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Archived Optical News


Sight Test Fee increase from 1st April 2010

Final warning on GOC registration

More women enter optometry profession

FMO warns of perils of marketing cutbacks

PHN restructures front page

VAO issues supporters with inSight newsletter

Silhoutte voted best sunglass brand in Europe

"Which" announces that Tesco is to offer free eye tests for all

Baroness Thornton appointed under-secretary of state

Eye care leads in North East given opportunity to discuss primary eye care services

Vision problems linked to higher dementia risk

Seeability call for more practitioners to sign up

GOC reminder for registration

PCT regions chosen for EPIC initiative

Kerasoft a hot topic in Vegas

GOC set to review CET scheme

OCUCO announces two new opportunities to create growth in optical businesses

Irish eyes aren't smiling

One third of drivers could have sub-standard vision

Colleges suggest mean result on OHT referrals

Bodies follow College advice by adjusting their guidelines

Who uses the NHS Information Centre eye care data

NICE publishes commissioning tool for PCTs use for Ocular Hypertensives

Haircut more important than eye test

LOCSU announces training days for Chairmen and Treasurers

Ultravision staff get charitable

Optrafair 2011 plans for business support

GOS Devolved Budgets

Eye Health Awareness Week Launched

NHS Choices looks to eyecare

New date for Vision Care for Homeless Open Day

Avatar 3-D Images Help to Identify Vision Problems

Vision Aid Overseas Announces Plans for 25th Anniversary Year

Revalidation... have your say

BCLA takes fresh approach to 2010 Clinical Conference

Vision Care For Homeless Report Bumper Christmas

New Directors Appointed at FMO

Optical Bodies Publish Joint Report on Unified Tribunal System

Budget Changes Affecting Ophthalmic Sector

Advice on Consumer Credit Licences

Tiger Woods Supporters Seek Bankruptcy Protection

Kerasoft for Irregular Corneas Launched in Switzerland

FMO Unites Optical Industry for 2010

VAT in 2010

LOCSU makes better impression

BOG supplies more funds and support for Christmas appeal

New night vision goggles light up the night for Civil Aviation operations

Quality in Optometry now congruent with visit form

Novartis looks likely buyer for Alcon

Tiger Woods eyecare sponsors confirm support

Runcorn optician helps Africa project

Optical bodies publish audit tool

Misunderstanding over VDU rules

NOC gets World Class Commissioning message

LOCSU and Primary Health Net form working partnership

2020 Health accounces new appointments

LOCSU announce two further training days

New standard for mounted lenses released

Vision Care for Homeless promotes its first Christmas card

Waiting time limits may become a legal right

When "Irish Eyes are Lasered?"

Early reports of Eyecare 3000 exhibitors

FMO supports Vision Care for Homeless

B&L's Lo-Torque design delivers better rotationsal recovery

Public Awareness Site breaks all records

DoH Swine Flu Update

Ultravision exhibit at NOC/HOAC meeting

Report from Philadelphia on successful early steps in Gene therapy

VAO announces Honorary Life Membership and trustee Awards

Key Note Speech given at 2009 VAO AGM

Bausch & Lomb announce new knowledge portal

BCLA announces dates for 2010

World Sight Day

NHS to use no win, no fee system

Silhouette launches "The Rimless Aesthetic Design Award"

CET deadline: 11 weeks to go

Extraordinary self-adjusting glasses

World Sight Day nears

GOC goes online with Annual Report

Optrafair 2011 dates announced

No.7 and AOP Surrey announce evening course for CL fitters

Specsavers awarded HMRC contract

VAO joins charities on public and professional sites

Eyecare 3000 announce 2010 dates

Hundreds look at flying eye hospital

West Midlands SHA tender for training for Ophthalmic Technicians

New voucher extension

Horizon Optical provides support to Vision Care for Homeless

Silhouette supports National Eyecare Week

Norville announces start of major roadshow

Homeless charity supported by Boots and D&A

Cambridge LOC announces CPD event

PHN reports continuing growth on sites

Poll reveals satisfaction with service

Who's reading what on My Local Optician

GOC to hit the road

Eyecare Trust announces 2009 sponsor

High Quality for All establishes "Challenge Prize Fund"

July statistics for PHN and My Local Optician

Implants for AMD

1 in 5 have visual problems in the classroom

Essilor continue to support Vision Care for Homeless

Buchmann to promote dispensing at ABDO

Fabris Lane and William Morris sign joint venture

New Chairman for ACLM Board

Moorfields Hospital Hosts Lecture: ‘Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses for Keratoconus’

A Timeline through Technology with Silhouette fashion frame development

Vision Care for Homeless elects new Chair

June statistics for PHN and Mylocaloptician site visits

CET Claim Forms Available for English Contractors

Boots fined £30,000 by GOC over slack supervision

Dibble takes helm

Myers la Roche paint stark warning

Be careful, there's a bug about

Hawk Eye Vision for this years Umpires

7 months in and a full appointment book already

National Patient Safety Agency sets deadline for Ophthalmology Departments and NHS Service Managers

My Local Optician reports on breakdown of visits

PHN makes LOC information available to all

NICE clarifies guidance

BCLA sets new record for attendance

Laugh, I could have cried

New president of BCLA

Few children given correct eye protection

Blind numbers could double by 2050

B&L receives approval for Besivance

Researchers quantify loss of productivity from uncorrected vision

Lady Gaga wears Jeremy Scott sunglasses

British children’s eyewear label Zoobug featured in Sunday Times

Silhouette show that there still is a passion involved in their brand and design concepts

AOP and FODO AGMs

Word search skills bring rewards for Pinner Optician

VisionCare for Homeless People announce official opening

Shocking findings highlighted by Vision Care for Homeless People

Walker makes Optrafair point

VEGF Trap-Eye Programme Extended

Rodenstock Winners from Optrafair

Budget affects GOS budget oversight in small print detail

NICE comes out as predicted with cautious approach to raised intra ocular pressure

Bodies advise GOC to be concise on Codes of Practice

Optical Express announce launch of new ecommerce site

The Glaucoma Alliance UK and RNIB pilot a new scheme

Alcon offers awards to Six Scientists in the States worth $200,000

Delay announced in transition from POVA to new Independent Safeguarding Authority

So maybe it starts in Glasgow

SoloHealth lands $1M for vision-testing kiosks

Sight-savers list the foods that can keep your eyes healthy

KeraSoft® Clinic launched in Central London by Ultravision

Opticians removed from GOC Register

GOC Revalidation Consultation

Rodenstock Cassablanca trip

Win a free case of wine at Optrafair with PHN

BCLA to host CL fitting course for Ophthalmologists

Eye expert David Parke to lead American Academy of Ophthalmology

New knowledge site based on wikipedia launched

“Which? Magazine” charges Laser Surgery providers with poor information, poor pricing and coercion in upgrading procedures

Optisoft to Boost VAO Income Stream

Optical Express set to expand store

GPs encouraged to spot signs of sight loss

Tony Bussey Obituary

Pfizer and Bausch & Lomb to Co-Promote Products for the Treatment of Ophthalmic Conditions

Scotland confirms Voucher Value changes as per rest of UK and provides further information

Voucher Values confirmed for England, Scotland, N.Ireland, and Wales

The White House and Save Your Vision Week

Management of Kerataconus

University vision for optometry teaching

AOA carries out glaucoma study in USA

GOC warning on registration

UK reaches new depths in recession

National optometry centre in Dublin hosts CETT

Optical negotiators meet Minister

FODO publishes Optics at a Glance

Obama highlights importance of healthy vision

SynergEyes Inc. announces 13.3 Million Dollars added funding

Zoobug shortlisted for optical product award

One in three drivers a danger

World Glaucoma Day

Silhouette pull out of Optrafair

D&A to merge with Boots

AOP and FODO move closer

Sight Test Fee Increase

Ultravision staff jump for charity

Sunderland practitioner invests in Briot Sliver Plus

Eyecare 3000 triumphs over future fears

BCLA announce greater interest outside London

OCT scanners, the new black, for Optrafair

FMO members use bad payers list

President stresses importance of Primary Care Providers in Europe

Rodenstock winners

Computerised dispensing protects practice profits

RCA designs frames for Optrafair

Rodenstock ahead in blind tasting study

Scrivens award winners

Opposition MP outlines eye care shortcomings

Walton optician helps in Africa

Mylocaloptician boost in Eye Week

CL companies eye up market

Optisift welcomes SAS users

Singapore practice goes green

CET points for Optrafair attendance

VAT decrease - how it affects you

GOC fee increase

Prize for Optisoft survey respondent

New Chair for GOC

New mentoring & training service for LOC participants launched on new website primaryhealthsupport.com &.co.uk

Research shows children corrected by Contact Lenses fare better

AOP and FODO announce new joint Committees

Rumney speaks out

Worrying signs for sales

Ophthalmologist wants top up rules expanded

Sunderland independent invests in new technology

The Times Commits Two Pages to Eyecare

Buchmann UK demonstrates the Henson 7000 at the NHS Confederation

Two Scottish Opticians head to Uganda with bags of specs and energy

Scottish GOS Forms and Entitlement to Vouchers

Specsavers Announces large London expansion

Boots to Sponsor Eye Week

Zoobug Nominated for Silmo d'Or

New Eye Health Epidemiological Model

World Sight Day - 9th October 2008

The National Eye Week - when was it?

What's a girl like you doing in...?

New molecular material for Contact lens bandages reported in New Scientist

British Optical Association Museum featured in Country Life

A good eye for the road, especially at speeds of over 200 mph!

Ostrov remains upbeat about his task at B & L

A story of two Specs

Patient records - further clarification

NHS Mail

Over 200 practices gain web presence

My Local Optician Voucher launched

Trinidad and Tobago has its eye care week ahead of UK

Optisoft updates university with latest version

GOC starts search for new Chair and 11 members

Charity dispenses 300 specs for Romania

RNIB calls Opticians to act

LOC Support Unit re-vamps strategy

CET Claims for Scotland and Northern Ireland

Further powers for PCTs on Voucher redemption to create level playing field

New Contracts Could Make Withdrawing from the NHS an Expensive Option?

Website improvements

Sandwell LOC adopts own secure webspace

Newly contracted domiciliary providers

Norville Optical announces major support campaign

PHN Visits Top 7,000

GOC removes opticians from the registers

Silhouette confirm continuation of Opchat forum

PHN Visit Rate Surges

Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia - 2 million at risk from learning disorder

Voucher Values - New Voucher Values Applicable from 1st April

GOC Registration Cards

Prescribing Rights

Sight Test Fees - 2007 increases

Solution Induced Staining

Vision Strategy Consultation

Smoking Ban - How it affects you


Sight Test Fee Increase from 1st April 2010

March 2010

A reminder that, as previously announced, the sight test fee will rise to £20.70 from 1st April. Domiciliary fees will be £36.46 and £9.13.

Click here for further details (Department of Health website)

Discuss the sight test fee on our forums

This is your final warning issued by the GOC on Registration

March 2010

Non-renewed and unregistered optometrists, dispensing opticians and businesses will be removed from the GOC register at the end of this month.

The effect on a person’s livelihood or business can be dramatic and their employer will not be able to employ non registered personnel or continue to test sight, in England an optometrist could have to wait eight weeks or longer before being re-admitted to their local GOS performers list.

Everyone who is unsure of their registration should check now.

Employers are within their rights to ask their staff to print off their proof or registration if required.

The GOC registration team can be connected on 020 7580 3898.

Still more women entering the optometric profession

March 2010

Readers will hardly be surprised to learn that information gleaned from monitoring forms in retention packs sent out last year show that increasing numbers of women and practitioners of Asian ethnic origin are entering the optical professions, according to new equality and diversity data released by the General Optical Council (GOC).

The results are published in the GOC's 2009 equality and diversity monitoring report. This is the first time the Council has published such a report.

FMO warns Optics UK on the perils of recessional cutbacks in marketing

March 2010

“Keep calm and carry on marketing” was the message from last week’s FMO meeting, where delegates were told that cutting promotional spend in challenging times was commercial suicide.

Philip Preston and Malcolm PolleyPhilip Preston, Regional Director of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, told the FMO audience that “time and again it has been proven that this was the wrong thing to do and that companies which increase their spend through a recession emerge three times faster than those which do not.”

“In tough times the easiest thing to do is to cut the budget and some companies are too quick to do this. If you disappear from view it can suggest that your company is failing, especially if the competition continues to market itself.”

He cited the example of 9/11, an event which was expected to decimate the travel industry and which saw many airlines retract. Ryanair saw this as an opportunity, promoted itself and grew revenues by 20% in the aftermath. Similarly, Coca Cola had marketed itself throughout the depression of the 1930s, leaving its competitors to fold “and the rest is history”.
While fear of unemployment is still affecting much discretionary spend, UK business confidence was improving and Philip said that maintaining empathy and understanding the customer-base was vital. It is, however, important to recognise that consumers are changing their habits with many preferring to buy on line and cinema and take-away food defying market trends.

“Brands like Apple have continued to flourish and the latest blockbuster Avatar – the biggest grossing film ever – did not achieve this by cutting prices.

“They earn their success by enhancing the product. The key is to have insight into customers’ needs. Some brands understand and empathise with their customer base very well, particularly the supermarkets.”

Crisis gives the opportunity to be creative and to develop new marketing strategies –

1. Visibility – keep in the consumers’ mind
2. Empathy – let the customer know that you are on their side
3. Differentiate – have a competitive advantage
4. Adapt – move in the way that the market is moving
5. Do not discount – price war is a slippery slope
6. Digital marketing – this has a much higher role to play
7. Monitor competitor activity – but avoid the temptation to copy

He stressed that a website should no longer be a static online brochure but should be generating leads and revenue, optimised for the search engines, and use of banner advertisements and affinity marketing should be explored to reduce the cost of direct mail.

PHN restructures front pages to extend banner advertising for companies, both industry and retail

March 2010

PHN announce a positive facelift on both front pages of the professional site www.primaryhealthnet.com and the public site www.mylocaloptician.co.uk.

Both sites now regularly top 15000 visits a month with the professional site boosted by LOC activists using PHN to gain sole access to secure LOCSU web pages approaching 17,000 this month.

Internet marketing has come of age and it is important we provide both industry suppliers and retail groups the advantage to reach thousands of public visitors all who have an interest in eye wear and eye care. PHN is also promoting the public awareness site on Facebook and Twitter in the coming months.

“The key to successful marketing is to regularly refresh promotions and pages which can be done up to 12 times a year on both sites.” said Charles Greenwood. “Banners locate directly to web pages which can link to company sites with the least number of clicks. And company’s presence on our sites increases the visibility of the brand on the interment by virtue of our high ranking sites.”

Greenwood confirmed that PHN is currently discussing providing the ability for businesses to respond to page visits by selling direct from the site both for business to business and business to customer. “In internet marketing we have always aimed to be ahead of the game, so it is now that we find that our proven ability to reach many customers and direct them to opticians who sell the products they want is beginning to pay off.”

VAO issues supporters with 2010 inSight e-newsletter

March 2010

VAO has changed the format of its first newsletter of 2010 to make it easier for supporters to navigate and read, and follow the links to read about their recent programme work and other news from Vision Aid Overseas.

Natalise Briggs Vision Aid OverseasTheir 25th Anniversary celebrations got off to a great start and a very special 25th Anniversary Edition of their Annual Review has been published and is available to download from their new look website.

Ball Websiteand they hope you will be able to join them for an evening of celebration in support of 25 years of helping the world to see.

Vision Aid Overseas and the Board and management team have formalised new strategic objectives until 2013. A copy of their strategic goals is now available on the website.

670 million people – 10% of the world’s population – remain disabled and disadvantaged by a lack of access to eyecare and glasses and VAO’s new strategic goals cement their objectives to transform services in developing countries for patients who are marginalised in this way.

“Much work has to be done but we must never underestimate the importance of developing sustainable programmes that will provide long-term solutions for our patients and help to transform lives through the provision of glasses “ Said Natalie Briggs CEO at VAO

Silhouette Voted Best Sunglasses Brand In Europe

March 2010

Silhouette Wins Prestigious ‘Visionary Award’ from European Sunglasses Association

Leading eyewear brand, Silhouette, has been honoured by editors-in-chief from Europe’s leading optics journals as they have selected Silhouette as the “ESA Visionary Award Winner 2010”, thereby selecting the company as being the best sunglasses brand in Europe.

Silhouette Sun DimensionThis is the third time that an “ESA Visionary Award Winner” has been chosen by the European Sunglasses Association. Participating sunglasses brands are nominated by the Association’s Board of Administration based on strict criteria. Jury members – consisting of editors-in-chief from European optics journals – cast one vote each for one of the nominated brands in a secret ballot to select the winner.

Silhouette received over half of the votes and has the right to use the title “ESA Visionary Award Winner” until March 2011. Silhouette board member and co-owner Arnold Schmied was presented with the coveted award by the President of the ESA, Francesco Pellegrini, in Milan on 6th March at the world’s largest optics trade show, MIDO.

According to Francesco Pellegrini, “The Award evaluated not only the product with its outstanding design, protection & comfort, but also the company as a whole, its high level of quality throughout all areas, its professional communication and distribution work and much more. All of this is right in line with the ESA’s mission to “Protect Your Eyes with Quality Sunglasses”.

Winning the ESA visionary Award 2010 is an indication that Silhouette is continuing its long line of successes – this time with sunglasses in Europe. As recently as the beginning of this year, Silhouette was awarded the “EyeVote Readers’ Choice Award” from the American industry publisher Jobson after being chosen as the best brand in prescription eyewear.

“Which” announces that Tesco is to offer free eye tests for all

1st March 2010

In its 131 stores Tesco will provide a free universal eye test service, allowing anyone not entitled to an NHS-funded eye check-up can now have a free examination.

Tesco says it expects its move to result in a substantial increase to the numbers of people who have eye tests. Many retailers and opticians charge £15 - £20 for a check-up.

Ashley Hicks, Tesco Director of Pharmacy and Healthcare, is reported to have said: ‘This is an important move towards improving the nation’s health. By removing the core cost barrier and offering convenient opening hours, we aim to make this important check up as easy as possible for our customers.’

Lesley-Anne Alexander, Chief Executive of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said: ‘We are delighted that Tesco has decided to provide free eye tests to their customers. RNIB research suggests that the cost can be a significant barrier to people getting eye tests.’

According to RNIB, more than 2m people in the UK are at risk of losing their sight as a result of treatable conditions.
Alongside its free eye examination service, Tesco has also launched a range of cheap prescription spectacles.
Spectacles from Tesco opticians will start at £10. The supermarket says this makes theirs the cheapest prescription spectacles available from any opticians’ chain in the UK.

Baroness Thornton has been appointed as a parliamentary under-secretary of state

March 2010

It has been confirmed that Baroness Thornton has been appointed as a parliamentary under- secretary of state. Prior to this she was Government Whip in the House of Lords and the Government Spokesperson for Health, Education and for Equality appointed in February 2008.

She acted as Lord Darzi’s number two on parliamentary matters in the Lords and worked on the last two Health Bills, including leading on the Health Act 2009 in its later stages. She has been working as number two on the Equality Bill and will continue to work on this in her new post.

Eye care leads in the North-east Eye Care Network given opportunity to discuss primary eye care services

March 2010

A meeting is to be held on 3 March to give eye care leads the opportunity to discuss important topics in primary eye care services, including the devolution of central budgets. Guest speakers will be John Hearnshaw, NHS PCC specialist adviser for eye care and Anita Lightstone, the UK Vision strategy programme director for the RNIB.

The network has been established specifically for subscribers from the north-east and is aimed at PCT eye care leads, primary care shared service agencies and PCT ophthalmic advisers.

Vision problems linked to higher dementia risk

March 2010

A report published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, online February 11, 2010.

A new study suggests that elderly adults with poor vision, particularly untreated vision problems, may have a higher risk of developing dementia than those with better vision.

Researchers found that in a sample of 625 elderly Americans with initially normal cognition, those who considered that they had poor vision despite some of them wearing corrective prescription lenses were more likely to develop dementia over the next 8.5 years.

When the researchers looked at the effects of treatment, they found that the highest odds of dementia were among people with poor vision left untreated. The risk was lower when they received some form of eye care.
During the study period, 168 participants developed Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. Of those developed loss of cognitive function (men and women), less than 10 percent had rated their vision as "excellent" at the start of the study. That compared with almost 31 percent of participants who maintained normal brain function over the study period.
The research however does not prove that vision problems contribute to dementia, or for that matter that eye care can help slow cognitive decline but the findings point to the possibility that this could indeed be the case according to lead researcher Dr. Mary A.M. Rogers, a research assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The current findings, Rogers said, show that vision problems may precede a dementia diagnosis by years. "If you have poor vision, don't sit on it. Go and see your doctor," she said. It's best, Rogers added, to see an ophthalmologist, a medical doctor who can diagnose the range of problems common in elderly adults, such as cataract, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetes-related retinopathy.

(Eds Note In the UK Optometrists in the High Street are responsible for detection of all eye defects)
The findings are based on 625 older U.S. adults who were part of a larger health study begun in 1992)

SeeAbility Calls for More Practitioners to Sign Up

March 2010

SeeAbility asks “Are you interested in helping people with learning disabilities get better access to eye care?”

One in three people with learning disabilities has a sight problem, yet this group is least likely to get the help they need, according to SeeAbility, formerly The Royal School for the Blind.

As part of its eye 2 eye campaign, SeeAbility has created the Look Up Optometrists and Opticians database. The database holds details of practice accessibility, the sort of additional tests available, such as Kay picture tests, whether the practice offer domiciliary visits, and whether people with learning disabilities and their carers can visit the practice before the test. It also allows practitioners to input the sort of information that they’d find useful for people with learning disabilities or their carers to supply prior to a test.

Martin Thomas, Manager of the Look Up Information Service says, “We need to increase the number of practices on our Look Up Optometrists and Opticians data base so people with learning disability and their supporters throughout the UK can access the eye care they need from local and experienced practitioners who are better able to understand their specific needs. We’ve had enquiries from as far afield as New Zealand looking for UK optometrists with specialist skills for a relative, so we know that the database is needed.”

Optometrist Lynn Stacey says, “I have enjoyed seeing patients who have come to me via the database. It can be a bit more challenging and time consuming to see them but it is very rewarding to help someone who might not otherwise have a sight test to make the best of their vision.”

GOC reminds all practitioners to return their retention forms for registration in 2010/11

February 2010

There’s just three weeks left until the 15 March retention deadline. So far, 6,503 registrants have returned their application for retention. This leaves 13,253 applications , 67 per cent still requiring action.

This year the GOC is providing optometrists, dispensing opticians and registered businesses with the ability to log onto the new registrants area to keep track of their renewal application.

North Essex and two other PCT regions chosen for EPIC initiative

February 2010

North Essex, Worcestershire and North of the Tyne have been chosen as the first three of three regions to initially pilot a new NHS eye care initiative.
The EPIC (Engagement, Partnership, Information, Communication) Project is a scheme funded by the Department of Health which will work with local partnerships to develop and implement eye health and sight loss support strategies.

The three regions have been chosen as the first of 23 pilot areas that will develop local vision strategies as part of the project.

Kathy Flegg, Primary Care Commissioning Manager at NHS North East Essex, said: “We see this as an excellent opportunity to work with a wide variety of partnership groups concerned with eye health to develop a strategy that will deliver and improve current services to be effective and sustainable for the population of North East Essex and in turn the UK.”

EPIC will initially run for three years, until March 2012.

KeraSoft a ‘Hot Topic’ in Las Vegas

February 2010

Irregular Cornea expert, Lynn White MSc FCOptom presented alongside Eef van der Worp BOptom PhD, Tim Koch FCLSA of Contamac and Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Meijome OD PhD of the University of Minho in Portugal, at the recent 2010 Global Specialty Lens Symposium, with ~400 practitioners present.

During Contamac’s breakout session, Lynn described how specialty soft lenses have a prominent role to play in the ongoing management of patients. Also during the presentation, ‘Advantages of Fitting Irregular Corneas with High Water Content Soft Lens Materials’, case studies showed how irregular cornea patients could be given an improved quality of life, even after surgery, with custom made soft lenses.

The emerging use of custom-made soft lenses for the correction of irregular corneas including keratoconus was a hot topic at the Las Vegas based GSLS. Lynn White gave three presentations based around KeraSoft® IC and how the treatment and management of Keratoconus is evolving rapidly in the UK and the rest of the world.

Michigan based Art Optical, who completed an agreement in 2007 to license advanced lathe-cut soft lens technology for the USA from UltraVision, invited Lynn White to present ‘The KeraSoft® IC Revolution: Experiences from the UK and Beyond’ in their breakout session.

J Keith Lomas, CEO of UltraVision, and COO John Clamp, also attended the Symposium. Keith Lomas commented, “The interest shown in KeraSoft® IC was an excellent boost with delegates approaching us to express their enthusiasm in the much anticipated lens design. The KeraSoft® design is inspiring practitioners across the globe to move irregular cornea patients out of GP lenses and into soft lenses which can provide up to 18 hours of comfortable wear time.”

GOC set to review continuing education and training scheme

February 2010

Following the completion of a successful 2007-09 CET cycle, the GOC is now looking at how the CET scheme can be improved overall, and how it will form part of revalidation from 2013. Registrants are encouraged to offer their views on CET.

Ocuco announce two new opportunities to create growth in Optical Businesses

February 2010

 

 

Ocuco, the leading UK optical software company, announces two new products which extend the opportunities of even the smallest practices to gain new and retain existing patients and customers.

eWeb Extra is a standalone website creation tool specifically designed for optical retail businesses. With eWeb Extra, a unique professional looking practice website can be quickly and easily created, thanks to the template driven approach used. It’s simple to use content manager means that practitioners can regularly add and upload new information, protocols and promotions as well as images of the latest products, equipment and services, without the need for a costly web designer.

Ocuco has realised that high visibility is the key to success in web sites and will provide a free link to the eWeb Extra websites on the www.mylocaloptician.co.uk optician practice directory page. This would normally cost a practice £175 per annum. To provide additional interest for visitors Ocuco has agreed with Primary Health Net (the publisher of www.mylocaloptician.co.uk) to use feeds and eyecare information pages from their public site. This additional textual information provides greater information for Search Engine Optimisation of the web site. The linking between websites will help raise visibility from the start.

Complimenting the eWeb Extra product, Acuitas users can now link their diaries to their practice website, using the Weblink service, to allow new and existing patients to book appointments online 24/7.. This method of booking online is growing fast amongst the larger multiples but now any practice with Acuitas software can provide the same ability to their existing patients and can widen the net by encouraging new patients to book online.

