10th Annual ArtEyes WA Get Together

ArtEyesWA Annual Get TogetherWe’re very excited to announce our 10th Annual ArtEyes WA get together on Sunday 2nd November from 11.00am-3.00pm.

These are lovely events where people of all ages get together for a friendly family lunch.  In the past we’ve had picnics in the park. This year we’ve decided on an indoor event so that it doesn’t matter what the weather turns out to be on the day.

It’s always a challenge getting a lot of people together.  They haven’t met each other before and sometimes I feel nervous about how it’s going to work.  Every year it turns out to be a really positive experience.  This is especially true of people who have just lost an eye or are about to lose one.  They look around at the event and they can’t tell who has an artificial eye and who hasn’t.  For many it is the moment when they realise that their lives will go on and they’ll be ok.

I am also moved by the teenagers who turn up to these events and look around and see other teenagers.  You see that they realise others are on this journey and it doesn’t stop them looking great and having a good time.

Our invitations are  being posted out in the next few days.  If yours gets lost, or if you’ve moved to a new address please give me a call.  This is a catered event so it’s very helpful to know who is attending.

I really hope to see you there.



Jose′ Ramos-Horta Opens Artificial Eye Clinic in Timor-Leste

Opening of the artificial eye clinic in TimorIn February 2008 I was about to fly out to Timor-Leste to start an artificial eye clinic. Nobel peace prize winner Jose′ Ramos-Horta had been elected as President in May of the the previous year. The day before I was due to go to Timor he was shot and critically injured in an assassination attempt. I cancelled my trip and waited for the situation to stabilise.

Thankfully the President recovered and I did eventually make it to Timor in July later that year. It was an extremely challenging experience and I wasn’t as prepared as I needed to be. The country had been through so much trauma and upheaval that arranging things was far more difficult than I’d anticipated.

On that first visit I had six blind patients who spoke no English and I did not have access a translator. The room I worked in had no running water so between patients I washed my hands out the window with bottled water. Just about every aspect of running the clinic was complicated in one way or another. For me it was a bit of a trial by fire. To be honest, after the challenges of that first visit I found it hard to go back.

Fast forward six years and several clinic visits later and so much progress has been made. I’m a lot more organised and I have had help from my husband Michael who helps me run the clinic and sort out unexpected things that come up. I’ve also had a lot of fantastic support from Rotary and the Royal Australian College of Surgeons (RACS). Over the years I’ve worked from several different locations. This past year it has progressed in leaps and bounds. RMS Engineering donated a sea container and RACS applied for a grant through Lions First Sight Foundation  to fit the container out as an Artificial Eye Lab. The National Eye Clinic arranged five applicants  for the position of  trainee ocularist for the new clinic. My thanks to RACS, Lions First Sight, Timor Leste National Eye Clinic and Aus Aid for all their wonderful support.

Now another important milestone has been achieved. I’m very excited that the new clinic has just been officially opened in it’s permanent new home by Jose′ Ramos-Horta. We have two trainees from that clinic coming to Perth soon to continue their training. It’s been a long journey and it’s so satisfying to see the clinic very close to being able to run independently.

Timor itself continues to go from strength to strength and it’s been such a privilege for me to visit each year and see this growth. I’m so relieved Jose′ Ramos-Horta is fully recovered and so very pleased we’ve got this clinic to a point where it is there to serve the lovely people of Timor.



Here’s Some Beautiful And Useful Braille Jewellery

Most of our clients have reliable vision in one eye. Some have vision impairment in both.

A small group have some vision now but may lose that in the future.

I’ve got a delightful little client in Darwin who is such a person. She has some vision now but there’s considerable risk that she might lose that later.

Her lovely Mum recently explained to me that the family are teaching her some braille so that if she does lose her remaining vision she’ll still be able to read.

One of the resources her mother found was a website that sells braille jewellery. Or “jewelry” as it is in American spelling.

The jewellery is designed and made by artist Kelly Fehr who has a blind niece Emily.

Kelly surprised her neice one day with a braille necklace spelling Emily.

From this experience Kelly realized that she could make unique gifts for those who were blind and visually impaired.

My client’s Mother has had a little bracelet made with her daughter’s name in braille. It’s a beautiful thing.

I recommend you check out Kelly Fehr’s website Jewelry in Braille.

Here’s an example of one of Kelly’s braille bracelets.

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How To Apply Makeup When You Have An Artificial Eye

Women often ask me if they can still wear make-up after being fitted with an artificial eye.

The answer is a definite yes!

A lot of women do have issues with hollowing under the top eye lid.

This makes it a challenge to apply make-up in an even way.

It’s also difficult to see past your hand as you apply the make-up.

A few weeks ago I had a professional make-up artist come in to work with a client on these issues.

