Changes afoot

Kieran Loft on his last stint at Acuity, and other changes in optometry.

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No, I’m not becoming a podiatrist. Oh dear, that’s corny. However, this is my last editorial for Acuity. Over the last three years we’ve created a journal that is informative, interesting and attractive, and this issue is no different.

My departure from the Acuity team isn’t the only change in the world of optometry. Something that could create significant change is the emerging field of oculomics – using measurements and observations from eye examinations to predict the likelihood of systemic disease. As optometrists, we are already well versed in identifying ocular pathology that may indicate other problems – assessing diabetic retinopathy and vascular occlusions that require cardiovascular review, or identifying nerve palsies or papilloedema that may indicate significant cranial pathology. This is just the next step, and our feature highlights the recent research that may lead to optometrists playing a major role in sustaining the nation’s health.

We may also see changes in the treatments we offer patients. While many optometrists now have prescribing qualifications to treat eye conditions with medicine, perhaps the optometrists of the future will have expertise in the area of video gaming, allowing them to treat amblyopia more effectively. This edition’s cover feature looks at the developments in this field. Having worked in paediatric clinics for many years, this is particularly interesting to me. Many forget the long-term impact amblyopia can have on children. Could this help the career prospects and lifelong risk of visual impairment for these patients? Treating amblyopia, whether with spectacles, occlusion therapy or video games, can change lives.

This research may lead to optometrists playing a major role in sustaining the nation’s health

What will I be doing with my extra time? I wondered about joining a brass band and taking up yoga, but I was worried it might cause glaucoma. A timely article has put my mind at rest. There are various lifestyle factors that have been linked with glaucoma, or glaucoma progression, but the evidence is not strong. As the experts explain, we need to carefully balance the lifestyle advice we give our patients, making sure we are not unduly advising against activities that provide many mental and physical benefits. In a year where COVID-19 restrictions have affected our ability to do the activities we love, I’m sure we can all understand this. So, next time you see me, I might just be doing a handstand and playing the trumpet (and not worrying too much about the transient rise in IOP).

I have had a wonderful time working on Acuity, and I hope we have brought exciting news and digestible information to your coffee table. I wish my successor as much enjoyment in the role as I have had, and I look forward to reading the next issue with someone else’s face in it!

Author(s)

Kieran RG Loft MSc BSc (Hons) MCOptom DipTp (IP)
E: kieran.loft@college-optometrists.org

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