wanted to do.

    What inspired you to create an Instagram and TikTok page about Optometry?

    It all started in the good old 2020 COVID lockdowns. Innocently downloaded tiktok to kill some time, fast forward 2 weeks and i found myself really enjoying and using the platform a lot.

    I wanted to make videos on tiktok to reach and educate a younger audience. I thought to myself, people across the world may not have access to eye health advice/information and I wanted to make this more accessible.

    I also wanted to change the perception that optometrists and health professionals are boring. I wanted to show that we also have a fun personality and I wanted to do this through educational content.

    Now my content has been half about the eyes and giving advice where I can and half just having fun and jumping on tiktok trends (life’s too short not to have fun).


    Where can we find and follow your page?

    @edwardbisharalee on tiktok & @optometry_with_eddy  on instagram


    However, most of my content can be found on tiktok.

    Fun surprise fact you can also find me on @optoms_of_ig as I occasionally make a few relatable optometry memes for fun and laughs. 


    Tell us about your typical day or week as a business owner? What do you find are the most challenging aspects and most rewarding?

    Typical day for me would include coming into work in the morning, checking in with my team and having a quick scan of the diary for upcoming appointments and jobs that need to be processed/collected.

    Once the diary has been checked and managed, I'll usually scan through all the store emails to make sure nothing is being missed and return any missed phone calls or voicemails.

    As the day progresses, we will have patients stroll in for their consultations and try to give them the best eye testing/glasses processing experience possible.

    Most challenging aspect would be ensuring my staff and my patients are well looked after. Sometimes this can be quite tricky in the face of confrontation or when differences in opinions/arguments arise between customers and staff.

    Most rewarding aspect would be having return customers duck in as they are doing their shopping to just pop in and say hi, or returning customers that wanted to duck in and tell us how amazing their glasses/eye test experience was.


    How do you keep up with the optometry world?

    Mainly through chatting with colleagues, friends and instagram/tiktok.

    Do you have any advice for young optometrists out there who would like to pursue their passion but haven’t quite gotten started?

    Just get started. I think too many people (myself included) focus too much on planning and researching their passion and constantly procrastinate and push back the start date. The best way to learn is from experience, it’s okay to make mistakes, to learn from them and do it better next time round. Nobody will be perfect on their first attempt and it’s all a learning process.


  • 1 Sep 2021 3:21 PM | Anonymous

    This year, I had the absolute privilege of being part of the Optometry Australia student leadership program for 2021. Due to the volatile situation around Australia, the program was celebrated as a virtual fest where we received our certificates, hampers, and gifts to mark the end. Now, when I went into this program, my expectations were very simple.

    My perception was that we would be spending the weeks learning more about Optometry and the industry and how to conduct ourselves on a day-to-day basis. However, what we learned as participants of this program was far greater than what I could perceive.

    Throughout the weeks, I learnt some of the most valuable lessons about the importance of leadership and being an effective role model than what I may have ever learned during my course. Through facilitation and discussions, we were exposed to the realities of what it means to be an effective leader in the modern day, adapting to the various changes in technology and healthcare in the future and how we need to focus on reflection as a powerful tool to understand what type of leader we are and ways that we can work to improving ourselves towards the type of leader we aspire to become.

    Here are three powerful lessons that I learnt about leadership and how it quite poetically relates to my career towards becoming an Optometrist.

    1.     Take one step back to take two steps forward

    When we are so focussed on completing our courses and deadlines, we often forget to take a breath and understand the underlining lessons that we learn from this process. The value of adapting to ever changing situations, how to manage pressure in an effective manner, ensuring that our motivation and goals align with each other etc. The lesson I learned at the program was that sometimes, to become an effective leader that can inspire several people, we need to take responsibility in identifying when we need to reflect upon our actions and the processes in which we are acting in and look at ourselves to discover ways to improve on. Self-improvement in areas such as communication is such an integral component in patient centred care and often, we don’t realise the need to reflect upon how we interact and take the necessary course of action to improve that. Whether this be enhancing the etiquettes we use, our choice of words and vocabulary or even body language, we need to understand that this is a continually improving learning experience. It may take a bit of time but in the long term, this an investment we should be making for ourselves.

    2.     Being a health advocate, before being an Optometrist.

    There is a quote by Simon Sinek where he states that: “A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.” I learned that being an Optometrist or any healthcare professional means being an advocate. Patients exist in a complex socio-political sphere that is constantly changing and impacting their overall health. Social injustice brings about disproportionate issues in many demographics. Taking the approach that we are leaders in understanding these social determinants and constantly advocating for better ways to conduct practice in our clinics, better patient communication and consistently learning new material that will inadvertently help patients is an approach that we need to take, especially with the changes in healthcare in the near future. We must be better humans and advocates before we can become better professionals.

    3.     Adaptability is our greatest strength.

    Staying on the Simon Sinek trend, as he was an individual we analysed quite deeply during the program, he stated that: “Leaders are the ones who have the courage to go first, to put themselves at personal risk to open a path for others to follow.”

    What the last year or so has taught us is that the health sphere is unpredictable. There will be uncontrollable factors and issues that arise in rapidly changing dynamics that we will not be able to keep up with. Acknowledging this change and not giving into the inertia is a productive step that we need to practise as healthcare professionals. We are accountable for how we react to the different obstacles and changes on the road that we have. In every sense of the word, resilience is the strength that will allow us to continue making progress and grow as professionals and as human beings.