The two new products show why Ocuco is regarded as a leading software company for optics with over 4,500 sites using Ocuco software. Its leading PMS system Acuitas is continually enhanced so that its capability is always ready for new market requirements in both clinical and commercial needs of practices and groups of any size.

(Eds note; we have two briefings on Practice management which provide further information on what’s available)

Further information on this site:

Acuitas

Website booking service

eWeb Extra

Irish eyes aren’t smiling

February 2010

As of January 1st, in order to save €54 million (Euros) a year, the Treatment Benefit Scheme in the Republic will cover just free dental and optical examinations.
The decision will affect almost two million people.

Optical Benefits withdrawn

Patients who benefited in the past from free glasses from the State, will no longer be eligible as from January 1st.

Previously, a limited range of free glasses were provided under the Optical Benefit Scheme, while a grant towards a wider range of spectacles and contact lenses was also available. The effects will be incurred by those wishing to access dental products and only a free eye examination will be available, however contribution towards contact lenses will still be granted, provided there is an existing eye condition that makes wearing glasses impossible.

A third of British drivers could be on the roads with sub-standard vision

February 2010

A poll of 3,000 drivers by opticians Specsavers found that one in three had not been for an eye examination in more than two years, as recommended by opticians. A further 6% had not had an eye examination in the past 11 years, and one in five who needed to wear glasses behind the wheel admitted they often did not bother to do so.

The majority of UK employers were also unaware that professional drivers will soon be required to take more frequent eye tests under new European Union legislation.

Specsavers found that three-quarters of employers did not know that under a new European law, employees holding commercial driving licences will be required to have eye tests every five years.
The legislation, which is due to be rolled out in 2011, also required private licence holders to be tested every 10 to 15 years.

Despite the legislation passing through the EU parliament back in 2006, more than three-quarters of employers were unaware that its implementation was imminent, with 2013 set as a final deadline for the directive to be translated into national law.

Laura Butler, corporate account manager for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: "It is astounding that more than three-quarters of companies have not even heard of this new legislation. For everyone's safety, this should be a priority now, regardless of the date when the actual legislation will come into force."

Colleges guide on OHT

February 2010

New Joint advice has come forth from the Colleges of Optometrists and Ophthalmologists on referrals for ocular hypertensives showing no abnormal signs after the rapid rise in referrals following the NICE guidelines.

 

 

The College guidance says in particular that practitioners using non contact tonometers should now take four readings per eye and use the mean as the result. Only when the mean result is > 21 mmHg should the practitioner consider referring the patient for further assessment if this is the only abnormality found.

View College guidance

Bodies follow Colleges advice by adjusting their guidelines

February 2010

Following new guidelines from the College of Optometrists and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (above), the AOP, FODO and ABDO have added to their existing advice on the guidelines.

The new section is labelled "Question 3" and specifies that the following groups of patients, who do not qualify for treatment under current NICE guidance, should be advised that they should be reviewed by a community optometrist every 12 months:

• Patients aged 80 years and over with measured IOPs <26mmHg with otherwise normal ocular examinations (normal discs, fields and van Herick).
• Patients aged 65 and over with IOPs of <25mmHg and with otherwise normal ocular examinations (normal discs, fields and van Herick).

NHS Information Centre

February 2010

The NHS Information Centre has launched a consultation period ending 19th April this year to find out who uses its eye care data. The Consultaion is aimed at PCT usage of data but we see no reason why others interested in eyecare data should not be invoved.

NICE publishes new commissioning tool for PCTs usage in Ocular Hypertensives

February 2010

 

 

The commissioning guide provides support for the local implementation of NICE clinical guidelines through commissioning, and is a resource to help health professionals in England to commission an effective service for people at risk of developing glaucoma. There is also a commissioning tool provided

Haircut more important for kids than eye test

February 2010

News from down under provides disturbing evidenece that Aussie parents believe having their child's hair cut is more important than an eye test in the lead-up to starting school, a survey shows. When quizzed by eyecare provider OPSM, one in five mums and dads revealed they had never had their child's eyes tested.

The research also found just three per cent of respondents said an eye test was at the top of their back to school list, while seven per cent viewed a new haircut as the number one priority.

LOCSU announce training dates

February 2010

 

 

The LOC Support Unit is running a training session for LOC Chairs and Treasurers. The titles of the sessions will include:

• Business Plan
• Managing an LOC Budget
• Demonstration of Quality in Optometry
• Workshops on drawing up Business Plans
• Annual Accounts
• Payments to LOCSU

To secure your place on the above LOC Training Day please complete and return this form to Janice Phillips either by email: janicephillips@locsu.co.uk fax: 020 7261 9661 or by post: LOC Support Unit, 61 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0HL.

Eds note: don't forget that if you are an LOC member in an LOC that supports LOCSU, you can access LOCSU's secure pages on this site which contain pathways, confidential briefings and more. For more information go to the LOCSU Secure Entry Page.

UltraVision’s Staff get Charitable

Aultravision Shoe Box AppealFebruary 2010

Staff at Leighton Buzzard based contact lens manufacturer, UltraVision, turned their back on the recession and with true festive spirit, spent a little extra on their Christmas shopping and filled shoe boxes with gifts in support of Operation Christmas Child. Julie Oldfield, UltraVision’s Despatch Manager, who organised the collection and delivery of the shoe boxes to a near-by collection centre said “I would like to say a very big thank you to all the staff, and their friends and family, who took part. We collected a fantastic 63 boxes this year, so there will be lots of happy children.” Run by Samaritans Purse, the charity sends out over a million shoe boxes every year to children across Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe who would otherwise receive no gifts.

Elise Ward, Lens Technician, organised a MacMillan Coffee morning where staff raised £100 for MacMillan Cancer Support, and Penny Parkinson from the manufacturing group collected £207 for the Poppy Appeal.

Optrafair 2011 plans for business support

February 2010

Optrafair 2011 will provide unrivalled access to thousands of UK optical professionals and support staff eager to look for the means of securing a greater share of the optical market as the country moves to a more positive mood on the High Street.

Andrew Yorke and Barry Dibble, OptrafairSuppliers across the optical field are looking to provide opportunities for the profession to engage more with new and existing clients and show owners, The FMO, is tailoring next year’s show to meet this uncapped demand.

Business education, besides growing the CET element of the show, thanks to a second lecture theatre, is a major focus a packed audience was told at The FMO’s official launch of the new show, which will run from 9-11 April 2011.

Finance, the benefits of IT, staffing issues and good management will be key to ensuring that the biennial show is a not-to-be-missed date within the optical calendar. Unveiling plans for 2011, Malcolm Polley FMO Chief Executive, stressed that the experience of Managed Events as exhibition organisers, and the addition of Andrew Yorke, Head of Topcon’s business in the UK, to the team would add much, particularly with Andrew’s international exhibition experience.

The FMO is keen to ensure that there should be the greatest encouragement to attend -“There should be some impetus for attending to ensure that the profession is up to date with what is going on: Optrafair is the only forum that does this across the field of optics.

“The relationship between all of the optical bodies has never been closer than it is now and we look to all optical organisations to drive their members to attend. It is in all of our interests to work with greater cohesion.”

The commitment to do this was backed up by Bob Hughes, Chief Executive of the AOP, and Michael Potter of ABDO – “Optrafair has the total support of ABDO,” said Michael.

Also high on the agenda was ensuring that more contact lens companies return to the show, many of which failed to engage with the thousands of independent opticians who attended Optrafair 2009. Recognising that the cost of exhibiting is a major factor, it was announced that “cost effective ways of enticing contact lens companies to attend would be promoted”.

Karen Sparrow, AOP Education Officer, stressed that the presentation of OT Live at Optrafair 2009 had ensured that “visitors could not fail to notice the educational element of the show”. A greater variety of education, with more hands-on demonstrations and workshops, are planned for next year.

Richard Pegler of Managed Events, which runs Optrafair on behalf of the FMO added: “We are looking at the opportunities to balance the content for Optrafair 2011, and business is a key factor. Maintaining the diversity of exhibitors is very important.”

GOS Devolved Budgets

January 2010

 

 

DOH spells out to PCTs exactly how to deal with the budget migration from central to local and it emphasizes that:

a. Contractors retain the right to set up practices in locations of their choice subject to local decisions on, for example, premises and equipment,

b. Contractors will not be subject to any quotas or limits on the number of patients they may see,

c. The sight testing service continues to be governed by national regulations which PCTs administer locally;

d. Sight test fees continue to be negotiated nationally; and

e. voucher values and entitlements continue to be set nationally

In its statement which you can view or download from here DOWNLOAD

it confirms the 2.2% rise already agreed at April 2010 in sight test fees and expects an announcement before April from the Ministers on Voucher Values. The letter confirms that the budget is to remain demand led which is feasible given that the GOS budget is only around 1% of a PCTs overall budget. 55% of the GOS budget is made up of sight tests and the balance in vouchers. Intriguingly the Government predicts a 7.% rise in sight tests, domiciliary and voucher costs in 2010/2011.

PCC announces Eye health awareness week to launch in June

January 2010

A new collaborative eye health week will take place between 14 and 21 June. For the first time, representatives of the entire optical sector will be working together on a dedicated campaign to support one of the main objectives of the UK Vision Strategy: to promote the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests.

PCC says that more information will follow shortly, including details of a dedicated new website being set up to promote the campaign and its messages. (Eds note) PHN will be offering help in this cause with links from www.mylocaloptician.co.uk and we will let you know ays that you can help in getting the message over in your area.

NHS Choices looks to eye care

January 2010

 

 

Many are unaware that “The NHS Choices” website includes a very comprehensive information section on eye care, eye health and other aspects of eye safety. Why not check it out today and let us know what you think. Link: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/eyehealth/Pages/eyehealthhome.aspx

New date set for VCHP open day in Brum

January 2010

Vision Care for Homeless People (VCHP), in partnership with The Salvation Army’s William Booth Centre, is inviting optometrists, dispensing opticians, optical support staff and optometry students to come along to the Birmingham clinic to find out about volunteering to help.

Vision Care PracticeOn Monday 15 March the Centre will open its doors between 6-8pm for local optical people to see what the clinic is all about. Located within The Salvation Army residential centre in Shadwell Street, Birmingham, it is an ideal opportunity for anyone who has considered volunteering to find out more.

“There is an enormous demand for the care that we are providing in the community, particularly as the recession bites and more vulnerable people are finding themselves homeless. The service that we are providing, in a centre where homeless people feel at ease, is vital,” said Elaine Styles, VCHP Chair.

Other volunteers and trustees of VCHP will be present to answer questions and to show off the facilities of the clinic and consulting room.

To find out more call: 020 8356 6532

www.visioncarecharity.org

Avatar 3-D Images Help to Identify Vision Problems

January 2010

College of Optometrists in Vision Development offers advice for those having trouble with seeing in 3-D

With Avatar becoming a box office hit following a very successful launch in the States, many people are headed to cinemas to see what the excitement over 3-D is all about. Unfortunately, many of them may be disappointed because they didn't know they can't see 3-D.

While the concept of being "3-D ready" means that the new 3-D TVs, and the promise of Sky 3D in the near future, being made available to provide 3-D viewing, the College of Optometrists in Vision Development in America state that our eyes need to be "3-D ready" to be able to fully enjoy Avatar and the future.

The 3-D version of Avatar has two images projected on the screen, each image seen by one eye. The images are then merged into one by your brain. If the images aren't perceived correctly, it will be very difficult to merge or fuse the images into 3-D. The technology behind the Avatar 3-D effects is based on the premise that the viewer has the ability to see 3-D.

"There are a variety of vision problems which may cause intermittent problems, where you will see 3-D part of the time. This can definitely cause headaches or at the least make viewing very uncomfortable," explained Dr. Bradley Habermehl, President of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.

Research has shown that up to 56% of those 18 to 38 years of age have one or more problems with binocular vision and therefore could have difficulty seeing 3-D. In addition, about five percent of the population have amblyopia (lazy eye) and/or strabismus (eye turn) which makes 3-D viewing impossible.

But the College gives hope, thanks to optometric vision therapy; thousands of people who previously could not see 3-D are enjoying every special effect Avatar has to offer. Dr. Susan R. Barry, professor of neurobiology in the Department of Biological Sciences at Mount Holyoke College, who lived most of her life stereo blind until she went through an optometric vision therapy program at the age of 48, shares, "I am happy to say I am no longer stereo blind. I can enjoy the 3-D effects in Avatar as well or more than anyone else. The scenes of the forest receding way into the distance and the seeds from the Tree of Life floating in front of the screen were fantastic."

As technology quickly advances to provide us with 3-D ready TVs so we can watch movies, like Avatar, in the comfort of our own home, there are still millions of people whose eyes are not 3-D ready. "It is our mission to educate the public on the fact that you can become 3-D ready. Optometric vision therapy has helped thousands of people across the world to be able to see 3-D; even those who have had multiple eye surgeries, such as Dr. Barry," Habermehl states.

To find out more about 3-D vision and optometric vision therapy, visit the website for the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, www.covd.org.

About COVD and our member doctors


The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) is an international, non-profit optometric membership organization that provides education, evaluation and board certification programs in functional, behavioral, and developmental vision care, optometric vision therapy and vision rehabilitation. The organization is comprised of doctors of optometry, vision therapists and other vision specialists. For more information on learning-related vision problems, vision therapy, COVD and our open access journal, Optometry & Vision Development, please visit www.covd.org.
January 2010

During 2010, VAO will be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Vision Aid Overseas with pride.

VAO will continue to pursue the vision of their founding volunteers – a world in which everyone has access to eye care and spectacles. With 10% of the world’s population impaired by eyesight problems there is a lot of work to do. But VAO’s patient focus and commitment to long-term services is already making an enormous impact.

Since 1985 VAO has helped to provide spectacles to over 1 million people – a number they want to increase year on year. VAO wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the volunteers and supporters who have made such a big commitment to their work.

They have also announced an opportunity for you to support their 25th Anniversary in the very near future. Two of our members, Gordon Jones and Ros Kirk, are organising a very special evening in aid of Vision Aid Overseas at The Mill at Sonning Theatre near Reading on Thursday 25th February 2010. Guests will enjoy dinner, a world premier performance of a new comedy; We’ll always have Paris, and enjoy the comfort and hospitality of this wonderful Thames-side venue. Tickets for the event cost £55 and you are advised to purchase them as soon as possible to guarantee the best seats going! If you would like more information, or would like to buy tickets, please contact Gordon Jones by calling 0118 944 2877.
January 2010

Revalidation for optometrists and dispensing opticians will be introduced in January 2013. To help ensure that the scheme is fair, effective and proportionate, the GOC are inviting practitioners to one of five consultation events in February.

What will be discussed at the events?

The GOC wants to listen to your views on two of the key issues surrounding revalidation:

• What are the different levels of risk in optics?
• Can employers’ appraisals be used in revalidation?

Dates and venues

The events will be independently facilitated and will take place from 10:00 – 15:45 on the following dates:

• 8 February, Wales Millennium Centre, Bute Place, Cardiff, CF10 5AL
• 10 February, Britannia Hotel, Portland Street, Manchester, M1 3LA
• 16 February, Park Crescent Conference Centre, 229 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 5PN
• 18 February, Caledonian Hilton Hotel, Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2AB
• 19 February, Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland, 73 University St, Belfast, BT7 1HL

The morning session will explore and discuss the different levels of risk in optics. During the afternoon session, delegates will consider whether employers’ appraisals can be used in revalidation. You are welcome to attend either or both parts of the day.

How to get involved?

The events are free to attend but space is limited, so delegates must register their interest in advance with the GOC. A buffet lunch will be provided. Book your place online or contact Simon Grier on 020 7307 3478 or sgrier@optical.org

January 2010

Half-price registration for newly qualified practitioners is just one of a range of new features for the British Contact Lens Association’s 2010 Clinical Conference and Exhibition.

Following a new sponsorship agreement, UK and Ireland-based practitioners who have qualified in the past 10 years and are attending for the first time will pay from just £175 for the four-day event.

Patron Sponsor – New Delegates is Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, who will be supporting the first-time newly qualified delegates by paying half their full conference delegate fee. Patron Sponsor of BCLA 2010 is CIBA Vision, who will host the official Friday evening party. Platinum Sponsors are Alcon and CooperVision, and Gold Sponsors AMO, Bausch & Lomb, Optometry Today and Topcon.

Building on the record success of recent years, the 2010 Conference programme on the theme ‘Tomorrow’s contact lens practice today’ is designed to appeal to an even wider range of professionals, from expert contact lens specialists to those just starting out.

The new Conference team has taken a fresh look at the programme and introduced a host of features including:

• NEW sessions for those new to or returning to contact lenses
• NEW ‘Hot topics’ discussing the most topical issues in contact lenses
• NEW format and topics for clinical workshops and presentations
• NEW Sunday Debate on a contentious issue in practice today
• NEW virtual tours of our poster sessions and journal highlights
• NEW Rapid Fire Session on the latest specialist lenses
• NEW faces on the programme alongside more familiar presenters

Among the special sessions and symposia will be:

• BCLA Therapeutics Academy, providing teaching in therapeutic optometry and a Peer Review Group for prescribers
• A management and compliance session on communicating with patients, and training and motivating staff
• Sessions on contact lens safety and controlling infection
• Modern metrics: reviewing the latest clinical techniques
• A symposium on the management of keratoconus
• Training Day for Medics ‒ contact lens fitting for ophthalmologistsJanuary 2010

Record numbers of homeless people were dispensed glasses during the festive break, thanks to volunteer optoms, DOs and generous industry support for the charity Vision Care for Homeless People.

“We dispensed 230 pairs of glasses at our two centre connected to Crisis and many thanks go to Essilor for the tremendous support that they continue to give us in London with free glazing,” said Elaine Styles, Head of Operations at the charity.

She added:

“Homelessness is an issue which presents more than ever in the current times. During the clinics I met many who were experiencing the rawest consequences of the recession who would have never have expected to find themselves in such circumstances.”

The charity is looking for more volunteers to work throughout the year, and not just at Christmas, at its centres in London and Birmingham. Also sought are any ready readers that opticians or suppliers might consider donating.
January 2010

New directors have been appointed to the FMO representing the broad interests of manufacturing optics within the UK. Preston Everard of Kentoptic, Gary Goulden of Olympus Eyewear and Keith Sheers of Optisoft each have more than 20 years’ experience of the market and are keen to promote the benefits of closer working relationships.

FMO DirectorsPreston Everard, Executive Manager of Kentoptic, appointed Vice-Chairman of the Lens Association, explained:

“The FMO is a great forum for advice and discussion. It provides the perfect opportunity to network and to have an input into how we want to move optics forward, particularly in relation to training, which is so very valuable.

“I am keen to see more emphasis on developing the career path for optics and in promoting the opportunities to school leavers. I enjoy optics because it is constantly changing and evolving with new technology and lenses.”

Keith Sheers, Managing Director of Optisoft, appointed Vice-Chairman of the Equipment Association, supports the joined-up approach of the FMO:

“Information technology is now a fundamental part of optics, and the FMO recognises this and wants to do all that it can to ensure that the industry makes the most of the opportunities that it brings. I look forward to working with my fellow board members to make this a reality as we move forward in the digital age. We are looking at what more we can do in terms of customer information, which includes the highly valued Bad Payers’ List, customer information and making electronic data a reality.”

Gary Goulden, Managing Director of Olympus Eyewear, has supported the FMO for many years and has now been appointed Vice-Chairman of the Frame Association:

“We need to all use our connections and ideas for the best interests of the industry. The FMO is a stronger body thanks to the combined expertise which is now coming to the table and I look forward to contributing towards this.” January 2010

The Family Health Services Appeal Authority (FHSAA) in Harrogate is the appeal authority for contractors appealing a PCT/Health Board decision under the GOS regulations and contracts in both England and Wales.

From 18 January 2010 the (FHSAA) will be absorbed into a new Unified Tribunals Structure which consists of a two-tier structure - a First-tier Tribunal and an Upper Tribunal.

The First-tier Tribunal is the tribunal for most jurisdictions (including FHS). The Upper Tribunal is the appeal body to which decisions by the First-tier tribunal can be appealed on points of law.

When it transfers the FHSAA will

• become part of the Health Education and Social Care (HESC) Chamber of the First-Tier Tribunal
• and will be known as the First Tier Tribunal (Primary Health Lists)

(The work of the tribunals is divided between “chambers” which bring together jurisdictions undertaking similar work or requiring similar skills; other tribunals currently in the HESC Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal are mental health, care standards, and special educational needs & disability.)

Existing judiciary and members of the FHSAA will move across into the HESC Chamber on 18 January 2010 and will continue to hear Family Health Services appeals. This will ensure both continuity of service and preservation of the specialism.

Implications for GOS Contractors

These transfers should not create any significant differences in the appeals process for either contractors or their representatives.

Further information is available at www.tribunals.gov.uk.

Budget Changes Affecting Ophthalmic Sector

December 2009

 

 

The DoH in a recently published document named “The Operating Framework for the NHS in England 2010/11 highlights Budget Changes affecting Ophthalmic, Dental and Pharmacy Sectors

The allotment of monies to SHAs and PCTs is decided by the HM Treasury’s Consoldated Budgeting Guidance published in June 2009 and is known as the “bundle”. The proposed value of the bundle of central initiative budgets devolved to SHAs for local management is £6.167 million, compared with the bundle value for 2009/10 of £6.116 million. There being only a limited number of additions or savings there is little change year on year. Discussions continue to finalise the extent of the “bundle”.

The report however does highlight the changes related to the management of budgets which affect the three health sectors and we quote” The Department has decided to devolve the central budgets for general ophthalmic services and pharmacy to PCTs and to include primary dental service resources (which are already devolved) within unified allocations. This will support the overall policy of devolving NHS funding to PCTs as far as possible. These budgets will be allocated separately in 2010/11, with the funding for these three services being included within PCT baselines from 2011/12."

The report continues by reminding us of the requirement made in the budget for the DoH to contribute £2.3 billion savings as part of the Governments £5 billion efficiency drive. The movement of budgets out of the central budgets will allow reductions and funding to the three sectors will be allocated to PCTs and based on 2009/10 cash levels with any growth required coming out of the PCTs headroom within its budgets. Guidance on the detail of PCT-specific allocations for these three service areas will be issued following the publication of this NHS Operating Framework.

With significant savings required during the forthcoming years one wonders how long it will be before the pressures on PCTs will make them look for cost savings in our direction. Certainly arguments about sight examination fees and our true value look likely to fall on deaf ears.

www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/psr_bc_consolidated_budgeting.htm

Click here to discuss and give your views on this story.

Advice on Consumer Credit Licences

December 2009

 

 

Joint advice has been given by ABDO, ACLM, FODO, AOP and FMO on Consumer Credit Licences, Interest Free Debit Schemes and Money Laundering Regulations

Advice

1. If an optical business/practice provides a system to allow patients to pay by instalments (eg for contact lenses) they

• are by definition providing credit under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (CAA)

• require a Consumer Credit Licence to do so from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT)

• need also to register with OFT under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.

There are fees for each of the above registrations

2. None of the above applies, however, where the payment agreement

• consists of no more than four payments and

• these are all made within 12 months of the agreement.

3. Such arrangements are exempt from the requirements in paragraph 1.

Consumer Credit Act

4. Under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (CCA) it is a criminal offence to provide credit under a consumer credit agreement without a Consumer Credit Licence.

5. “Credit” is defined in Section 9 of CCA as including “a cash loan and any other form of financial accommodation”.

6. Selling goods to be paid for by instalments is clearly a form of “financial accommodation”.

7. Failure to comply with the CCA requirements – including as to form, content and execution of a credit agreement – means that the agreement would not normally be enforceable. It may also lead to a Consumer Credit Licence not being issued (or an already-issued Consumer Credit Licence being revoked).

Exemptions

8. As noted above there are however helpful exemptions from the CCA requirements. Regulation 3)(1)(a)(i) of the Consumer Credit (Exempt Agreements) Order 1989 exempts agreements where the credit is, in effect

• for a set purpose (e.g. a contact lens purchase)

• under which there are no more than four payments to be made

• and these are all to be made within 12 months of the agreement.

9. Provided credit agreements meet these requirements, in law the provision of credit does not fall within the CCA. This means that, in such cases

• no consumer credit licence is needed

• credit agreements do not need to follow the CCA prescribed form, content or execution.

Money Laundering Regulations 2007

10. Broadly speaking, a business needs to register with OFT under the anti-money laundering regulations if it is a business needing a consumer credit licence under the CCA. However a business that does not need a consumer credit licence under the CCA (as described at paragraph 8 above) does not need to register.

Exceptions

11. The only exceptions are

• where a company is covered by a group licence issued by the OFT (which optical businesses are not)

• the company/practice engages in such credit activity on only an occasional or very limited basis. (This cannot be the case for contact lens supplies)

12. Moreover, for the “very limited basis” exception to apply, all the following tests have to be met

a) total annual turnover in respect of the financial activity must not exceed £64,000

b) the financial activity must be limited in relation to any single customer to no more than a single transaction exceeding €1,000 (whether the transaction is carried out in a single operation or a series of operations which appear to be linked)

c) the financial activity does not exceed 5% of the company’s total annual turnover

d) the financial activity is ancillary and directly related to the company’s main activity

e) the financial activity is not for transmission or remittance of money (or any representation of monetary values) by any means

f) the financial activity is provided only to customers of the company’s main activity and is not offered to the general public.

13. The optical representative bodies have asked the Office of Fair Trading to clarify how this exemption might operate in relation to the supply of optical products.

14. None of the above, of course, applies if the exemption at paragraph 8 above is followed.

Deadlines

15. All businesses providing credit as in paragraph 1 (unless the exemption at paragraph 8 applies) should register with the Office of Fair Trading www.oft.gov.uk as soon as possible if they have not already done so.

16. Businesses/practices selling contact lenses by direct debit, and not taking advantage of the exemption at paragraph 8 above, also need to register with the OFT under the Money Laundering Regulations by 31 January 2010. www.oft.gov.uk

17. The OFT have advised that they will supervise businesses for money laundering if they require a consumer credit licence whether they hold such a licence or not.

Some practical advice:

a) Payments in advance are not credit.

b) Monthly payments in arrears for each monthly supply of contact lenses will not require a credit licence (provided the lenses are also supplied monthly) as only one month’s credit will be given at a time.

c) payments or fewer in arrears annually will not require a credit licence.
d) A deposit to secure the purchase need not be counted as one of the credit payments.

Further information

18. This guidance is not intended to be a full statement of the law and businesses/practices are advised to seek their own legal advice in cases of doubt.

