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Opchat Magazine Charity PageCharity News, October-December 2015

 

Optical workers Benevolent Fund looks to help flooded staff.

Optical workers’ benevolent fund boosted at FMO

The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers receives £25,000 donation.

Interviews proceed for the VAO bursaries - Meet the IAMF panel: the judges behind the bursary

Crisis at Christmas with VCHP, London.

VISION 2020 UK hosts Integrated Care Event in collaboration with ADASS and NHS England.

VCHP General Manager Gets Stuck In!

Wiseman fund helps Cardiff students on charity mission

Optometry graduate urges students to apply for International Development charity grant.

Local Eye Health Network supports charity event.

Optical Technician awarded Wiseman Prize for 2015

Award winning Educator Andy Clark is offering discounted 1-2-1 coaching to raise funds for the World Sight Day Challenge

Essilor manufacturing staff climb every mountain for charity.

Adlens to join forces with Fight for Sight to fund pioneering eye research

Two newly qualified Optometrists take the plunge of a different kind.

HOUSE OF LORDS Hosts VCHP

Medical Student highlights Visual Needs of Homeless from research.

VISION 2020 UK hosts seminar for funders of eye research


Optical workers Benevolent Fund looks to help flooded staff.

December 2015

The Optical Workers’ Benevolent Fund is looking to support those in manufacturing optics who have been affected by the recent flooding in Cumbria.

The trustees have confirmed they will look to offer help to optical workers, and those in non-professional supporting roles, who have been caught up in this flooding.

The fund is making contact with local practices to ascertain how extensive any issues may be involving optical staff.

Optical workers’ benevolent fund boosted at FMO

December 2015

Funds from the FMO, generated by Optrafair 2015, have returned to the UK optical community, to support those needing assistance.

Barry Dibble presents to Frank Norville OBE

A donation of £1,200 was made to the Optical Workers’ Benevolent Fund which provides support for those in optical manufacturing who find themselves in difficulties.

Retiring FMO Chairman, Barry Dibble, made the presentation to fund trustee, Frank Norville, at the FMO’s London AGM last week.

Frank was delighted to receive this boost to the fund which supports optical workers facing hardship – often through ill health. Find out more about the fund by visiting its page on our charity sector

The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers receives £25,000 donation.

December 2015

The WCSM Education Trust, a charitable organisation focused on support for optical training and the widening of knowledge, has received a donation of £25,000 from David Burt OBE, Chairman of the original Optical Consumer Complaints Council.

Middleton (Master) and BurtThe donation was presented by Mr Burt to the Master, Edward Middleton FCA, at the Company’s December Court Luncheon on Tuesday 8 December 2015.

Richard Wilshin, a former Registrar of the GOC and Secretary of the Company which originally administered the Optical Consumer Complaints Service, explained:

“When the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) was first established, it was funded by donations from the GOC and principal optical bodies. Amendments to the Opticians Act subsequently enabled the GOC to fund a complaints service. The original OCCS company no longer administers the service but, having moved out of London for the last six years of the company’s contract, it was possible to maintain the service at a reduced cost and accumulate a surplus.

We wanted this surplus to be used for the benefit of those in optics and have therefore made this donation today to the educational charity set up by the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, the WCSM Education Trust. “

Edward Middleton, a Trustee for the past six years and now Master of the Spectacle Makers’ Company, said, “The WCSM Education Trust is delighted to have received this donation. The aims of the Trust are to advance study, knowledge and education in the field of optics for the public benefit, and particularly for the benefit of the visually impaired. The funds will be used to support our programme of educational events for people working in optics and to generate interest in optics at Schools Link events, meetings and conferences.”

The WCSM Education Trust is a charity (Registered Charity no 1135045) established by The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers to advance study, knowledge and education in the field of optics for the public benefit (and particularly for the benefit of the visually impaired).

Its charitable objects include the funding of lectures and the publication of theses in the name of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers to promote awareness of the field of optics to the public and to foster greater sharing of knowledge in the field of optics.

The developing and conducting of training courses for those involved in the field of optics.

Contributing towards, maintaining or instituting research, research fellowships, grants of scholarships in the field of optics; and supporting the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers in any other way so far as that support is charitable and compatible with the above objects.