    The landscape of healthcare is constantly changing, and it requires us to change with it. If I had to take one point from my experience in this program, it is that we need to focus on the fundamentals of leadership and how we can work to inspire the people around us. This is an interdependent ecosystem that we exist in, and we need to work together, adapt together and bounce back together to ensure sustainability and fulfilment in how we see our profession.

    About the writer: Jahin Tanvir

    Jahin Tanvir is a 20-year-old third-year Optometry student at the Univerisity of Canberra, policy adviser, keynote speaker, author, and multicultural youth advocate. With a penchant for being multifaceted, Jahin possesses a strong background in youth advocacy and healthcare in leading youth-led organisations.  

    In 2021, Jahin received the 2021 Young Canberra Citizen of the Year in Individual Community Service as well as recognition in the 7NEWs Young Achiever awards for NSW/ACT in the category of community service. Jahin is also a young media spokesperson trained by the Economic Media Centre as part of the Centre for Australian Progress, providing expert media comment on multicultural people's experiences in Australian communities. 

  • 31 Aug 2021 7:27 PM | Anonymous

    Tell us a bit about yourself

    Hello! My name is Niv and I’m a vision science graduate from UNSW. I’m currently working as the Health Promotion Coordinator at Macular Disease Foundation Australia. I’m a born and bred Canberra girl who moved up to Sydney for uni. I currently live in Petersham with my fiancé, where I binge on true crime documentaries and charcuterie boards.

    After graduating, how did your career path evolve?

    I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do after I graduated! Having a Vision Science degree is so great because you have such a wide array of opportunities at your feet, however by the same token it can also be an overwhelming choice. I toyed with the idea of doing a PhD, but decided that I needed a break from uni (for a bit!) I considered research, but couldn’t find anything I was passionate about. When speaking to my honours course convener she suggested I explore non-for-profit work. I started looking at what was out there and stumbled across the Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA). Although I admit I’m much more of an anterior than posterior eye girl, I loved the idea of working in health promotion and education.  

    I’ve been at MDFA for just over a year and a half as their Health Promotion Coordinator. I spend most of my time speaking to patients who have been diagnosed with a macular disease, as well as involved in other patient-focused initiatives and advocacy work. Getting to be the first port of call after a patient has visited their eye specialist is a great feeling. I can provide them with all the support and advice they may require during an otherwise very overwhelming time.  

    Every day in my role is different, and my desire to help people in this capacity originated at UNSW and has since been strengthened at MDFA.  

    What does your typical day or week at work look like?

    A typical week at work prior to COVID-19 was very different to what it is now. Currently it’s all working from home, which I’m very fortunate to do. As I mentioned, I spend most of my time speaking to patients on the phone. Many come to us quite distressed after just receiving a macular disease diagnosis from their optometrist or ophthalmologist. I speak to them about their condition in layman terms and offer support services and resources that may assist them on their journey.

    I also work with data a lot, which I surprisingly enjoy. I’m in charge of pulling patient and health care professional data and statistics for our community and try to manipulate them in a digestible way.

    Another big component of my job is coordinating education sessions for seniors i.e. those most at risk of age-related macular degeneration. As you would all well know, prevention and early detection is key, so we work with our community to ensure their armed with the best resources to reduce their risk or slow progression of macular disease.

    What are some obstacles you have experienced, and how did you overcome them?

    My honours research project was investigating the role of intense pulsed light in contact lens discomfort. The inclusion criteria for participants was particularly niche and made it quite difficult to obtain the number of participants required for stats purposes.

    Despite all our best efforts, I didn’t manage to get as many as I needed. Instead of scrapping the entire project, I pivoted to a completely different research proposal. I kept the participants I had, and created a small-scale, intimate version of my project where I could follow each participant individually. I also started writing additional papers to explore other aspects of my research, which in turn led me to publish two papers in CXO which was super exciting!

    I’m guessing the moral of that story is don’t be afraid to pull a Ross Geller and pivot, pivot, pivot when necessary.

    Where do you see yourself in the future?

    I’m not too sure what the future holds. Career-wise, I hope to still be working in the education/innovation space within the general field of eye health. On a more personal level, I hope that I get to have my wedding (COVID-pending) and I hope that I still love true crime and blue cheese!

    What do you know now that you wished you knew when you were a student?

    I wish I didn’t sweat the small stuff. Failing one weekly quiz isn’t going to be the end of the world. As someone who can be a tad perfectionistic at times, if one thing didn’t go my way I felt that I may as well just chuck the whole thing out.

    Learning to persevere through the setbacks was a lesson that took me a few years to truly understand. Gaining that state of mind really changed the game for me.


    What advice would you give to a vision science student who is pursuing a career as a vision scientist?

    Vision science is a pretty broad field, so it can become overwhelming when considering job prospects. Uni will unintentionally give you so many opportunities for growth and new interests, so grab them with both hands. It’s cliché, but I think I still wouldn’t have found my niche if it wasn’t for saying yes to every opportunity that came my way. Those opportunities may just open doors to things you didn’t even know were in your reach.

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