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Optical News - January - March 2014

Our aim is to provide a broad coverage of all events in Optics UK, including Clinical, Educational, Political, and Business News as well as International stories from around the world. Email your news to mail@primaryhealthnet.com. Primary Health Net aims to publish news within 48 hours of receiving information.

Don't forget to visit our New Product Briefing, and LOC Briefings for the latest in these areas.


New Asset at Performance Finance

Roger Pope Celebrates Second Royal Warrant

Technology in Action at Optrafair London

IACLE to Welcome New Fellows from Around the World

GOC Publishes Final Version of New Strategic Plan

Simon Hirst Joins OCUCO's Professional Service Team

Online Shopping Solution Will Provide Greater Longevity for Practices

Optrafair Unites Entire Optical Community

Local MP Calls on Constituents to Look After Eyes

Free Legal Advice Line Highlighted at Recent FMO Meeting

Winning Rodenstock Opticians Take in Sights of Salzburg

Moot Evening Proves Thought Provoking

Rodenstock UK Appoints New General Manager

10 Year Anniversary for Homeless Charity

Optometry Tomorrow a Great Success in York

New President Welcomed at Conference

10,000 Registrants Complete Peer Review

Sunglasses Sparkle at Optrafair London

LOCSU Welcomes NHS Chief's Call for Community Service Approach

BCLA Fellowship Deadline Extended

BCLA Announce New Two-day Package PLUS Free Delegate Places for BCLA 2014

Grafton on Busy Round of Shows and Conferences

Mark Truss Champions FMO as New Vice Chairman

OFNC Welcomes Voucher Increases

Last Call for Submissions for Vision UK 2014

LOCSU Reviews 100% and Looks Forward to Optrafair London

Specialist Lenses at Optrafair London

Student Prize for Homeless Vision Study

Disability Minister Visits Heidelberg UK

FMO to Meet in Midlands

Early Bird Discount for Vision UK Conference Ends Soon

College Launches Three New Higher Qualifications

Specsavers Confirmed by DVLA

Panel for Moot Evening Announced

Labs at Optrafair London

GOC Reveals Illegal Practice Approach

College Appoints Deputy Chief Exec

Manchester Invite for Vision Care for Homeless Opening

BCLA Invites Photo Competition Entries

Grafton Optical to Demonstrate New Diagnostic Technology at Revered Ophthalmology Forum

WCSM Moot Evening

DVLA Contract remains at “Standstill”