19. Further advice is also available on the OFT www.oft.gov.uk and HMRC www.hmrc.gov.uk websites or please contact your representative body

Tiger Woods retains support of TLC Vision Corp. while it looks for Bankruptcy Protection

December 2009

 

 

Last time we reported that the eye care services company were to continue to support Tiger Woods in sponsorship despite his recent personal problems and when many other large companies were either pulling sponsorship or reconsidering campaigns. The jynx appears to continue as now TLC Vision Corporation has now sought Bankruptcy Protection to rterstructure its debt.

The story reported in Bloomberg Online said that TLC Vision had reached an agreement before the filing with some senior lenders to restructure debt. To expedite the process a pre-arrange plan was included. The plan provides for conversion of some debt to 100 percent of new equity of TLC Vision (USA), which will emerge as a private company, TLC said in a statement, “Our relationship with Tiger Woods continues without change.”

KeraSoft® for Irregular Corneas launches in Switzerland

December 2009

 

 

Kerasoft SARLKeraSoft® IC, the newest addition to the KeraSoft® family of lenses, has been successfully launched in Switzerland by KeraSoft® SARL. Practitioners around the world are realising the benefits this ground breaking lens has over RGP lenses and UltraVision is delighted by the new entry into the Swiss market, a country defined by its leading edge technologies and healthcare.

KeraSoft® SARL was set up in Switzerland by Luc Tissot, and his wife Katia, to act as Distributor on behalf of the UK based contact lens manufacturer, UltraVision. Tissot Watches has been connected with innovative high-tech products manufactured with special materials and advanced functionality, since 1853, which fits in nicely with UltraVision’s products and positioning.

Keratoconus Consultant & Optometrist, Lynn White, presented at the launch the major benefits she can now offer to keratoconic patients through using KeraSoft® contact lenses, citing a number of case-studies. UltraVision’s CEO, J Keith Lomas, was in attendance and spoke about the UltraVision Group and the benefits and pleasure of partnering with Luc Tissot and his team, a name synonymous with the best technologies and quality engineering in Switzerland.

Optometrists representing each French Canton of Switzerland attended the launch and the immediate and subsequent feedback was most positive.

 

Dibble takes the helm at FMO

Barry Dibble1st July 2009

New FMO Chairman, Barry Dibble, welcomed a wide cross section of optically focused people to the latest FMO meeting and paid tribute to retiring Chairman, Andrew Actman, praising his “enthusiasm, common sense and straight forward management”. John Conway was appointed FMO Vice-Chairman.

Keen to see FMO membership increase, Barry urged more companies to take advantage of the many benefits and the ability to share market information within the dedicated FMO focus groups for frames, lenses, lab and practice equipment.


Myers La Roche paint a stark warning for the Optical Sector

1st July 2009

From a detailed analysis of the market and a survey of more than 500 independent practices predictions were revealed to the FMO audience at their recent meeting, that 149 independent practices had closed in the past year and more would follow.

“Patients are being slow to present and are likely to spend less than previously, with net profits down by 4%” said Patrick Myers, who has been tracking the UK optical market for 20 years.”, reported Patrick Myers.

From the estate agency side of Myers La Roche business it was expected to sell 120 practices this year compared to between 40 and 50 in previous years.

“We are not predicting that it will be as bad as when the market crashed in 1989 when the Government introduced charges for sight tests, but it is likely that one million less people will come into practices this year than they did last year,” he added.

He told the audience that optometrists’ wages had dropped by £9,000 in the past ten years and that the survey last year had revealed that only 27% were very satisfied or satisfied with their earnings.

Marketing was a key issue with only 30% of practice owners saying that they enjoyed marketing. More alarmingly, 87% of those questioned did not appear to work to any kind of budget.

However, there was some good news –

“Companies that invest in their staff, their systems, their technology and their marketing will improve their market share.”


Be careful there’s a bug about

1st July 2009

Simon Butterworth of IT specialists Sibit at the recent FMO meeting warned of the “exponential growth” of Malware - damaging IT interference.

“Ten years ago there were just a handful of viruses. We will soon be up to 40,000 new viruses a day, which can cripple a business. There is now so much stolen data around that it is sold by size - $50 a megabyte, and $100 to attack a competitor’s website for 24 hours.”

He warned against staff using MSN, GMail and Twittering – “all are a threat to your system and it is getting much worse”. Simon urged the audience to ensure they were using the latest anti-virus software and to guard against passing on password and bank details to unknown sources.


Hawk Eye Vision for this years Umpires

18th June 2009

Wimbledon’s line umpires have their eyes firmly on the ball for this summer’s tennis tournament, thanks to Rodenstock.

Wimbledon Umpire RodenstockThe 345 umpires and management staff, including 90 from overseas, for the two week tournament are now kitted out with Wimbledon sunglasses, many with prescription lenses. All featuring Sun Contrast grey green 65% tint lenses, offering UV protection to 400nm, they were selected to enhance contrast and assist with the umpires’ line call decisions. Part of Rodenstock’s sponsorship support programme, this also includes the cost of training the officials each year.

Matthew Morrissey, The Lawn Tennis Association’s Officiating Administrator, is delighted that the support continues for the eighteenth year –

“Rodenstock always ensure that the products meet our exact requirements. We like to have lenses that are not too dark so that the players can see the umpires’ eyes. The umpires at Wimbledon ranges from 17 to 70, so we have to suit all ages and the Rodenstock team does a good job to meet that demand. The look of the frames this year is fantastic,” he said.

“Rodenstock are very involved in helping us. The sponsorship of eyewear and cost of training officials each year is very valuable,” he added.

Supporting the Wimbledon sunglass licensing agreement, this has seen the brand promoted in practices throughout the country.


7 Months in and a full appointment book already

16th June 2009

“Clearly Excellent Eyecare” is the message from Andrew Fletcher Opticians in Bolton and seven months after opening his new practice he is boasting a full appointment book.

Andrew Fletcher OpticiansAn emphasis on clinical care has brought many referrals and more than 70% of patients at the practice are having regular fundus imaging.

Backing up the practice’s clinical excellence is the Optisoft OptomNotes™ module which integrates and stores all patient notes, referral letters and imaging into the patient record.

“We have integrated our Topcon camera’s readings into the patient notes and instead of having files of paper everywhere we are moving towards a more paperless system, which is far more efficient.

“It also brings peace of mind because, as any practice knows, storing and backing up paper records is a pain, especially when you think of possible flood and fire damage. I just back up the system every night and take the records home with me on a disc, confident that my most valuable business asset is well protected,” said optometrist owner, Andrew Fletcher.


In a Rapid Response Report today the NPSA highlights the results of a survey which show that between June 2005 and May 2009, 44 glaucoma patients experienced deterioration of vision and 13 loss of vision due to delayed follow up appointments. 91 other patients either suffered from delayed, cancelled or postponed appointments the consequences of these not being known.

Sinc the NICE ruling on suspected open angle glaucoma patients on 22nd April this year, which make recommendations on treatment and follow up procedures the NPSA has issued an immediate instruction to ophthalmology departments and service managers to

1. Make NICE guidelines on glaucoma available to all relevant staff and develop an action plan to implement the recommendations.

2. Review levels of hospital initiated cancellation of appointments for patients with established or suspected glaucoma through clinical governance forums.

3. Review patient ‘did not attend’ rates in order to identify and audit high risk non-attending patients.

4. Identify the number of patients currently awaiting follow up and confirm there is sufficient capacity within the local health community to meet this number in terms of outpatient appointments and any specialist investigations e.g. visual field and optic disc imaging.

5. Develop a system whereby patients can be ‘flagged’ on the booking/ appointment system to indicate the clinical priority given to the appointment and monitor activity to ensure compliance with NICE follow-up intervals.

6. Make information on glaucoma available to patients and ensure that there is a straight forward process for patients to reschedule appointments where necessary.

The Deadline for the action to be completed is 10th December 2009.

PHN Comment

These are very worthy ideals and it is surprising given the unstable nature of open angle (chronic) glaucoma that they are not already in place. However at a time when the service has become unexpectedly loaded with additional high intra-ocular pressure patients with no obvious symptoms that were once regularly assessed by qualified and trained optometrists with local control by ophthalmologists directly. Because of the heavy handed approach by NICE on the issue one has to ask do NHS departments really know what is happening in the field. We endorse the actions taken by the NPSA and wonder that if these had been in place and the local enhanced services between secondary care and primary care in referral procedures had remained whether the solution was already in hand?


My Local Optician reports on vsits

6th June 2009

During the month of May our visits were down slightly to around 12,000 basically because of the two bank holidays and the sunniest May for 8 years. However our new breakdown of information that we have invested in recently shows a very successful trend in where our public visitors search and what interests them the most.

52% of our visitors search for information on eyecare and eyewear on the site with the largest number of page views looking at Silhouette Frames, ready readers, VDU legislation, opticians offers, home tests, sight tests and how often should you go to the opticians.

48% of page views were specifically looking for opticians in their area. That’s around 5800 customers in May, looking for specific opticians in their PCT area. Notably just under 10% of these searches involved requesting information by name on Scrivens Opticians and 1.6% for Conlons. These figures reflect the advertising campaigns promoted by the two companies which have individual pages in each PCT area they serve and provide corporate information on their respective businesses.

Similarly a two practice independent, David Kear Opticians has equalled the number of page views of that of the Conlons group which shows how important a web page presence on the public site is to an information hungry public.

“This backs up our theory that the more information a company can provide about how and where it provides services raises their profile above that of which the size of company would expect across the UK.” said Charles Greenwood, Director of Primary Health Net who manage the public awareness site. “We know from talking to our advertisers that the additional links with these companies’ websites to our page one ranked site helps increase the visibility of their own sites as well.”

The PCT region with the greatest desire for information about their opticians was Leeds.

Opticians do not need their own website to rent a webpage on the site. The webpage can carry any form of downloadable file to provide more information than the page itself and therefore works just like a website in its own right.

It costs from £90 to 175 per annum (dependent on branch numbers) to rent a web page and have each individual entry on the database enhanced.

All excess fees over running costs are ploughed back into the public site to promote better eyecare and eyewear awareness.

Visit My Local Optician


Primary Health Net Ltd takes decision to provide Primary Health Support information for free

6th June 2009

After six months of bench testing their Primary Health Support teams information on a secure website, PHN have decided to provide the profession with the complete package of information free of charge. PHN does however require visitors to be registered on the site in order to keep the information secure to those onside in Optics.

Registration is of course free and takes only a few minutes to fulfil and confirm by email. Once registered all the pages will be accessible and moreover registrants will be able to join in the forums to discuss issues that are of paramount importance to LOCs and nationally to LOCSU in gaining the best local solutions to solve local problems in concert with their local PCTs.

There will be two further National forums available on PHN, one open to all registrants, Optometric advisors and PCT personnel where non specific and non contentious issues can be aired. And a further National LOC activist forum (highest level security) open to only bona fide members of the 13 accredited LOCs that own a PHN website plus any other LOC activists accredited by their LOC officer by phone to PHN and providing a legitimate LOC address and email contact. This forum will be regularly policed with email checks to ensure that only onside LOC workers can read and place information upon it.

Bob Hutchinson, Director PHN and one of the Primary Health Support Team said,

“These are very important times in Optics UK particularly in relation to gaining a profitable share in enhanced service contracts as well as being seen to “make a difference” to Primary Care in the UK. By publishing the results of much of the hard work and success that our team has played a significant role in, openly and for free to those correctly registered with our secure knowledge website we hope we can stimulate LOCs to improve communications and efficiency and be encouraged to gain a significant foothold within Primary Care and the Darzi vision.”

The Primary Health Support team takes its responsibility very seriously and understands that the goals and milestones achieved now and in the near future will be taken as templates for a National Protocol. Thus PHS will advise on news and issues highlighted by National Organisations and try to advise locally and nationally against poor contracts that might endanger more robust and profitable agreements already in process. PHS’s ethos however is to provide knowledge and provide a secure area for discussion to take place and to encourage locally LOCs to resolve issues for themselves. When more face to face or verbal support is required members of the support team can provide this on a “pay as you go” basis.

Hutchinson continued,” The growth of enhanced services within Optics must be achieved on the strength of increased profitability and correctly measured payments for each service, all of which are under severe strain, therefore PHN regards the provision of free knowledge and a secure forum as being of great help to all. For the same reason we are now offering our secure individual web sites for each LOC at no cost with only the hosting and maintenance charged for less than £8 per week.”

Primary Health Support pages


NICE Glaucoma Guidance clarified

There has been some further clarification from NICE on ther glaucoma guidance, in particular about the use of Goldmann and Perkins. You can read what they say on our forum and leave us your thoughts.

View the clarification


BCLA 2009 sets new record for attendance with over 1000 delegates

5th June 2009

The BCLA broke a 33 year history record in the number of delegates who attended this year’s Clinical Conference of the British Contact Lens Association.

BCLA 2009In fact 1,073 delegates registered over the four days of the conference, held in Manchester up by 46 on 2008 but continuing the trend at around 1000 delegates per conference since 2006.

45 companies had stands in the manufacturers’ exhibition, which this year moved to a larger area in the main hall of the Manchester Central complex. Including those who only attended the exhibition, there were an estimated 1,500 visitors in total.

The BCLA contend that their Conference is now established as the premier event for contact lens professionals in the UK and worldwide. This year, just over half of those registered (54%) were from overseas (2008: 55%). Delegates came from 45 different countries, and the largest overseas delegations were from the USA (87) and Denmark (77), followed by Germany (39) and France (37). Obviously a truly International event with so many oversees delegates.

At the Gala Dinner on May 30, outgoing President Dr Sarah Janikoun handed her chain of office to William Thomas who told delegates that his focus for the coming year would be to promote the benefits of BCLA membership to a wider audience.

‘We run the most successful and prestigious annual contact lens conference that regularly attracts the best speakers, and delegate numbers continue to break records year on year. We need to inform people of the benefits and opportunities that are available to them throughout the year by joining the BCLA.’ One example was the free Pioneers Conference which had now become a major event in its own right, he added.

Nigel Burnett-HoddAwarded at the dinner were 21 new BCLA Fellowships, a mark of esteem in the field of contact lenses which allows recipients to use the letters FBCLA after their names. Former BCLA President Nigel Burnett Hodd, who organises the annual BCLA Pioneers events, received honorary life membership of the BCLA in recognition of his significant contribution to the Association.

The 2009 BCLA Pioneers Conference takes place in London on November 26, where the 6th Pioneers Lecture will be delivered by Dr Alan Saks (New Zealand).

Next year’s 34th BCLA Clinical Conference and Exhibition will be held in Birmingham from May 27– 30, 2010. Keynote speakers will be David Anderson (UK), Suzi Fleiszig (USA) and Cristina Kenney (USA). Dr Donald Korb (USA) will be the BCLA Medal Speaker and Dr Panagiotis Kallinikos (Greece) will deliver the Irving Fatt Memorial Lecture.



Laugh I could have cried


5th June 2009

The FMO’s quest at Optrafair to find the funniest patient lines from dispensing opticians, optometrists and practice support staff brought a flood of funny quips.

Many were too rude to print and involved “legs that wouldn’t open” but the FMO Board has selected the best and bottles of champagne are on their way to the three winners:

From Stephen Golding, FBDO, of Manchester Royal Eye Infirmary:

“When I told the patient that it would take a few days to glaze the frame, he replied ‘Don’t worry, I have some putty at home – I’ll do it myself’”.

From William Harvey, OPTICIAN Clinical Editor:

“When I worked at Moorfields an elderly lady came down to the optometry department and, while pointing to her eye, told me: ‘The doctor has sent me down for a test. He says I have something at the back of my rectum.’
So I immediately reached for my rectoscope!”

From Anne Lowndes, Director of Specsavers, Bridgend, South Wales:

“When taken to the tonometer, the patient said: ‘I remember this, it’s when you give me that blow job!’”


New President’s experience ranges from lab to boardroom

5th June 2009

As announced at the BCLA conference, William Thomas is the new President of the British Contact Lens Association. He began his year of office at the BCLA Clinical Conference and Exhibition in Manchester last weekend.

New President of the BCLA - William ThomasWilliam has been managing director of Northampton-based David Thomas Contact Lenses (DTCL) since 1982 and a technical member of the BCLA since its inception in 1977. ‘I am very proud of the fact that I have been a BCLA member from the start and have seen the BCLA grow into the highly successful and well respected organisation it is today,’ he says.

When leaving school William had no idea about what future career he wanted to pursue. In his early teens he wanted to be a Catholic missionary but changed his mind when he discovered discos! He went on to study for a Higher National Diploma (HND) in business studies and then worked for a large London assurance company.

After his father, David Thomas, founded DTCL in 1972, William joined the fledgling contact lens company. He spent time working in the laboratory before supporting his father on the administrative and sales side of the business. He explains: ‘I felt that it was important to understand the products and the manufacturing processes if I was going to be in a position to make informed decisions on the running of the business.’

He was appointed managing director in 1982 when his father became chairman and has been involved in all aspects of the company, including negotiations for the other businesses that DTCL has acquired. ‘As MD, a key part of my role was to build a successful team of people around me with complementary skills,’ he adds.

William has been on the BCLA Council for several years and previously held the post of Treasurer. ‘I am extremely honoured to have been chosen as President and would like to thank my fellow Council members for the support they have given me. The BCLA is a unique organisation not only running a highly successful Clinical Conference but also bringing together all sections of the profession and industry in the common cause of advancing contact lens knowledge for the benefit of patients.
‘I believe that, given the current profile of the BCLA, we have a great opportunity to increase membership both in the UK and internationally. One of my aims during my Presidential year is to try to communicate the message of the total package of benefits available to members, now valued at more than £250 a year, and all for just over £25 per quarter.
‘I will also work hard to ensure that the Conference maintains its reputation as the world’s foremost contact lens meeting and would also like to expand the Pioneers Conference, which has now become a major event on the contact lens calendar.’

In his leisure time, William is a keen jogger and has run two London marathons. He also spends time cruising Britain’s canals on his narrowboat.


Relatively few Children are given the correct eye protection in sport

5th June 2009

In a recent article published in the States, Kristi Runyon, the author reports that there are more than 100,000 sports related eye injuries in the U.S. each year and as many as 90% of them could be prevented with protective eyewear.

Each year, 42,000 sports-related eye injuries in the United States require a trip to the emergency room (A & E) - that’s one serious eye injury every thirteen minutes! An eye injury is the leading cause of vision loss in one eye and 27 percent of these injuries occur while playing sports. The good news is 90 percent of these eye injuries are preventable if sports enthusiasts and those involved in contact supports talk the available and cheap measures..

A survey by The Vision Council in the USA revealed that nearly nine in 10 people believe children should regularly wear protective eyewear when playing sports, yet the National Eye Institute reports that less than 15 percent of children wear protection during “hazardous” sports activities. Of course, nothing can prevent all sports-related eye injuries. But simply making sports protective eyewear a part of athletic uniforms can significantly reduce the likelihood of potentially sight damaging injuries. Anyone participating in the following sports and activities should wear protective eyewear:
The most common sports causing eye injuries were:

baseball or softball, racquetball, tennis, badminton, soccer, American football, ice hockey or street hockey, basketball, lacrosse, archery, fencing, boxing, karate, and any other activity that uses a ball or racket or involves rough contact with other players, or requires travel at high speed.


Blind Numbers could double by 2050

5th June 2009

At a recent UK Vision Strategy event held at the QE II Conference Centre delegates were warned that the UK’s blind and partially sighted population could double to reach four million by the middle of this century.

The RNIB launched its latest report, Future Sight Loss UK, at the Vision UK 2009 conference to inform the UK Vision Strategy and the charity’s strategic goals.

The study is formed of two parts – the economic impact of partial sight and blindness in the UK adult population by the research group Access Economics, and an epidemiological and economic model for sight loss in the decade 2010–2020 by Darwin Minassian and Angela Reidy of the EpiVision study team.

It was reported that the latest breakdown of 1.8 million people with either partial sight or registered blind fell into the following catagories:

Refarctive error 53.5%
AMD 16.7%
Cataract 13.7%
Glaucoma 5.3%
Diabetic Retinopathy 3.5%
Others 7.4%

Researchers EpiVision discovered that the prevalence of early wet and dry AMD in the UK adult population will increase by 25% from 2010

The conference was reported by OT and press released by them.

For further information the RNIB site discussion is at:

http://www.vision2020uk.org.uk/ukvisionstrategy/news.asp?itemid=23&itemTitle=UK+Vision+2009+Conference%3A+Thursday+4+June+2009§ion=23§ionTitle=Latest+News&from=&to=


Bausch & Lomb Receives FDA Approval of Besivance(TM), New Topical Ophthalmic Antibacterial for the Treatment of Bacterial Conjunctivitis ('Pink Eye')

5th June 2009

Besivance adds to Bausch & Lomb's Expanding Ocular Pharmaceuticals Portfolio and Offers New Therapeutic Option for a Wide Range of Ocular Bacterial Pathogens

Bausch & Lomb, a world leader in eye health, today announced June 4th that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Besivance(TM) (besifloxacin ophthalmic suspension) 0.6% for the treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as "pink eye." Besivance(TM) is a new topical ophthalmic antibacterial, administered via sterile ophthalmic drops, that treats a wide range of eye pathogens including those that most commonly cause bacterial conjunctivitis. Bacterial conjunctivitis is one of the most common ocular conditions worldwide.

In December 2008, an FDA Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of Besivance. It is is the first fluoroquinolone specifically developed for ophthalmic use and is the first and only ophthalmic fluoroquinolone with no previous systemic use. It offers broad-spectrum antibacterial activity, including activity against the strains that are the most common causes of bacterial conjunctivitis.

"Topical ophthalmic besifloxacin offers physicians the opportunity to provide patients with an anti-infective that treats a broad range of bacterial ocular pathogens," said Marguerite McDonald, MD, FACS, Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at NYU School of Medicine, New York, New York.

The FDA approval of Besivance was based on a series of eight clinical trials. These studies were designed to test the efficacy, safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics with the topical antibacterial. Its efficacy was evaluated in three multi-center, randomized, double-masked trials involving nearly 2,400 patients with a clinical diagnosis of bacterial conjunctivitis. In clinical trials, investigators found that Besivance treatment resulted in a greater proportion of patients experiencing clinical resolution and microbial eradication, when compared to its vehicle.

"Today's FDA approval of Besivance provides patients with an advanced therapy that can eradicate bacterial conjunctivitis at its source both safely and effectively," said Flemming Ornskov, M.D., M.P.H., corporate vice president and global president, Pharmaceuticals, Bausch & Lomb. "At Bausch & Lomb we are committed to developing innovative eye health products that help enhance patients' overall quality of life, and we are pleased to offer the medical community a new treatment option for this exceedingly common condition."

Besivance will be available by prescription in U.S. pharmacies in the second quarter of 2009. Besivance will be promoted by both the Bausch & Lomb and Pfizer, Inc. sales forces.

As yet no news is available on its availability in the UK


US Researchers quantify lost productivity worldwide caused by uncorrected vision


4th June 2009

The World Health Organisation has recently published a study in carried out by researchers from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of School of Public Health in Baltimore, Australia's International Center for Eyecare Education and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and the Vision Research Institute in Africa.

It asserts that uncorrected vision costs $269 billion annually in lost productivity worldwide.

The study was recently published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, in which it is estimated that nearly 158 million people globally suffer with vision impairment resulting from uncorrected refractive error, which can invariably be eliminated with an eye examination and vision correction.

"The economic gains that could be made if eyeglasses were provided to everyone in need are substantial," study author Kevin Frick of Johns Hopkins said in a statement.

"The Western Pacific region, which includes China and Vietnam, has the highest estimated number of cases of uncorrected refractive error at 62 million and is responsible for almost half of the potential loss of productivity. The Southeast Asia region, encompassing Bangladesh, India and Nepal, has 48.7 million cases."


Lady Gaga Wears Jeremy Scott Sunglasses in Video

1st June 2009

Lady Gaga wears Jeremy Scott sunglassesLinda Farrow, the home of the most charismatic of Designer Sunglass Brands gets a helping hand from Lady GAGA’s new and exciting video release. The video entitled Paparazzi, can be seen by clicking the link below and is to be found on www.perezhilton.com where exclusive photos, taken by David LaChapelle, show our Lady hard at work designing the fashions and storyboarding for her video for which if you haven't seen yet - you MUST at:

http://perezhilton.com/2009-05-28-epic-gagas-new-paparazzi-video

Featured sunglasses worn by Lady G are by Jeremy Scott whose collection was featured in the May edition and cover of Vogue.

Find out more about Lady Gaga and hear her at http://www.myspace.com/ladygaga


British children’s eyewear label Zoobug featured in Sunday Times

1st June 2009Daisy Zoobug

Children’s eyewear specialist Zoobug was featured in The Sunday Times Business Section this weekend, in an article following the progress of three entrepreneurs. The article is part of a series that tracks small businesses, from setting up to growing their business in the first crucial years. Dr. Julie Diem Le, director and creator of Zoobug, was featured on the front cover of the Business Section, pictured with her prize-winning sunglass style Daisy, one of the models in the current My First Zoobug sunglass collection which has given the company a reputation for producing original, fun sunglass designs that offer high-levels of protection from the sun's dangerous UV rays.

Inside the Business Section, the article summarises Zoobug's achievements over the last three years, featuring a second picture of Dr. Julie Diem Le and Zoobug's sun and optical collections.

"I am glad I set up Zoobug and I have never looked back," said Dr. Julie Diem Le, talking about the coverage in The Sunday Times and the progress the company has made in a relatively short period. "As we all know, this industry requires commitment and hard work, and this is a particularly tough time. However, increasing our distribution into countries like Spain and Portugal this year and moving into new areas such as duty-free, airports and the gifts sector which is particularly strong for us in Italy has been really positive and I will continue this ongoing expansion in the coming months and into 2010."



20th May 2009

In a very heady atmosphere, perhaps it was the copious champagne; in a wonderfully appropriate artistic building Silhouette once again show that the style and elegance of their products are recreated on the night in a fashion extravaganza.

Not this time, as at so many optical occasions; a plethora of models but in a cool understated way in which over the night hundreds of invited guests were entranced into the real world of brand imagery that is so little understood in Optics UK.

The evening along with refreshments kicked off with a modern jazz theme spun by a truly glamorous DJ and later assisted by a sole saxophonist. The cool colours projected onto many screens surrounding the hall gave a blue haze to the evening in the celebrated LSO St Lukes nearby to Old Street and famous for its musical concerts.

After a brief introduction from Arnold Schmied who had travelled in from New York on the day, we were treated to a Violin Soloist and a modern dance routine coming together in a way that combined grace and perfection which was to mimic exactly the feel of the technologically and aesthetically perfect rimless design from Silhouette.

