Listen as Damon shares his excitement in these new technologies from a recent conference in Las Vegas, USA.
If you wear hard contact lenses or have dry eye, this video is for you!
– Welcome everyone. My name’s Leigh and I’m here with Damon Ezekiel, from Ezekiel Eyes. Welcome Damon.
– Hi Leigh, thanks very much for the opportunity.
– Thanks for joining us Damon. So you just had a massive trip over to the US. You spent over 24 hours on a plane.
– Yeah it’s great.
– All the way over to the Western United States.
– Tell us a bit about where you went to and where what the conference was for?
– So this is an annual Global Symposium on contact lens specialties. All, well 99% of the practitioners there offer a lot of rigid lenses. And the it was an amazing conference. I mean the content was absolutely sensational. And this was held in Las Vegas and I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to Las Vegas, but Las Vegas is an interesting place. It attracts a lot of people on the hope that they’re going to make a lot of money. So it’s an interesting place, it’s a lot of interesting people, interesting dynamics. But getting back to the contact lens side, so these presenters, I mean the content was just out of control. It was absolutely amazing. So everything that I went to, and you know this was one of the difficulties I had is every hour or every two hours there’s six streams of lectures running.
– [Leigh] Wow.
– And there’s sometimes I was torn between two or three, but I could only get to one. So, you know it was at times it was a bit disappointing, because I’m like, “Oh, I really want to see that and that. And you know this presenter’s amazing as well.” So that made it a bit tough. Then now we’re in streams of you know, whether it was scleral lenses or myopia management. Or there was a particular stream there which was just for the Americans and the way they do their billing and healthcare providers and things like that. So, it was great. It was hard though to make some of those decisions as to what to go to and what not to go to. This particular year, they got nearly a thousand delegates though. It was the biggest. I was very privileged to go, I think I travelled the furthest. There was a researcher from Queensland University of Technology, so from Brisbane. But yeah, it’s a long haul but it was really worth it. You know, as I said earlier, the quality was amazing. And you know we’re all very, very like minded. There was things that really grabbed my attention in particular was, you know, we’re fitting a lot more scleral lenses. And let me just show you my t-shirt there. This is from the Scleral Lens Society education group. Which, I was lucky enough to get my fellowship pin at this conference and these you know we I’m fitting a lot more sclerals. I have been for 29 years, but the scleral world has changed a lot with a lot of really innovative lens designs. One in particular that we’re using a lot, which is originated out of the U.S.A. And has recently been licenced to a lab in Australia. So the beautiful thing about that for me and my patients is it’s only a week or so turnaround instead a minimum of three weeks coming from the U.S. So delivery time is important. The other massive bonus about this particular design lens compared to what we were using previously is we can do a lot of adjustments to the curve in the middle on the back and the mid periphery in the edge. And we can tailor make in four different quadrants. So at zero degrees, 90, 180, and 270. Each edge, one can lift off and one can drop back. So it’s very, very individualised which is amazing. And then also we can put two panels on the front, which a lot of other scleral designs is very minimalistic. So, what we can offer our patients is you know just something out of this world. I should just add that for years now optometry in particular we can map the central part of the eye. The cornea the very front. But the wider the eye, the scleral we haven’t been able to map. And recently there’s been a couple of what’s been called scleral profilers where the wider the eye we can actually now measure. So there was a couple of these instruments to look at. But the interesting research shows that the wide of the eye is very asymmetrical. So the curve of the scleral lens which is sitting on the wide. And these two, or four meridians, they’re usually different. They’re not all the same and that’s the beautiful thing about having this particular design that Kai and I are using at Ezekiel Eyes where we can change these curves. And like I said, zero, 90, 180, and 270. So by able to tailor make that shirt we can you know get this fit to be so much more comfortable for our patients. So that was fantastic. This particular design launched a multifocal scleral lens, which was very interesting, very exciting. I haven’t personally played with it, but you know from what I could see from the studies things looked, the numbers, and patients seemed very happy with it. So that’s very exciting. And that’s something else, that we can add to our arsenal and something else we can offer our patients. There was a stream of lectures on myopia prevention. Which is a very hot topic at the moment. And you know the, especially, well I mean when you look at somebody like South Korea where 98% of the