Interviews proceed for the VAO bursaries - Meet the IAMF panel: the judges behind the bursary

Seven optical students were interviewed last week for a chance to join a Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) group in summer 2016.

The bursaries are made available by the Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund (IAMF) and the Wiseman Memorial Fund.

They offer the chance for 2nd year optometric students to experience work in Africa through grants administered by The Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians (FODO).

The three highly sought-after bursaries are allocated following an application and interview process held at the FODO head office.

In the 18 years that this scheme has been running, 42 students have been able to volunteer on Vision Aid Overseas assignments.

IAMF PanelWe asked the judges from the IAMF interview panel share what it is that makes a successful candidate.
Left to Right Lynda Oliver, Judith Trigg and Brian Keefe

Brian Keefe, IAMF Trustee said, “The opportunity for second year students to attend a Vision Aid Overseas project in Africa will not only improve their optical knowledge, but their knowledge of life itself.

“We are looking for students who would truly benefit from the experience. The ability to work within a team, considering you will spend all day, every day for two weeks together, is fundamental.”

Fellow IAMF judge, Judith Trigg, Professional Volunteer Coordinator at Vision Aid Overseas added, “This really is a fantastic opportunity for students to work alongside professional optical volunteers on an assignment in Zambia.
“All of the students who have been selected as bursary winners have always been adaptable, good team players and keen to work hard and learn.”

Lynda Oliver, IAMF Trustee said, “What a pleasure to meet with optometry students from all over the country, and be able to offer them a life enhancing opportunity, that will no doubt stay with them for the rest of their optical career.”

The successful candidates for the IAMF bursary and The Wiseman Memorial Fund bursary are due to be announced next week.

Crisis at Christmas with VCHP, London.

November 2015

Volunteer ophthalmologists, optometrists, dispensing opticians and optical assistants are needed to run this year’s Crisis at Christmas optical service.

VCHP Crisis at ChristmasOperating from ten different centres across London, the service is expected to cater for hundreds of visitors during the week of 23 - 29 December.

David Brown, General Manager of Vision Care for Homeless People, explained –

“Thanks to generous support from our sponsors including the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, Topcon, The Outside Clinic, Mainline Instruments, Optoplast and Specsavers, we will have six mobile opticians teams operating across the capital from Hackney to Hammersmith.

Each clinic will be led by an optometrist, with assistance from dispensing opticians, optical advisers, and optometry students.

We are really hoping to have an ophthalmologist on hand every day to make referrals – especially as Topcon have loaned us an OCT for the week.”

The annual partnership between Vision Care for Homeless People and Crisis helps more people each year – last year the charities provided:

• sight tests for 300 homeless people

• 243 pairs of glasses

• nearly 100 ready readers

• and made 16 referrals for further investigation

Ciara Tomkins, a pre-reg optometrist found volunteering to be very worthwhile, “Initially I was quite nervous, as I had no idea what to expect. The Crisis centres are filled with enthusiastic, friendly volunteers who all want to have a great day, and ensure all the guests have the same experience. They are festive, happy and fun places. I met some amazing guests, each with their own stories to tell. Any preconceptions you might have disappear as soon as you start chatting - it is very easy to forget you are volunteering at a homeless shelter! The work is straightforward dispensing, very easy as the guests are all so grateful for the care. It is a great experience to complement your studies. If you are considering volunteering for Crisis at Christmas don’t hesitate and sign up. You will be surprised at how much fun you can have while doing something so worthwhile.”

For the rest of the year, Vision Care for Homeless People runs opticians clinics from Crisis Skylight, London, plus other clinics in London, Brighton, Birmingham and Manchester.

Essilor is set to glaze all the spectacles provided to the Crisis at Christmas guests.

VISION 2020 UK hosts Integrated Care Event in collaboration with ADASS and NHS England.

November 2015

VISION 2020 UK, the umbrella organisation which leads collaboration and co-operation between organisations that focus on eye health and sight loss, has brought together senior representatives from health, social care and the voluntary sector at an event in London.

Chris Naylor image 1This round table event focussed exclusively on integrated care and was held in collaboration with ADASS (The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services) and NHS England. The afternoon was chaired by Nigel Clarke, Chair, VISION 2020 UK and Ray James, President, ADASS.

