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  • 15 Nov 2020 5:39 PM | Anonymous
    • Unprecedented. Unmotivated. Confused.

      Those were the words swirling around in a cacophony when we came to realise that university this year would be changed indefinitely.

      It was near the end of March when we found out that the situation of COVID had reached its boiling point – a sense of panic striking students to return back to their homes interstate and overseas for the uncertainty of what was to come.

      When it came to optometry, the cloud of confusion covered our minds severely. For myself, learning the course and the way to become a fully functioning optometrist meant that I relied heavily on practicals and conducting the tests and concepts I learnt to grasp the notions. Learning through memorization with the rote learning that I grew so accustomed to during high school was something I quickly realized was ineffective – it passed the threshold of remembering but faltered when it came to understanding. Going to the labs, using the appropriate apparatus, and asking questions directly upon making mistakes in class was the way that I gradually was able to grasp the ideas being taught. This was how I was able to understand the concepts in a holistic point of view and how it is relevant in a clinical setting – deviating away from learning just how to distinguish between one module to another.

      But with life transitioning virtually, this method was eradicated, and I was left to submerge myself back into comfortable method of memorizing and watching others carry out the tests on YouTube videos as my main point of reference. One thing I quickly learnt was that comfort can be woeful and the transition was difficult to say the least.

      Add the stress of the world and my fellow peers and I swiftly realised that that it was going to be an arduous period.

      How on earth were we meant to cope?

      Fast forward a couple of months and it has reached the end of the year. Two semesters have passed, and the sun never looked brighter. The situation around the world is still a pressing issue but the initial turbulence of shock and panic has passed. And with every tumultuous period, there was an equally constructive period of learning and adapting to the changes. To reflect back on the time and some strategies that I was able to implement to make life just that little bit more tolerable and easier, I broke it down into three principles (an idea that I’ve started to implement into other aspects of my life).

      The triple Cs.

    •        Consistency: Constant repetition can easily lead to frustration and the never-ending cycle of  ‘I can’t be bothered’. This is not practical for students and ensuring that I at least maintained increments of study and memorization everyday for different units was the way to keep on top of tasks – even if it was an hour a day. This meant not focussing on solely one unit for a streak of a few days and rather ‘spicing’ it up by managing time to ensure chunks of time were allocated to different units which ultimately had different forms of learning. Being able to consistently distinguish between when to relax and when to study and doing only that during that period allowed me to regulate productivity and not end a day and feel anxious about not getting any progress done.
    •         Coordination: One of the greatest challenges when being at home in a virtual classroom was staying organized and knowing when to do what. When you are regularly meeting your fellow peers and having discussions in classes, the conversations around what’s due and what each task comprises of is easier and fluid. In an online sense, we lose that natural tendency to discuss impending assessments as we are overconsumed with other factors of procrastination that sit on our phones and devices. To counteract this, I ensured that I always had a diary and pen handy and consistently wrote down every assessment and date from university emails and lectures – whilst also looking back on it daily. Time flies and doing this helped to manoeuvre around the monotony of learning at home and created a routine of staying organized and not falling behind.
    •         Courage: The reality is that university was one of the last things that I wanted to focus on when the world felt like it was imploding into angst and terror. Doing the smallest tasks such as pre-readings or waking up early for a lecture was a mental tussle. But alas, understanding that this situation will not last forever and that I will not allow my goals to be hindered by adversity was the driving force into completing necessary tasks each day. It is a mentality shift where I had to be kind to myself and reinforce the idea that the whole world is going through this phase and not just myself alone. Knowing that and understanding those words was important and one that I believe that we can all take into consideration as we navigate through our studies and for the years to come.

    The years to come will remain uncertain as we progress through optometry but one principal takeaway that I have garnered through this year was that resilience is key. Being able to bounce back and realise that this is a collective struggle that we will eventually overcome is an idea that needs to be ingrained into our minds as students.

    We have faced hurdles before and we will continue to face them but with the right prioritization and organization, it can be less stressful than we conjure it up to be in our heads.

    Onwards and upwards!

  • 25 Oct 2020 3:44 PM | Anonymous
    • Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into Optometry.

