Home' InDaily : 28th June 2012 Contents Vol23No2Winter2012|7
Optometrists from Flinders University will
soon be able to diagnose and manage eye
diseases in rural and remote communities –
all from the comfort of their computer chair
Under the plan, people with a suspected
diabetes-related eye problem can visit a
partnering health care clinic in remote
regions of the state where a special retinal
camera takes a picture of the back of the eye,
sending the digital images electronically to
Flinders optometrists for assessment.
Indigenous Australians are particularly
susceptible to diabetes-related eye disease,
a common complication of diabetes that
affects the small blood vessels in the back of
the retina and causes them to leak, break
down or become blocked, impairing vision.
Professor Konrad Pesudovs (pictured, right),
Head of Optometry and Vision Science at
Flinders, said the project would be based on
a similar model of “telemedicine” used by
the world’s best optometry school – the
University of California, Berkeley.
The Berkeley program currently conducts
more than 30,000 examinations a year
throughout California’s Central Valley.
Professor Pesudovs met with his
Californian counterpart, Professor
Tony Adams (pictured, left) in April to
discuss the program and future plans
for the expansion of Optometry and
Vision Science at Flinders.
“We’ve been doing it at Berkeley for
a few years now and we’re quite
excited that Flinders is also interested
in running this kind of model of care,
especially in remote areas,” said Dr
Adams, an Emeritus Professor of
Optometry and Vision Science at the
University of California.
“A whole bunch of people with
diabetes in Alice Springs, for example,
could get tested in their own town and
the trained clinicians in a big city such as
Adelaide can give feedback, almost
instantly, on how to treat these patients,”
Professor Pesudovs said the project was
now being trialled in partnership with an
Aboriginal health centre in Port Pirie, with
plans in place to create a wider network of
clinics linked to a central Flinders
“telemedicine eye centre”.
“We’re hoping the program will reach
people who don’t have access to an
ophthalmologist or an optometrist and
we also see it as a great benefit to our
students because they will be able to
diagnose and manage treatment plans
firsthand,” Professor Pesudovs said.
Enhancing student experience
Mr Andrew Wood, Head of Health, Counselling and
Disability Services gives out succulent plants during
the University’s Mental Health Week.
New support for student mental health
A new Student Mental Health Action Plan
is to be developed at Flinders University in
response to last year’s National Summit
on the Mental Health of Tertiary Students.
The initiative was announced by Deputy
Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor
Andrew Parkin during the University’s
annual Mental Health Week.
Head of Health, Counselling and
Disability Services, Mr Andrew Wood said
the plan is being developed with the input
of students and staff, as well as mental
“There has been a growing recognition,
particularly in the past five years, in
universities all around Australia that
mental illness is a significant issue for
university students,” Mr Wood said.
“It affects not only the student’s quality of
life: it affects their ability to study, their
ability to do well – and it can also play a
part in whether students finish degrees at
all,” he said.
Following the Summit, a set of guidelines
was released covering areas such as
mental health awareness and promotion,
staff training, accessibility to support
services and communication.
“It’s a comprehensive set of ‘best practices’
which encourages universities to see
student mental health as everyone’s
business – not just the business of
counsellors and doctors,” Mr Wood said.
“It’s something that affects everyone:
students, but also impacts on staff in
Mr Wood said that in addition to providing
student mental health awareness training
for general and academic staff, an
important focus of the Plan would be to
help students become more resilient.
“That’s part of mental health promotion:
how to help students cope with life’s often
complex pressures and to help them build
their own resourcefulness to deal with life.”
As part of its strategy to increase awareness
of and support for mental health, Flinders
will add a new online mental health
resource to the University website.
Developed by the University of
Queensland, The Desk is a self-help
website that offers information on topics
Retinal camera takes eye care to the community
such as procrastination, study skills and
improving your mood. It will appear on
the Current Students homepage in a
version that is specific to Flinders
resources and support.