VISION 2020 UK established the event to conceptualise and discuss how integrated care in eye health and sight loss may offer more effective support and make better use of resources. Delegates debated the impact, effectiveness and current understanding of both the Adult UK Eye Health and Sight Loss Pathway and the Pathway for Children and Young People (0 to 25 years) with Vision Impairment, and their Families. Both of these documents advocate a joined up pathway and were developed following concerns highlighted by patients and service users.

Peter Fahy image 2Peter Fahy, Co-Chair ADASS Network on Sensory Loss, Physical Disabilities and HIV, commented, “I was delighted on behalf of ADASS to contribute to this important event to progress the integration agenda for people with sight loss. It was hugely encouraging to see so many partner agencies from both the statutory and voluntary sector contributing to the event.”

Chris Naylor, Senior Fellow, Health Policy King’s Fund, said: "Supporting people affected by sight loss in a more joined up way is an important challenge that will require close working between the NHS, social care and eye health charities. The work that VISION 2020 UK and others are doing in this area shows a real commitment to bringing about improvements.”

David Brown, National Optometry Contacting Lead (NHS England) said: "In understanding the aims of the Five Year Forward View, NHS England recognises the importance of service integration and by working closely with local stakeholders in the eye health economy, we can continue to ensure this remains high on the agenda. With this event, VISION 2020 UK have made a positive step in taking this work forward. We will continue to work closely with all health partners to ensure that the transition from healthcare to rehabilitation is as seamless as possible for patients and that high-quality eye care remains a paramount priority."

“This is an important first step in understanding the potential benefits of integrated care and enabling the design of services. The role that integrated care has to play across the two pathways is very significant. We are also aware that this needs to be done in the context of the NHS Five Year Forward View and the Care Act 2014 amongst other considerations” said Mercy Jeyasingham, CEO, VISION 2020 UK.

Image 1:
Chris Naylor, Senior Fellow, Health Policy King’s Fund

Image 2:
Peter Fahy, Co-Chair ADASS Network on Sensory Loss, Physical Disabilities and HIV

VCHP General Manager Gets Stuck In!

November 2015

David and 2 sons Edward and Will in middleVision Care for Homeless People’s General Manager, David Brown, got stuck into some fundraising to celebrate his first year at the charity.

With his two sons, Edward and Will (middle), David raised more than £1,000 by completing the gruelling Commando course at Hever Castle in Kent.

“Organised by the Royal Marines, the course was 6km long and had 15 obstacles taken from the Royal Marines Endurance, Assault and Tarzan courses. It was great fun, albeit cold and wet. The mud and water was made deeper and muddier by constant rain. We had a brilliant time! It was also a great way to put the charity into the limelight with another group of people,” said David.

Image by Peachysnaps

Wiseman fund helps Cardiff students on charity mission

November 2015

Cardiff Students in MoldovaThe Wiseman Memorial Fund has helped a group of Cardiff Optometry students to expand their horizons with a “Returning Vision To Moldova” trip.

Sponsorship of the group of students and their supervisors helped them to see 1708 patients in a week, as student Jemima Morgan explained, “We were a group of 11 and each day we travelled to remote villages where there is no access to eye care. We were greeted by the community – young and old – waiting patiently for us to see them. In one day we tested the eyes of 588 people, and never left each day until we had seen everybody."

Claire Mattheson left

Claire Mattheson (left) with mother and child.

"The trip allowed us to see a wide variety of patients, which has helped us prepare for our final year of study and future careers. It was amazing to see that we could make such a huge difference to peoples’ lives,” she said.

The Wiseman Memorial Fund provides a limited number of travel awards to students in their second year of study to help them to enhance their experience.

Group picture shows students and translators together in Moldova

Optometry graduate urges students to apply for International Development charity grant.

October 2015

A bursary from the Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund was awarded to Muhammad Vali, last year after he was successful in bidding for the funds.

Each year, the Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund (IAMF) and Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) offer two bursaries for 2nd year optical students to experience work in Africa in a grant made available by The Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians (FODO).
The award enables students to experience working conditions and eye problems very different from those found in the UK.