It was quite spooky how indeed this marriage of art and design did hold the attention of an enthusiastic audience and how the story line brilliantly told by Schmied came together so well. For this is the true story of brand. Without pure design and quality, passion and belief and a story told there is no brand.

The evening’s mission was to bring forward a new strategy in design, branding and partnership that would inevitably mean that some small customer’s current to Silhouette would find they would be excluded in the future.

Arnold SchmiedAlthough these were challenging times Silhouette had decided that they were also the right times to take strong decisions and to invest heavily in those who wish to form a partnership in the future. The Titan Must collection out of every type of product bought by Germans (not just specs) last year was voted #1 in Der Spiegel as being the one product most would definitely wish to repeat purchase. With this incredible backing Silhouette has made the sweeping decision to abandon all other forms of spectacle frames other than rimless. In their concept of “Seeing without Boundaries” Rimless is the future.

Since 1999, 8 million Titan frames have been sold worldwide but this is still only a market share of 1 to 1.5%. Arnold likened the continued growth of rimless to the early days of CR39 production when the concept was derided, like lightweight lenses the lightweight frames with style and easy wearing will become the way of vision in the future.

There are he said style icons, Porsche 911, Omega, Channel No5 and also Titan. But Silhouette wished to raise the volume and allow more people to enjoy “Seeing without Boundaries”.

This is why Silhouette has invested in many new styles and style collections as well as new merchandising units, wall hung and floor sets. The beauty to the customer is the openness of face and no barriers to seeing. The beauty to the professional is that there are very few things in life that can be custom designed around a customer and the Silhouette Rimless broad choice of colour, shape, design and its interchange ability allows the professional to help their customer and take control.

Mark HobsonMark Hobson UK CEO since January of Silhouette emphasised the message that much would be invested in promotion and assistance in training and merchandising to provide those that wished to enter the partnership to enjoy a mutual and profitable relationship. There would be three levels of partnership requiring different stocking levels. Collections partnership would require 4 trays including the must collection and a top range. Portfolio collection requires 7 trays and the Reference collection requires 11 trays.

The meeting concluded with Erin Walsh Silhouette’s Marketing Manager receiving flowers for her major efforts in bring off a night that will be remembered for a long time.

In these grim times we need companies like Silhouette to bring back the pizzazz and provide added value in our work interest and our customer’s pleasure.

Last night the Brand truly was the story.



14th May 2009

We report on the first AOP and FODO AGMs to be held in a jointly attended venue which be the first signs of a future confederation of both organisations. We We have dedicated a separate report on the event and both AGMs and you can also read a sketch review here.


Word search skills bring rewards for Pinner Optician

14th May 2009
Seema Shah
The word search entry of Mrs Seema Shah, optometrist and owner of a Pinner Practice, was first out of the bag of correct replies. Mrs Shah won a free software module.

Mrs Shah was delighted to use the opportunity to upgrade to Optisoft’s new Enterprise Edition, which say Optisoft is not only easier to navigate but brings increased functionality.

”It is great. We wanted to upgrade the system so this is very pleasing, and we are particularly looking forward to making use of the additional enclosure functions to personalise our reminder letters with specific notes and insertions.” said a very satisfied Mrs Shah.


VisionCare for Homeless People announce official opening

14th May 2009

Vision Care for HomelessKeep June 12th free in your diary for the official opening of the VisionCare for Homeless People centre which will opened by the Rt Honourable Clare Short MP at 12.45 at their new premises in Shadwell Street, Birmingham. Sandip Sohal, the Chairman is looking forward to welcoming interested parties to make this a special day. Contact info@visioncarecharity.org to pre-confirm your attendance for the day.

The centre's full address is William Booth Centre, 72-74 Shadwell Street, Birmingham, B4 6HA


Shocking findings highlighted by Vision Care for Homeless People

8th May 2009

London’s homeless people are struggling to function with prescriptions of up to -16.00 dioptres. This is just one of the shocking findings of volunteer optometrists at Vision Care for Homeless People, operating from London’s Crisis Centre.

Optometrists and dispensing opticians are urgently required by the charity to work within the London and Birmingham Centres.

“Some professionals are put off from volunteering because they don’t know who they’ll meet. In reality 98% of those who come to us for help are not rough sleepers, but marginalised people who live in hostels and safe houses: they just do not feel comfortable about going into a High Street Opticians,” said Harinder Paul, who set up the charity six years ago.

Housed within The Crisis Centre, near London’s Liverpool Street Station in a converted Victorian textile warehouse, the complete optician’s practice is kitted out with equipment donated by many UK companies.

“Suppliers have been so generous: it was always my aim to provide a comprehensive optician’s practice, but within an approachable environment for homeless people. So far we have seen more than 3,000 patients,” added Paul.

A second London practice operates in Victoria and the Birmingham Centre is located within the Salvation Army’s William Booth Centre, in Snow Hill.

“All of the volunteers who work with us come for a session just once a month and they find it tremendously rewarding. The service is greatly valued and it is a terrible shame when we are not able to open up the practice because of a lack of volunteers.”

Since opening in 2003 Vision Care for Homeless has picked up a number of serious pathologies and helped thousands to regain their self respect. One of the aims, mirroring that of Crisis, is to help people to get back to work.

“A lot of people need help to be able to read a job application form before they can get started, and even providing ready readers is a solution for many. Our patients are so grateful for what we do. They do not feel part of society but within our centres they feel safe. We are always particularly busy during the ten day Christmas period when many homeless people feel very abandoned.” Contact mike@visioncarecharity.org or call 020 7017 2026.

New Chairman for ACLM Board

Walker makes a valid Optrafair point

7th May 2009

After our recent article on Optrafair where we wrote about the lack of big named contact lens companies showing this year, Tony Walker, MD of Mid Optics has written to remind us that Mid-Optic were much in evidence. Apologies for not making this clear in our article although our mission was to report on the missing and not on those present. However Mid-Optics are to be congratulated on their presence and according to Tony were the only company representing the sale of contact lens solutions and contact lenses from all of the main manufacturers.

Tony says “We had an extremely busy Optrafair taking several hundred orders from customers old and new. Many customers expressed their gratitude for us in taking the trouble to attend. We found this year to be the best year for opticians wanting to buy new products and concepts to move their businesses forward during these difficult times.

In my opinion Optrafair is the only exhibition which opticians attend to specifically buy products. Although the BCLA is undoubtedly a good exhibition it is still lecture focused which obviously limits sales opportunities.

We may be a relatively small company in the optical market but we are the largest wholesaler with over 4,000 customers and we will continue to fly the flag at Optrafair in the future.”

PHN Comment. We believe you have complimented our original comments entirely.


Bayer and Regeneron Extend Development Program for VEGF Trap-Eye to Include Central Retinal Vein Occlusion

5th May 2009

Bayer HealthCare AG and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. recently announced that the companies are extending their global development program for VEGF Trap-Eye, an investigational agent for the treatment of certain eye diseases, to include Central Retinal Vein Occlusion (CRVO).

The companies plan to initiate a Phase 3 program evaluating the efficacy and safety of VEGF Trap-Eye in the treatment of CRVO in the second half of this year. CRVO caused by obstruction of the central retinal vein that that leads to a back up of blood and fluid in the retina, resulting in retinal injury and loss of vision. The retina can also become "ischemic" (starved for oxygen), resulting in the growth of abnormal new blood vessels that can cause further vision loss and more serious complications.

The Phase 3 program in CRVO will consist of two, multinational, one-year clinical studies which have been reviewed with regulatory authorities. These studies will expand the companies' global development collaboration for VEGF Trap-Eye, which already includes two ongoing Phase 3 studies in patients with the neovascular form of Age-related Macular Degeneration (wet AMD) and a Phase 2 study in patients with Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). Enrollment in the wet AMD and DME studies is expected to be completed later this year.

"Although CRVO is a leading cause of blindness, there is currently no treatment available that can be universally considered to be the standard of care, and there is no approved treatment to prevent the loss of vision or improve vision once it is lost," said Dr. Kemal Malik, Head of Global Development and member of the Bayer HealthCare Executive Committee. "Since the underlying biology of CRVO is related to edema and the growth of abnormal new blood vessels that are mediated by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), we are hopeful that VEGF Trap-Eye may help address this significant unmet medical need."


Rodenstock winners from the Optrafair draw

5th May 2009

Rodenstock winners from the Optrafair draw were delighted to learn about their exciting days out.

To highlight the success of Porsche Design Eyewear, Rodenstock teamed up with Porsche UK to provide a tutored track day at Silverstone in a Porsche Carrera and this was won by Cathy Ramsden of J&R Bottomley Opticians, Ramsden.

The off road day in a Porsche Cayenne was won by Ros Young of Regal Optical Centre, Boston.

And the luxury weekend of pampering at Champneys has been won by Emma Lynch of Conlons Opticians, Ormskirk.



24th April

It became evident shortly after the budget that the GOS budget which has always been overseen by Central Government at the DOH is being devolved initially to Strategic Health Authorities (SHA) and later down to PCTs.

The reason given being that there are now very few centrally controlled budgets within healthcare and little or nothing to base targets and comparisons on, or overspends.

It is appears to be fortunate that the Optical Bodies were requesting from Ann Keen MP only back in January that there would be no capping or local negotiations on pay, the latter being something that the National Bodies would find reprehensible. Whether the Minister was indeed aware at the time of the meeting that her budgets would be put out to the regions is unclear although no mention was made of it at the time. If she was unaware of the new moves it was indeed fortuitous that she confirmed no change in budgeting which we here has been reaffirmed since the budget.

It is FODOs view that were the budget to remain at the DOH with no balancing of overspend within other global budgets the only resolution would have been to reduce fees and clearly the devolvement to regional but a greater number of budgets will defer such a move.

So it’s all change but no change at present with no cash limits and central negotiations. One wonders though as these issues gradually filter down to region and then area control how long is this austere climate we can continue to retain the status quo?


NICE comes out as predicted with cautious approach to raised intra ocular pressure

22nd April

The Optical Organisations, FODO, ABDO and the AOP have published their intent to continue to discuss with the DOH and the NHS to find a way to offer a suitable solution to the problems that mandatory referral of patients with Ocular Hypertension will create for the HES.

NICE, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence as predicted have in their report on Chronic Open Angle Glaucoma and OHT insist that all patients with raised ocular pressure over 21mmHG should be formally diagnosed using gonioscopy before being continually monitored, even when no suspicious signs are noted.

The report was expected and many LOCs as well as the professional political bodies have already agreed that compliance is essential otherwise professionals will put themselves at too greater risk.

Referring all Pxs with OP’s over 21mm Hg will impede much of the work of your local ophthalmologists and they as well as the PCTs may well try to advise differently locally on the issue. Optometrists must override any suggestion of non-compliance.

The Optical bodies suggest that in referring these cases you amplify the requirements of NICE in your referral letter so the receiver understands the exact reason for your hitherto unusual referral.

The bodies meanwhile are hoping to convince the DOH and the NHS that the competency levels of optometrists are quite able to provide this service within agreed guidelines and formal agreements locally.

Further information from NICE is available at (www.nice.org.uk/CG85). How will this affect you locally - discuss on our forums


Bodies advise GOC to be concise on Codes of Practice

24th April

Since 2003 it has been the GOCs intention to impose a Code of Practice on registrants. The examining bodies, the College, ABDO and the Optical body AOP have all requested that such a code should be concise and easily understood and that it was the duty of the examining bodies to ensure that such a code was clarified to the profession.

FODO on behalf of Optical business stressed the same point within the Companies Committee of the GOC. It was important that the Code of Business Registrants should mirror that of the Code of Registrants, to tow being intertwined by employment.

It is known that given all the organisations have compatible views on such legislation that a joint approach has been made to the GOC on any future Code amendments; however each of the five responses within the report will be treated separately.

With the agreement of all parties we hope to bring you further information on where the bodies agree and agree to disagree on the GOCs formulations in the future.


Optical Express announce launch of new ecommerce site

24th April

Back in the States Optical Express has launched a new ecommerce site in order to streamline the ordering of eyecare products particularly contact lenses.
The site now includes a collection of contact lenses; from dailies and monthlies, to toric and varifocal lenses even extended wear lenses Optical Express has them all available online.

Help is at hand on the new site for those who wish to purchase their contact lenses online. A series of quick guides are available which cover comparisons of competitor brand lenses, lens options, contact lens tips, and the option to view and choose lenses by their type or brand.
With a current prescription suitable for contact lenses, customers can buy online from Optical Express 24 hours a day.


The Glaucoma Alliance UK and RNIB pilot a new scheme

24th April

A new scheme to encourage siblings of Glaucoma sufferers has been launched by the Glaucoma Alliance UK and the RNIB. The project which has received help from FODO is to make Glaucoma patients within hospital environments more aware of the importance of having their siblings checked at an Opticians. Hospitals have been provided with a letter to be taken to the optometrists after they have been advised to make an appointment.


Alcon offers awards to Six Scientists in the States worth $200,000

24th April

In its 29th year of inception the Alcon Research Institute is offering awards to 6 top visual scientists valued at around $200,000 to assist in research into underlying causes in eye disease, their research to be presented in an eye symposium in 2011.

"The Alcon Research Institute prides itself on identifying and recognizing the world's leading researchers in ophthalmology," said Dr. Stanley Chang, chairman of the Alcon Research Institute, and Edward Harkness professor and chair of Ophthalmology, Columbia University. "The research these brilliant minds are undertaking will have profound effects on our ability as doctors to preserve, restore and enhance sight in the future."


The new Independent Safeguarding Authority is now established as the body to prevent unsuitable people from working with children and vulnerable adults. Its future new Vetting and Barring Scheme due to start on 12th October this year has been delayed until July 2010.

You can apply for registration through your employer if you have one, or if you are applying for a job, through your prospective employer. If you are self-employed – as a locum, for example – you will need to apply yourself. You will be able to do this through the website as the ISA vetting service is phased in. So there is now a greater breathing space for those who will be moving between employers in health care, which includes those working within optometry and dispensing optics. It is not clear how those working as assistants to professionals, i.e. frame stylists and contact lens tuition staff would be affected. One can imagine that those who have been given a responsibility to work with children or vulnerable adults would be caught by the same requirements which are to register with the ISA, be approved by the ISA’s vetting and barring procedures and not been not debarred from working with children and adults. As the process is due to take a considerable length of time in only covering Optoms, DO’s and OMPs , a possible 5 year process which has now been delayed, it is unlikely to be expanded within Optics to other groups. Registrants will have to pay a one-off registration fee of £64 to go through the process but queries by employers about prospective staff were intended to be free of charge.

PHN Comment.

Once again there seems to be another body set up for quiet rightly justified causes, but surely those covered by regulated statutory bodies such as our professions could have expected some interplay of information so that those registered with the GOC would be excluded from having to pay a fee to be registered?


So maybe it starts in Glasgow

It often seems that news follows news and what do we find two days after writing the report on Vision Screeners, yes you guessed correctly, a Vision Center in Glasgow has publicised a screening day. And we didn’t invent the spelling!

Downing-McPeak Vision Centers is sponsoring a community-wide vision screening on the morning of Wednesday, April 22 in the Bowling Green, Glasgow and Franklin locations for those over age 55. The screening will detect cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and other eye problems. It also includes a check of distant and near vision. The doctors at Downing-McPeak Vision Centers are committed to educating the community on maintaining a lifetime of healthy vision.

“It is especially important for seniors to take good care of their vision. If you or someone you know is suffering from visual problems, please get an appointment for our screening. It could mean the difference between regaining sight or losing it,” said Dr. Spencer Witcher, the Downing-McPeak Vision Centers Ophthalmologist.

The screening is offered as a public service aimed to increase awareness of the importance of routine eye care in adults. They go on to emphasize that many eye diseases can be treated before permanent damage occurs. Since some conditions have no early warning signs, regular eye exams are the best prevention. They also suggest that while a vision screening is not an eye exam, it is an excellent tool in the early detection of potential problems. Should a vision problem be detected, patients will be referred to the eye care provider of their choice for a complete eye exam.

PHN comment: Primary Eyecare is the buzzword throughout PCTs and the sooner all LOCs get to grips with the future possibilities that are open to them the better otherwise others will fill the vacuum.


SoloHealth lands $1M for vision-testing kiosks

Keeping a weather eye on what’s happening over the Pond, has proved its worth on many occasions so maybe this new idea might find itself replicated by one of the larger companies in the UK. If your optometric practices throughout the UK are at saturation point, may be free standing automated screening test points might just be the way to feed in more customers through your front door?

In Atlanta, a company called SoloHealth, which make “EyeSite”, a self-service vision testing kiosk, has raised $1 million from private investors. The company says it will work together with leading eye care companies to saturate a major US retail market with its award-winning kiosks this summer. Established in late 2007, the company has placed EyeSite kiosks throughout its home base of Atlanta in retail locations such as Walgreens, Kroger, Wal-Mart and regional malls and has screened over 100,000 people. Earlier financing from private investors totaled $1.8 million.

SoloHealth claim that EyeSite self-service vision tests will spur demand for vision care products because the kiosks offer free, simple and quick vision screenings designed to encourage follow-up visits with eye care professionals. Manufacturers have the opportunity to market products on the interactive kiosks, which are placed in a variety of locations meant to capitalize on consumer demand and traffic. EyeSite kiosks allow consumers to get an accurate assessment of their near and far vision, request an appointment with a local eye care practitioner, and learn about general eye health conditions in about 5 minutes.

“SoloHealth, combined with these optical industry leaders, is helping to create new ways to drive additional traffic to eye doctors,” said Bart Foster, CEO and founder of SoloHealth.

“Results have shown that of the people who have used the EyeSite kiosk, over 25 percent have never visited an eye care professional and 49 percent reported family history of eye disease. Many of those have gone on to book appointments with a local eye doctor.

"EyeSite self-service vision testing kiosks educate people about the health benefits of seeing an eye doctor on a regular basis.”

The arguments for and against will obviously centre around whether screening will be seen by patients as an end process, thus reducing there likelihood of going for a full eye examination or as SoloHealth says will stimulate interest and get people through the door that had no intention of ever taking a full test.

We note also the more proactive stance of American manufacturers in bring their products to the attention of those using the kiosks and wonder when British manufacturers will take a keener interest in direct promotion.


Sight-savers list the foods that can keep your eyes healthy

Reported recently in a Mail Online report was more information regarding the equation of a good diet and retaining good vision in later life.

Whilst reminding everyone that good vision is retained by regular eyecare and wearing proper eyewear, sight savers went on to discuss the importance of certain nutrients. Nutrients such as Vitamin C, omega-3 oils and key plant molecules are so important that you really can eat your way to better vision, says leading eye researcher Professor Ian Grierson, Head of Ophthalmology at the University of Liverpool.

"Eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness, are all affected by what we eat,' says Prof Grierson. 'Adding a little more fruit and vegetables to your meals could dramatically reduce eye disease in future."

This article created an online debate which showed that while most agreed with Prof. Grieson’s sentiments many thought that there are just as many things that one should not eat that had not been emphasized. In their view one should avoid grains, polyunsaturated fats and oils and soya, all claimed by some to be leading causes of AMD.

The article also, they say, omitted to add that Vitamin D is a major preventer of eye disease, and suggested that we should all get out in the sun. Presumeably with our UV400 safety coatings!

One could also say that there was a total exclusion of discussion on herbal and manufactured nutritional supplements including those specifically containing Lutein.

Where does the British Optometrist stand on these issues? Are the different types understood and are the contra-indications for example with beta-carotene and smoking general knowledge. Your views are always welcome on a “new topic forum”.


KeraSoft® Clinic launched in Central London by Ultravision

Those of us with long memories and lengthening years will remember John de Carle and his forward thinking promotion and usage of the early soft lenses. Not least his early day colouring in the back room for cosmetic lenses. So it seems fitting that Ultravision has chosen his premises to open its new KeraSoft Clinic situated in the heart of Mayfair, London.

Kerasoft Clinic ExteriorLocated within the John de Carle Practice, its principal purposes are to help patients with irregular corneas and to train practitioners to use the latest contact lens technologies now available.

J Keith Lomas, UltraVision’s Group CEO, commented “Our data and research supports our belief that KeraSoft® is the fastest growing range of contact lenses for keratoconus and irregular corneas in the world. The advantages of soft and modern silicone hydrogel lenses over older RGP technologies are becoming clearer all the time. In addition to the benefits for patients, Optometrists and Contact Lens Opticians, we’re experiencing significant growth in our business with Ophthalmologists who are using the KeraSoft® lenses to remove the requirements for, or at least delay, corneal surgery, which is often life-changing for the patients”.

Mrs Lynn White MSc FCOptom, who co-founded and heads the KeraSoft Clinic, has devoted herself over many years to helping patients suffering with Keratoconus, PMD and Irregular Corneas. Lynn has experienced these challenges all over the world and is dedicated to help as many patients as she can both directly and indirectly through training her multi-disciplined professional colleagues.

Practitioners new to the KeraSoft® range are now referring patients with complex corneas to the clinic for assessment with topography and digital slit lamp imaging. They then have the option to continue the fitting with full support from the clinic, if they wish. Lynn also visits practices to give tutorials in fitting the KeraSoft® range, especially in respect to the new KeraSoft®IC lens, for Irregular Corneas, which are not necessarily keratoconic. “In this time of financial uncertainty, more High Street practitioners are turning towards contact lens specialisation” Lynn said, adding “Exciting new treatments for Keratoconus in the private sector, such as INTACS, corneal cross linking and management of post refractive surgical cases, are creating a demand for specialised contact lenses that are straightforward to fit with practitioners’ current soft lens skills. KeraSoft® fulfils these criteria and has the ocular health benefits of SiH material with the best quality optics.”

UltraVision is extremely proud to be opening the first dedicated clinic for our products which will not only help patients achieve the vision and comfort they deserve but also provide training and support for practitioners wishing to develop their specialist contact lens practices.”


The total removed comprises 183 optometrists, 191 dispensing opticians and 90 bodies corporate. Practitioners are required to renew their GOC registration each year, to stay on the Opticians Registers.

Dian Taylor, GOC registrar and chief executive said: “Registration is critical to public protection, and should not be taken lightly. Clearly, the majority of opticians are aware of the importance of maintaining their registration.However, those who have been removed must apply for restoration immediately if they wish to continue working. We have alerted employers, primary care organisations and professional bodies to the list of those registrants who are no longer eligible to practise.”

Individuals who are not registered with the GOC may not practise as dispensing opticians or optometrists in the UK, or use any of the protected titles. Bodies corporate not on the registers may not use or associate any of the protected titles with their company names.

The registration status of an individual or business can be checked on the GOC website, www.optical.org.

To apply for restoration practitioners must complete an application for restoration form, pay the £289 restoration fee and provide evidence of having completed the required minimum of Continuing Education and Training (CET) in the past 12 months. Restoration forms are available from the GOC website, or from the registration team on 020 7580 3898 (option 1), email goc@optical.org


Revalidation Consultation

As you will have heard the GOC is currently consulting on revalidation for both Dispensing and Optometric registered staff and you can read the consultation document at http://www.optical.org/en/about_us/reform/revalidation/index.cfm.

Whilst the professional organisations will be providing there views which hopefully will reflect the views of the majority of their members you as independent professionals have a right to enter the debate both directly with the GOC and with your bodiy/ies. Currently many of the switched on body corporates are indeed getting their voice heard so your voice will provide a balanced viewpoint. With the cost of registration being what it is today you deserve to make your view known.

Perhaps we could here some views on our forums?

And there’s more...

With somewhat more of a pressing deadline comes the issue relating to Codes of Conduct for registered personnel and bodies corporate. This opportunity to respond closes on the 25th April 2009. Information can be found by reading this PDF:

http://www.optical.org/goc/filemanager/root/site_assets/consultation_documents/codes_of_conducts_consultation_-_final.pdf

The College is co-ordinating responses and if that girds you into action you can attend the GOCs consultation event on the 16th April next week.

One notes that all these issues have the ability to rack up more work for the GOC which in turn will cost more to each registered optician, so there must be surely a balance between reasonable risk and legislation. Otherwise we will price our service beyond the reach of the public we are trying to protect.


What’s a joint like you doing in a frame like this?

OK we couldn’t resist it but the mention of Casablanca, and a trip to the iconic Rick’s Café, which delighted no less than 40 of Rodenstock’s most loyal customers might be our only chance to use that line.

Rick's cafeDressed in the theme of Humphrey Bogart’s famous film, the party celebrated the best of Hollywood glamour.

Rodenstock UK Managing Director, Barry Dibble welcomed many new faces on the four day trip, which included the highlights of Morocco with a guided tour of Casablanca, also a visit to Rabat and the Hassan II mosque, along with plenty of delicious dining.

Those who qualified for the trip had shown commitment to Rodenstock across its product and glazing portfolio, with dispensing of Porsche Design Eyewear, Rodenstock Eyewear, Wimbledon sunglasses, Freeform and ColorMatic® lenses. Embracing all Club members, who were automatically entered for the loyalty scheme, the four tier structure ensured that small practices competed alongside higher spending, larger, practices.

“The trip rewarded exceptional loyalty amongst our valued customers,” said Barry Dibble.


Primary Health Net provides opportunity for a free case of wine at Optrafair

Whilst the PHN will be busy reporting the news back from Optrafair, 15 of their supporting advertisers have agreed to partake in a stand promotion that could see you winning a box of mixed European wines after the show.

All you have to do is download our Optrafair Wine Competition Form which directs you to our supporters, then over the period of the show investigate what they have to offer and ask them to sign the form. The winner with the most signatures (drawn if a tie) will receive the box of wine delivered to their chosen address. Download form here

Help support our companies who have supported the site and meet them on their stands.


BCLA to host contact lens fitting course for ophthalmologists

A specially designed Training Day for Medics is among the new features for this year’s British Contact Lens Association Clinical Conference, to be held in Manchester from May 28-31.

Running on the Saturday of the conference (May 30), the course will feature three ophthalmologists experienced in contact lenses teaching and promoting the latest developments in medical contact lens practice. The day comprises a morning of lectures and a hands-on workshop, followed by a choice of lectures from the main conference programme in the afternoon.

The morning session opens with Dr Ursula Vogt of Imperial College NHS Health Care Trust presenting a ‘Mini guide to contact lenses’, which takes a look at medical contact lens treatments. BCLA President Sarah Janikoun of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals will then discuss contact lens care products and pose the question: ‘Is the problem the solution?’ In her second presentation, Dr Janikoun will examine the challenge of ‘Fitting irregular corneas’ with contact lenses.