      I completed my Optometry degree from India in 2017. After the completion of my undergraduate degree I worked for a while in Nepal and I was also involved in the eye camps organised in Nepal by Eyes4Everest. I flew to Australia last year to study Master of Optometry at UNSW.

      I come from a very small village in the mountain region of Nepal and the people there still do not have access to proper health services. This was the reason that I always wanted to contribute to the health sector there. Since there was not even a single optometrist in my hometown, I decided to study optometry so that I could provide  eye care services for them.

    • Tell us about your typical day of studying and working.

      Being an international student in Australia, it was a bit challenging for me to balance my work and study in the beginning. But time has taught me this and now I find it ok. I work 3 days a week and the rest of the time, I study.

    • What do you miss most about Nepal? What do you love most about Australia?

      I miss my family. I have never been away from home for such a long time. When I was in India, I still used to visit them every 3-4 months. But after coming here it has nearly been two years since I last saw them. Though I often talk to them through  video chat I still miss their presence.

      I like everything about Australia. Everything is easily accessible and organised here which has made life easier. I also enjoy going to the beaches during my days off.

    • Do you have any goals for your optometry career?

      Once I finish my degree here, I plan to go back to Nepal and start working there. My dream is to open a practice there. Starting from a small practice in my hometown, I want to expand it to  other remote areas as well.  I especially want to work in small villages where people are still unaware of the advancement of technology. 

      Working in a peaceful environment that is very far from the city of chaos is something that I am looking forward to.

    • What keeps you sane outside of your work life? Do you have any hobbies or passions you pursue?

      When I am a bit stressed with work and study, I talk to my family and I like sharing everything with them. I consider this as my therapy.

      When I was at school, I used to play basketball and I wanted to continue playing,  but due to some circumstances, I stopped playing. At the moment, I have started being more conscious about my  fitness and I have started learning boxing. I would not say it is my passion, but I enjoy boxing.

    • What advice would you give to other optometrists, who may be in a similar position to you or are striving to be in your position?

      Well, I am not sure if I have still achieved that position where I can advise people. But from my experiences, I would say not to give up on your dreams. There might be some difficult times where you want to quit but in the end, they are just a part of the journey to your dream. Be positive and just keep doing what makes you happy.

  • 25 Oct 2020 2:31 PM | Anonymous

    It’s become a part of the uniform for many of us, and masks have become essential in combatting the spread of COVID-19, however, it has given rise to increased reports of associated dry eye. 

    This happens, especially if the mask is poor fitting, and exhaled air funnels upwards and across the surface of the eyes. In turn, this may accelerate tear film evaporation causing ocular surface irregularity and discomfort. 

    This problem can become exacerbated especially in mask wearers who have pre-existing dry eye, contact lens wearer and people who have to use a mask for an extended period of time, use in air-conditioned environments, use in front of screens (e.g. health care workers, food preparers etc.). In turn, they may find themselves touching their face and eyes all the time, possible with unwashed hands, which may increase their risks for an infection and spread of the virus. 

    Tips we can offer our patients include: ensuring the mask is well fitted, using lubricant drops and limit screen time and time in an air-conditioned environment. Although MADE can make us uncomfortable, don’t ditch the mask! 

     Moshirfar, M., West, W.B. & Marx, D.P. Face Mask-Associated Ocular Irritation and Dryness. Ophthalmol Ther 9, 397–400 (2020).

    White, D.E. MADE: A new coronavirus-associated eye disease. June 22, 2020. Accessed Sept. 10, 

  • 26 Jul 2020 9:28 PM | Anonymous

    Student's Corner is a new space which is designed to introduce some of the amazing Optometry Students - delving deep into their likes, dislikes, struggles and current mood. Introducing Jahin Tanvir! Our first student feature from the University of Canberra.

    Name: Jahin Tanvir

    Student Year/Workplace: 2nd year Optometry at the University of Canberra

    Favourite Disease: Retinopathy of Prematurity

    What about Optometry really grinds your gears? (if any!): That some people think that Optometrist just sell you glasses. 

    What drives your passion for Optometry? Being able to ensure an individual can relish the gift of sight. I don’t think anything beats you playing a role in someone being able to see better and experience the things they love with a clearer perspective. 