population is short sighted, we really want to minimise the degeneration and hope that the myopia progression to minimise when patients are older in life with retinal detachments. And retinal tears and retinal holes, macular degeneration, things like that and glaucoma. So it was a big discussion about that. And some interesting research which was a bit disturbing, when we look at some of the power profiles of what these soft lens, just a standard soft lens daily that we’re prescribing patients. So from a proactive point of view, and this is the way Kai and I like to practise is to you know with patients who are shortsighted with the potential to become more short sighted because their age, angle, their parents, and their myopia. We really want to try and nip it in the bud. And we have a lot of really, really good tools we can use. Whether they are soft lenses during the day or recon lenses overnight. I mean there’s lots of different myopia prevention techniques out there. So it was across the board there was just lots of really interesting things. There was a one of my favourite presenters on dry eye Epstein from Arizona, very dry part of the U.S. He presented on a new drop that was launched in the U.S. Unfortunately it’s not available in Australia yet, but there is something similar that one of the suppliers in Australia do have and I’ve requested some samples for Kai and I to pay with. So, I’m hoping we have we can add something to our store to help out dry eye patients. So you know there was lots of you know the Exhibition area was crazy. There were lots of different things there. Unfortunately, there’s certain products that we just can’t or they’re not available in Australia yet. Might have to go through the regulatory authorities. The TKA. So maybe, down the track but that could be a couple years away. So yeah, in terms of the content was absolutely amazing. It was really, really exciting. And you know, but apart from the content, one of the most important things that I find of any conference congress is what happens in the um… The word I’m looking for is a passageway. And you know, I was talking morning to lunch. You know, the networking and talking to other optometrists or eye care practitioners, whether they’re researchers or clinicians you know, “How do you deal with your dry eye?” Or, “How do you deal with you know keratitis?” And things like that, so yeah, it’s um. It was really good. It was a fabulous congress. It’s on, it’s on every 12 months. Always in Vegas at this time of the year. Because it’s cold, so it’s cheaper to have a conference in Vegas. Like convention areas and stuff like that. So yeah, it was really good, there was um a couple from Australia, a couple from Sydney. One from Adelaide, myself a third. So you know there was a and a couple from Bisbane. So it was good. It was good to talk to all these other optometrists. One before you ask the next question, Leigh, sorry. There’s one other amazing lens, which I looked into with the scleral lens in um- After I became president at the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists at that conference in Washington in September-October. I was looking into this Ipren lens, which is a scleral lens where we take a mould of the eye anyway I saw the suppliers of that. And they are hopefully going to be in Australia later this year. They’re going to teach me hopefully licence me. So, we take an impression of the eye and then we send the impression off, but the new technology is to take a scan of this mould. And that’s digitally sent back to the lab, and then very carefully goes onto a lathe, and they cut with a tear profile. And so you know, the fit’s you know, really, really amazing. So for those patients who are very difficult to fit with a you know an off the shelf and then customising that shirt for a scleral lens. This is the next step. It’s not going to be cheap, but it’s you know amazing. Amazing and made in a gas permeable material. So you know, really nice and healthy. So there’s a lot of really, really exciting things coming up.
– Fantastic. It sounds like there’s some amazing technology that’s just around the corner. And thanks very much for Sonja for her comments. Sonja Knoll, she said, “Great sharing Damon Ezekiel. Love it that you’re sharing your feedback and your knowledge and experience.” So.
– [Damon] Oh thank you Sonja. I must pay Sonja for that. She’s done a great job.
– Yes, so-
– So I mean one of the evenings we had a Scleral Lens Society Educators function where, you know, I guess most of the conference was there, because most of us feared will we offer gas minimum lenses, but a lot of scleral lenses. So that was great. And then I was dragged off to the Eye, this Iprene the moulding scleral it was a presentation. So it was a really, really crazy conference, because it was just go, go, go. During the breaks of lectures and trying to get around to the exhibitors and trying to get into someone’s ear about their product was difficult because there were so many people interested in those products. So that’s always a challenge, but it was very, very stimulating. And the quality of lectures was really terrific.
– One of those presentations was with Dr. Tom Arnold, and colleagues. And what was one of things you picked up from that lecture?