Professors Konrad Pesudovs and Professor Tony Adams (left)
treatment we will use non-invasive
equipment and 3D images to measure
the area under the eyes to detect any
changes in fluid accumulation or blood
flow, as well as any colour or temperature
changes to the skin,” Professor Piller said.
Eye bags: new therapy
Teenagers: dealing with sexual imagery
Teenagers not taken in by ‘raunch’
Researchers from Flinders University have
set their sights on lymphatic drainage as a
potential cure for unsightly eye bags.
Professor Neil Piller from the University-
funded Lymphoedema Research Unit is
about to begin a study to explore the role
of lymphatic drainage as a treatment for
eye bags and puffiness, a perennial
cosmetic problem that tends to worsen
Genes, fluid retention, diet and sleep
disturbances are all known causes of eye
bags, yet there is no scientifically proven
therapy to treat the condition.
Professor Piller said the Lymphoedema
Research Unit, based at Flinders Medical
Centre, is conducting a study of around 80
women to determine whether manual
lymphatic drainage can diminish the
appearance of eye bags, dark circles and
puffiness by removing excess fluid and
Manual lymph drainage is a gentle,
non-invasive technique that is widely
used by beauticians, spa therapists and
aroma therapists to enhance fluid
movement in the skin, although its
therapeutic role in under-eye problems
has been relatively under-researched.
“Eye bags are a cosmetic issue rather than
a life-threatening condition, but they can
be quite problematic for people who have
them because they’re often very prominent
on the face,” Professor Piller said.
“So we’ll be measuring the effect of manual
lymphatic drainage on the severity, colour
and appearance of the under-eye area and
hopefully the research will lead to a
therapy to treat this condition.”
Participants with eye bags will be
allocated to one of three groups, he said,
and receive one of the following
treatments – a specialised facial massage
five days a week for four weeks, a
self-treatment device to use at home or a
package of commercial skincare products
for the month-long trial.
“At regular intervals throughout the
School-age teenagers are widely exposed
to sexualised and “raunchy” imagery, but
are developing their own ways of dealing
with it, a Flinders University sociology
researcher has found.
As part of her recently completed PhD, Ms
Monique Mulholland undertook a study
involving children aged 13 to 16 from
three Adelaide high schools.
The study used a series of whole-class
activities designed to elicit the response of
adolescents to sexualised images
popularly available in mainstream media,
advertising, music video clips, and internet
cultures. No pornographic imagery was
viewed as part of the study.
While the study confirmed that young
people are finding sexual images readily
accessible, Ms Mulholland said they did
not seem to be “taking over their hearts
She said, however, that strong concerns
must remain about the long-term effects
of such exposure.
Thanks to the internet and social media,
“sexual images are definitely out from
under the bed”, Ms Mulholland said, but
she also found that one of the dominant
ideas of the public debate – that
sexualised imagery had become “normal”
and was causing a loss of moral sense
with regards to sexuality – was not borne
out by the teenagers’ responses.
“They weren’t saying that anything goes.
They haven’t normalised it: rather, they are
keeping it at a distance, often by using
humour,” she said.
“The young people are saying that they’re
laughing at it, and it seems that they still
have very conventional ideas of what’s
good and bad.”
One of the teenagers drew a parallel
between sexualised imagery and video
games, and said that young people are
well aware of the difference between
fantasy and real life.
“They are saying they have some agency in
this, that they are quite savvy about it,” Ms
But because her study was conducted in
broad, collective terms, Ms Mulholland
said it could not assess the long-term and
individual effects of “raunch culture” on the
actual sexual practices of teenagers, which,
she said, remain an issue of major concern.
‘While young people are not blindly
mimicking what they see, it has to affect
them somehow, and the ease of access is
still deeply concerning,” she said.
Ms Mulholland believes that more
research is needed to help in formulating
policy about a practical response.
She said that parents, authorities and
schools need to deal rationally with the
existence of the phenomenon, since the
effect of “protective panics” is that
children are denied proper practical
support and advice in dealing with what
they may see.
Banishing the eye bags with massage
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