    Something you discovered about the uni not everyone may know? When they say, “uni is where you find yourself”. I had to be there first-hand to realise the gravitas of that phrase. Being in a school environment, you’re pretty much in a bubble and university really opens that up to so many opportunities.

    Would you rather be indoors or outdoors? I used to think I was inclined more towards indoors but being at home so much this year has shown me how much I yearn to be outdoors. Outdoors guy for sure!

    Something others may not know about you: Parallel to my academic inclinations in Optometry, I’m also a writer and it’s an area I want to pursue throughout my career. I want to promote the idea of ‘you are not limited by your degree’.

    What song do you play that instantly lifts your mood? Down by Jay Sean. Absolute classic!

  • 26 Jul 2020 9:13 PM | Anonymous

    Blue Blocking Lenses

    Blue Light and the Macula

    Studies have shown that by reducing blue-light transmission through blue blocking lenses by 50%, approximately 80% of photochemical damage to the retina could be reduced. 

    • However, it is important to remember that macula degeneration is a multi-factorial disease and there are other risk factors we could also recommend to our patients (e.g. diet, cease smoking, sunlight exposure) 

    Contrast and Asthenopia improvement

    The rationale behind blue blocking lenses for screen use is the improvement in contrast, improve visual comfort and cut down internal reflections and back surface reflections from the lenses thereby reducing glare. Blue wavelengths are the shortest wavelengths within the visible light spectrum and therefore most likely to scatter. 

    We also don’t know how much blue light needs to be removed to reduce asthenopic symptoms. As of current, the majority of blue coatings reduce blue light by roughly 10-25%. Optometrists can consider recommending blue blocking lenses to patients who are under high exposure to blue light rays from artificial and natural light sources, for example office workers behind screens and under fluorescent lights. 

    Circadian Rhythm 

    The scattering effect can cause glare and reduce contrast. Also, blue light may interfere with the body’s circadian rhythm; therefore exposure in the evening may potentially interfere with sleep. However, more and more we are exposed to artificial lights at night e.g. smartphones and tablet use before bed; and this is especially when the circadian system is most sensitive to light-induced phase delays. Studies have shown this can interfere with sleep and physiological processes, causing subjects to sleep later, reducing evening sleepiness, reducing in alertness the next morning and reducing melatonin secretion. 

    • Get patients to limit device use before bed. Turn on Bed Time Mode or Night Mode on their phone, which effectively diverts alerts, calls and messages to the next day so they are not tempted to check their phone during the night or after their prescribed bedtime. 

    Future Research 

    There is more research required, understanding that patients will need individualised solutions 

    • As always, carry out a full visual and binocular examination, taking into consideration the tasks the patient will be requiring visual aids for 


    Advice beyond blue blocking lenses that you could also recommend to your patients: 

    • Positioning of screens and ambient lighting 
    • Recommend your patients utilise rest breaks with prolonged computer use 
    • Good posture (feet flat, shoulders squared back) 
    • Consider a diet rich in vitamins and minerals that may aid eye health (link post) 
    • When using screens, turn the brightness to the lowest comfortable setting. Avoid using blue coloured backgrounds. Maintain an appropriate working distance from screens
    • Download applications which reduce the blue light emissions from the smartphone e.g. or turn on Night Mode 
      • BenQ has developed a range of computer monitors which have inbuilt low blue light features 
    • If your car has blue light headlights, replace these with regular headlights as reflections from these lights may be harmful or cause asthenopic symptoms to other road users. 
    • Replace “daylight” or full-spectrum lights with warmer hues, such as red and yellow and avoid the cooler light hues. 


    1. Blue light-absorbing intraocular lens and retinal pigment epithelium protection in vitro. Sparrow JR, Miller AS, Zhou J J Cataract Refract Surg. 2004 Apr; 30(4):873-8.
    4. Points de vue, International Review of Ophthalmic Optics, Essilor Issue 68
    6. www.cclvi/org/contributions/effects1.htm
    7. premium-lenses 
    8. coatings

  • 26 Jul 2020 9:07 PM | Anonymous

    Have you ever had a young patient with reduced visual acuities at distance and near that could not be explained by refractive error? You suspect that they’re malingering or wanting to have glasses? 

