‘Our business just exploded’: All eyes on thriving store

VISION: Diana Ward, from the Optical Superstore in Riverlink, has  considerable experience in the industry.

ACCORDING to a recent Roy Morgan Research report, 58%of Australians wear prescription glasses and on average replace them every two and half years.

It seems the older we get, the more we need to wear glasses.

One local business, Optical Superstore Ipswich, assists locals with all of their optical needs.

Diana and David Ward have been in business since 2002, moving from the Ipswich City Mall to Riverlink and in their third move are now located opposite Coles in the Riverlink Shopping Centre. “Coming into Riverlink was our best move we ever did, a lot more foot traffic and our business just exploded,” co-owner/operator David Ward said.

The husband and wife duo has considerable experience in the industry. Mr Ward worked in Melbourne, the home of the Optical Superstore.

“I am an optical mechanic, I did my apprenticeship in this and I am trained to make lenses and fitting them into frames.

“This particular role is now gone, replaced by computers. I went on to become an optical dispenser,” he said.

Diana is a qualified optical dispenser studying for the position during a four-year course. Starting out as a receptionist in a laboratory, where the two worked together, she moved to selling frames to retailers.

The complementary skills of the pair means customers are the beneficiary of their considerable knowledge and skill.

Optical Superstore is an Australian-owned and operated business.

“When I worked for them they only franchised to people known to the owner,” he said. “I had a young family and wanted to move back to Ipswich and I asked if he would support me opening a store here. He was happy to do that.”

In this highly competitive business, Optical Superstore Ipswich prides itself on offering the latest in technology for eye examination.

“We try to buy Australian-made frames and stock other international brands. In fact, we have well over 600 frames on display in our store.”

Two optometrists, Alison and Emma, are instore six days a week. Bookings can be made from Monday to Saturday, with appointments until 5pm on Saturday and 7pm on Thursday.

“I will go out of my way to assist our customers – that’s what others will not do. For example, I will do prescription diving masks, people don’t think of that.

“I also do a lot of individual safety glasses that are prescription and certified,” Mr Ward said.

While consumers are more aware of their eye health, it seems there is an increase in young people needing prescription glasses due to constantly being on smart devices without taking breaks.

Optical Superstore Ipswich are providers for Veteran Affairs clients and work with all major health funds for hi-caps claims. Mr and Mrs Ward operate a very successful and customer-oriented business, dedicated to continue to support the local community.



Gene Variant Behind Our Craving For Fatty Chicken Korma: Study

Gene Variant Behind Our Craving For Fatty Chicken Korma: Study

LONDON: People who carry a particular gene variant have a higher craving for fat-rich chicken korma but a decreased preference for sugary foods, according to a new Cambridge led study that may help treat obesity.

The research provides insights into why we make particular food choices, with potential implications for our understanding of obesity, researchers said.

This is one of the first studies to show a direct link between food preference and genetic variants in humans.

Previous studies in mice have shown that disruption of a particular pathway in the brain involving the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) can lead to mice eating a lot more fat. Unusually, these mice eat a lot less sugar.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge in the UK gave participants an all-you-can-eat buffet of chicken korma – a popular type of curry – with three options manipulated to look and taste the same, but in which the fat content provided 20 per cent (low), 40 per cent (medium) and 60 per cent (high) of the calories.

They tested lean people, obese people and people who were obese because they have a defect in a gene called MC4R.

After taking a small taster of each meal, people were allowed to eat freely from the three kormas. They could not tell the difference between the foods and were unaware that the fat content varied.

Researchers found that, although there was no overall difference in the amount of food eaten between the groups, individuals with defective MC4R ate almost double the amount of high fat korma than lean individuals ate (95 per cent more) and 65 per cent more than obese individuals.

In a second arm of the study, people were given Eton mess, a dessert that includes a mixture of strawberries, whipped cream and broken meringue.
Again, there were three options from which participants could freely choose.

Lean and obese individuals said they liked the high sugar Eton mess more than the other two desserts.

However, individuals with defective MC4R liked the high sugar dessert less than their lean and obese counterparts and in fact, ate significantly less of all three desserts compared to the other two groups.

One in 100 obese people have a defect in MC4R gene which makes them more likely to put on weight, researchers said.

They think that for these individuals, the fact that the MC4R pathway is not working may lead to them preferring high fat food without realising it and therefore contribute to their weight problem.

“Our work shows that even if you tightly control the appearance and taste of food, our brains can detect the nutrient content,” Professor Sadaf Farooqi from the Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council Institute of Metabolic Science at Cambridge, who led the research team, said.

Farooqi and colleagues think that humans may have evolved pathways in the brain that modulate the preference for high fat food in order to cope with times of famine.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.


Gene Behind Our ‘Sixth Sense’ Identified: Study

Gene Behind Our 'Sixth Sense' Identified: Study

Scientists have identified a gene which controls specific aspects of human touch and a ‘sixth sense’ that describes awareness of one’s body in space.

With the help of two young patients, one nine and the other 19 years old, having a unique neurological disorder, scientists found that the gene called PIEZO2 controls specific aspects of human touch and the ‘sixth sense’ called proprioception.

Mutations in the gene caused the two to have movement and balance problems and the loss of some forms of touch. Despite their difficulties, they both appeared to cope with these challenges by relying heavily on vision and other senses.

“Our study highlights the critical importance of PIEZO2 and the senses it controls in our daily lives,” said Carsten G Bonnemann, from the US National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

“The results establish that PIEZO2 is a touch and proprioception gene in humans. Understanding its role in these senses may provide clues to a variety of neurological disorders,” he said.

Bonnemann’s team uses cutting edge genetic techniques to help diagnose children around the world who have disorders that are difficult to characterise.