Waterside Labs Welcome New Show

GOC Seeks Input For Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Scheme

College Plans Extra Peer Discussion Sessions

Frames at Optrafair London

OCUCO Acquire Canadian Software Company

Silhouette Partners With Felder and Felder in London Fashion Week

MP Visit in Torquay

100% Optical Here to Stay

Heidelberg Academy Officially Opens in Herts

Topcon to Unveil 9 New Products at Optrafair London

BBC Journalist to Chair at Vision UK 2014

Plasma Contact Lenses Decrease Bacterial Infection Significantly

News From GOC Meeting

BCLA Mobile App Goes Live

DVLA Vision Testing Services Contract - further update and further extension

OCUCO Launches Training Programme With WCSM

Report on Eye Health and Sight Loss Stats for England

Sightcare One Day Conference

OCCS Leaders Lose Tender Bid

Optometrists Invited to Benenden Hospital Lectures

Career Moves Ahead at Optrafair London

DVLA Standstill Period Extended

OGS Reflect on Great Year in New Ad Campaign

Vision Care for Homeless People Reaches Out At Optrafair

Leading Specialists Drawn to Optrafair London

College of Optometrists Welcomes Applications for 2014 Research Funding

Specsavers Brings Eye Screening to the House

Optical Confederation Disappointment as DVLA Bid Goes to Specsavers

ASA Bans Eye Surgery Ad for Optegra

Record Numbers for Specsavers Charity Campaign in Morningside

IRB Confirms New Approach to Protective Goggles

LOCSU Consider Challenge to DVLA Tender Process

ORASIS Announce 100% Optical Attendance

Programme Announced for World's First Global Contact Lens Forum

Call for Posters and Oral Presentations for Vision UK 2014

Research Presents New Hope of Early Diagnosis of Diabetic Retinopathy

100% Optical 2014 Announce Complete Agenda for an Exciting Three Days in London

College Celebrates Research Excellence at Inaugural Lecture

Call on MEPs to Support Better Vision

FMO Attracts New Members to Networking Trade Body

Ultravision Inspires Next Generation of Innovators

BCLA Announces Spring Meetings Programme

New Website from Mainline Instruments

BCLA Conference and Exhibition

College Releases Further Workshop Places

Rodenstock Promotion Leads to Surge in Sales

WCSM Gives Second Opportunity to Discuss The Opticians Act

CW Dixey Eyewear at Linley Exhibition

Grafton Report Much Interest in Optovue iFusion OCT and Fundus Camera

LOCSU at 100% Optical and Optrafair London

Grafton to Exhibit at St Thomas' "Trends in Ophthalmology" Meeting

Fresh Eyes 2014

100% Optical Declare 8,000 Registrants and 13 New Brands

Petition for Cap on Optom Students

Consultation to Improve Regulation of Health and Social Care Providers

Pre-reg RGP Workshop Inspires and Educates

Eyewear Takes Centre Stage at Optrafair

LOCSU Responds to Times Letter

UK Vision Strategy Director to Retire

International Companies Invited to Join FMO

NOC Dates Announced for 2014

One Month to 100% Optical

US Patent Office Grants OCUCO Request

OCUCO Announce Andy Chance-Hill as eCommerce Director

Heidelberg Roadshows Awarded CET Points

OCUCO Set to Demonstrate New eCommerce Solution at Eyecare 3000

International Visitors Drawn to Optrafair London

Latest Products to be Unveiled at 100% Optical

College Releases Next Phase of Consultation

Manchester Marks New Vision Care for Homeless Centre

Registration Open for Vision UK 2014

GOC Retention Open for 2014/15

Grafton Show Off at Eyecare 3000

Eyecare 3000

Norville Opticians Help Out Over Xmas

OC Policy Expert to Move to Australia

All Major Lens Companies to be at Optrafair London

Crisis Service Reaches Out to Vulnerable in Capital

Heidelberg Technology Facilitates Macula Research

Visitors and Migrants to Pay for NHS Services

Regulatory Position on Fluorescein Strips

College Patient Leaflet Order Top 1 Million


New Asset at Performance Finance

March 2014

Performance Finance welcomes Chris Weera as their new Area Manager covering:-

East Midlands, including Nottinghamshire , Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire

East Anglia, including, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire

The South East including, East & West Sussex and Kent

And finally the Home Counties including, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire

A spokesman for Performance Finance after the recent announcement said ”We are delighted to announce Chris Weera has joined Performance Finance. Chris brings a wealth of knowledge and experience having worked for 13 years providing asset finance for professional practices.

Roger Pope Opticians celebrate Second Royal Warrant

March 2014

Dispensing Opticians, Roger Pope and Partners are delighted to announce that they have been awarded a Royal Warrant of Appointment for HRH The Prince of Wales.

“This is our second Royal Warrant, additional to one for Her Majesty The Queen, awarded in 2006,” said Grantee Roger Pope.

“We are very proud to have received this further accolade, as Royal Warrants of Appointment are a mark of recognition to people or companies who have supplied goods or services to the households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales, for a period of five years,” he added.

Roger Pope and Partners began their Marylebone business in 1987, moving to their present enlarged premises ten years later. From modest beginnings the business has grown considerably and now employs a staff of 20.

Today there are over 800 Royal Warrant holders representing virtually every aspect of trade and industry. The one thing they all have in common is a commitment to maintain the highest standards of quality and service.

Technology in Action at Optrafair London!

March 2014

For the first time the show moves to our country’s capital and brings a new and exciting attraction to UK and overseas optometrists. London, with all it has to offer in culture, history and entertainment promises is a fantastic location for Optrafair London. Read our latest page on Technology.

IACLE to welcome new Fellows from around the world

March 2014

More than 100 contact lens educators worldwide could soon be adding letters after their names having successfully completed the International Association of Contact Lens Educators’ latest Fellowship Exam.

Held every two years, IACLE’s Fellowship Exam took place in November 2013. Candidates with a successful outcome who have been IACLE members for 12 months or more can now apply to become Fellows of IACLE and use the affix FIACLE in recognition of their contact lens knowledge.

A total of 194 members from 28 countries sat the latest exam and just over half (53%) were successful. More than six in 10 candidates (62%) were from IACLE’s global priority countries.

The Asia Pacific region fielded the most candidates, with 142 in total, followed by Americas and Europe/Africa-Middle East. India was the country contributing the largest number, with 47 educators taking part, followed by China with 38 and Korea with 24.

A majority of candidates (135) were educator members, working full-time or part-time at a recognised teaching institution, and 59 were associate members, of whom 48 work in industry. Nine existing FIACLEs re-sat the exam to refresh and update their knowledge, and all were successful.