They had a two hour session which helped our client change her style of make-up and her technique for applying it.

After the session she looked fantastic and felt a lot more confident.

Would you like a session with make-up artist Ali Price?

She is very professional and caring. Her services will help you build your confidence and have you feeling great.

Her website is http://www.alipricemakeup.com.au/



Annual ArtEyes Gathering

It’s almost that time of year again! Our annual ArtEyes gathering will be on Sunday 3rd of November 11am – 3pm. This year it is at an indoor venue in Shenton Park because of the rain last year. Contact us for details.

We have sent out fliers in the mail, if you haven’t recieved one yet then give us a call to check if we have your current address.

As usual we will be providing the BBQ meats and chicken. Please bring a plate of food to share (salad, cakes, biscuits, vegies etc.) This is a family friendly lunch so bring along your family and friends!

RSVP to Jenny on 9322 5567 or by email at jenny@geelen.com.au

Hope to see you all there!



New Book About Eye Loss And Recovery

We’re excited to be launching “A Different Perspective – Your Guide to Eye Loss & Recovery”.

We’ve designed this book to give a positive overview of the eye loss recovery process.

It includes several stories from people who have lost an eye as a result of an illness or injury.

The book also includes tips on adapting to a change in depth perception in situations like driving, dining out and playing sport.

We set out to create a really friendly book that was as comforting as it was useful.

From our clinic feedback it seems this has been achieved.

Last week one client told me, “This book saved my life.”

I have to say that was a really sweet moment.

“A Different Perspective – Your Guide to Eye Loss & Recovery” is available as a downloadable $10 ebook or as an $18 paperback.

Click on the bookstore link to order your copy – Bookstore.



Cruising With Ocularists in South Africa

I’ve just got back from the Ocularist Association of South Africa Conference. It was held on a cruise ship from Durban to Mozambique which was pretty nice.

It was a relaxing cosy event where everyone knew each other and it was easy to meet and talk to people.

The Association have worked hard over ten years to promote professional industry standards and training for those coming into the industry.

It was fascinating to talk about the work they’ve put in over the last ten years. It made me realise the sort of challenges that lay ahead for our own Australian Association.

At the same time it was inspiring to see the end result of all their hard work.

They told us it took them ten years to get the profession of ocularist recognised as an actual profession.

There were all sorts of barriers and issues to be sorted out along the way including the definition of what an ocularist does.

Some make artificial eyes and others will make prostheses for facial parts close to the eye as well.

It’s wonderful to learn about the profession from so many different perspectives. It was also rather cool to get to hang out with Paul, my Dad.

Several people told us that they were really jealous that Paul had a daughter going into the profession and how they wished their own kids would consider it.

Maybe if they have an annual cruise like this last one they might get a few more takers.



“A Different Perspective” Launches in Durban

It’s been a very busy start to the year here.

I’ve been seeing up to fourteen people a day and that’s just a little hectic for me.

Things have slowed down a bit now and it’s great to catch my breath.

Paul is in Durban at an international ocularists conference where he is launching our new book A Different Perspective.

We are really excited about the book which will be available as a patient resource for ocularists worldwide.

I enjoy handing it to my new clients. It is great to be able to give them something which is full of useful and comforting information.

We intend to make the book available as an ebook soon – I’ll keep you posted.



Picnic at Kings Park – Sunday 4 November 2012

It’s that time of the year again! Our annual picnic in the park is going to be on Sunday 4th November from 11am – 3pm.

We’ve sent out the fliers but somehow forgot to confirm that it will be in Kings Park as usual.

We will be in the same spot as last year – between the Vietnam War Memorial and the Lake.

If you haven’t received your flier in the mail – it’s a good time to give us a call to check that we have your current address.

In other news, Paul is living in the Philippines for the next couple of years. He is coming back especially for the picnic, so it would be great if you came down to say g’day.

We’ll be supplying the bbq meats and vegetarian alternatives, all you need to bring is a plate to share (salad or dessert), a picnic rug or chairs, and a smile.

This is an all ages picnic, so bring the family along too.

It will help our catering if you RSVP to Jenny on 9322 5576 or jenny@geelen.com.au.

Looking forward to seeing you there!



Time for Celebration


We recently caught up with our lovely young friend Liana.  She and her Mum Fernette gave us this photo from a recent celebration.

Liana made these fabulous eye cupcakes to share with the class to celebrate five years with an artificial eye.

Liana, like most children we meet, is remarkably resilient and easily adapt to life with an artificial eye.

Right now we are in the process of making Liana a new eye.  It’s fun to catch up on the family news and see how much she has grown and changed.

Children do require more frequent appointments as they are constantly growing.

We loved catching up with Liana and her family and celebrating this great milestone.

The cupcakes look awesome!