The fund is in memory of Irvine Aitchison, co-founder of Dollond&Aitchison, who played a prominent role in promoting the Opticians Act 1958 and was a founder member of the General Optical Council.

Now, Muhammad Vali, who studied Optometry at The University of Manchester, is calling on fellow students to apply for a bursary before the current application round closes.

“I was fortunate enough to go to Lusaka, Zambia on my first Vision Aid Overseas project in September 2014. We were based in a community school on the outskirts of the city in a really poor area”, recalls Muhammed, “The experience was phenomenal and one that I will never forget.”

“The joy on the patients faces and the respect they have for us and how much they appreciate the work we do over there is indescribable.

“The project allowed me to develop my clinical skills by seeing pathology that many UK optometrists don’t see in their lifetime.”

“The experience has made me appreciate how grateful we should be in our country to be given and to have access to healthcare so easily”, added Muhammed, “At the end of our clinic days we would give gifts to the children.

Pencils, pens, crayons, balloons, bubbles and many other simple items, yet you can just see from their faces how happy they are over things that are taken for granted in our country.”

“It was a privilege to be given the opportunity to go help improve the lives of all these people and I would love to do so again in the future.”

There are two bursaries detailed below

• 2 x £1500 bursary from Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund
• The closing date for applications is 30th October 2015
• All 2nd year optical students (3rd year Scotland and Ireland) eligible to apply
• To apply visit www.visionaidoverseas.org/irvine-aitchison-memorial-fund

Local Eye Health Network supports charity event.

October 2015

LEHN TV Thames Valley Local Eye Health Network recently lent its support to an eye care event for adults with learning disabilities in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

SeeAbility’s Look Here event took place on 30th September and was attended by over 100 people. Along with learning to look after their eyes, attendees were also taught the importance of having regular sight tests and wearing glasses.

The day was led by Scott Watkin, SeeAbility’s Eye Care and Vision Development Officer, who himself has learning disabilities and keratoconus.

“It was a great day and everyone had the chance to get involved with cleaning glasses and practicing having a sight test using letters or pictures,” said Scott.

“Importantly, it’s all about giving people the confidence to look after their own eye health.”

Fran Ramsay, Chair of the Thames Valley Local eye Health Network, reinforced Scott’s message and spoke to the audience about local services. The event also provided an excellent opportunity to ask people with learning disabilities what they thought about local eye care services.

Fran said: “We have been working with Healthwatch to get valuable feedback from local people about optometry services - including people with learning disabilities.”

“SeeAbility has designed an accessible Easy Read questionnaire which we piloted at the event. We will include this feedback in our Eye Health Needs Assessment to help us shape local eye care services for this group of people.”

Optical Technician awarded Wiseman Prize for 2015

October 2015

Dawid Czolba at SMCThe gold standard in optical manufacturing, Level 4 Diploma for Optical Tehcnicians – recognised all over the world of optics - was celebrated this week as fourteen people were awarded the coveted qualification.
Best overall marks went to Dawid Czolba, who was awarded the Wiseman Memorial Prize in honour of the very high standard of his marks in the practical examination, which included rimless glazing.
Apothecaries’ Hall, home of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, was the setting for the prestigious ceremony, and at which a number of people, including Dawid, were admitted to the Freedom of the Company.
An optical technician for several years, Dawid said he was motivated to undertake the course as he is “always looking to improve myself”.
“The course was an eye opener for me and has given me a much broader perspective. I now have the ability to calculate a single ray of light passing through a lens, such is the level of training,” said Dawid, who works at Mallon + Taub in London’s Marylebone High Street.
Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, Helen Perkins, praised the qualification –
“This award means a great deal and is a key measure for optical employers. Those who have gained the qualification will have worked hard, will be committed to their craft, and will have both technical knowledge and the ability to put these skills into practice.”
The Wiseman Memorial Prize is awarded each year to the student with the highest marks in the Level 4 Diploma for Optical Technicians practical element of the examination, as set by the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers.

Award winning Educator Andy Clark is offering discounted 1-2-1 coaching to raise funds for the World Sight Day Challenge

October 2015

Optometrist, award winning educator and Founder of Practice Building for Independent Practices Andy Clark is offering ten Independent Practice owners the opportunity to benefit from thirty days of bespoke one to one telephone coaching.

