WATERFORD, Ireland — A transatlantic partnership between Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland, and Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry has created a new online learning resource allowing optometrists and eyecare technicians to complete certified training about the importance of nutrition to eye health at their desk or using a mobile device. The new resource, MacuLearn.com, was developed by professor John Nolan of the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (a unit of the School of Health Science, Waterford Institute) and Dr. James Stringham of the Visual Performance Laboratory at Duke University’s medical school.
MacuLearn will provide doctors and their staff with the latest information on eye nutrition, vision, retinal diseases, and also guidance on how we can enhance and protect vision for all our patients.
The two researchers, who have both earned international reputations for their research on how nutrition impacts on visual performance, see a significant opportunity to open global access to a range of video tutorials, according to the announcement about the partnership. Those who complete each session will be tested with a short online questionnaire before receiving an online certificate as proof of successful completion.
“We see this as a great way to communicate and share, making research findings and useful information globally accessible in a single source,” professor Nolan said. “There is a considerable appetite for accredited programs like this that take large bodies of research and deliver it in digestible form.”
He added, “The traditional model for continuing professional development where people came together in person to attend seminars is limited in reach and also coming under additional strain now as we are all more conscious of our carbon footprint and the need to reduce air travel. This is even more timely given the enormous impact of COVID-19 on education and continued learning, with most of this year's eyecare conferences canceled.”
Dr. Stringham noted that the past two decades have seen huge strides made in the scientific understanding of the importance of nutrition to the eye. “Part of the challenge we are responding to now is to continue to educate and inform eye health practitioners about those advances and how they can integrate ocular nutrition in to their frontline work with patients,” he added.
MacuLearn — which will build out further over time — is a different channel to access valuable learning opportunities, it was developed as a way to reduce costs. The online materials can be kept updated more easily so that learning is as current and relevant as possible, the announcement noted.
The www.maculearn.com site is now live and will be added to with further learning modules through the rest of 2020 and beyond.