During the workshop that follows, delegates will have the opportunity to handle lenses, and learn which lens types to use, when and for whom. Andrena McElvanney, consultant at Epsom and St Helier University NHS Trust and immediate Past President of the Medical Contact Lens and Ocular Surface Association, will then discuss ‘Therapeutic contact lenses’. The morning session will conclude with an examination of ‘Coloured contact lenses’.

In the afternoon delegates can choose from lectures on a range of topics, including paediatric contact lens fitting and dealing with children in a hospital environment.

Dr Janikoun, President BCLA commented: ‘This course gives you the opportunity to exchange views and engage in discussion in a friendly atmosphere with other ophthalmologists.”

Registration for the day costs £160 for BCLA members and £210 for non-members. Delegates on this course are also welcome to attend Saturday night’s Gala Dinner, the Glitter Ball. Tickets at £65 may be purchased online together with conference registration.


Eye expert David Parke to lead American Academy of Ophthalmology

Dr David Parke, is leaving his position at the Dean McGee Eye Institute in late May to continue his advocacy for eye health as chief executive of the San Francisco based American Academy of Ophthalmology. The Academy has 30,000 members worldwide, and acts as the voice of the profession, advocating to the public, lawmakers and colleagues around the world. He’ll spend much of his time in Washington, D.C., where health care reform is a major topic.
"My basic role is to serve as the point person for eye care, for eye problems, for ophthalmology in the health policy debate,” he said.
All are roles he’s become comfortable with during his 17 years at the Dean McGee Eye Institute.

New knowledge site based on Wikipedia is launched this week

Medpedia as it is known was launched as a beta version this month and is now open to the public. Expected to become the Wikipedia of healthcare Medpedia offers a wiki, discussion forums and networking for physicians, as well as delivering consumer and clinical content free at the point of consumption.
It grew out of the software world not the publishing world as the project was founded by serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur James Currier Involved in social media applications since 1991, he founded quiz and personal test site Tickle in 1999, which was sold to Monster in 2004 for about $94 million. Tickle has since closed down, but Currier went on to set up incubator Ooga Labs which in turn is backing Medpedia.. Currier positioned Medpedia's mission as the provision of an enabling platform which, with community input, to deliver a comprehensive resource for all those needing medical reference information.

MedPedia offers three major areas:

* A Network and Directory for health professionals and organizations, which currently has 79 groups (including the American Heart Association and Harvard Medical School). Groups can oversee the production of reference content.

* Communities of Interest, which currently has 68 communities organised around topics such as Healthcare IT and Family Medicine, and which form the hub for discussion forums.

• A knowledgebase in the form of a wiki. Authorship is limited to physicians, vetted by Medpedia, and there are currently 46 specialist committees to oversee specialty content.

Like Wikipedia, Medpedia's entries are organised around topics. However, each entry has provision for multiple facets, so topic pages have tabs for consumer content (labelled "Plain English"), professional content ("Clinical"), and discussion facilities. Articles created on Medpedia.com are released under the GNU Free Documentation License "unless otherwise noted" to cover content supplied by participant organisations.

The site is based on the same open-source software that powers Wikipedia - so has a familiar feel - although Ooga Labs is re-engineering it as needed to improve the core and add features based on demand.

http://www.medpedia.com


“Which? Magazine” charges Laser Surgery providers with poor information, poor pricing and coercion in upgrading procedures

As “Which?” reports on Laser Eye Surgery on information provided by 18 clinics within the UK we evaluate the quality of its conclusions and the response provided by Optical Express.

Which? - The hows, whys and wherefores

Which? sent 5 researchers into 18 establishments, mainly the top 3, Optical Express, Ultralase, Optimax and some smaller groups and independents, their findings were then assessed by one laser eye surgeon and two clinical researchers with laser experience.

It would appear that the undercover story only involved the initial discussion and did not continue to the eventual meeting with the surgeon when “consenting” would take place.

Which? claims that the Royal College of Ophthalmologists Standards require a 24 hour gap between consenting and procedure although one wonders if this is more realistically a guideline. Adherence to such a standard would elongate the patient journey, raise the costs and waste the clinical staff’s time as well. As we all know from cataract surgery, delays increase the drop out rate through a lack of presentation at the clinic.

It is not obvious exactly who was handing out the information, Which does not state this, but it did comment on the quality of the literature, whilst suggesting that the verbal information was not always as accurate as the printed version

In essence the report’s 3 man jury who are not identified consider that out of the 18 consultations, the results were as follows:

  • Good: 0 clinics
  • Satisfactory: 7 clinics
  • Unsatisfactory: 10 clinics
  • Very unsatisfactory: 1 clinic

Their specific grievances were:

1. Lack of information on possible short and long term side effects
2. A starting price point which does not cover the average partaker
3. A lack of warnings that eventually spectacles will be needed for presbyopia
4. Coercion into rapid booking by special offers of inducement with limited time and occasionally a much higher inflated end cost due to surgeons recommending more complicated procedures on the day of the event.

To read more including a response from Optical Express and comment from PHN, click for the full story.


Optisoft to boost VAO income stream

UK opticians are set to hit the headlines thanks to Optisoft’s ambitious plans to create the “Face of 2009”, which will involve practices around the country capturing their patient’s images for an enormous montage work of art.

Face of 2009Celebrating its 20th year in UK optics, Optisoft decided to mark the event with something significant and at the same time, drive patients through practice doors, and raise funds for Vision Aid Overseas.

The Face of 2009 will be made up of a target of 20,000 faces captured on practice software. These will be downloaded to a central point where they will be arranged to create a mosaic of the country’s faces.

Each person wanting to take part in the enormous portrait will be invited to donate 50p to Vision Aid Overseas and the final portrait’s copyright will be gifted to Vision Aid Overseas, to create a revenue stream.

“If you have ever wondered what it would be like to inspire patients to queue up to visit your practice, this might just be the answer. We want to help you to capture the imagination of your local residents – young, old and middle aged – and to ensure that your area is well represented on the map,” said Optisoft Managing Director, Keith Sheers.

The scheme is expected to win both national and regional press coverage as areas compete to ensure their region is well represented in the overall portrait. Optisoft is providing template press releases for opticians to tailor to their local area to entice interest from local newspapers, websites and radio stations.

Practices do not need to be running Optisoft’s practice management system to take part in the promotion, but they do need a copy of the Frames on Faces™ module which is to be downloaded free of charge to participating practices for the duration of the campaign.


Optical Express set to expand store

Still room for expansion for Optical Express in Scotland, hopefully setting a trend for others in a depressed market. In a recent publication of the Edinburgh Evening News Optical Express are reported as tripling its size of one of its Lothian’s stores.

Optical Express has agreed to lease a new 3893 square feet unit within Elements Square, the extension to the former Almondvale Shopping Centre in Livingston, now known as The Centre.

David Smith, leasing director at Land Securities, said: "We are thrilled that Optical Express has agreed a deal on a larger shop unit, offering shoppers an even bigger and better choice."


GPs encouraged to spot the signs of undetected sight loss

New research identifies those most vulnerable to undetected sight loss and suggests ways that GPs and practice nurses could help reach those at risk.

In a recent report by the Thomas Pocklington Trust, who provide housing and support for people with vision loss the question has been asked as to why does screening for remediable eye disease in older people not lead to improvements in the older population
visual function?

This publication summarises findings from research funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust and carried out at the Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London, by Professor Steve Iliffe, Kalpa Kharicha and Sybil Myerson.

The report notes that between 12% and 50% of older people have undetected visual loss and a substantial proportion of this visual impairment is due to remediable causes such as refractive errors and cataracts. The UK Vision Strategy, launched in April 2008, aims to improve the eye health of the nation by eliminating avoidable sight loss.

There is still an incomplete understanding of the best methods of identifying those with unrecognised visual loss and persuading them to take up services that will potentially improve their eyesight and quality of life. Research has shown that screening for asymptomatic
visual impairment does not lead to improved visual function in the older population.

It emphasises that opportunistic case-finding – that is, identification of unrecognised visual function loss during routine encounters in primary care – may be a more productive way of addressing the problem of unrecognised, remediable eye disease in older people.

PHN notes that a productive working relationship with active referral from GPs and Social Services would help to steer an older and often under privileged sector of the population towards a free and complete eye examination with recorded outcomes providing a stimulus to PCTs to finance such a campaign.


Tony Bussey Obituary

We are sorry to report the death of Tony Bussey, well known to many, following a long career in manufacturing optics. Tony had been an active member of the British Spectacle Frame Makers’ Association, which became the FMO.

Tony BusseyBorn in 1919, he left school in the early 30’s and joined C.A. Head the Croydon-based shell maker, moving to Norwood Optical in 1938.

His optical career was interrupted by war and he became part of the 8th Army in Egypt and fought from El Alermain to Tunis and then on through Italy. He was involved with the capture of Sint-Niklass in Belgium and Geel in Holland. Both towns bestowed their freedom on the regiment and Tony returned to both for many years to celebrate the event.

After the war he rejoined Norwood Optical and in the early 50’s moved to Maflins in Whitstable, Kent where he stayed until the early 1970’s. He then joined UKO, Mill Hill, where he revitalised the Alperton frame factory and was responsible for designing the NHS 924.

On his retirement Tony acted as consultant to Hans Stepper and was instrumental in asking Mike Cooney to set up Hans Stepper (UK) Limited, at the beginning of the 90’s. He remained there until he finally retired.

Tony leaves a wife, Gwen, and family.


Pfizer and Bausch & Lomb to Co-Promote Products for the Treatment of Ophthalmic Conditions

Pfizer Inc and Bausch & Lomb announced this week a co-promotion agreement involving both companies’ prescription ophthalmic pharmaceuticals in the United States. The agreement will allow both companies to greatly increase the level of eye care industry support for these important medications that treat serious ophthalmic conditions.

Pfizer logoThe five-year agreement includes Pfizer’s Xalatan® (latanoprost ophthalmic solution) and Bausch & Lomb’s Alrex® (loteprednol etabonate ophthalmic suspension 0.2%), Lotemax® (loteprednol etabonate ophthalmic suspension 0.5%) and Zylet® (loteprednol etabonate 0.5% and tobramycin 0.3% ophthalmic suspension). The co-promotion agreement also will apply to Bausch & Lomb’s investigational anti-infective eye drop, besifloxacin ophthalmic suspension, 0.6%, which is currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Under the terms of the agreement, both the Pfizer and Bausch & Lomb sales forces will promote Xalatan, Alrex, Lotemax, Zylet and besifloxacin (subject to FDA approval).

“Ophthalmic disorders cause significant disability in the United States. This agreement with Bausch & Lomb combines our portfolios and further demonstrates our commitment to provide prescription medications that can benefit people living with serious eye conditions,” said Olivier Brandicourt, president and general manager, Pfizer's Specialty Care business unit. Separate from this co-promotion agreement with Bausch & Lomb, Pfizer will continue to maintain three mid-stage ophthalmic development programs in its own pipeline. “Working in collaboration, our U.S. sales organizations will now represent one of the broadest product offerings in the U.S. ophthalmic market,” said Flemming Ornskov, M.D., MPH, corporate vice president and global president, Pharmaceuticals, Bausch & Lomb. “We’ll be able to reach considerably more eye care practitioners, and in turn, better attend to the needs of millions of patients every year.”

In December 2008, the FDA’s Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of besifloxacin for the treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis. Bausch & Lomb anticipates a decision from the FDA in 2009.

Pfizer Ophthalmics discovers, develops and provides leading treatments in ophthalmology to support patients who are at risk of blindness or suffering from vision impairment, and to serve the health care professionals who treat them. The Xalabrand franchise is a leading contributor to Pfizer’s sales worldwide. Pfizer Inc, was founded in 1849, and is dedicated to better health and greater access to health care for people and their valued animals. Every day, approximately 81,900 colleagues in more than 150 countries work to discover, develop, manufacture and deliver quality, safe and effective prescription medicines to patients.

Bausch & Lomb is the eye health company dedicated to perfecting vision and enhancing life for people around the world. Its core businesses include contact lenses and lens care products, ophthalmic surgical devices and instruments, and ophthalmic pharmaceuticals. Bausch & Lomb is one of the best-known and most respected healthcare brands in the world. Founded in 1853, the company is headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., and employs more than 10,000 people worldwide. Its products are available in more than 100 countries.

Scotland confirms Voucher Value changes as per rest of UK and provides further information

New Voucher Values Click here

The information received from the Scottish Government and published below provides for an increase in the domiciliary fee backdated to 1 April 2008, The increased NHS domiciliary visiting fees for optometrists and OMPs, payable in addition to the relevant NHS eye examination fee, for NHS domiciliary eye examinations carried out on or after 1 April 2008 are £34.87 for the first and second patients seen at one visit and £8.73 for the third and subsequent patients. Practitioner Services has been asked to make backdated payments.

Updated pre-registration supervisor's allowance for 2008-09

The allowance paid to supervisors of pre-registration trainees has increased to £2950 from 1 April 2008. Claims from trainers taking on pre-registration trainees on or after 1 April 2008 will be paid at this new rate. Practitioner Services has been asked to make backdated payments.

This year's CET allowance

The payment in respect of continuing education and training undertaken by optometrists & OMPs on NHS Board lists will be £458 for 2008. Although the level of payment has been agreed it will not be claimable until later this year when further guidance about the payment will be issued. No action on the 2008 payment should be taken meantime.

The primary and supplementary eye examination fees (Appendix A)

Fees payable in Scotland are as follows:

The Statement, which is provided for in Regulation 17 of the NHS (General Ophthalmic Services) (Scotland) Regulations 2006, details the fees payable for NHS eye examinations. The revised Statement, at Annex D, has been updated to reflect the different fees applying from 1 April 2009 where a digital photo is and is not taken for people aged 60, and for domiciliary visits on or after 1 April 2008.

FEES PAYABLE TO OPHTHALMIC MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS AND OPTOMETRISTS FOR NHS EYE EXAMINATIONS

1. Fees payable for each NHS primary eye examination carried out by an ophthalmic medical practitioner or optometrist:
on or after 1 April 2007 .................................................................. £36.00

2.Fees payable for each NHS primary eye examination for adults aged 60 years and over carried out:

on or after 1 April 2008 (no digital photo taken)…………............... £40.00

on or after 1 April 2009 (digital photo taken).................................. £44.00

3. Fees payable for each NHS supplementary eye examination carried out by an ophthalmic medical practitioner or optometrist:

on or after 1 April 2007 .................................................................. £21.00

A revised GOS 1 form to be issued later in March Revised Form GOS(S)1

Form GOS(S)1 has been revised to reflect that different fees apply under the fee agreement from 1 April 2009 where a digital photo is and is not taken for people aged 60 and over. The layout of Part 3 of the form has been simplified in response to feedback. Primary and supplementary eye examination claims are now combined at Part 3(E), which also includes a claim option box for taking a digital photo.

Supplies of the revised form GOS(S)1, which can be identified by the revision date 0409, will be sent to NHS Boards for onward distribution to optometrists & OMPs, and should be received no later than 24 March 2009. NHS Boards can obtain further supplies from RR Donnelley as normal. Previous versions of GOS(S)1 should not be used from 1 April 2009. Stocks of previous versions should be destroyed after that date.


Voucher Values confirmed for England, Scotland, N.Ireland, and Wales

New voucher values starting from 1st April 2009 have been announced this week for England, Northern Ireland, and Wales and have separately been confirmed as applying to Scotland by the Scottish Government. You can download further details by clicking the link below.

Voucher values


The following is a Proclamation signed by the President regarding Save Your Vision Week 2009.
THE WHITE HOUSE, February 27, 2009:
SAVE YOUR VISION WEEK, 2009
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION

Blindness and visual impairment affect millions of Americans. Early diagnosis and timely treatment are critical to minimize vision loss from eye diseases as well as vision loss that is correctable with eye glasses or contact lenses. During Save Your Vision Week, I encourage all Americans to take action to protect their vision.

Unfortunately, most people have limited knowledge of blinding eye disorders. In a 2005 study by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, only eight percent of respondents knew that glaucoma, a condition that can damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss and blindness, strikes without early warning. Similarly, only 11 percent knew that diabetic eye disease also begins as a silent vision threat.

Several demographic groups are at higher risk for visual impairment, including teenagers, diabetics, Hispanics, African Americans, and the economically disadvantaged. Older Americans are more susceptible to eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Children need regular vision screenings because vision disorders left untreated during childhood can lead to permanent visual impairment during adulthood.

Still, eye disease knows no bounds, and every American should take steps to protect his or her eyesight. Doctors recommend seeking routine eye examinations, maintaining a healthy diet, wearing sunglasses to protect the eyes from damaging ultraviolet rays, and using protective eyewear in hazardous environments. The National Eye Institute's website, www.nei.nih.gov, provides resources for learning more about common vision conditions and information on finding an eye health professional. By being proactive and seeking out information, Americans can do their part to prevent or reduce vision loss.
To remind Americans about the importance of safeguarding their eyesight, the Congress, by joint resolution approved December 30, 1963, as amended (77 Stat. 629; 36 U.S.C. 138), has authorized and requested the President to proclaim the first week in March of each year as "Save Your Vision Week."
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NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim March 1 through March 7, 2009, as Save Your Vision Week. During this time, I invite eye care professionals, teachers, members of the media, and all organizations dedicated to preserving eyesight to join in activities that will raise awareness of vision diseases and disorders.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-seventh day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

BARACK OBAMA


PHN Comment. The ability to engage the President of the United States in such an important issue shows the strength of pressure groups in America, not least the American Academy of Optometry in highlighting the issues. It is to this level that we in the UK and those charged with raising these issues should be aiming to achieve. We will print this on our public site to bring its importance to the public immediately.


The Role of Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses in the Management of Keratoconus

With almost 30% of contact lenses fitted in The Netherlands being RGP lenses; Optometrists now appear hungry for an alternative option particularly in cases of Keratoconus, Pellucid Marginal Degeneration (PMD) and Irregular Corneas. With increasing evidence (Lema et al; 2008) that keratoconics in particular have abnormal responses to RGP lenses, patients are more likely to suffer discomfort and have more allergic reactions. At the recent OVN Conference in The Netherlands Lynn White MSc FCOptom, UltraVision’s Keratoconus Consultant, introduced practitioners to the latest Silicone Hydrogel alternative for wearers.

Lynn presented a workshop, “The Role of Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses in the Management of Keratoconus”, to delegates at the Conference addressing some of the, often inaccurate, beliefs surrounding soft lenses for Keratoconus, PMD and Irregular Corneas. Fitting techniques, unique to KeraSoft®3 and KeraSoft® IC, were discussed during the workshop and various examples of patient success stories were presented. Lynn White said “I was very impressed with the high number of delegates who opted to attend the workshop. In fact, it was the first workshop of the conference to be fully booked, with more delegates wanting to join in at the last minute! The interest shown after the workshop was very positive, with many delegates placing orders for KeraSoft® fittings sets.”

UltraVision’s KeraSoft®3 and KeraSoft® IC lenses are manufactured in the UK using a 74% water content, lathe-cut, Silicone Hydrogel material, Definitive™ from Contamac. These unique contact lenses provide many of the benefits of an RGP lens, along with excellent comfort, visual acuity, high oxygen permeability and longer wearing times.

Lynn attended the Conference as a guest of UltraVision’s Dutch distributor, Ercon Contactlenzen en Consultancy. Ercon exhibited many of UltraVision’s products and Erik Smidt, Director of Ercon said “The workshop was very well attended by optometrists from all over the Netherlands. It explained the factors associated with keratoconus, including recent research findings that mechanical stress of the cornea is a major contributing factor. The new SiH KeraSoft®3 and KeraSoft® IC lenses offer a solution to this problem and the range of designs provides a very important opportunity for optometrists to overcome the many difficulties of fitting irregular corneas.”

UltraVision’s full range of tailor-made SiH contact lenses, ‘The Full Collection’, continues to receive increasing interest from Ophthalmologists and Optometrists around the world. The ocular health benefits of the SiH material, along with the state-of-the-art design and award-winning wave front optics, means that wearers are able to attain levels of comfort and vision they had not previously thought possible.


Optometrists and other eye-care professionals will have access to high-quality postgraduate education for the first time in a centre to be based in the £21m School of Optometry and Vision Sciences at Cardiff University. It was reported in the Western Mail that the centre will offer a rolling programme of continuing professional development to qualified professionals.

The new centre has been established at a time when optometrists are carrying out a wider range of services in High Street practices which is helping to improve access to patients alleviating the need for hospital return check ups.

The centre will enable Cardiff University to offer more structured learning to support this expansion of community optometry services in Wales and respond to the ever increasing demands for courses from professionals, healthcare commissioners and companies.

Professor Tim Wess, head of the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, said: “This is the first time practising eye-care professionals across Wales, the UK and further afield will have a dedicated centre for postgraduate optometry whose focus is solely on providing high-quality education. In an evolving context of healthcare, the optometric practitioner is becoming more empowered as the first point of call for primary healthcare delivery. This role requires enhanced education and training and we are excited that Cardiff University is able lead the way in providing the most up-to-date research-led training for the profession.”

Cardiff University vice- chancellor Dr David Grant said: “A post-graduate centre for optometry will fill an obvious gap in the provision of healthcare teaching.”

The School of Optometry and Vision Science brings together teaching, clinical practice and research under one roof for the first time.


AOA carries out Glaucoma study in USA

The study demonstrates a severe lack of knowledge by the American Public about Glaucoma. Although as we know it is not preventable, the study revealed that 91 percent of Americans believe it is.

Approximately 2.2 million Americans 40 and older have glaucoma, according to National Glaucoma Research, and of these, as many as 120,000 are blind because of the disease. The number of Americans with glaucoma is estimated to increase to 3.3 million by 2020.

The AOA's annual Eye-Q survey, which identifies attitudes and behaviours of Americans regarding eye care and related issues, showed that a large number of consumers do not know what glaucoma is and how severe the effects of the disease can be. Ninety-five percent of respondents did not know that glaucoma damages the optic nerve, and only 21 percent were aware that glaucoma causes deterioration of peripheral or side vision.


GOC warns, “Renew your registration now or face £20 penalty”

The General Optical Council (GOC) has this week issued an urgent reminder to full and business registrants to renew their registration for 2009-10 by 15 March 2009, or face a £20 penalty.

The £20 late application charge applies to registrants who return their retention form and £219 fee after the 15 March, but before 31 March. Registrants who have not renewed their registration by 31 March will be removed from the GOC’s registers on 1 April. A list of removed registrants will be published on the Council’s website, and copies sent to primary care organisations.

GOC chief executive and registrar, Dian Taylor said: “There are now only four weeks to go until the retention deadline, so time is running out. If registrants do not get their applications in on time they will either have to pay a £20 penalty, or at worst, be removed from the registers and face paying a £289 restoration fee.”

Laura Hytti, GOC registration supervisor, added: “At this stage it’s vital that you complete your retention form correctly, to avoid unnecessary delays. Make sure you check that you have: provided full insurance details; ticked the declarations box; included your practice address and a daytime telephone contact number and email.”

To date, 10,386 retention applications – over 50 per cent - are outstanding. Any registrant who has not received their retention forms should contact the GOC registration team on 020 7580 3898 (option 1) to make sure their details are up to date.


UK reaches new depths in recession according to CBI

The CBI is publishing its latest economic forecast against a worsening international backdrop. Last month the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised its forecast for world economic growth sharply downwards, and recent economic data have dashed hopes that growth in the emerging economies would soften the impact of the global downturn.

The UK’s leading business group predicts the recession, which began in the third quarter of 2008, will last throughout 2009. The economy is expected to contract by 3.3 per cent and unemployment will reach close to 2.9 million by the end of the year. After six quarters of negative growth, the economy is expected to stabilise early next year with the recovery building throughout 2010.

Richard Lambert, Director-General of the CBI, said: “In recent months we have seen a slew of gloomy economic data from across the globe, showing world economic activity plunging sharply. Faced with a global confidence crisis, a rapid fall in demand and credit constraints, UK firms have been forced to scale back investment and cut jobs. The outlook remains extremely uncertain so forecasting remains especially difficult. Ultimately the severity of this recession will depend on the speedy implementation of the Government’s measures to unblock the credit markets and the success of various global stimuli packages in repairing business and consumer confidence. However, during the second half of the year the impact of interest rate cuts, falling inflation, the relative weakness of Sterling, plus the fiscal boost, should start to have a stabilising effect.”

The CBI predicts the economy will contract by a cumulative 4.5 per cent over the six quarters of negative growth. GDP growth for 2009 has been revised down from -1.7 per cent in November to -3.3 percent. In 2010, GDP growth is expected to be 0.0 per cent.

The speed and severity of the recession, combined with the impact of lower energy prices and the recent VAT cut, will push CPI inflation to a low of -0.1 per cent in the third quarter of this year. In 2010, inflation will remain under the Bank of England’s two per cent target. Nominal interest rates are expected to stay at a very low level until the end of 2010.

As the recession deepens, unemployment is expected to rise sharply over the course of 2009. The CBI predicts unemployment will peak at just over 3 million (9.6 per cent) in the second quarter of 2010.

Consumers worried about losing their jobs will be spending less and saving more, dampening household spending. The CBI expects household consumption to contract by 2.7 per cent in 2009.

Average earnings growth is expected to weaken over the first three quarters of the year to a low of 1.1 per cent, as more people are prepared to accept pay freezes and pay cuts. But the rate of growth is expected to pick up to 2.5 per cent by the end of 2010.

Businesses will continue to scale back on investment sharply throughout the year. Business investment is expected to shrink by 9.2 per cent in 2009 and 1.7 per cent in 2010.


National Optometry Centre in Dublin hosts CET session for practitioners and students

The NOC in Dublin recently provided the venue by kind permission of Ms. Eva Doyle, Head of Department of Optometry, for two topography workshops for both students and practitioners.

NO.7 Contact Lenses in association with CLC Opticare Ltd. held the two topography workshops where No.7 donated a Keratron Scout Topographer to the N.O.C.

James Proctor, National Sales Manager of No.7 demonstrated the use of the Scout Topographer to two groups of attendees. The first workshop was held for the lecturers of the National Optometry Centre and was a ‘train the trainer’ session for the team, enabling them to maximise upon the potential of the Scout being used in everyday lens fitting at the college by the students.

Following this there was an evening workshop session where several optometrists with an interest in topographical lens fitting attended and received a ‘hands on’ demonstration of the Scout and its capabilities, from fitting OrthoK lenses, through to keratoconus, torics and multifocals. The attendees heard how as many as 220 centres in the UK now regularly fit No7 contact lenses via a topographer and the company’s iLink lens design system which takes the corneal surface maps and designs a ‘best fit’ lens at the press of a button, providing simulated fluorecein patterns for assessing lens fit.