Andrew Clark for OGSAndy is providing the coaching free in return for a minimum donation of £250 to Optometry Giving Sight’s World Sight Day Challenge.

Practices will get a scheduled weekly coaching call, access to the practice building toolbox, as well as additional telephone and e-mail support. Practices only need to tell Andy what they would like to work on and he will provide them with that help.

£995 worth of telephone coaching over thirty days will be provided for a minimum donation of £250. Better hurry as this offer is only available for the first ten practices that sign up and six have already signed up and £1600 has been donated.

Andy said, “Rather than asking you to sponsor me to go for an adventure, I'm going to offer ten practice owners the opportunity to benefit from one to one telephone coaching with me and make a donation to a great cause. How much you donate is up to you providing it is at least £250, and regardless of how much you pay you are going to get £995 worth of work from me. “

Nicholas Rumney, owner of BBR Optometry said “It’s a fantastic high value offer. Some people on the edge of looking at such services need no further encouragement.”

A JustGiving page has been setup where you can make your donation and get your extremely discounted coaching for your practice whilst transforming lives through the gift of vision. https://www.justgiving.com/practicebuilding

Now in its 9th year, the World Sight Day Challenge is the largest annual global fundraising campaign that addresses avoidable blindness caused by uncorrected refractive error- simply the need for an eye exam and glasses.

This year in the UK the World Sight Day Challenge will be supporting Vision Aid Overseas’ 30th Anniversary and the funds raised will go towards Vision Aid Overseas’ projects.

Essilor manufacturing staff climb every mountain for charity

October 2015

Essilors staffEighteen budding mountaineers from Essilor’s UK manufacturing facility in Thornbury, climbed over 11,000 feet of mountains, and celebrated World Sight Day (October 08) by presenting a cheque to Optometry Giving Sight for £1,000.00.

As part of this year’s World Sight Day Challenge the intrepid group decided to put on their mountain boots and take on the “Essilor Thornbury's Three Peaks Challenge’.



It’s highest mountain at 4,409ft on July 31, then Scafell Pike, 3,209ft in the Lake District on August 1 and finally Snowdon in Wales, 3,560ft the following day.

Production manager at Essilor Daniel Peacey, said the group were surprised to have raised so much money. “We never had a set target, but it’s great that we made £3,500, we definitely exceeded what we thought we would make,” he said.

“A lot of us have wanted to climb mountains for a while so I organised the challenge, and we decided to fundraise for the company’s two charities – Brain Tumour Support, which is based in Thornbury, and Optometry Giving Sight.” When asked what the climb was like, he said, “It was hard – the weather was awful on the first climb, which took about eight hours and it was extremely cold at times, at -5C.”

David Shannon, UK Development Manager for Optometry Giving Sight said, ‘we really would like to extend our thanks to the team at Essilor, what an amazing achievement, they really did rise to the challenge.

We are delighted to say that the funds raised will support Vision Aid Overseas projects during their 30th Anniversary Year. Together our aim is to provide an eye examination and glasses to the 600 million people in the world who are visually impaired as they do not have access to eye care services.’

Now in its 9th year, the World Sight Day Challenge is the largest annual global fundraising campaign to address avoidable blindness caused by uncorrected refractive error – simply the need for an eye exam and glasses.

Adlens to join forces with Fight for Sight to fund pioneering eye research

October 2015

Adlens supports Fight for SightAdlens®, the global leader in adjustable focus eyewear, is marking World Sight Day by announcing a new and exciting partnership with Fight for Sight, the UK’s leading eye research charity.

In the first year of an anticipated long-term partnership, Adlens has committed to raising funds that will go towards research into the causes, detection, treatment and prevention of sight loss and eye diseases.

The company has pledged to donate 7.5% of all Instant Eyewear sales to their charity partners, including Fight for Sight, this will be supported through mass employee engagement events up until the end of 2015.

The company has signed up to Fight for Sight’s Feast Your Eyes event, which is encouraging people to dine in the dark between 16 – 22 October.

