NZAO Conferences 2018

Save the date! This years annual NZAO conference will be held in Paihia, in the glorious Bay of Islands.  Join us on 12th and 13th October at the 4 star waterfront hotel, Copthorne Hotel for a 2-day program of educational presentations and collegial social events. Keep an eye out for future issues of TVC where we will announce the opening of registrations.


Programme Summary >>       Speakers>>          Accomodation>>   


Friday 12 October      START 9:00am   FINISH 5:30pm
Saturday 13 October  START 8:15am   FINISH 5:45pm
AGM: 9:30am
ANNUAL DINNER 7:30pm – 12am

9:00 OPENING Rochelle van Eysden NZAO President Welcome Speech
9:15am - 10:00am LECTURE Joseph Sowka Mistakes to avoid in neuro-ophthalmic disease
10:00am - 10:45am LECTURE Paula Katalinic Connecting the dots in diabetic retinopathy: what has changed?
10:45am                                                                                 MORNING TEA
11:15am - 11:45am LECTURE Ally Xue Fun with broad spectrum ray guns - Intense pulse light therapy for meibomian gland dysfunction
11:45am - 12:30pm LECTURE Lori Vollmer Nutrition, modifiable risk factors and ocular disease
12:30pm                                                                                  LUNCH                                                    
1:30pm - 2:30pm LECTURE Joseph Sowka Mistakes to avoid in glaucoma management
2:15pm - 3:00pm LECTURE Samantha Simkin Community optometry - Blind and Low Vision Education Network of NZ (BLENNZ) and the role of optometrists in assessment and solving pediatric vision problems
3:00pm - 3:30pm    ALCON   
3:30pm    AFTERNOON  TEA
4:00pm - 4:45pm LECTURE  Paula Katalinic Grand rounds: advanced imaging
4:45pm - 5:30pm LECTURE Danielle Ross Community optometry - how optometrists can work with their local school to improve education outcomes for children with learning difficulties.
5:30pm -  6:30pm FRIDAY DRINKS   Red wine for retinal health (no driving)
8:15am - 9:00am LECTURE Joseph Sowka Mistakes to avoid in anterior segment and retinal disease
9:00am - 9:30am LECTURE Hans Vellara The Adventures of Hans Episode 2: biomechanics of the eye in health and disease
9:30am – 10:45am   AGM  
10:45am                                                                                   MORNING TEA
11:15am - 12:00pm LECTURE Trevor Gray Mono-focal vs Multi-focal Intra-Ocular Lenses – the Debate Heats Up
12:00pm - 12:45pm LECTURE Paula Katalinic Looking peripherally - practice tips for optometrists
12:45pm                                                                                  LUNCH                                                    
1:45pm - 2:15pm LECTURE Richard Johnson Refining optometric referrals into Health Board Ophthalmology services:
2:15pm - 3:00pm LECTURE Lori Vollmer Managing ocular trauma: from front to back
3:00pm - 3:45pm LECTURE Dean Corbett Maximizing Patient outcomes with Optometry and Ophthalmology
3:45pm                                                                                  AFTERNOON TEA
4:15pm  - 5:00pm   Brian Kent Smith Keeping it honest: patients who have kept me awake at night
5:00pm – 5:45pm   Jack Crawford Show and tell - Quick-fire pearls for clinical practice
    Richard Johnson  
    Lori Vollmer  
    Joseph Sowka  
7:30pm - 12:00am   ANNUAL DINNER  




Joseph Sowka, O.D., FAAO, Dipl.

Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a Diplomate in Glaucoma. Dr Sowka has held numerous Chair positions within the American Academy of Optometry. Currently, Dr. Sowka is Professor of Optometry at Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry where he serves as Chief of the Advanced Care Center and Director of the Glaucoma Service. He also serves as Chair for the Department of Optometric Clinical Sciences. His clinical responsibilities are devoted exclusively to the diagnosis and care of patients with glaucoma.

Lori Vollmer, O.D., F.A.A.O.

Dr. Vollmer is currently an Associate Professor of Optometry and Program Coordinator for the Primary Care Residency Programs within Nova Southeastern  University.  She is an attending optometric physician for the primary care clinic at The Eye Institute in Broward County. Her professional interests lie in ocular disease and nutrition. Her lecturing interests involve anterior and posterior segment disease, trauma, medical and surgical management and nutrition. She also teaches a course in Ocular Nutrition and the Eye. She is a member of the Optometric Nutrition Society, member of the American Optometric  Association, and a Member of International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN)

Paula Katalinic, BOptom (Hons), MOptom, GradCertOcTher

Paula has worked in both rural and urban optometric practice and spent 3.5 years at Joslin Diabetes Centre's Beetham Eye Institute in Boston. Most recently, she was a Staff Optometrist in the School of Optometry and Vision Science at The University of New South Wales and is currently on the clinical staff of the Centre for Eye Health UNSW and works part-time as the Professional Services Manager at the Optometrists Association Australia (NSW Division). Her clinical interests are in retinal pathology (with a particular interest in diabetic retinopathy) and colour vision.