    Have you heard of Streff Syndrome? 

    Streff Syndrome, also known as non-malingering syndrome, has been described as a functional vision problem. It often involves reduced or blurred distance and near vision, poor eye co-ordination and eye movement, a reduction in visual field and a reduction in focusing.

    These symptoms are a result of anxiety or stress. Stress is a physical, mental or emotional reaction caused by a change that disturbs or interferes with the body’s normal equilibrium. It is often detected by teachers and parents due to a decline in academic performance, changes to attention and focus, or behavioural changes. Stress can impact visual health and function. Focusing can become difficult, and a tunnel vision effect can occur. 

    Streff Syndrome has more commonly been detected in females between 10-14 years of age. The condition is often self-limiting, but it is important to identify the stress causing the problem and taking the necessary steps to resolve it. 

  • 24 Apr 2020 1:54 PM | Anonymous

    Screen Time During Quarantine

    It seems like over-night covid-19 hit and suddenly, we are stuck at home with nothing but our screens to entertain us. While for our inner introvert this may be the ultimate dream it also has its pitfalls. Our social lives, work lives and CPD events have all moved online. With increased time at home & our lives now virtual, our screens are the portals to the world. Even before corona virus, Australians on average spent over 10 hours a day on screens. Also, many of us use multiple devices at the same time e.g. looking at your phone while also watching TV. It is only natural that screen use will increase in the current situation.

    While increased screen use will not damage your eyes, the increased demand on your eyes can have negative effects. Often the underlying cause is a borderline eye problem that has been exacerbated by the increased screen time. This is because the visual demands of computer work are unlike those associated with most other visual tasks. Most people will experience some form of Digital Eye Strain with sustained use of a digital device. It may present as eye strain, headaches/migraines, blurred vision, neck/back pain, dry eyes, and/or reduced concentration. You may also find it hard to switch off and have disrupted sleep.

    The good news is that there are 10 easy things that you can do to limit the negative effects associated with screen use:

    1. Up-to-date prescription: even small changes in prescription such as small amounts of undiagnosed & uncorrected hyperopia, astigmatism & binocular vision issues can cause computer vision problems. We should look after our own eyes the way we look after our patients and make sure that we get our eyes tested regularly.
    2. Optimized computer eyewear: for the greatest comfort at your computer, you will likely benefit from having customized computer glasses. As optometrists we are up to date with the latest lens technology and should use this to our advantage. 
    3. Take mini breaks: this helps to reduce focusing fatigue and accommodative spasm. The 20/20/20 rule is an easy way to implement this; every 20 minutes of screen time, take a 20 second break and look 20 feet (6 meters) away.
    4. Stay hydrated: make sure you are drinking water throughout the day to hydrate your body. Additionally, use lubricating eye drops to hydrate your eyes. Nutritional supplements such as omega 3 can also be beneficial in optimizing tear film quality.
    5. Blink: do not forget to blink. It is well known that people blink less frequently while working on screens which can cause dry & irritated eyes.
    6. Blue light protection: there is a link between eye strain & blue light emitted from digital devices. A blue light blocking coating can be applied to optical lenses &/or most devices have a built-in blue light filter than can be turned on.
    7. Optimize your workspace: make sure that you have appropriate lighting, font size and minimal glare. To reduce neck & back strain have the correct desk & screen height. If using a hand-held device use the knuckles-to-nose rule to ensure you are not holding the device too close. Put your knuckles on your nose & your device should not be held any closer than your elbow.
    8. Think outside the screen: go for a walk instead of watching TV, read an actual printed book, play a board game with your family, & remember that you do not always have to video call!!
    9. Screen free sleep: make the hour before going to sleep screen free & do not check your phone if you wake up during the night.
    10. Mental health check-in: with increased screen time, this usually translates to increased social media use. Be mindful of your mental health & take a break from social media if needed.

    While we navigate our new lives in isolation, it is more important than ever to stay connected online with our families, friends, & work. However, we must balance this screen use & try to keep things in moderation by using the simple tips out-lined above.