Tom Eustace of CLC Opticare who had organised the evening commented that it was a very successful event and it was great to make use of the National Optometry Centre’s fantastic facilities, whilst at the same time having an informative and very enjoyable day.


Optical negotiators meet Minister Ann Keen MP

The optical negotiators Tony Garrett, Bob Hughes, David Hewlett and Professor Nagasubramanian, met with Health Minister Ann Keen MP to discuss the future of eye health and eye care in England.

The Minister confirmed the commitments given to the negotiators, and to Parliament by her predecessor that the GOS Contract would remain nationally negotiated, with nationally negotiated fees, with patients having free choice of practice and without any cash limiting effect at local level.

The negotiators raised the problems there had been around the country implementing the new GOS Contract and the Minister was keen to do anything she could to help unblock problems. Both the Minister and the negotiators agreed that the best way of resolving any problems was to discuss them quickly and openly at local level then, if necessary, to consult the national representative bodies, Primary Care Contracting and the Department of Health to add expertise.

The negotiators explained the wide range of skills that optometrists and dispensing opticians and OMPs could offer in delivering eye health care in the community and how the professions were eager to respond to the Government’s First Class Commissioning agenda in developing additional and enhanced services. They also described how support had been established for Local Optical Committees and how the first ever epidemiological commissioning tool for eye health, NEHEM had been launched last October.

For her part the Minister had also been meeting optical practices and was pleased to report she had heard exactly the same messages from the professions as she was hearing from the negotiators. She said how keen she was to learn more about what optics could and to support the expansion of optical services in the community.

The Department, the Minister and the Negotiators all agreed that “no surprises” agreement that they had worked to so far had been beneficial and committed to this for the future.

Following the meeting Minister Ann Keen MP said: "This was an extremely useful meeting. I am particularly concerned to help the professions bring eye care to hard to reach groups and that the NHS makes the best us of the skills of optometrists, dispensing opticians and OMPs in improving the eye health of the nation and preventing avoidable blindness. There are key areas here we shall be working on together over the coming year”.

The Negotiators said: “This was a very positive meeting. The Minister was very interested in the public health benefits that optometrists, dispensing opticians and OMPs can bring to the nation and was keen to work with the professions to achieve that. She was also very keen to work with us to resolve any outstanding contractual problems including helping taking up issues if we were having difficulties in particular parts of the country.”


Optics at a Glance

Optics at a Glance provides a key source of information on the Optical Market, much provided by its members who make up two thirds of the Optical Market in patient visits.

The period covered is from April 2007 to March 2008 where analysis of the FODO sample shows a 4% referral rate and a 25% no change/no Rx rate. 70% were given an Rx of which 7% chose contact lenses as well as spectacles.

The average time between tests appears to have fallen to 25 months with working aged population taking 29 months to return.

An estimated total of 19.5 million sight tests were carried out in the year, 71% of these being NHS provided. NHS sight tests rose by 5.4% in England, 4.8% in N Ireland, 3.7% in Wales and 3.4% in Scotland.

In the FODO members survey the charge made for a private sight test ranged from £10 to £50 and averaged at £22.90.

The report is visible in full at http://www.fodo.com/page.php?id=130 on the FODO website to all.




The American Optometric Association (AOA), the voice for more than 36,000 frontline providers of eye and vision care in communities nationwide, today commended President Barack Obama for singling out the importance of eye and vision care when he signed an historic expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

"No child should be falling behind at school because he can't hear the teacher or see the blackboard. I refuse to accept that millions of our children fail to reach their full potential because we fail to meet their basic needs," said President Obama as he signed the bill into law during a White House ceremony on Wednesday.

Peter KeyhoeThe four-year reauthorization of SCHIP, approved by Congress on Jan. 29, will expand eligibility and funding to cover approximately 11 million children nationwide. Currently, SCHIP provides health coverage, including eye and vision care benefits set by the states, to about 7 million children of disadvantaged and low-income families. The reauthorization provides an additional $32.8 billion for children's health care over the next four and a half years.

"The AOA has worked to make children's vision a top health care priority in Washington, DC. The President's statement on Wednesday, the significant expansion of SCHIP and the recent reintroduction in Congress of the AOA-backed Vision Care for Kids Act demonstrates that progress has been made but there's still more work to be done." said Peter Kehoe, President AOA.


SynergEyes Inc. announces 13.3 Million Dollars added funding for development

SynergEyes, Inc., the high Dk hybrid contact lens manufacturer, announced today an additional $13.3 million in financing to fund the development and clinical trials for next-generation hybrid contact lens products and to expand sales and marketing efforts globally.

Based in Carlsbad, CA, SynergEyes has developed a new type of contact lens that combines two materials -- a rigid gas permeable center and a soft, hydrophilic outer skirt. The result is a durable "hybrid" lens for patients seeking crisp, clear vision and the all-day comfort of a soft lens.

"SynergEyes sincerely appreciates the continued commitment of our venture capital partners and their support of the vision and mission of SynergEyes. Their investment will ensure that the millions of patients in need of our technology will have access to the many features and benefits only a hybrid contact lens can offer," said Paul Kammann, CFO of SymergEyes Inc.

"SynergEyes hybrid contact lenses represent a significant advancement in the contact lens industry and give eye care professionals a one-of-a-kind tool to satisfy one of the largest growing patient categories in the world," said Jim Ham, CEO for SynergEyes, Inc. "SynergEyes has demonstrated substantial revenue growth since market introduction in 2006. Our next-generation products will re-define state-of-the-art in the vision correction industry."


Zoobug shortlisted in the Optical Product of the Year category, Optician Awards 2009, UK

Children's eyewear specialist Zoobug has been shortlisted for Optical Product of the Year, in the 2009 Optician Awards. Zoobug's entry is for its acclaimed 'My First Zoobug' collection, a sunglass line designed especially for children of two to five who are new to wearing sunglasses. As well as offering high level protection from the sun, each of the styles in the collection features adjustable rubber tips which can be easily shortened or bent by hand to give a perfect fit behind the ears.


One in three drivers in North Wales are a potential danger to themselves and others

It was reported in the Daily Post this week that one in three drivers in North Wales has defective eyesight, putting themselves and other motorists at risk. North Wales Police say recent research measuring drivers’ long distance vision as part of its Drive Safe campaign uncovered these shocking results.
Police are reminding drivers that they either have their eyesight corrected of face prosecution. A campaign has been launched in the region by North Wales Road Safety Group and North Wales Police organising road shows throughout North Wales in an effort to encourage drivers to have regular checks.
As many as 40% of drivers were unlikely to meet the required standards for safe driving, and more than half, 57%, had not had an eye test in the past two years as recommended.

These results are similar to those reported by the Royal Institute of the Blind and show a worrying complacency about eye health across the country.
In the UK we have always been behind in encouraging and enforcing drivers not only to take a regular test but also to insist that these spectacles are worn during driving. Many European countries insist that a test is taken before the issue of a driving license, the drivers license is then marked as driver requires spectacles and checks are made especially following any RTA.

Failure to wear spectacles may well invalidate ones car insurance. In many European countries you are advised to always carry a spare pair in the car in case you break your specs away from home. We would have thought that a National Certification system accepted by the DVLC and provided by registered optometrists would not be beyond the wit of man to devise, and this is something that the Eyecare Alliance could make a difference by using their persuasion and cash along with the RNIB to help set up such a system.

Chief Inspector Gary Ashton from the North Wales Police Operational Support Division said: “Good eyesight is vital for safe driving.

“At last year’s Denbigh and Flint Show, 40% of people who took part in voluntary eye testing at the Drive Safe Road show failed the eyesight test, which is the ability to read a normal car number plate from a distance of 20.5 metres"
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“Under the Road Traffic Act 1988 it is an offence to drive with uncorrected eyesight. We urge people to have their vision regularly tested and if they have glasses or contact lenses, to wear them when driving.”


World Glaucoma Day Reminder

March 12th this year is World Glaucoma Day and a special poster has been made available by the Glaucoma Alliance*

World Glaucoma Day was developed in response to the concern over the worldwide increase in the number of people with glaucoma and the resulting increase in the number of people who could go blind from this disease as the population increases and ages, if they do not have the condition detected and treated.

What events are organized, and where?

You can find a list of all organized events in the World Glaucoma Day website, at www.wgday.net. You will also find other material (like multilingual World Glaucoma Day logos, posters, news releases, etc, as well as ideas for local events to be organized.
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What can you do to help?


Anyone can organise a local event. It is only required to register the event online (at www.wgday.net). You can also join an event that is organised near you, (like an educational conference, a glaucoma screening day, etc).

You can also contact the IGA on 01233 64 81 64 if you would like to recieve posters to display in your local area (GP surgeries, hospitals, opticians, pharmacies, post offices, community centres, etc.) or you can download an A4 electronic pdf version.

See also International Glaucoma Association page


Silhouette pull out of Optrafair 2009

Silhouette has with a heavy heart decided to pull out of this years Optrafair 2009 in April. They have been a long term supporter of Optrafair and for that matter of the FMO, but conditions particularly in the currency markets over the last few months have meant that prices have had to be raised over all three brands.

Silhouette feels that whilst the marketing opportunities have always been useful at Optrafair, this year the money saved will better help their customers by allowing a proportion of the increased costs to be retained in house.

Silhouette does however promise a “spectacular event” to be held at the end of the second quarter of 2009. (No information on this as yet)



Yes Dollond and Aitchison it was announced at regional meetings yesterday is to merge with Boots Opticians with Alliance Boots holding the major stake and losing the famous brand. This merger must be authorised by the competitions authority but even as a collective of around 700 practices and 5000 staff it would still be smaller than Specsavers, but larger than Vision Express, and given the level of competition within the Optical retail sector it is likely to cause no problem.

Whilst the new Boots brand will gain it will be vital to watch in smaller towns where the two names have competed head to head, as to whether shut downs and closures will occur. Although there was very scant information provided yesterday, a spokesman did not envisage a great shake down. However, one would expect some reduction in head office positions, professional and regional service managers and geographically aligned practices, as to most there is little difference in each USP.

Does this affect you directly or will the merged company affect your practice? Let us know your thoughts in our forums.


Further moves towards a confederation finds Grocott another Presidential post

FODO announces the Don Grocott as there new President. Don has been the resident AOP President for some time, and the appointment shows a determination to move nearer to an Optical Confederation, as the partner optical bodies committees strive to move nearer to each other.

This future merger has been long awaited by many who see the doubling of effort and costs by two almost look-alike optical bodies a waste of fees that few in the coming year will be able to justify. With the Boots Alliance/D&A merger set to run, one wonders whether the new organisation will continue to support such quangos in the future.

Commenting on Don’s appointment, Paul Carroll FODO Chairman said “There are big challenges ahead and, as the optical bodies work more closely together, we need to build on our shared values and go forward together wherever we can. We are delighted that Don, with his wide experience, statesmanship and connections, has accepted our invitation to become FODO President.”

Don Grocott said “I am very honoured to be asked to take on this new role. I have long supported closer working between the optical bodies and it has been interesting to see the exciting blend of skills emerging recently from all the new partnerships. I look forward to contributing to that from my new FODO as well as AOP perspective.”

Whilst the CEOs of each organisation released no comment Michael Charlton, Chairman of the Association of Optometrists said: “We work very closely with our FODO colleagues and are delighted that Don has been appointed FODO President too as we line up together, and with our other optical partners, to face the challenges ahead.”

The AOP with its large and polished structure with a membership covering many independents as well as many individuals working within FODO aligned businesses must be the lead body in such a merger. Indeed many have asked what are the differences in mission between each body, when the provision of service is the same from any practice whoever owns it?

2009 is already becoming an interesting year, and may be at last it’s the year of the independent and franchisee. Certainly some of the medium sized chains will be looking over their shoulder in the months to come.


Sight Test Fee Increase

An increase to the Sight Test Fee has been announced by the Department of Health effective from 1st April 2008. The new fee is £19.80. This has also triggered a 1p increase in the 4p supplement paid for Point of Service checks. The CET payment has risen to £458 but this will not be payable until later in the year. PHN will let you know when you can claim this.

For further details please go to the Department of Health's letter.

Do you have any comments on this increase? Use our forums to comment.


UltraVision staff have been getting up to all sorts of japes under the charity banner.

Ultravision Staff jump for charityPenny Parkinson, UltraVision’s Hydration and Tinting Team Leader, was delighted to complete a daring 10,000ft freefall parachute jump. Penny’s nerves were tested to the max when her first attempt was cancelled in mid-flight! She prepared herself again, only to be disappointed thanks to the English weather. Third time lucky, Penny was brave enough to build up the courage again and jumped out of a perfectly good aeroplane, raising a whopping £755 for the Marie Curie Cancer Care Charity!

Julie Oldfield, Distribution Supervisor, organised Operation Christmas Child for the 8th year running. Staff at UltraVision, including friends and family, sent 79 shoe boxes to disadvantaged children across Eastern Europe and Africa, allowing many people to share in the joy of giving to those who would otherwise have nothing!

Macmillan Nurses also received £94.00 of donations from staff; raised during a coffee morning and raffle, organised by Elsie Ward, Quality Control Inspector.


Sunderland practitioner invests in new edging machinery….The Briot Silver Plus

The economical lens edger replaces the practice’s eight year old technology and the new single unit combines a 4D tracer, blocker, edger, automatic groover and polishing technology.

“We do most of our own glazing, usually about 10-25 jobs a day, but more if we are busy, and this new Briot is so much faster and more accurate, especially with the shape tracing,” said Jenny Burdon, the receptionist who uses the Briot.

“We used to have to do our supra glazing by hand and this is so much better,” she added.

The Briot Silver + is ideal for small to medium sized labs, the edger has a colour screen, double lens “feelers”, scanning data transfer and a fast processor. It is designed to provide an attractive solution to edging headaches on all lens types including Trivex and the eight bevel finishes and programme for hydrophobic lens finishes, grooving and rimless polishing, ensure that it offers superb edging quality.


Eyecare 3000 triumphs over future fears

At the delegates and exhibitors drinks party on the first night of a truly successful 2 day CET and Opto fair event there were great misgivings about the state of the economy and the future buying instincts of practitioners. All these were to be dispelled over the coming days and much of this was helped by the sheer vibrancy and enthusiasm of the many speakers many of whom were ophthalmologists from Scottish and London Hospitals.

Eyecare 3000 LogoNever before had it been so obvious how well appreciated have become the talents of optometrists and the openness in sharing knowledge between our two professions was to me a breath of fresh air. Could this be the real and tangible benefit of the Scottish contract? I think so, and these are the reasons that will eventually convince our English mandarins to change course.

This infective enthusiasm for better and shared diagnosis stimulated once again great interest in clinical equipment which provided good news for most exhibitors. Again supported and stimulated by excellent lectures on AMD and nutrition there was great interest on learning more about the needs of the public in supplements even after they have had their 5 daily helpings, they are still very deficient in then needs of the retinal pigment. As to the frame manufacturers, we have heard that it is the large chains who are de-stocking and not the independents, so there was great buzz around specialist frame stands with quality products often not seen in the larger chains and long may this continue for it’s the quality of both product and service that can distinguish between the best and the average practice.

Many lecturers seem to hold a rosy picture of the investigative questioning that goes on in the consulting room believing that an optometrist has armed himself with knowledge of lifestyle, nutrition and sporting habits of his patient, which often brought an ironic snigger to some attending the workshops. Perhaps five minutes more questioning would pay dividends in increased quality sales in sports lenses, nutritional supplements and better referrals.

With general agreement of exhibitors and delegates alike this is the best 2 day event in CET and exhibition opportunity in the UK today. Both trade and profession are charged a reasonable fee, both are provided with a wonderful social experience and at this one event everyone mingles together.

Well done Scott, you have found the balance required to keep 260 delegates and 250 exhibitors happy for two whole days. A minor miracle.


BCLA announce greater interest outside London

In an effort to try to encourage greater membership throughout the UK the BCLA announced in a key note speech at the Eyecare 3000 conference a series of changes that will stimulate greater interest.

Responding to a feedback survey handed out last year it was evident that although getting most things right according to their responding members many found the BCLA too remote. Sarah Janikoun this years BCLA ophthalmologist president announced to around 60 interested delegates, half of whom were BCLA members, that courses both for returnees to contact lens practice and advanced practitioners were to be provided in both Scotland and Wales as well as this year’s conference being in Manchester. The response also showed that many did not attend the annual conference because of its collision with Spring Bank Holiday and half term, a very relevant point and one that the BCLA will experiment with in the future, although apparently the reason for its annual clash with family life is because its cheaper to hire the venues, no other grouping wishing to give up its family time.

The Scottish and Welsh training days are expected in March dates to be announced, but contact the BCLA now, you do not need to be a member.


OCT Scanners, the new black, for Optrafair

Just as in Eyecare 3000 in both lectures and exhibition it is apparent that OCT scanners will be the flavour of the moment at Optrafair.

OCT scan resultsAndy Yorke, Managing Director of Topcon explained –

“The clinical benefits of this type of technology are incredible. The ability to look beyond the retinal surface into the sub retinal layers presents us with diagnostic opportunities not seen before. 3D OCT provides the clinician with the ability to detect many eye diseases much earlier in their systemic development, such as AMD, glaucoma, diabetes and more.”

He added –

“Once we have taken the image of the back of the eye we can literally peel back the layers and look at them individually, rotating and pinpointing specific areas of disease development, and concern. With the additional benefits of colour fundus imaging this technology has delivered terrific benefits in detecting eye disorders earlier and will change the way in which the provision of screening services develop in the very near future.”

Simon Wardle, Principal of PFS, believes investment in OCT scanners is faster than in any other optical technology –

“We have financed 30 OCT scanners in the past six months with another seven currently being processed. This is what is going to lock patients into your practice.”

The OCT scanning technology – to be offered by Zeiss, Grafton, Haag Streit and Topcon at Optrafair represents an opportunity to offer pre screening and “top end clinical care”, with practices charging between £25 and £150 for the four minute procedure.

Dr Simon Barnard, who practices at Temple Fortune, and one of the country’s first practices to invest in OCT, sees it is a means of “getting patients into the habit of paying for eye care”. He encouraged those present to “enhance and develop their clinical care and to clearly differentiate the NHS sight test from an eye examination”.

Some of the other advantages offered by OCT are considered to be:

Differential diagnosis of AMD
Detection of macular oedema in diabetics
Pre and post cataract surgery assessment
Confirmation of CSR
VEGF treatment support for ophthalmologists

Primary Health Net is currently preparing to publish on its public website information about taking advantage of an enhanced eyecare service and is hoping to direct the public to practices with such equipment via the “Find my Optician” option on the site.


FMO members use bad payers list to guard against future bad debts

Running for more than 20 years under licence from the Office of Fair Trading, the Bad Payers’ List works to protect FMO members’ interests by highlighting those who are not working in the best interests of the overall optical industry –

“Another real benefit of FMO membership, it highlights accounts that are first, or repeat, offenders, giving a scale of the problem by listing County Court Judgements Applied for and County Court Judgements awarded. It is a very useful free resource which protects the profession’s suppliers from the deliberately dishonest,” said Malcolm Polley, FMO Chief Executive.


President of ECOO stresses importance of Primary Care Providers throughout Europe

Wolfgang Cagnolati, recently elected President of the European Council of Optometry and Optics expressed his views on the importance of Europe in ECOO needing to harmonise the scope of practice of optometry and optics. “Harmonisation is in the interests of the general public. The basis for a high standard of optometry and optics and a wide scope of practice is a uniform academic and clinical education. For that reason, during the next two years, ECOO will continue to strengthen the ECOO European Diploma, especially by establishing a European Accreditation Agency on Optometric Education (EAAOE) and by completing the development and launch of the European Academy of Optometry and Optics, which in the future will cover the education, research and clinical practice topics of interest to ECOO.”

ECOO starting in January 2009, ECOO will send its members not only its bi-monthly newsletter but also a regular press release about clinical and scientific research done by optometrists. This press release will inform the European Union, national authorities and the public about eye care and eye research done by members of our profession. The press release can also used by members of ECOO for their own press work.

Cagnolati continued,”The goal of all our press work will be to position our profession as the primary eye care provider Europe-wide. This will help to improve the reputation of optometry and optics and will help ECOO and ECOO's members internationally and nationally.”


Independents gather at Dorchester to congratulate lucky winners

Rodenstock Club’s 18th annual awards ceremony brought a glittering array of prizes, including trips to Casablanca for 18 practitioners and staff in recognition of excellence amongst independents throughout the UK.

New Rodenstock Managing Director, Barry Dibble, welcomed guests to the Dorchester Hotel in London and complimented Chris Hunt, Honorary Rodenstock Club President, for creating such a wonderful community of practitioners. He gave an assurance that the commitment to the concept would remain a corner stone of future strategy.

Rewarded for their excellence across the entire product portfolio, the winners saw new faces and longstanding Rodenstock partners receiving accolades.

Chris Hunt, who founded Rodenstock Club, said that he was delighted to take on the role of “doting godparent” with such a young, committed team.

“There is such tremendous loyalty in our customer base, which must be pretty unique to optics. These awards are our way of saying a very special ‘thank you’ to our Rodenstock Club members,” he said.

The highest accolade of the event was the award of National Centre of Excellence which went for the fourth time to Burnett Hodd & Jenkins, Sidcup.

Other Award winners included:

Wimbledon Sunglass Group: Westgate Optical, Cambridgeshire
Overall Wimbledon Champion: Burnett Hodd & Jenkins, Sidcup
Sports Lens Practice of the Year: Memory Opticians, Salisbury
Progressive Practice of the Year: Davis Optometrists, Kettering
Colormatic Practice of the Year: Coleman Opticians, Norwich
Frame Stylist Practice of the Year: Burnett Hodd & Jenkins, Sidcup
Individualised Lens Practice of the Year: Martin Steels Optometrists, Storrington
Porsche Design Practice of the Year: Hassan Hicks Opticians, Lymington


Computerised dispensing protects practice profits by reducing errors, so claims Optisoft’s MD

Tougher High Street conditions mean that every opportunity should be maximised through the use of an efficient dispensing system, believes Optisoft Managing Director, Keith Sheers.

“Most practices are pretty good at recall and ensuring that patients return, but there is a great opportunity to maximise what happens in the dispensing area. Maintaining profit is vital but it is here that mistakes are made, with a resulting loss of revenue to the practice.

“How often do dispensers fail to check the availability, or cost, of a lens and then have to charge the patient a stock price? If the lens is ordered and then the practice finds that it is not available it can become far more expensive. You can’t go back to the patient and charge what should have been the correct price. Many practices have to meet this shortfall on a regular basis,” said Keith.

An efficient dispensing system ensures that these mistakes, along with errors of adding up, and price calculation, do not happen. It also means that the opportunity to enhance the dispense is not lost.

“Offering patients an informed choice leads to greater satisfaction. Demonstrating the benefits of premium options achieves higher levels of dispensing, particularly for freeform and additional sales of sports eyewear, occupational lenses and other specialist products.”

Optisoft has worked closely with the major lens companies to ensure that the wider parameters for freeform technology, facial measurements and different corridor lengths are included in the new Optisoft Enterprise Dispensing Module.

Optisoft’s provision of online lens catalogues means that ordering from out of date catalogues is also a thing of the past –
“We have removed the need to flick through piles of lens catalogues in front of the patient – this aspect of dispensing is an area to make a real impact on the practice’s bottom line,” added Keith.

Kent independent, Alisdair Buchanan, is already reaping the benefits of this aspect of Optisoft’s dispensing module at his Snodland practice -
“The system is very user-friendly and most importantly it saves me a lot of money - probably up to £1,000 a week. The dispensing module ensures that the lenses are dispensed correctly and only lenses that are available are selected. With this we can abandon the catalogues of the five lens suppliers that we use,” he said.



Fashion students at the prestigious Royal College of Art have seized the UK’s Federation of Manufacturing Optician’s invitation to put forward designs for eyewear that will be displayed at next April’s Optrafair. “Eyes to the Future – Frames of 2009” is the title of the inspiring project, which builds on the success of previous Optra Awards.

Royal College of Art LogoThe world’s only purely postgraduate university of art and design, the Royal College of Art attracts students from around the world and has awe-inspiring alumni.

The MA students’ sketches will be displayed within the arena of Optrafair, alongside the winning Optra Award frames put forward by show exhibitors. Creating a tantalising showcase of conceptual and tangible designs, the involvement of the RCA is expected to raise the profile of creativity in eyewear considerably.

Entries from the students have been invited in five categories – mens’ ophthalmic, women’s ophthalmic, men’s sunglasses, women’s sunglasses and children’s ophthalmic. The same categories are open to Optrafair exhibitors to submit their frame entries for the 2009 Optra Awards.

Students have been briefed by the FMO on the construction of spectacles, materials and relevant commercial factors, particularly for accommodating ophthalmic lenses.


Rodenstock ahead at blind tasting study

An independent Swiss study, has confirmed Rodenstock’s lead in the individual lens market with the international group’s 5th generation progressive lenses being selected as best by a “blind tasting” group of more than 100 presbyopes.

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, trialled three individual freeform lens types and one classic lens design with 105 randomly selected patients.

Rodenstock Impression FreeSign Rodenstock Impression FreeSign® lenses provided the highest level of patient satisfaction, being “significantly superior”, confirming Rodenstock’s position as the market leader in the individual sector, with an estimated 36% of world sales in this category.

Examining this growing element of the optical market the report stated that due to the demographics of an increasingly aging population, the number of European presbyopes has risen from 19% in 2000 to 22% of the market today. Most significantly, the increasingly IT savvy generation is making greater demands on vision, and this aspect was integral to the study.

“More and more complex needs and preferences are considered in lens design, such as the co-ordination of the eyes and head,” said the report. In order to accommodate these measurements extensive lens fitting parameters were taken using the Rodenstock ImpressionIST 3D video centration system.

Four different lens designs were trialled, with every patient wearing each for three weeks, not knowing which brand they were wearing at each point. Objective and subjective data was collected and statistical analysis revealed a clear distinction of the suitability of the lenses trialled.

Those taking part were questioned after 15 minutes of wearing the lenses for the first time. They were asked to assess comfort, adoption of the lens, quality of vision in general and for near, far and distance. They were asked to perform popular binocular and monocular acuity tests for far and near distance.

The need to move their head while using the lens; the duration of their daily work; duration of their time at the computer, were also questioned and comments were invited on distortions and shading, suitability for driving and mounting stairs.

These same questions were applied after one hour, three days and three weeks, after which the next lens was provided.

After evaluating all four lenses the resounding top place was awarded to Rodenstock Impression FreeSign.

The study also found that those who had previously worn progressive lenses “were more sensitive to the difference in quality than non-expert wearers”.