Ally Xue, Optometrist 

Ally is a therapeutic optometrist who recently submitted her PhD thesis to the University of Auckland. Her doctoral thesis evaluated the therapeutic potential of Intense Pulsed Light as a treatment for MGD, and was supervised by Associate Professor Jennifer Craig (Department of Ophthalmology). ​​

Samantha Simkin, Optometrist

Is a therapeutically qualified optometrist who graduated with first class honors and has since completed her PhD in childhood visual impairment in New Zealand, both at the University of Auckland. Samantha continues her research as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Auckland, as well as practicing as a specialist pediatric optometrist between Poppet Optics – part of Matthews Eyewear and Eyecare, Eye Doctors, and the Blind and Low Vision Education Network New Zealand. Samantha’s areas of interest include newborn ocular screening, causes of visual impairment in children, management of children with low vision, and the impact of visual impairment on children’s education and social involvement.

Danielle Ross, Optometrist Director and Principal Optometrist at OCULA, Queenstown and Wanaka.


Danielle graduated from Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Optometry) in 2008 and completed Ocular Therapeutics at the University of Auckland in 2011. She has an interest in orthokeratology and speciality contact lenses, as well as in myopia control, paediatric and behavioural optometry. Danielle completed a post-graduate diploma in SchoolVision in 2017, with a distinction awarded for her pilot study into the link between reading difficulties and fixation disparity. 

Hans Vellara, Optometrist

Dr Hans Vellara is a therapeutic Optometrist and has completed his PhD thesis in the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Auckland. Supervised by Associate Professor Dipika Patel, Professor Charles McGhee and Dr Hussain Patel,. His PhD focused on the biomechanics of the eye in health and disease. He currently works as a locum optometrist at various locations while looking for a suitable post-doctoral position.

Richard Johnson, Optometrist

Richard graduated from the School of Optometry at the University of Auckland in 1993. He worked in the UK and Austria for a number of years as both an optometrist and contact lens fitter. Since 2003 Richard has been the principal optometrist at the Ophthalmology Department at Greenlane Hospital, working in the Acute Eye Service.  He also has paediatric and diabetic/medical retinal clinics.  He is the immediate past president of the Cornea and Contact Lens Society of NZ and a trustee of the Eye Bank of NZ.  He has been the chairman of VOSO, the charitable trust of optometrists and ophthalmologists providing eye care throughout the Pacific since 2006.

Dr Dean L.Corbett, Ophthalmologist

Dr Corbett is a Glaucoma, Cataract and Vision Correction Specialist, and is the current chairperson and board member of CPAC planning group 2002-2018. He is also the Chair and Founder of the Auckland Eye Research Group and Chairman of Auckland Eye.

Brian Kent-Smith, Ophthalmologist

Dr Brian Kent-Smith was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa.
He has an Undergraduate medical degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.  He did specialist ophthalmology training at St John Eye Hospital, Baragwanath, Soweto.
Dr Kent-Smith has been in public and private practice in Whangarei since 1997 and is currently the Chair of the NZ branch of RANZCO

Trevor Gray, Ophthalmologist

Dr Gray has recently set up his own clinic & surgery centre, called Re:Vision Anterior Segment Specialists (Auckland). He is a sub-specialist in LASIK, cataract & ICL surgery and the management of ocular surface disorders. Dr Trevor Gray undertook Triple fellowship Training in the US and UK including a Cornea, External Diseases & LASIK Refractive Surgery Fellowship in Miami, and a Cornea, External Diseases & Anterior Segment Surgery fellowship and Uveitis Fellowship in London.  Dr Gray is a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Ophthalmology at the University of Auckland and past Consultant Ophthalmologist (Cataract & Cornea Specialist) at Auckland Hospital for 20 years.  Past-President of the Cornea & Contact Lens Society of NZ (2003-7). Dr Gray set up his Buchanan Charitable Foundation that established the Buchanan Ocular Therapeutics Unit (University of Auckland). He also offers Pro bono vision correction surgery for tetraplegic patients and cataract surgery for needy cataract patients denied access to public hospital funded surgery.



   Back to the top 





Copthorne Hotel

Accommodation is available at the conference location, however, spaces are limited on the Thursday (the night before conference begins). October is a busy time of year, so we suggest you get your accommodation booked as soon as possible. In order to receive these rates bookings MUST come hotel direct (can call if you prefer: T +64 9 402 7411) or email the hotel using the booking form below. Any enquiries can be made to – these rate are not available on their website.
Bed & Breakfast Rate Single Occupancy - $155.00 per night.
Bed & Breakfast Rate Double Occupancy - $175.00 per night.

The above rates are per room per night, based on a single, twin share or double occupancy and include a full cooked buffet
breakfast per person. 

Download the booking form below and send to to receive the discounted rate:




NZAO 2017 Conference | NZAO 2016 ConferenceNZAO 2015 Conference | NZAO 2014 Conference | NZA0 2013 Conference | 
NZAO 2012 Conference