Dr Graeme MacKenzie, Director of Industry and Regulatory Affairs at Adlens, said: “Adlens is driven by its mission to transform people’s vision across the world, and funding research into the treatment and prevention of sight loss is essential to this.

“With promising developments in stem cell advances and gene therapy, it has never been a more exciting time for eye research and there are huge opportunities for scientists – if they have the funding required.

“Fight for Sight has a remarkable history of scientific breakthroughs and we hope our support will allow more scientists to make life-changing discoveries in eye research.”

Catherine Woodhead, Director of Fundraising at Fight for Sight, said: “We’re proud to be partnering with such an exciting company like Adlens. We have a fantastic opportunity to put sight loss at the forefront of people’s minds and highlight the importance of contributing to eye research.

“Together we can demonstrate our commitment to deliver significant research advances to prevent and treat eye conditions – creating a future everyone can see.”

The partnership is the next step in the expansion of Adlens’ social mission programme that aims to transform vision across the world. As well as continuing to design and manufacture products that allow people to see clearly,

Adlens will be forming partnerships to fund eye research and bring vision correction to people across the world.

It will also be pursuing more social innovation programmes to inspire people to challenge the current barriers to eye care, such as the recent ‘Leading for Impact’ programme ran with the University of Oxford and DO School.

Join the fight against sight loss - sign up and receive your free Feast your Eyes pack, complete with blindfolds, please visit FightforSight.org.uk/feast or call 020 7264 3900.

Co-founded in 2005 in Oxford, England by investor and philanthropist James Chen, Adlens is the global leader in adjustable focus eyewear. Its highly skilled team of engineers, eyecare professionals and designers has developed a completely new category of vision correction.

Adlens says it is a commercial business with a social soul. Vision for a Nation® is the innovative foundation partnered with Adlens that runs a charitable programme, aiming to provide universal access to eyewear one nation at a time, starting in Rwanda.

Two newly qualified Optometrists take the plunge of a different kind.

October 2015

Wedding Sky DiveRaeesah and Irshad Ibrahim a recent newlyweds and are now taking the “plunge” of a different kind.

As a reminder that today is World Sight Day, the couple have decided to dive 13,000ft drop over the beautiful views of the Palm Dubai and we will be doing this on the 10th November 2015.

Both are going to be overcoming their biggest fear and taking part in a Skydive for charity.

The young couple, qualified optometrists will be raising money for the charity Optometry Giving Sight whom are close to both our hearts.

Wedding Sky Dive

 

“We thought not only would this raise money for the charity but it would also be a great opportunity to raise awareness for the charity throughout the UK, and broaden the challenges for the 'World Sight Day challenge' in October,” said Irshad.

The couple have made a Facebook page about their challenge and how everyone can help donate to Optometry Giving Sight; calling it “Newly Wed Optometrists Take the Plunge”
https://www.facebook.com/Ishy-Raeesah-Newly-Wed-Optometrists-take-the-plunge-1003198893058898/timeline/

They have also set up a just giving page for donations which raised £180 in the first 24 hours online. The couple have had a great response and hope to beat their target of £500 https://www.justgiving.com/newlywedoptomstaketheplunge/

 

HOUSE OF LORDS Hosts VCHP

October 2015

VCHP supporters at HoLSupporters and volunteers gathered at The House of Lords this week to hear more about Vision Care for Homeless People. The group called on the NHS to ensure that the healthcare needs of homeless people are fully met.

Elaine Styles, Chair VCHP, speaking to the 60 delegates, said,“Homeless People have significant eye care needs which are often neglected. We commend the work of VCHP in redressing this health inequality.”

Having carried out more than 9,000 eye examinations and dispensed thousands of pairs of specs in the 12 years of the charity, the need for this service has not diminished. Three centres in London, and others in Brighton, Manchester and Birmingham provide a local service but expanding the charity’s work is limited by funding, guests were told.

“The prescription range of patients seen in the our clinics has been from +17D to -20D, and without spectacles 35% of our patients could be considered to have a functional visual impairment. Our clinics are registered as practices with the local Area Team and comply with all their standards and regulations.

If we carry out an eye examination on a person eligible for NHS services we can claim vouchers but if a person isn’t eligible then the charity covers the cost.”