SCRIVENS NAMES ITS ANNUAL AWARD WINNERS

Optical retailer Scrivens has crowned its five best branches in the company’s annual awards scheme.

Broadstone, Cheltenham, North Finchley, Loughborough and Widnes were all named ‘Branch of the Year’ in their respective regions for their strong performance during 2008 and commitment to delivering outstanding service.

Mike Cheesman receiving Scrivens awardA special achievement award was also presented to optical services training manager Mike Cheeseman, who has worked for Scrivens for 25 years (pictured receiving his award from Nicholas Georgevic, Chairman)..

He received the prestigious Sasha Georgevic Award, which was created by Scrivens in honour of its late chairman, Alexander ‘Sasha’ Georgevic, and is offered in recognition of exceptional individual business performance and dedication.

Keith Willis, managing director of the Scrivens Group, said: “Scrivens has been providing quality high street optical care for the past 70 years and it is thanks to the commitment and dedication of our staff that the business continues to thrive to this day.

“We are delighted to be able to formally recognise their achievements and offer our collective congratulations.”


Opposition MP outlines eye care shortcomings

Conservative eye health spokeswoman Anne Milton MP has called for more action to tackle the problem of children with undetected vision loss in schools and the lack of access to services for the elderly.

Sarah GidleyMilton was speaking during a drinks reception at the House of Commons on Monday as reported in the Optician magazine. It was organised by the Eye Health Alliance and hosted by Sandra Gidley MP (pictured), chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Visual Impairments originally formed by the efforts of the College of Optometrists and the RNIB

The event was attended by representatives from the optical bodies, the GOC, politicians and other stakeholders, although health minister Ann Keen, who has responsibility for eye care, was unable to be present.

Milton told guests: ‘There is no doubt there are many children in schools unable to read or falling behind in their school work who have not had an eye test. Their parents are unaware of the fact that with simple measures their performance in school could be improved simply by wearing a pair of glasses.’

She added: ‘We have 65 per cent of men and 71 per cent of women who wear glasses, therefore it is staggering that we still have children in school unable to see properly.’

Drawing on her experience as a district nurse, and speaking of the need for older people with visual problems to be fully engaged in eye care, Milton said: ‘There are 1.4 million older people who are living in a home or in care and are unable to access high street opticians unaided and yet we only had 378,000 domiciliary sight tests carried in the UK in 2006-7. We are not getting the penetration we need.

‘There are 189,000 people with visual impairments who fall each year at an estimated cost of £269m to the NHS. It is the same old story as it often is in the NHS – failure to act early costs us further down the line. That is without factoring in the human suffering.’

Speaking on the objectives for the eye care sector in the coming months, event host Gidley called for improved access to eye care services for children and the elderly. ‘The launch of Vision Strategy marked a turning point. I am very pleased all areas of the sector have come together to agree a plan of action.’


Walton optician helps Africa's eyesight

Mital Patel, store director at Specsavers in Walton, spent two weeks in Ethiopia with the charity Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) as part of a team of eight volunteers providing eye care.

More than 1,500 eye examinations were conducted in 10 days and glasses that had been donated by VAO were then dispensed. They also helped people with cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinal changes.

Mr. Patel said: “The lack of healthcare is heartbreaking. Many people’s sight could have been saved years ago by regular eye examinations. There were a lot of cases of cataracts and glaucoma, which were so advanced that glasses were no longer an option. I remember a patient who had such advanced glaucoma I was unable to help with glasses as it had led to blindness. In the UK, conditions such as glaucoma can be well managed because they can be picked up at an early stage because eye health screening is readily available. A lot of patients in Ethiopia and developing countries don’t have access to these basic health checks. "

Mr. Patel said that, despite cases like this, his work had not all been in vain.

“I examined the eyes of a girl who had never had a sight test before,” he said. “She was very short sighted and could not see far beyond 12.5cm from her eyes. We managed to fit her with a pair of glasses and she was overjoyed.”

There are believed to be about 200m people in the developing world who need glasses, but have no access to them as a result of poverty and a severe lack of available optical facilities. The irony of this is that UK residents have access to the best eye care in the world at modest prices for eye examinations, and of which many our eligible for a free eye examination including the over 60’s and kids as well as many other groups and yet the numbers with sight threatening diseases continues to climb mainly because of an ignorance of what an eye test can provide.
(Source Croydon Guardian)


Mylocaloptician.co.uk receives over three & a half thousand visits during National Eye Week

ww.mylocaloptician.co.uk the commercially run public education site received public visits to the site almost 50% higher than previous levels during National Eye Week. This has provided another record month in November of visits from the public interested in eye wear and eye care.

“We started highlighting the event a week earlier promoting the main message that regular eye examinations will reduce the occurrence of significant loss of sight which even today is prevalent in the UK. We were hoping to work closely with the charitable group (The Eye Care Trust) but received no response from them. However many independents and Scrivens Opticians offered to help by redeeming Mylocaloptician Vouchers at their practices. We also have to thank the Optician for highlighting the voucher availability before the event,” said Hutchinson PHN's Director that provides the Social Benefit Site.

We are extending the voucher scheme to continue into the New Year which is designed to provide those taking up an eye examination to reduce the cost of complete specs by £10. The printable voucher is now displayed on many voucher discount sites and is backed up by advertising of practices within their local area on Mylo.

PHN also provides professionals with their own knowledge site which also broke all monthly records with over 12,000 professional visits last month. “Being part of the community our team and contributors provide our visitors with vital knowledge on topics close to the heart of those working at the coal face. And with our 13 LOCs also entering their own sites through our knowledge portal we have found a great interest in our LOCSU reports of late.”


Contact Lens companies eye up the market for safety in elective procedures

Whilst the Lasik companies have been taking a pasting over an expected drop in procedure rates especially in the USA, those providing implant lenses to the medical profession have been ring fenced against the worst of recession as patients will continue to receive surgery. This is also true of all elective surgery.

This has meant that Johnson & Johnson have just purchased Mentor Corp at $1.07 billion. Mentor is a major provider of breast implants and J & J paid double the stock price at the time of the original offer.

The market has recognised this and focussed on AMO (Advanced Medical Optics) and its implant manufacturing and has acted accordingly providing a 20% jump in stock price cancelling out a 16% loss over previous months.


SAS USERS WELCOMED TO OPTISOFT

SAS practice management software users who are facing heavy release clauses to their IT contract since the company’s sale are invited to look at the terms of Optisoft’s latest deal.

Optisoft ScreenshotThis offer includes free data transfer, support, modules to match those already in use and one day’s training, for £1,995.

“We have a lot of experience of SAS users and understand the situation in which many are finding themselves. We are delighted to offer them a moratorium on their maintenance contracts for the duration of their SAS contract,” said Optisoft Sales Manager, Des Mayhew.

Optisoft is warning other practices to examine closely the small print of any IT contracts that are signed and to consider the implications of renting software that will only function with ongoing maintenance costs.

“We have always felt that paying for maintenance and support should be the decision of the practice, not a pre-requisite of the software continuing to function,” added Des Mayhew.


Singapore practice goes green

Yes, we kid you not; a practice in Singapore is converting its trading system to be the first to provide an “eco-friendly eyewear store”.

NanYang OpticalNanyang Optical announced that the main thrust of its 'eco-conversion' will be the launch of an eyewear range made of recycled materials. The range of select eyewear brands that are significantly green includes three collections Linkskin, Flexis and Urband.

Linkskin glasses are manufactured to be RoHS- compliant, using recycled materials with no lead, mercury, cadmium or soldering. Flexis rimless glasses consist of recycled steel and polymer, also without the use of soldering and the Urban collection avoids soldering too.

To raise the eco profile within the practice Nanyang Optical provides recycling bins at their stores to collect old spectacles, contact lenses and solution bottles in conjunction with local plants to complete the Eco circle.

Which practice in the UK will blink first or are you already providing a service?


CET POINTS TO BE AWARDED FOR OPTRAFAIR ATTENDANCE

Optrafair, for the first time, is to be awarded CET points in recognition of the valuable role that the biennial show plays in keeping the profession abreast of new developments in technology, diagnostics and optical products.

Delighted to have secured a total of six CET points, on completion of three dedicated poster trails at next April’s Birmingham event, show owners, the FMO believe this will draw additional visitors to the NEC.

Explained Malcolm Polley, FMO Chief Executive: “This is fantastic news as, at long last, Optrafair, the UK’s premier optical show, is recognised as an important educational experience. The close working relationship between the industry’s professional and commercial sectors is highlighted by Optrafair drawing visitors who are keen to find new ways to enhance the level of care that they provide for patients.”

The trail of 36 posters, with 12 per trail, within the exhibition hall, when successfully followed, will provide two CET points for dispensing, two for contact lens knowledge and two points for optometry. Each of the posters will draw visitors to see new products or technology in situ.

“The opportunity to make direct comparisons with products and technology does not come with anything other than a live show,” added Malcolm Polley.


This week's Pre Budget Report announced the recustion in VAT rates for standard rated products and services from Dec 1st 2008 for 13 months

With apportioned taxable percentages on all spectacles and contact lenses the reduction is less than other products and services. Find out how prices will be affected by using our price recalculation spread sheet (free to registrants) in our Business Briefing Page.

Also read about how it will affect you in the day to day running of your business on pre-paid collections, industrial specs to companies and how to treat your PMS system with care.

Those of you with direct debit and standing order customers will need to read this advice prepared by our business expert.

Further information: business briefing on VAT decrease


Mylocaloptician reports on breakdown of May’s Visits


GOC REGISTRATION FEE INCREASES for 2009

Even the GOC seems embarrassed by this latest cost increase of £219 per registrant in a time when we should all be keen to keep overheads down, but this continued pressure on increased regulation that has been applied ever since Shipman’s days continues unabated.

The fee rise is 29.58% over the £169 figure of last year and although unchanged for 4 years this is still an unwelcome cost to all registrants.

It is becoming an expensive option to remain registered and in practice what with CET/CPD points, ever increasing subs for this or that optical body and PI most of which are a valid necessity. The powers that be should recognise that these fees are not easily passed on to the consumer in times of recession. It does beg the question that one day many practitioners will pay for the compulsory costs and ditch the optical bodies.

Their press release makes clear, the increase is necessary to cope with the changes imposed on the GOC by the Government’s Trust, Assurance and Safety programme including the establishment of a new Council from next January.

It fell to Alan Tinger to provide an outside assessment of the GOCs budgetary increase. Alan Tinger, who is the Companies Committee advisor to the GOC’s Finance and Procedure Committee is also the LOC Support Unit Chair and Treasurer of FODO, has according to FODO the full confidence of all the optical bodies to help the GOC with this in depth review. Following his review Alan was able to agree with officials the minimum fee increase possible consistent with the GOC’s carrying out its statutory duties and maintaining sufficient audited reserves to function.

As a result of this work, the GOC was able to reduce the overall additional cost burden by £944,000. This would otherwise have had to be passed on to registrants.

At FODO’s insistence, and to ease the burden slightly, the GOC is also exploring the option of allowing payment by instalments in the coming year for the first time. Dian Taylor, acting chief executive and registrar said: “The decision to increase the retention fee is not one we have taken lightly. We are aware that registrants will find this tough, and have kept the increase to a minimum. The Council is solely funded by registrants’ fees, and whilst we must ensure we are able to operate as an effective regulator, we remain committed to making those fees go further.”

Retention packs will be sent out to full registrants in early December. An early Christmas present for us all!


APPLE MAC PRIZE FOR OPTISOFT SURVEY RESPONDENT

Dax JenkinsOptometrist Dax Jenkins, who has an independent practice in Pontnewydd, Cwmbran, is the delighted recipient of a new Apple Mac, loaded with Optisoft’s Recall system.

One of hundreds of independents from around the country who submitted entries for the national Optisoft IT survey, Dax was first out of the bag and so won the new technology which will sit in pride of place within the practice, R.J.D. Jenkins Opticians.

“I am just delighted with such a fabulous prize. It is so easy to use and very intuitive,” said Dax, who set up the South Wales practice eight years ago. He is pictured with Keith Sheers, Optisoft MD. (picture shows the proud winner Dax Jenkins)


GOC announces Geoff Harris as new chair

The Appointments Commission has appointed Dr Geoffrey Harris as the new chair of the General Optical Council (GOC). He replaces Rosie Varley who retires at the end of December after ten years in the role.

Dr Harris’s appointment is from 1 January 2009 to 31 March 2009. It is expected that as the incumbent chair, he will be appointed for a further four years from 1 April 2009, once the new Constitution Order has received parliamentary approval. Appointed to the GOC in 2004 as a Privy Council nominee, Dr Harris is currently the Council’s deputy chair.

On his appointment, Dr Harris said: “I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to lead the GOC at a time when healthcare regulation is high on the public agenda. The GOC has always been a progressive organisation that is not afraid to adapt, challenge, and lead the way. I look forward to working with the Council to ensure that we continue to anticipate and shape developments in this area in the interests of public safety.”

Acting chief executive and registrar, Dian Taylor welcomed the announcement: “Geoff brings a wealth of experience to the role. His understanding and experience of optical regulation is second to none, and his commitment to public protection is unwavering. I’m confident that under his leadership the new Council will be well-equipped to tackle the challenges ahead.”

The current Council chair, Rosie Varley, commented: “I am delighted to be handing over the role of chair to someone as well-respected as Geoff. His sound judgement, good standing, and exceptional track record in governance mean the GOC will be in good hands.”

Until April 2003, Dr Harris was a non executive director of Stoke Mandeville Hospital NHS Trust, covering both the general hospital and the National Spinal Injuries Centre. He is a former non executive director and chairman of Buckinghamshire Mental Health NHS Trust, and a former member of the Public Health Laboratory Service. Dr Harris also chairs the South Central Strategic Health Authority.


Primary Health Net Extends its service to LOCs and individuals involved in LOC management & providing enhanced services in Primary Care


Primary Health Net Ltd in a press release provided this week to the Optical press is launching a new site on their knowledge portal this week. They have extended their services to those involved in the individual and often specific requirements of LOC work, their deliberations and actions that are required in order for them to provide the correct level of services to their members. PHN has retained the services of a group of professionals widely acknowledged as leaders in their field of knowledge and regularly involved with many LOCs, PCTs and commissioning issues...

The new website will be at www.primaryhealthsupport.com and will be password controlled. Applications for passwords will accepted from LOCs (multi 10 person license £500 per annum), and individuals actively working for LOCs (£75 per annum) Optometric Advisors and those working on behalf of PCTs will be able to access the knowledge pages of the site but will be restricted to PCT/LOC sharing forums and not allowed into LOC forum work rooms.

Our mission, said Bob Hutchinson, PHN Director, “is to provide a dedicated secure knowledge website moderated by personnel accepted as being experts in their field to gain, share and disseminate knowledge to LOCs and their members plus others with an interest in improving primary care, in its breadth, access and efficiency for the benefit of local communities.”

Hutchinson went on to say that, "PHN recognises that no one community is alike and that whilst a holistic approach can provide some answers, a more selective and local assessment of the needs of the community is required. PHN also believe that retaining the focus of primary care innovation within the LOC will provide an improved result in both satisfaction of contractors and performers and in greater equity in finance and payment and retention of fees locally. LOCs should and can remain at the heart of the relationship between providers and PCTs"

The aim of the new primaryhealthsupport website is to provide through the many knowledge pages on the new site information, business templates, resource links and an expert panel providing regular information on local agreements and enhanced services. The pages in turn will provide information on helping LOCs manage themselves and engage with their members, form working groups, inform & involve members of future projects, engage other professionals in commissioning and write business cases for enhanced services. Examples of final proposals and specific information on individual enhanced service topics will be provided with their own work forum areas.

LOCs will be provided, for a small sum per year, with a secure registration allowing up to 10 of their members to access the site. Individuals who work with and on side with LOCs will be allowed separate registrations.

PCT/PCG/PBC personnel as well as Optometric Advisors will be encouraged to register but their registration will not allow entry into the work forums of LOCs. However they will be provided with a joint PCT/LOC forum on each topic.

LOCs will simply pay a small sum (around 0.02% from their levy) for use of the knowledge site and only pay extra when one to one advice is needed to back up their own work. This “pay as you go” system provides huge savings for LOCs which can be better directed at local negotiators.

Hutchinson continued, "Many LOCs have and continue to perform well for their members and are respected by their local PCTs. We see no advantage in destroying that relationship and every advantage in helping other LOCs retain their independence and funds which can be invested in local personnel. Local funds are produced by the hard working members providing an experienced and professional service and the money generated should be used by the local members for local activities."

Read further information at the following links:

LOC Briefings

Websites provided by PHN

Mentoring & Training Services


A total of 484 eight-to 11-year-old myopic children participated in the randomized, single-masked trial conducted from September 2003 to October 2007 at five clinical centers in the United States. Children were randomly assigned to wear spectacles (n= 237) or contact lenses (n = 247) for three years. The study was supported by funding from VISTAKON(R), division of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.

Using the Pediatric Refractive Error Profile (PREP), an instrument used to compare the vision-specific quality of life between children affected only with refractive error, researchers compared the two groups for a period of three years. Children who wore contacts saw greater improvement in satisfaction with their choice of vision correction, appearance, and participation in activities, with differences detected as early as one month.

"Studies have shown glasses to be associated with negative attributes in areas of self-perception and attractiveness, so it's not surprising that children experience quality-of-life benefits beyond vision correction from contact lens wear," says Marjorie Rah, O.D., Ph.D., F.A.A.O., New England College of Optometry, and lead author of this report from the Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment (ACHIEVE) Study.

"The growing body of research in this area demonstrates that contact lenses significantly improve how children feel about their physical appearance and participating in activities such as sports," she adds. "This should give doctors and parents greater confidence in presenting children with the option of contact lens wear when vision correction is required, especially those children active in sports or those who don't like how they look in glasses."

The Pediatric Refractive Error Profile is comprised of 26 statements scored from one (strongly disagree) to five (strongly agree). Scores are scaled from zero (poor quality of life) to 100 (good quality of life). The mean score of all questions is the Overall PREP score. There are ten subscales: Activities, Appearance, Far Vision, Near Vision, Handling, Peer Perception, Satisfaction, Academics, Symptoms, and Overall Vision.

Further link http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/vision-related-quality-of-life-benefits,591817.shtml


AOP and FODO announce new joint Committees

The AOP and FODO have announced the formation of new joint committees and are inviting other optical partners to join in.

Following the calls for more joined up working at the FODO and AOP AGMs earlier in the year, the aim of the new committees will be to provide a clearer focus and more united voice especially for the commercial, manufacturing and retail parts of the eye health sector.

The new committees are:
Policy and Strategy – chaired by Brian Carroll and Michael George
Education – chaired by Ed Bickerstaffe and Glenn Tomison
Primary Care – chaired by Kevin Thompson
Communication & Public Affairs – chaired by Jayne Rawlinson
plus a new Working Group on information and IT (Chair to be announced).

Commenting on the announcement Michael Charlton, Chairman of the AOP, said: “FODO and the AOP already had similar and overlapping committees with cross memberships. The time is now right to streamline these arrangements and also to open them up to our optical partners more widely.”

Paul Carroll, Chairman of FODO said: “This is the first step of what we hope will be a productive process which will improve our effectiveness as a sector. With a united voice - standing and speaking together - we will have far more impact for our sector and our patients.”

Welcoming the announcement, ABDO President Barry Duncan said: “ABDO will be delighted to play its full part in these new arrangements. There is a new confidence within dispensing optics and we have seen what can be achieved by working closely with our partners through the new UK Vision Strategy and negotiations on the GOS contracts in all four UK countries.”

There was also a strong reaction of general commendation from the Chairs of the FMO & ACLM and the BMA will also be involved, representing the OMPs. Professor Suryanarayanan Nagasubramanian said; "The BMA has jointly worked with the optical bodies on GOS fees for many years and we have also been closely involved in negotiating the new GOS contract. Ophthalmic medical practitioners, optometrists, dispensing opticians and other stakeholders can only benefit from a more collaborative approach and we look forward to our participation."

The College of Optometrists, which is the professional, scientific and examining body for optometry, will both have observer status on relevant committees. Dr Rob Hogan, President of the College said: “This is a welcome development. The College’s own experience of joint working through our membership and standards committee and working groups has been very positive. Collaborating more widely can only strengthen the sector and we look forward to playing our full part in the new arrangements”. The College have agreed to attend some of the relevant meetings as observers only.


Rumney speaks out

Independents were urged to leave their “safe harbour” and venture out into more challenging waters of practice at the FMO’s recent regional Edgbaston meeting.

Nick RumneyNick Rumney, Hereford independent practitioner and well known presenter, gave an inspired view of “Optics – Past, Present and Future”, which included news that he was born on the same day that The Opticians Act was passed in July 1958.

“We now have the facility to hone in on problems and deal with some of the things that ophthalmologists have been dealing with,” said the Cardiff-trained optometrist whose practice currently holds titles for OPTICIAN’s Business Initiative and Independent Practice of the Year.

He extolled the virtues of detecting retinal problems at a very early stage with 3D OCT scanners, urging others to extend their clinical offering -
“As a profession we need to stretch our capabilities and discover new skills. The technical aspects of dispensing are needed more than ever. We were the first practice in the country to invest in a 3D OCT scanner and one of the first to take on low vision work. I have a strong and abiding interest in joining the commercial and clinical benefits of optics together,” said Nick.

“UK optometrists do not understand the value of what they do in the consulting room. Everyone must recognise that high value dispensed products do not sit comfortably with free eye tests.”

He spoke about the demographics of an aging population – more than 1.6m people will be working well into their 60s by 2020: more than double the number at present and of the opportunities for visual work in the workplace.


Worrying signs for sales

In a world of financial turbulence since the Northern Rock failure last year, and with rises in unemployment, negative equity and inflation it was to be expected that few would escape its effects. Figures from GfK Retail and Technology show that the average price paid for spectacle frames as measured year ending this September have reduced year on year by 8%. This will no doubt be caused by fierce cost cutting and bogofs as well as an increasing reluctance of customers to spend on medium ticket prices. Volume of sales has also fallen by 4% so the cost cutting exercise does not appear to be attracting new customers.
Source GfK Retail and Technology, www.gfkrt.com


Ophthalmologist wants top up rules expanded

Since the recent U turn on allowing patients to top up with private money for medicines within their NHS care schemes leading consultant ophthalmologist David Allen, who has recently retired from Sunderland Eye Infirmary, has argued for years that cataract patients should be allowed to contribute towards their treatment by way of selecting a better or more appropriate implant..

He says it will help them get a better standard of lens fitted than is available on the NHS. But the new government rules do not include top-ups for eye treatment.

Dr Allen said: "I am more determined than ever to convince them that special allowances are made for NHS cataract patients, giving them access to the best technology to enable them to enhance and enrich their lives."

Health Secretary Alan Johnson's announcement was based on the findings of a four-month review conducted by the Department of Health's national cancer director Professor Mike Richards. The proposals specifically state patients paying for their own drug treatment must have it done away from NHS wards, which is not possible in cataract treatment.


Sunderland independent invests in new technology

Jenny Burdon Derek Casey OpticiansSunderland independent, Derek Casey Opticians, has stepped up its in-house glazing thanks to an investment in the latest Briot Silver+ technology.

The economical lens edger replaces the practice’s eight year old technology and the new single unit combines a 4D tracer, blocker, edger, automatic groover and polishing technology.

“We do most of our own glazing, usually about 10-25 jobs a day, but more if we are busy, and this new Briot is so much faster and more accurate, especially with the shape tracing,” said Jenny Burdon, the receptionist who uses the Briot. “We used to have to do our supra glazing by hand and this is so much better,” she added.

Ideal for small to medium sized labs, the edger has a colour screen, double lens “feelers”, scanning data transfer and a fast processor. It is designed to provide an attractive solution to edging headaches on all lens types including Trivex.

The Times commits two pages to eye care

Entitled “What your eyes tell you about your health”, it discussed the need for more people to take a regular eye examination and promoted “a new generation of high-tech eye scans that can detect everything from brain tumours to heart disease.

It continued, "More than half of all sight loss is due to preventable causes and experts believe that up to a quarter of people with undiagnosed diabetes would have the condition spotted if they went for an eye test. Traditionally, the optician has found ill-health hotspots by peering into your eye with a hand-held light/magnifier (an ophthalmoscope). But now, new advanced instruments are making eye examinations not just more accurate but capable of diagnosing a much wider range of conditions.”

The equipment reviewed with an explanation of what it does and how it feels to be a patient on it was underwritten with where one can find it and these were the examples used:

The Optomap panoramic retinal scanner

As there were dozens of Optomap providers in the country readers were encouraged to go to www.optos.com/uk to find them.

Humphrey visual field analysis

Already it stated widely available people were encouraged to phone before a test.

Laser Polarimeter (GDX)


Apparently available at a handful of opticians; readers were advised to contact the manufacturer Zeiss, 01707 871231 .

Corneal topographer

The Times considered these available at opticians and ophthalmologists around the country and highlighted: the Kings Cross Eye Clinic, www.kcec.co.uk; Linklaters in Kent, www.linklaterwarren.co.uk; and CityEyes, www.cityeyesopticians.com .

Finally...

Digital retinal photography


Although available at many optometrists/opticians, the Times highlighted Molsom and Associates in Lincoln ( 01775 713366 ), David Snow in Kent (www.sightonline.co.uk ) and Wooding (www.woodingopticians.co.uk )
(Source The Times)

Comment from PHN

More unusual was its publication of contact details of companies providing such machines who were happy to promote their stockists who could provide the experience of using the equipment. It went further to publish individual practitioners who have such machinery and the likely costs involved additional to normal examination charges.

This is a much needed example of PR and education creating a need and a desire amongst the general public to look for and experience these new sight saving machines.

For some time this device has worked well in both frame and lens fashion and technology, but rarely has it been used to attract what some journals call the “worried well”. Given that most sufferers of eye disease are often blissfully unaware of problems we are happy to see an increase in any members of the public, well or not.

www.mylocaloptician.co.uk provides the opportunity for practices of all sizes to announce specialist equipment and specialties under an enhanced entry for just £75 per annum, but only a few independents, one National Group and loyal customers of Norville have taken up this opportunity.
We aim to provide greater details surrounding extended services by optometrists in the coming weeks with a detailed account of equipment involved, and this will form the background for our stories linked to National Eye Week due at the end of November. Over 10,000 members of the public visit our public site each month and we aim to assist in bringing the message of the importance of eye care in the run up to and during the campaign.


Buchmann UK demonstrates the Henson 7000 at the NHS Confederation

HensonHeld at Bournemouth, the NHS Confederation was treated to a demonstration of how the portable Henson 7000 can be gainly used in domiciliary visits. The Henson is the latest central visual field screener available from Buchmann UK. It is also of great value in small clinics where space is a premium.