  • 15 Apr 2020 11:09 AM | Anonymous

    Guest Author, Lisa Siqi Feng

    Over the past months, we have been constantly bombarded with news of COVID-19 and its effects on the world around us as we knew it. Now, many of our colleagues are facing unprecedented difficult times. Thank you to Young Optometrist Lisa Feng for her efforts in writing the following article. 

    "If you had mentioned to me a few months ago about the coronavirus or COVID-19, I would have had very little idea of what it is and how it is going to affect me. Little did I know how rapidly it was all going to escalate and how much impact it was going to have on my personal and professional life as a young optometrist with a career that was just starting.

    It is difficult to mentally process the rapid and drastic changes which have happened to our world and lives especially when it continues to change day by day. Being a primary care practitioner coming into close contact with the patient, many of us had to grapple with the fear for our own health and safety. Concerns over finances also arise as the stability of our jobs is threatened, many face a drastic reduction in business, loss of jobs, closed business or reduced hours for full/part-time positions. I have felt the feelings of fear, concern, frustration, helplessness and have even questioned my choice of becoming an optometrist. As I begin to navigate through these emotions and talk to my peers, I have come to realise that these feelings are valid and that there are things we can do to navigate through this unique time.

    Have Hope
    In the midst of anxiety and uncertainty, have hope and know that this will not be forever. The last pandemic of this scale was the H1N1 swine flu in 2009 but most of us were not working adults or even recall the impact it had on our lives. Now that the world and the government have finally started to take this more seriously and act, people have come together (or rather stayed apart), all with the same goal to overcome this virus and return to our normal lives. Things may need to slow down or pause for a while but know that this will not be forever.

    Protect each other
    If work has been put on hold, then you are in the best position to stay safe and protect yourself and each other. Although you cannot actively help your patients as optometrists now, self-isolating as much as possible is the best thing you can do to protect each other. If the decision is to continue operating, then consider yourself a soldier on the front line and be vigilant about protecting yourself and the patients. Implement changes to the practice to keep social distancing within the practice and develop strict cleaning regimes amongst all staff. Have regular discussions with the practice owner, staff as well as colleagues who continue to work. Membership organisations such as Optometry Australia and from the optometry board of corporate companies have been regularly providing members with updates and offering support and advice.

    Seize Opportunity
    Our personal and professional lives have all been reduced, restricted and paused in one way or another. While it is important to mourn over what has been lost, this can also be a good opportunity to reflect and reset. Catch up on that much-needed sleep, use the extra time to take care of your mind and body. Video call a friend and ask how they are doing. Now there is finally time for the conference notes that you’ve been meaning to revise and catch up on CPD points. Start that side hustle and pick up hobbies that you’ve been wanting to try but never had the time. We can focus on all the things that have been lost but we can also put the energy into becoming better for this is all over.

    Know your options
    Every workplace is unique, and it is crucial to explore options with employment for now and the future. The situation is changing daily so stay alert but not anxious and communicate regularly with employers, colleagues and membership organisations such as Optometry Australia for advice on changes in optometry regulations, employment options and financial support. While Young Optometrists NSW/ACT cannot provide legal advice, they can provide support and redirect you to someone who can.

    I look forward to the day when this is all over so we can all return to work, fully appreciating all the things we took for granted before."

    Image may contain: 1 person, standing, ocean, sky, shoes, child, outdoor, nature and waterImage may contain: one or more people, ocean, sky, outdoor, nature and water

  • 15 Apr 2020 10:01 AM | Anonymous

    Now we've all got (a lot) of time of our hands, if your Instagram is anything like mine it's been inundated with the tastiest images of everyone's home cooking adventures. Here's a few below that are focussed on nutrient dense foods, which are great for eye health! 

    But firstly, what micro-nutrients are important for eye health?