Accessibility to eye care

Some 54% attending the clinics are not eligible for an NHS sight test. Additionally, people are only eligible for one spectacle voucher every two years.

“Homeless people are more likely to have their property stolen, or be assaulted and their specs might be lost or broken beyond repair sooner than the two year interval. Homeless people can feel uncomfortable going into a high-street opticians and may be embarrassed about not having an address to give,” said Elaine.

Availability of Eye Care

Some optometrists used to provide eye examinations on a domiciliary basis, but NHS changes to domiciliary care regulations in 2008 made this more difficult to meet the needs of homeless people, claimed the charity.

How we can change this

“We would like to make an addition to our current model of care from one where homeless people come to us, to one where we go to places where homeless people reside or go to, normally Day centres or Hostels.

We would use our fixed centres as a base for a mobile service. We would then be able to reach far more homeless people more effectively without opening further centres. In order to do this, we would have to operate under the second NHS Additional Services (or Mobile) contract.”

 

Medical Student highlights Visual Needs of Homeless from research.

October 2015

The clear link between poor ocular health and homelessness was highlighted last week at the House of Lords by Nick Sawers, a 4th year medical student at St Georges, Tooting.

As a volunteer with Vision Care for Homeless People he has been shocked, he told supporters of the charity –

“I first got involved with VCHP a year ago as a volunteer at one of the London clinics to get more exposure to eye health care. And exposure I got…It was not until I met all the people from different backgrounds who walk into the clinic that I realised the importance of even a basic level of eye care.

“One lady came to collect her glasses. She tried them on and asked me ‘how do I look?’ I replied ‘they look great’.

Tears started to run down her cheeks and she said it was the first time she had owned a pair of glasses, and the first time she had seen clearly in years.

“Countless stories like this made me think I could do more. So with help from VCHP, Crisis and Moorfields Eye Hospital, we started a research project.

Alongside shelter and food, the Crisis at Christmas centres have vision clinics run by VCHP. Over 280 patients were seen at these clinics in 2014, with interesting findings -

“Visual impairment is around 2% amongst the general population in London. It is 14% amongst patients at the Christmas clinics.

Pair this with research showing that low vision has a significant impact on low socioeconomic status, long term health and well-being, you can see the need in this vulnerable group of people.

“One in five of these people had ocular pathology and one in ten were given a medical referral for further ophthalmic investigations: significantly higher than the general population. Of the 280 patients seen, over 80% had needed glasses, which were provided.

“There is a clear link between ocular health and homelessness. Alongside job skills, accommodation and access to funding, eye care is an important factor in tackling homelessness. I hope these findings help to publicise the great work VCHP does and puts a much needed spotlight on eye care in homeless people.”

VISION 2020 UK hosts seminar for funders of eye research

October 2015

Vision 2020 VISION 2020 UK, the umbrella organisation which facilitates greater collaboration and co-operation between organisations across the eye health and sight loss sectors, has this week held a seminar in London specifically for funders of eye research.

The inaugural Funders of Eye Research Summit (FundERS 2015) was created in association with Fight for Sight, the UK’s leading eye research charity.

The event was established to discuss and review the impact of the Sight Loss and Vision Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) which, working with the James Lind Alliance, was published in 2013 to set priorities for eye research as identified by patients, carers and eye health professionals.

The summit brought together a host of experts covering the eye research funding landscape and was chaired by Richard Wormald, Consultant Ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, and Michele Acton, Chief Executive at Fight for Sight.

VISION 2020 UK CEO, Mercy Jeyasingham, commented, “We were delighted to host such a timely and necessary seminar. Two years on, we felt it was important to review the PSP’s impact on shaping a patient-centred research agenda.”

Fight for Sight’s Research Communications Officer, Ade Deane-Pratt, hopes this will open the discussion on the future of UK funding for scientific and medical eye research to a wider audience. Ade said: “This is the first time that UK funders have come together in this way. It’s a great chance to make sure the PSP priorities continue to be addressed.”

Pictured from left to right:
Michèle Acton, Fight for Sight
Ade Deane-Pratt, Fight for Sight
Cathy Yelf, Macular Society
Norman Waugh, University of Warwick
Sue Simpson, NIHR Horizon Scanning Centre

 
 
 
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