Helping Paul Hampshire Regional Sales Manager at Buchmann UK were Heather Marshall (Eye Health Alliance) and Geoff Roberson (AOP)


Two Scottish Opticians head to Uganda with bags of specs and energy

Eye care for UgandaGillian Bruce from Dundee will lead a team of 6 to Uganda, with others including Nicola McDermid from Paisley who will carry out sight tests and also provide training to local nurses.

Masaki and Soroti are their destinations and the expedition has been arranged by Vision Aid Overseas. Gillian, who works at Neil Cuthbert & Partners has been on similar Aid trips to Uganda before and explains that, "It's physically challenging, working in the temperatures and also the facilities we'll be working in are very basic. You're working basically from equipment that fits into the size of a briefcase. And you're only out there for a very limited amount of time so you want to see as many people as you possibly can, so just trying to work quickly and effectively will be difficult. But it's also quite tough because we're just going to provide spectacles, so we're really trying to give vision to the people who have healthy eyes but just need glasses.” PHN wishes them well.


Changes to GOS3s and 4 in Scotland

Practitioners in Scotland should be aware of changes to GOS3 and 4 forms as a result of the introduction of the Employment and Support Allowance and the consequent change in entitlement to vouchers. Full details can be accessed by downloading the memorandum below:

Scottish Memorandum


Press coverage in London papers this week highlighted the considerable expansion plans of the Specsavers Organisation. There are plans to open 20 stores in the Capital over the next 18 months and wants to add a further 97 stores within the M25. It announced it had plans to recruit staff from other market sectors such as fashion and electrical.

Pictured is Penny Lancaster who Specsavers have used to promote their products (source thelondonbiz)


Boots Opticians to Sponsor Eye Week this year

In response to our article last week on the lack of information about Eye Week, we are indebted to their Chairman who after reading the story emailed us this week. He says “This year’s Eye Week is to run from 24th to 30th November and National Eye Week 2008 will be sponsored by Boots Opticians.”

We were, like our readers a jump ahead on questioning the timetable as October 13th, two days after our report, was set as the official launch day.

This years campaign message he tells us, “aims to raise public awareness of the benefits of good vision and the importance of regular sight testing with the publication of the ‘State of the Nation’s Eyes’ report.” The report, which will provide a snapshot of the health of the nation’s eyes, is being compiled using data collected from a wide-reaching vision screening programme conducted in shopping malls, libraries, schools and sporting venues across the country. These results will be analysed along with existing industry data to compile the most comprehensive review of eye health in the UK, ever!

Commenting on the week Iain Anderson, Chairman of the Eyecare Trust said: “We’re delighted to welcome Boots Opticians as sponsors of National Eye Week 2008."

David Muldoon, Marketing Manager for Boots Opticians added: “Working with the Eyecare Trust on National Eye Week 2008 is a fantastic opportunity for us to use our combined expertise to highlight the importance of regular eye tests to millions of people across the UK. We want to help as many people as possible to see better, whether you are aged 1 or 101 and with the help of the Eyecare Trust we are confident we can improve the State of the Nation’s Eyes significantly.”

Posters and publicity material can be requested by emailing pr@eyecaretrust.org.uk

It would appear then to us to be following on from the RNIB lead this year re-emphasising the message used in parts of the World Sight Day about the poor uptake of sight tests taking place.

This will be the 14th National Eye Week usually sponsored by external promoters so it will be interesting to see if the main sponsors will reflect the message within their stores with a special sight test promotion.

As providers and editors of www.mylocaloptician.co.uk the commercially run eye care and eyewear public awareness site we will work to amplify the message to our public readership which has now reached 10, 000 visits per month equalling the visit rate of this professional community.


Zoobug Nominated for 2008 Silmo d'Or

Zoobug Daisy FrameChildren's eyewear specialist Zoobug has been nominated for a Silmo D'Or award in the Children's Frame category. The shortlisted product, Model Daisy R01 is part of the latest My First Zoobug sunglasses collection, which features new adjustable rubber tips. This collection is created especially for 2-5 year olds who are new to wearing sunglasses so fit and design are key influences. The adjustable rubber tips allow a customized fit making the frames both comfortable and secure. Model Daisy R01 is a girl's frame, shaped like a flower. Made from high-quality acetate, the style is available in pink/white, pink, blue and peach. The lenses are shatterproof, UV400 with 100% UV protection.


New Eye Health Epidemiological Model

NEW WEB BASED MODEL PAVES THE WAY FOR COMMISSIONING LOCAL EYE CARE SERVICES

A new National Eye Health Epidemiological Model (NEHEM) will, for the first time, make data on the prevalence of four common eye conditions freely available. The model will be launched today (October 9) and will be invaluable to those involved in the commissioning and provision of local eye care services in the UK.

NEHEM has been developed by the Public Health Action Support Team (PHAST) at Imperial College, London. Commissioned by the optical bodies and funded by the Local Optical Committee (LOC) Central fund, it provides data on the prevalence of glaucoma, cataract, age-related macular degeneration and low vision. Based on epidemiological and population studies, the data is split by age, gender and geographical or Primary Care Trust (PCT) area.
David Hewlett, Chairman of the NEHEM Steering Group said:

“The launch of this model represents a major step forward for eye health in this country and delivering the UK Vision Strategy. For the first time commissioners and providers will be able to compare reliable, scientific estimates of local need to identify priorities and areas for new investment. I cannot emphasise enough our thanks to the LOC Central Fund for their generous support in funding this model and making it available to all those who are striving to improve the eye health of the nation.”

The model presents the data on a user friendly website which any person or body can access free of charge. The site is live at www.eyehealthmodel.org.uk.

Various groups of users will want to use the data in different ways. Commissioners of local services, local optical professionals and charities involved with low vision or sight loss may well wish to use the data to highlight the need for services in a particular area. The use of NEHEM is not limited to these groups. The developers envisage that it will become an extremely useful tool for policy makers, clinicians and the health press also.

Stephen Remington, Chief Executive of Action for Blind People said:

“Action for Blind People is delighted to be associated with the launch of this epidemiological model. The vision impairment sector is notoriously short of reliable data and this new approach will make a tremendous difference. Working together with optometrists, ophthalmologists and opticians we can all make real improvements to people’s lives”


The World Sight Day is upon us on Thursday 9th October

Optical practices, professionals and support staff are encouraged to find ways to communicate the needs of 85 million people at risk of blindness throughout the world to their customers on the day. Perhaps by encouraging contributions from them directly or by offering to commit to all or a percentage of the days eye care fees from the practice.

A number of UK based charities are involved.

With no social welfare system in many developing countries, people have to work to survive – for most there is no relaxing retirement.

Imagine not being able to work in the fields, cook for your family or even having to keep one of your children or grandchildren out of school so they can be your eyes - preventing them from getting an education simply because you don’t have access to a pair of glasses. Optometrists from around the world are joining together in the 2008 World Sight Day Challenge to help those with uncorrected refractive error.

You can take the challenge by:

• Donating your eye exam fees on World Sight Day (or any other day in October)
• And / or becoming a regular donor today or before October 9th
• Planning a practice celebration around this day

For more information about World Sight Day 2008 go to the OGS page on this site


The National Eye Week….When was it?

We have been asked on quite a few occasions recently including last week when National Eye Week is happening. Our investigations took us via Google to a number of blogs and a number of references to previous Eye Weeks. All 1st page references referred to Eye Week 2007 inc a link to www.nationaleyeweek.co.uk. By following this link we discovered that last years eye week was 10th to 16th December but we were still at odds to find out this years dates and the website link obviously purchased for eye week has not been used this year.

So we started doing some further leg work looking on the Eye Care Trust site which sent us back to the Nationaleyeweek website for 2007. By now our intrepid newshound was losing faith in ever tracking down the answer, so back to Google to review some blogs. After some searching we found this blog but its date was not obvious although the site was recently updated, so we got quite excited with this story:

“Ok after a lot of digging the best I can come up with at present is Sep 23 National Eye Week Which I found via the BUPA web site....Which says a lot for the state of UK optics. Does any other Brit have any details of what we can expect to see happening during the week or is it going to be another wash out like last year with no coverage again....”

Excited yes but disappointed as we seemed to have missed it. Back on the Eyecare Trust site last updated on the 26th September we could still find no reference to any of these dates or any others for this year. In desperation we rung both the numbers on the site for both media enquiries and general enquiries and received a no-message BT call minder answer machine.

We give in. Can anyone tell us if we missed it or that we have yet the pleasure of some late planning for the event this year. Hope it’s not on leap day next year!!

We obviously have some way to go before we can match the forward planning of the vision charities for World Sight Day.


What’s a girl like you doing in ……………?

Well probably she’s been awarded a trip to the legendary Rick’s Bar in Casablanca by Rodenstock

Yes Rodenstock is encouraging its most loyal practices to pump up the volume in sales as the last few closing months will decide which practices are treated to next February’s trip which includes a guided tour of the city and dinner at the iconic Rick’s Café, featured in the legendary film, Casablanca.

Casablanca RodenstockCurrently leading the Porsche Design Eyewear dispensing category is Rodenstock Club member, T&A Hassan-Hicks Opticians of Lymington, while Kettering’s Davis Optometrists is leading the field in the ColorMatic® category with Taank Opticians in Cambridge also making a strong showing.

Practices have until the end of November to top up their points across the entire Rodenstock product portfolio. Embracing all Club members, who are automatically entered for the loyalty scheme, the four tier structure ensures that small practices can compete alongside higher spending, larger, practices. The scheme includes points for FreeForm, Sport Extra Curve and Colormatic® lenses, Rodenstock frames, Porsche Design Eyewear and Wimbledon sunglasses.

The practice-building promotion will culminate with a sparkling lunch and presentation at London’s Dorchester Hotel on December 15 2008, where no less than 36 trips to Casablanca will be awarded.

“The trip to the cultural city of Morocco rewards exceptional loyalty amongst our valued customers. For practices without a full year’s trading history the spend will be calculated on a pro-rata basis, so enthusiastic newcomers will be on an equal footing with our established customers,” said Barry Dibble, Rodenstock UK Managing Director.


New molecular material for Contact lens bandages reported in New Scientist

A chemical engineer at Auburn University in Alabama has created a contact-lens material that can be helpful in getting drugs into the eye in sufficient volumes to the eyes surface.

The researcher, Mark Byrne says that the contact-lens material he has developed can hold high concentrations of drugs, and release them more slowly. He has revealed that the idea is to design the molecular structure of the lens material to mimic tissue-receptor sites that the drug will target within the body, reports New Scientist magazine.

Byrne adds that the goal is to make the dummy receptors strike a balance, not holding the drug too tight, but also only releasing it slowly into the eye.

For commercialising the idea, Byrne has set up a company called OcuMedic.

The company is already developing anti-fungal contact lenses for treating eye infections in horses.


British Optical Association Museum featured in Country Life

Under an article in the magazine on unusual museums to visit in London the College of Optometrists location in Craven Street near Charing Cross is featured amongst others including the Royal London Hospital Museum and the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

The magazine writes that the museum has two rooms in this Georgian house are crammed with intriguing artefacts relating to optometry and human vision. Founded by the British Optical Association in 1901, and on public display since 1914, the collection includes a pair of 16th-century ivory nose spectacles; Dr Johnson’s glasses and case of about 1780; scissor spectacles and spectacles in leather, whalebone bejewelled and as fashion items; the earliest sunglasses (1790, Venetian, as worn by the actor Goldoni); archaeological specimens, such as eyes from Egyptian mummies; and a section dedicated to contact lenses going back to the 1880s. Some of the machines were used until shockingly recently.

By which opticians we wonder!


A good eye for the road, especially at speeds of over 200 mph!

A piece of race track gossip for the bars tonight must be about Sebastien Bourdais being the only F1 driver to wear spectacles under his crash hat.

Obviously he’s not the only short sighted driver but all the rest wear contact lenses and as all contact lens wearers know, it’s something they never advertise about themselves, much to the chagrin of the UK contact lens industry.

Sebastien, the Torro Rosso driver admits to not liking contacts and feels more in control of his eye sight wearing specs. 'Something can go wrong with your contact lenses.' he explains. 'It may get too dry, or you could get dust in it. 'And if that happens, you pit in, and then you cry. It's game over. Not a great believer in Lasik either when asked he commented, 'The risk is too high. If they mess up, it is over for me,' he says. 'It's not a calculated risk I'd take,' he adds firmly.

Sebastien is seen in the cockpit wearing his TAG Heuer Avant-Garde eyewear


A story of two Specs

Wouldn’t the Optical Industry of the UK just love a story made for them as is the Palin Spectacle Saga in the USA? Yes Sarah Palin the Republican running mate of McCain has caused a stir in homes up & down the USA because of her understated dress code and more so her understated spectacle fashion.

Americans have been asking their Oculists where they can get her rimless frames and what is the model name? We can divulge here that it is a Kawaski Model 704 and that in the States there are already back orders for the model. In USA blogs there has been much talk about how to get the same look with other models and top of the bill appears to be the Silhouette Enviso range which can be fitted with rimless lenses the same shape as Palin’s frames to give the same look.

Much has been written about Palin’s low key approach and understated appearance and how this has helped her in the polls. The rimless glasses that dominate her face are as banal as modern spectacles come. The entire goal of their design is to have them go unnoticed. They are not meant to frame her features as much as they are crafted to avoid detracting from her big brown eyes.
Her clothes are unpretentious, but they are also unremarkable. They have nothing to do with Fashion. It's fashion show season now, with designers unveiling their spring 2009 collections in New York, Milan and soon Paris. So far, none of them have suggested that the next new thing for the power-wielding woman is a straight black skirt with a boxy, oyster-colored blazer, which is what Palin wore when she accepted the vice-presidential nomination in St. Paul, Minn.

Meanwhile on the other side of the argument are the new often thick rimmed geeky specs often worn by the prettiest of young models and A list celebs like Daisy Lowe, Pixie Geldof and Josh Hartnett. Indeed the fashion houses of Milan have sent their models down the catwalk with heavy framed and geeky specs that accentuate the beautiful looks of these starlets but would improve little for those who need a bit of help. Anyone remember Olive in “On the Buses?


GOS Patient Records

Where a business changes ownership, then the GOS records transfer to the new GOS contractor providing mandatory and/or additional services (as the case may be).

If, however, a contract comes to an end and the practice ceases to provide GOS, the records of NHS patients should revert to the PCT, if it is not possible to transfer those records to another GOS practice which will take on those NHS patients.

Where the PCT is considering an application for a contract from a business seeking to buy a practice the presumption is that the records would be transferred to that person/business following award of the contract.


NHS Mail

The Organisation Data Service (ODS) which is part of Connecting for Health is beginning a process of capturing data on optical practices in order that NHS mail can start to be used by practitioners. Although the use of NHS mail is the main driver for this, it is expected that the process will enable optometrists to become more integrated with other NHS systems. For further information, you can access the Connecting for Health website


Over 200 practices acquire web page presence with enhanced entries on Top Public Vision Awareness Site.

Over 200 practices acquire web page presence with enhanced entries on Top Public Vision Awareness Site.

My Local Optician mock web pageOver 60 practices supplied by the Norville Group have been rewarded with a free web page presence on www.mylocaloptician.co.uk for their continued level of custom and support. As well as receiving a webpage visible in their PCT area section of the site they also have been given an enhanced entry in the “Find my Optician database locater”.

The web page presence can be treated as their own mini website on the mylocaloptician portal and is normally to be found on a front page Google search when members of the public search for an optician in their PCT area. On the page any number of additional downloads can be attached just like having one’s own site except that this public site can provide a High Google Ranking along with its 8000 plus visitors each month.

Along with the web presence comes an enhanced entry listing with increased opportunity to announce specialities, location and opening hours and of greatest importance … a higher priority ranking above the standard practice listing in each PCT area. Bob Hutchinson said,” This is a most generous offer by Norville to provide these mini web sites to their best customers saving them £175 per year. It is also a great help to our public awareness site where all above the line proceeds are ploughed back into further educative promotions about eye wear and eye care.” Hutchinson continued, “We need more help from more independents who by spending a very small annual fee can promote themselves and help us get the message out to the public.”

Two groups, Scrivens and Conlons have also continued their support for the public site and are like the Norville sponsored practices currently sending text and images to info@primaryhealthnet.com for the web page preparation.

You can see an example template page above.


My Local Optician Voucher launched this month

www.mylocaloptician.co.uk this month launches a generic voucher offering website visitors the opportunity to print the voucher and save £10 on their next complete pair purchased following a recent sight test. (Complete pairs must be valued over £85)

My Local Optician VoucherCurrently the voucher is specifically targeted at practices advertising on the site who have agreed to accept the voucher. The promotion is being trialled till the end of the year.

It has been suggested that many practices would profit from redeeming such vouchers (which cannot be used in conjunction with other offers) by simply displaying a sign on their window showing the mylocaloptician logo and Vouchers accepted. Here at PHN we think that such a device would help increase traffic to the education site and help direct interested members of the public to practices displaying the sign in their window.

Can we have some feed back please on our Opchat forum or to us personally at info@primaryhealthnet.com. We envisage a nominal printing and posting charge for around £10. What do you think? Over 8000 visits are received each month on mylocaloptician.

Staff at UltraVision raise funds for Charity!

Trinidad and Tobago has its Eye Care week ahead of UK

The conference, titled Eye Care Week, was held in the Sangre Grande Hospitals Ophthalmology Department and organised by Petra Bridgemohan, Principal Optometrist at the Hospital. The aim of the conference was to draw attention to conditions that affect the eye, such as diabetes and glaucoma, but the highlight of this event was Keratoconus – this is a poorly understood condition which seems to affect people in the Caribbean more than the US or Europe.
Lynn White MSC FCOptom, UltraVision’s Keratoconus Consultant gave 3 presentations.Trinidad Eye care ConferenceLynn talked about the use of soft contact lenses as an alternative treatment to GP lenses or spectacles. Keratoconic patients who are GP intolerant often have very poor vision in spectacles, leading to them only able to Count Fingers or see Hand Movements. Until now, the only option would have been a corneal graft, which many families could not afford. However, after being assessed with state of the art topography equipment, and fitted with KeraSoft®3, UltraVision’s Silicone Hydrogel contact lens for Keratoconus, these patients are now able to achieve good vision and comfort and crucially a much improved quality of life

An example of an interesting case was that of a 14 year old boy, who had previously been fitted with GP lenses but due to discomfort had to wear spectacles. For 6 months his vision was acceptable, however, after this time, the Keratoconus progressed so that spectacles were no longer effective and he struggled to see at school. He was delighted with the improvement in his vision when fitted with KeraSoft®3 lenses and is now forging ahead with his schoolwork. His father, who has been inspired to set up a Keratoconus self help group (www.tntkcg.org), was also delighted.


Optisoft updates University Clinic with latest version

Cardiff University has been using the Optisoft practice management system for some time which has helped them prepare optometry students to make the most usage out of a PM System. The new Optisoft enterprise edition provides Clinical and Dispensing modules plus a recall system ensuring that patients are recalled and retained within the clinic.Helen Morris at Cardiff Optometry Dept.
“We were pretty quick to get to know the new system, as it is largely self-explanatory and everyone has grasped it well,” said Practice Manager, Helen Morris.
“Everything is so very clear and we are very pleased to be able to print off the clinic forms, which is a big time saving. There are 12 of us using the system, which runs off five screens. We have more than 6,000 patients and their data was transferred straight across in moments,” she added.
The system is already installed at City, Ulster and Manchester Departments of Optometry.


GOC in search of excellence for top job and members


Recruitment for new GOC chair and members gets underway

A campaign to recruit a new lay chair of the General Optical Council (GOC) and 11 Council members has been launched today. The process is being independently managed by the Appointments Commission. This is the first time that all GOC Council members will be selected by an external body.

The move is in line with Government recommendations outlined in the White Paper on healthcare regulation, Trust, Assurance and Safety. The new Council will have an equal number of lay and professional members, and it is intended that the smaller Council will fulfil a more strategic, ‘board-like’ role. The newly-appointed lay chair will take up office in January 2009, followed by the further 11 lay and professional Council members in April 2009.

Dian Taylor, Acting Registrar and Chief Executive commented: “We are currently working through a period of significant reform. This will offer optometrists, dispensing opticians and lay candidates the opportunity to shape the future of optical regulation – and play an instrumental role in public protection.”
Jan Nottingham, who is coordinating the campaign at the Appointments Commission added: “It is crucial that the future GOC reflects the diversity of both the professions and the public it serves. For this reason, we are encouraging applications from a cross section of candidates who possess a mix of personal attributes, skills and experience.”

Successful candidates will have knowledge and experience of operating within a strategic role in the following: delivering governance in the public or private sector; financial work in a complex organisation; higher education and training in an optical or non-optical field; audit/risk management work in a complex organisation; specialist expertise of work relating to the GOC; and professional expertise relating to either optometry or dispensing optics.

The closing date for applications is 3 October 2008. Council members including the chair are appointed for an initial period not exceeding four years.
For an application pack visit the Appointments Commission website



Window of opportunity opens for one week from October 6th to inform public of eye care benefits during RNIBs Eye Health Week.

RNIB calls on profession to get involved

The campaign week aims to help people understand that even though their eyesight might be fine, their eyes aren't necessarily healthy. The message is simple: an eye test is a vital eye health check that could save your sight. Whilst encouraging people to give up smoking, protect their eyes in the sun and eat their greens to help keep their eyes healthy and happy. “The RNIB would love opticians and optometrists across the country to get involved and help spread the message," said Mark Fallon for the RNIB.

The campaign is a direct result of the UK Vision Strategy published on PHN in April 2008 and has the backing of the professional bodies and membership groups in Optics UK within the Eye Health Alliance. Heather Marshall (EHA) said; "this is an exciting initiative which is helping to drive home the message that eye health is important for all. We all have a part to play in challenging the public perception that an eye test only checks your vision."

The RNIB has produced posters and leaflets & stickers which they hope practices will order from them in time for the event. They can be ordered by phone, email or directly on line.
Links: 0845 702 3153or email cservices@rnib.org.uk. When ordering please quote the relevant product code (PR code).

- A1 poster (PR code 12213)
- A3 poster (PR code 12214)
- A4 poster (PR code 12215)
- A5 leaflets (which contain lifestyle and health advice on looking after your eyes) (PR code 12216P)
- Cardboard leaflet dispensers (hold 50 leaflets) (PR code 12217)
- Stickers (to be given out with leaflets) (PR code 12219)


LOC Support unit revamps its strategy to deliver more practical and tangible opportunities for LOCs and announces Tinger as Chairman

As the board led by their new Chairman Alan Tinger moves into its next strategic phase, it has developed a new corporate strategy in the hope that this will give the members of those signed up with the unit better access to opportunities to provide enhanced services.

LOCs will have to wait until after the NOC standing conference where the new plan will be launched on 20th November this year and rolled out thereafter.

Having abandoned the Regional Advisors Group after Georgina Gordon, Head of the Unit, had carried out a review, it was decided to select a few from the original team and add Messrs Warburton (to head the newly formed Enhanced Services Clinical Advisory Group), Broadhurst (who will chair the Operational Group rolling out the corporate strategy to LOCs) and Lyndon Taylor who will advise on IT. These will make up the newly named “Associates team” which will attempt to deliver more practical and tangible help to those LOCs who help finance the unit by way of the statutory levy from NHS sight tests in England and Wales. This follows consultation with LOCs which showed that they want more than the provision of training, advice and guidance on negotiating contracts for enhanced services with Primary Care Trusts (PCTs); and that they needed to have much of the basic work taken off their hands. The Associates team will provide support using their skills and experience wherever it is needed and not restricted by geography.

This will be achieved by the Unit incorporating a local company for each participating LOC to negotiate contracts for enhanced services with its local PCT. This will allow all accredited optometrists and practices in the LOC area to participate in the enhanced services contracts if they wish on an inclusive basis. It will also provide an easily recognisable entity for PCTs and commissioning groups to do business with rather than a diffusion of separate practices.

The Support Unit will provide full administrative support from a central web-based IT system including payments, quality control, data control, etc. It will also assist in local negotiations to the extent that individual LOCs require. In addition, the Unit plans to undertake or sponsor research into areas of interest to LOCs including producing hard evidence of the health, access and economic benefits to the NHS and its patients, of High Street optometrists and practices providing enhanced services” Georgina Gordon explained “We also want to help innovative LOCs explore other opportunities that are available to them in delivering primary care services. For example, smoking cessation, health promotion, falls prevention, anti-coagulation monitoring are just some of the areas that we will explore."

She continued “Commissioning is now an integral part of the NHS and its future policy. Practice-based commissioning groups in PCTs will increasingly focus on patient choice, effectiveness, value for money, local availability and cleanliness. Opticians are already able to demonstrate a track-record on these issues as well as the provision of easy access for patients and are well-placed to provide enhanced services over and above the sight test. The commissioning agenda provides a number of major opportunities for the sector. The work of the Support Unit is aimed squarely at helping our customers, LOC members, to exploit those opportunities. This process brings together a number of innovations that are already being developed around the country and drives them further on into a national model, delivered and managed locally and inclusively.”

In praise of the work the Optical Bodies, Alan Tinger the newly endorsed Chairman said, “The optical bodies have worked together in a cohesive manner for some time now on legislation, including the new GOS contract and the ongoing regulatory legislative change following the White Paper, “Trust Assurance & Safety” and in the political and lobbying sphere via the very effective Eye Health Alliance. For the first time the optical bodies, through the Support Unit, are working on practical projects to deliver more community-based service for patients, new money into the sector and making opportunities available on a totally inclusive basis. What the Support Unit has to offer via LOCs is something that all optometrists and practices can access, be they sole practitioners, small groups, part of major chains, franchisees, joint-venture partners, dispensing optician owned practices, etc. This is not big competing with small but something for everyone who wants it.”

He continued, “It is no longer talks about talks as many have (wrongly) perceived previous developments between the optical bodies. It is truly the sector working together to expand services, bring in new money and facilitate opportunities for those who wish to participate and above all providing what patients want – a genuine win-win all round.”

Read PHN Comment or discuss this story in our forums

 


CET CLAIMS FOR SCOTLAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND

To claim your CET monies for 2007 (Scotland) you now have until 30th September to send in your claim

The opportunity for claiming £447 towards your CET expenses is now available until 30th September for those registered in Scotland.

Please click below for the Claim forms and memoranda

Scottish CET Claim Form

Northern Ireland Claims

Claims form and memo now available below:

N Ireland Memo

N Ireland Claim Form

 

 
 
 
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