    • Vitamin C - an antioxidant that we are unable to make or store. Therefore it's important we eat foods with Vitamin C numerous times throughout the day. Foods high in Vitamin C: red and green peppers, oranges, grapefruit, kiwifruit. Did you know, if you are allergic to latex you are possible allergic to kiwi as well?
    • Lutein and Zeaxanthin - a dietary carotenoid that has antioxidant properties and is  found in the macula and lens We are unable to make this and can only be absorbed through our diet. Foods high in lutein: Kale, spinach, collards (i.e. leafy green vegetables). Did you know you can eat wild dandelion greens? (Just make sure they're free of pesticides!)
    • Omega 3 fatty acids - Three main fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It is through diet that we are able to practically increase these levels. Foods high in Omega 3: cold-water fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, soybean oil, certain eggs and yoghurt. Did you know, because chickens are fed flaxseed in their feeds, their yolk contain DHA - so don't avoid the yolk! 
    • Beta-carotene - an antioxidant essential for maintaining the health of our eyes, skin, mucous membranes and immune system. Foods high in beta-carotene: peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes. Did you know the carotene comes from the Lain word for carrot?
    • Others: Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Zinc, Selenium and others 

    Whilst there are many multi-vitamins on the market, it is best if you can absorb your nutrients through your diet! Eat your vegetables both raw and cooked, for example if you look at orange peppers, you can more readily absorb Vitamin C eating then raw, whilst more easily absorb Zeaxanthin eating them cooked. 


    • 500g diced salmon 
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon ginger (grated)
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic (minced)
    • 3 green onions (chopped, thinnly)
    • Cooked rice (brown, sushi, white, whatever floats)
    • 1 cup leafy greens 
    • 4 radishes (thinnly sliced)
    • 1 avocado (cubed)
    • 1 sweet potato (cooked, cubed)
    • 2 carrots (grated)
    • Black sesame seeds
    1. In a medium sized bowl, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic, and green onions. Stir well to combine. Add fresh, cubed salmon and marinate for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
    2. Arrange brown rice, leafy greens, radishes avocado, carrots and salmon on top. Sprinkle black sesame seeds for a bit of class. 

    Blood Orange Poke Bowls with Quinoa Speckled Rice & Sea Lettuce ...

    Note: you can substitute the vegetables for others things in your fridge, try: peppers, collards, kale etc. 



    • 1 ripe apple (peeled or chopped)
    • 1 kiwi fruit 
    • 1 cup kale
    • 1 carrot
    • 1/2 cup orange juice
    • 1/2 cup cold water
    • 6 ice cubes
    • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds

    1. Add all the ingredients in a blender and blend for about 30-60 seconds or until smooth. Enjoy! 

    Farm Fresh To You - Recipe: Refreshing Kiwi, Apple and Fennel Juice

    • Calories771
    • Fat52.54g
    • Saturated fat10.14g
    • Trans fat
    • Carbs24.33g
    • Fiber10.45g
    • Sugar7.19g
    • Protein53.1g
    • Cholesterol124.74mg
    • Sodium1950.2mg
    • Nutritional Analysis per serving(2 servings)Powered by

    seedy pancakes


    • 3 cups oats 
    • 2 teaspoon baking powder  
    • 1 tablespoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon Salt
    • 2 tablespoon chia seeds2 tablespoon flaxseed meal 
    • ¼ cup maple syrup
    • 1 egg (50 g)
    • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (5 g)
    • 1 ½ cups milk (cows, almond, oat - any is fine)
    • Spray of cooking oil 
    1. Blend 2 cups of rolled oats until it becomes a flour (around 30 seconds).
    2. To the oat flour, add in baking powder, baking soda, salt, chia seeds and flaxseeds. Pulse to combine.
    3. Add in the remaining cup of rolled oats, maple syrup, egg, vanilla extract and milk and blend until well combined. 
    4. Heat the pan on medium, add a spray of cooking oil. Add 1/4 cup of batter and cook until the edges begin to set and you see bubbles in your pancakes. Flip and continue to cook on the second side 2–3 minutes more. Serve warm with a sprinkle of maple syrup and nuts!

    Oatmeal Banana Pancakes with Cardamom, Pecans, Coconut and Maple ...

    If you try any of these recipes, make sure you tag us @yoptoms in your creations! 

  • 5 Apr 2020 10:26 PM | Anonymous

    If you told me 3 months ago that I would be unemployed and had to move back in with my parents, I wouldn't have believed you. But hey, here we all are! Money's tighter, budgets are smaller but these are a few financial tips that could help;

    Disclaimer: We strongly advise you to speak to your banks, lenders, legal advisor and/or accountant. This information is not to be interpreted as constituting professional advice and YO are not liable for any income loss taken from above advice. 

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