– Yes, so Tom Arnold and Mr. Barnett, they’re both members of the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists. And they were talking about this particular scleral lens that Kai and I fit. This one that’s licenced from the U.S. and being made in Australia now. So they were talking about their experiences. So they would do a case history. You know talk about what they would do, and you know I’d say if it was my patient what I’d do and Kai would say, “I’d do this, that, and the other.” So it was really interesting it was not like you know the, counterproductive counterpoint from one. You know and just how two different angles looking at the same eye. And you know, a lot of it was similar but you know little nuances here and there. I would do this, and I you know would go an extra thirty microns deeper here and things like that. So, it was yeah, it was great because there was a couple lectures on this particular lens Kai and I fit. One was on the multifocal, and then you know just the nuances of how to change the fit. Yeah, it was great, really good. It was hard to sLeighp at night because I was so overstimulated.
– Love it, that’s fantastic. So at this conference, this was your first conference as president of the International Society. Were you there at an official role in any way?
– No I wasn’t, but I just thought you know I really do need to go for myself, but I also needed to go for the organisation and you know, spread the word. See what other delegates are out there that we should be inviting into our group. So you know, and there were people there that are interested. So you know, we’re hoping to grow. Our next conference we’re looking at is about April 2020. So it’s sometime away, but we need to get. We’re working hard now to get sponsorship and the draught programme all ready for 2020. So yeah, it was, I just thought in my position, I really do need to show the flag a little bit more and you know make sure you know some of those shows that are everywhere in Vegas were well attended. So I did go to, for those who haven’t been to Vegas, there are a lot of ticket booths. And an hour before a show the prices are remarkably cheaper. So there was a couple from Adelaide and this lovely lady Mindy, who’s and we’re all part of the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists. And Mindy and I got a last minute ticket to one of the Cirque de Soleil shows and met up with this couple from Adelaide just fantastic show. I mean the acrobatics and the strength of those people is just incredible. Not as exciting as a scleral lens, but still it was you needed some relief after a heavy day of talking eyes.
– It’s great to take your mind off things and yeah be able to explore Vegas a little bit. Were there any other highlights from Vegas?
– Well I was very lucky, I mean because of the way you know, where we live is so far away the conference venue has been pretty much abandoned and left. There was three of us from the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists that were still in town so we went out for dinner. And then the next day, Greg, he left first thing in the morning. I mean he’s from Switzerland and he was flying out Monday afternoon. Or Monday afternoon, evening much like myself. So he said well, what are we going to do? Why don’t we go and visit the Grand Canyon? Which we did. We got a helicopter ride out there. There was a group of seven on this helicopter and the pilot eight. So I can get you some images of that. And that was spectacular, I mean one of the beautiful things is we were so spoiled the week before I got there they had rain and horrible weather. While I was there it was cool, you know 13/14 degrees. Hardly any cloud around. So you know buzzing over the Grand Canyon was just absolutely incredible. It was fantastic it was an amazing experience really. Yep, something that I would hope to take the Boss and the kids on at some stage.
– And you have this Vegas story. Vegas is one of those places where you can do absolutely you know, there’s adrenaline everywhere. And you can do something if you know you want to do a bungee jump off this, that, or whatever. You can, you know, there’s stuff out there for everyone. Yeah, so it’s you know a drive to the Grand Canyon is a good two hour drive and you know we didn’t have time. And it was just convenient obviously just to jump in a helicopter. Sounds very crazy, but yeah that was great. Something I would definitely recommend.
– Yeah, just to give you that perspective. Sometimes being above the world and just-
– Incredible absolutely amazing yeah.
– Yeah, yeah, so you tell me about some of the things that you probably had a chance to catch Kai briefly but lots of things that you’re hoping to talk about and discuss with you as well?
– We had this crazy thing where I got in on Wednesday. I worked with Kai Thursday, Friday, Saturday morning and now luckily for Kai he’s up in Singapore visiting his family for Chinese New Year which is last night. So that was good. So it wasn’t, we didn’t have enough time really because you know when I get back from being away. My book is just chopper ball, which is good. I’m not complaining, but it doesn’t give me a lot of time to download with Kai. So I’m hoping you know when he gets back my list would have calmed down a little bit and yeah I’ll certainly be. I mean I’ve passed on some interesting talk already about the asymmetrical wide part of the eye the sclera of the scleral lenses and how you know the beautiful thing about this design that we’re playing with. How we can alter these landing zones on the sclera. So yeah no, it’s good. It’s yeah, time. Very time forward at the moment. That’s the way it is.
