New training focuses on age-related macular degeneration
CERA clinician-scientists have joined forces with University of Melbourne colleagues to create an online clinical training course which will bring eye care professionals up to date with the latest research on age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The course, AMD for Primary Eyecare Practitioners, was developed by the University’s Mobile Learning Unit in partnership with CERA Deputy Director Professor Robyn Guymer AM, who is also a Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Melbourne, and Dr Lauren Ayton, an optometrist and Head of the University’s Vision Optimisation Group.
Professor Guymer, who is ranked no 3 globally for macular research and is a senior medical retina consultant at the Royal Victorian Eye and Eye Hospital, says the course aims to give optometrists the latest clinically relevant research findings to support their management of patients with AMD.
The course is also suitable for general practitioners with an interest in eye care, orthoptists, ophthalmic nurses and ophthalmology trainees.
Other key clinician scientists who provided expertise to the project include CERA’s Dr Carla Abbott and Dr Zhichao Wu, along with Professor Erica Fletcher and Associate Professor Laura Downie from the University of Melbourne, all of whom initially trained in optometry.
Professor Guymer says the course has a strong translational focus, which provides information that practitioners could use in their everyday interactions with patients diagnosed with AMD, or at risk of the disease.
“There have been significant advances in the diagnosis and management of AMD in recent years, along with major advances in the tool available to image the retina. This course will upskill practitioners, bringing them the latest research, but in a context of how it will influence and change day to day interactions with patients. This course aims to improve patient care,’’ she says.
The course includes detailed instruction on how to classify AMD, interpret ocular images and identify biomarkers of the disease severity using all the imaging tools available to us; optical coherence tomography, near-infrared imaging and autofluorescence.
It also provides information on risk factors for AMD that inform eye care practitioners on patient prognosis, potential interventions for intermediate AMD and the newest pharmaceutical, gene and cell therapies for late stage disease.
Dr Ayton says the course will be continually updated to provide new information about research findings that impacts clinical management as they become available.
Dr Ayton says course participants will also have the opportunity to ask questions of AMD experts.
“The course creates an exciting new way for researchers and practitioners to communicate with each other,’’ she says.
“As researchers we often present at conference and write research papers, but it is a slow way for us to share our knowledge.
“This online course will help us provide new information in a timely manner, so that eye care practitioners and their patients can benefit as soon as possible.’’
How to access the course
AMD for Primary Eyecare Practitioners is available through the University of Melbourne’s Mobile Learning Unit.
It contains 10 hours of eLearning, with 10 case studies and eight units of self-assessments, and is suitable for continuing professional development (CPD) points.
It can be completed anytime, anywhere at the learner’s own pace.