The two unrelated patients in this study have difficulties walking; hip, finger and foot deformities; and abnormally curved spines diagnosed as progressive scoliosis.

Working with Alexander T Chesler from NIH’s National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the researchers discovered that the patients have mutations in the PIEZO2 gene that appear to block the normal production or activity of Piezo2 proteins in their cells.

Piezo2 is what scientists call a mechanosensitive protein because it generates electrical nerve signals in response to changes in cell shape, such as when skin cells and neurons of the hand are pressed against a table.

Studies in mice suggest that Piezo2 is found in the neurons that control touch and proprioception.

“Our results suggest they are touch-blind. The patient’s version of Piezo2 may not work, so their neurons cannot detect touch or limb movements,” said Chesler.

Further examinations suggested the young patients lack body awareness. Blindfolding them made walking extremely difficult, causing them to stagger and stumble from side to side while assistants prevented them from falling.

They were also less sensitive to certain forms of touch. They could not feel vibrations from a buzzing tuning fork as well as the control subjects could.

Nor could they tell the difference between one or two small ends of a caliper pressed firmly against their palms. Brain scans of one patient showed no response when the palm of her hand was brushed.

The study appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.


How the brain balances hearing between our ears

“The balance of hearing between the ears and how we discriminate between sounds versus noise is dependent upon this neural reflex that links the cochlea of each ear via the brain’s auditory control centre,” Professor Housley said.
Credit: © Brian Jackson / Fotolia

UNSW researchers have answered the longstanding question of how the brain balances hearing between our ears, which is essential for localizing sound, hearing in noisy conditions and for protection from noise damage.

The landmark animal study also provides new insight into hearing loss and is likely to improve cochlear implants and hearing aids.

The findings of the NHMRC-funded research are published in the journal Nature Communications.

UNSW Professor Gary Housley, senior author of the research paper, said his team sought to understand the biological process behind the ‘olivocochlear’ hearing control reflex.

“The balance of hearing between the ears and how we discriminate between sounds versus noise is dependent upon this neural reflex that links the cochlea of each ear via the brain’s auditory control centre,” Professor Housley said.

“Until now we haven’t fully understood what drives the olivocochlear reflex.”

“Our hearing is so sensitive that we can hear a pin drop and that’s because of the ‘cochlear amplifier’ in our inner ear. This stems from outer hair cells in the cochlea which amplify sound vibrations.”

“When sound intensity increases, the olivocochlear reflex turns down the ‘cochlear amplifier’ to dynamically balance the input of each ear for optimal hearing, sound localisation and to protect hearing.”

The study found that the cochlear’s outer hair cells, which amplify sound vibrations, also provide the sensory signal to the brain for dynamic feedback control of this sound amplification, via a small group of auditory nerve fibres of previously unknown function.

In mice lacking the sensory fibre connection to the cochlear outer hair cells, loud sound presented to one ear had no effect on hearing sensitivity in the other ear. In normal control mice this produced an almost instant suppression of hearing.

Similarly, the olivocochlear reflex normally causes a rapid reduction in hearing in the ear receiving an increase in sound. This hearing adaptation was also absent in the mice lacking the sensory fibre connection.

The researchers speculate that some of the hearing loss that humans experience as they age may be related to the gradual breakdown of this sensory fibre connection to the outer hair cells.

“A major limitation of hearing aids and cochlear implants is their inability to work in tandem and support good hearing in noisy conditions,” Professor Housley said

“The ultimate goal is for cochlear implants in both ears to communicate with each other so that the brain can receive the most accurate soundscape possible. This research will help us move closer to that goal.”


“Our focus should be on skill development,” says Manish Sisodia

Manish SisodiaTiE Delhi – NCR, the Delhi chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship, today hosted the India Education Entrepreneurship Day on the occasion of Education Day at Sheraton Saket. The event witnessed Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister Manish Sisodia who addressed the keynote. Followed by four insightful sessions highlighting the importance of collaborative efforts by startups and educators explained about Ed Tech solutions for students.

“There are 26 lakh school going students in the NCR, out of which in the primary education sector 74 per cent students cannot read their own Hindi course books. 46 per cent primary education students are unable to read. During my journalism years, I believed we suffered from infrastructural problems. Post one-and-a-half year in the ministry, I have come to realize that infrastructure is not the problem we have overcome that, the need of the hour is to better equip our teachers with the technology savvy students, who are more aware about the world than the teacher in the classroom. Education is the core and technology can be an enabler.” said Manish Sisodia, Hon’ble Deputy Chief Minister & Education Minister, Delhi.

He added, “Our focus should be on skill development in students starting from their primary years of education. I am hopeful education entrepreneurs can give me the solution to the gaps emerged by the rapid advancement of technology and also make Hindi, our mother tongue a part of the advancement.”

Geetika Dayal, Executive Director, TiE Delhi-NCR, said, “Education is at a critical juncture in India and needs every bit of our attention. Many entrepreneurs today realize this and have ventured into the vast sphere of technology to find the best and incorporate it in our education system. Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way. Our goal is to bring together industry leaders and young talent to discover new opportunities to aid the students of our country get a better learning experience and become world class.”

The session was mediated by Ashish Gupta, TiE Delhi-NCR Board Member and was followed by a series of questions by entrepreneurs on how they could help bridge the gaps with regard to technology, skill development, teacher training etc in the Education sector.

About TiE Delhi – NCR:
TiE is a non-profit global community welcoming entrepreneurs from all over the world. It believes in the power of ideas to change the face of entrepreneurship and growing business through five pillars: mentoring, networking, education, incubating and funding. It was founded in 1992 by a group of successful entrepreneurs and it is currently the world’s largest entrepreneurial organisation.


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