– Yeah absolutely. So if I was to come in soon for an appointment, what are the soonest things to come that will be come current with Ezekiel Eyes? There’s, you mentioned the dry eye sample drops that you’ve got?
– Yeah so I’ve just- These are coming from the United States. They’re hopefully going to arrive if not in the next day or so the end of next week. So I just need to sort out what they are and how they compare to what this Art was talking about in the U.S. So that’s an option obviously you know around keratitis, excuse me or post graft, or even patients who exceptionally short sighted the help that they’re going to get with the rigid lens compared to a soft lens. Upsee the vision, you know if the finessing of what we can do with the Scleral lens now compared to what we could do is it’s ten fold what I learned in Vegas. It’s you know talking to the consultants who of this lab and what they and how they make them. And then this doesn’t work, what do we need to do to give more edge lift or it’s too compressed or things like that. So, just spending time with them, chatting about this, that, and the other is just crazy invaluable. That’s leaps and bounds. So it’s just I guess I mean the most important thing is when you for us we’re not a generic go online and book an appointment. Because we do so many different things. So when patients ring up and they talk to Maureen or Dee, they can say, “Well look, I’m already wearing rigid lens and I’m having problems this is what I think I need.” Or, “I’m coming in for dry eye and IPL.” Then you know we can put you in the right place depending on what you require and that’s easier to have that conversation over the phone which certainly through our website you can log on and you know tell us about yourself and what you think you need. And then to make that appointment is it a 40 minute, 45 minute, a half an hour? Who do you need to see? You know is it IPL and Kai or so it just depends. And I think that personalised way of doing it over the phone we can work out exactly what you’re doing and who’s the right person for you to see.
– [Leigh] Yeah absolutely.
– So the best thing to do I think, you know, someone would like to see us is to give us a ring on 9-386-3620 and have a chat with Maureen. If you’ve got questions that she says, “Ugh, you really talk to Damon or Kai.” Great, we’ll ring you back in between patients and work out are we the people you need to see and you know when and what we can do. And there’s certainly you know patients who come in wearing scleral lenses from somewhere else that need attention. You know we would actually get them to come back in without any lenses in because of the moulding fact of sclerals we really need them to be free of them for an hour or two, the night before, before they go to sLeighp and you know get them in first thing in the morning, no lenses. And when they leave they can put their old lenses in. But that’s you know, it’s all very individualistic and case by case.
– Yeah, that’s fantastic. Damon it’s fantastic that your excitement, your enthusiasm for-
– It is exciting you know, the- It’s those little bits, you know, where you hear a patient say, “You know without you I can’t work, I can’t drive.” And you stand back and realise, Wow, that’s crazy the stuff that we’re doing.
– Absolutely. And it’s about, as you said in one of your updates on Facebook that it’s about really working alongside someone and improving their quality of life.
– Exactly, that, yeah. You’re spot on. That is the bottom line. If we can just get them an extra five, 15% whatever it is, and make things whacker and clearer and it’s like wow it is amazing.
– [Leigh] Yeah.
– So it’s great I mean it’s great. We’ve now got, we’re adding to our arsenal of contact lenses and all these different things we can do and customising that shirt. So just getting something off the shelf. It’s great.
– Yeah, absolutely fantastic. Well not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. So-
– [Leigh] So it’s been fantastic to hear from you and thank you for your enthusiasm.
– Thanks Leigh, any time. I’m really, as you can tell, I’m very excited, very passionate. And if I can help, please let me know. Thanks Leigh.
– [Leigh] Alright. Thanks Damon.
– Have a good night.
– [Leigh] Thank you, cheers.
In addition to owning and managing Ezekiel Eyes, Damon is a contact lens consultant to various research organisations. He regularly lectures and conducts workshops in contact lens practice throughout Australia, Asia and the United States. Damon graduated from the University of NSW with a Bachelor of Optometry in 1989. He is now married with two children and enjoys running, hockey, swimming, piano, travelling and trekking.
Damon’s professional associations include:
President of the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists
Practising Fellow of the Scleral Lens Education Society
Fellow of the Cornea & Contact Lens Society of Australia
Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry
Member of Optometry Australia
Member of the Orthokeratology Society of Australia
Member of Alcon Australia advisory panel