The global pass mark was set at 60% or higher. The highest mark of 83% was scored by Jian Qin (pictured) of Henan Eye Institute in Zhengzhou, China, who commented: ‘The exam covered all aspects of contact lenses and was a good test of our theoretical knowledge. And we could easily apply that knowledge in practice due to the case analysis element. I’d completed the IACLE distance learning program before taking the exam with the guidance of IACLE’s Shanghai office. It makes me more confident in contact lens teaching and fitting.’

IACLE’s Global Education Manager Lakshmi Shinde welcomed the increasing interest of educators in sitting the Fellowship exam, especially in the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions. ‘I take this opportunity to congratulate all educators who have succeeded in the exam. I’m sure they will add many more laurels to both themselves and IACLE in the future.’

The 2013 Fellowship Exam was the 9th administration. The next exam will be held in 2015.

GOC publishes final version of new strategic plan

March 2014

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today published the final version of its strategic plan for the next three years following a public consultation. The new strategic plan will come into force on 1 April.

The strategic plan commits the GOC to playing a more proactive role in promoting public health and safety through the standards it sets for optometrists, dispensing opticians and registered optical businesses. The regulator is also undertaking to deal with complaints more quickly and effectively and to raise public awareness of how the optical professions are regulated.

Samantha Peters, GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “The feedback we received from both the profession and the wider optical sector on our strategic plan was very positive.

“The final strategic plan gives us a clear set of priorities for the next three years, and I look forward to working with colleagues throughout the optical community and other stakeholders to further our aim of protecting and promoting public health and safety.”

The GOC has also published its business plan for 2014/15, which sets out its key priorities and activities for the forthcoming year. These include the regulator’s projects to review the standards registrants must meet and to tackle illegal practice.

PHN has saved both the strategic and business plans of the GOC in its business briefing pages and you can open both from there.

Simon Hirst joins Ocuco’s Professional Services Team

March 2014

Simon Hirst from Rayner & Keeler has joined Ocuco as a new member of its Professional Services team. Simon’s main role at Rayner’s Head Office was in Systems Management of Acuitas Enterprise Practice Management Software as well as Ocuco’s Logix Reporting Tool which were both implemented across all 138 stores since 2006.

“The Ocuco/Rayner partner relationship was very strong so I know the team well and am delighted to be now working with the Ocuco team. It’s a challenging but exciting time for the optics industry and it’s great to be here with industry leaders,” says Simon.

Simon joined Rayner over 18 years ago where he qualified as a Dispensing Optician with further specialisation in Low Vision. He headed up Rayner’s Low Vision Department, was a Product Manager, as well as the creator of a successful eCommerce website for the sale of Low Vision Aids.

“Simon brings amazing skill, experience and domain knowledge to our team. He has been great to work with over the years and he will be a great asset to our Professional Services Department.” says Leo MacCanna, Ocuco Group CEO.

Online Shopping Solution will provide greater longevity for practices in the future

March 2014

Bob Hutchinson takes a look at the trending facility of online optical sales, the opportunities that this could bring to Independent Practices and the threats that will put them under pressure if the new and fast rising internet experience is not adopted by them. He reviews the turnkey solution provided by OptiCommerce shown at a recent exhibition and also to be demonstrated at Optrafair London, next month.

Ocuco, the largest provider of IT solutions for optical practices worldwide having partnered with OptiCommerce and have now designed and built a comprehensive e-commerce solution that can be adopted quickly and efficiently by any independent optician.

Read our latest business review on our briefing pages.

Optrafair London unites entire optical community

March 2014

“There will be more learning and science within the Olympia Halls of Optrafair London than optics has ever seen in the UK at one time before,” said Show Chairman, Malcolm Polley.

Optrafair - the flagship UK optical show staged by the industry for the profession – will offer the most tantalising showcase of all that is new in optics when the doors open to a packed Grand Hall at Olympia in West London.

Running from 11-13 April, the free to attend Optrafair London will unite the entire optical community with suppliers from every aspect of optics. Association leaders from ABDO, The GOC, The College of Optometrists, The BCLA, FODO and of course, the show owners, The FMO, unite under the umbrella of The Optical Confederation, and will be on hand to discuss the future direction of the profession.

The elegant, grand hall of Olympia National, bathed in natural light from the arched glass ceilings, will bring together some 150 exhibitors and well in excess of 500 brands. Some 14 international companies represent suppliers from China, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands and USA. It is the perfect opportunity to seek out new suppliers and cement relationships with old friends.

Alongside the wonderful showcase of striking frames and high fashion sunglasses; innovative lenses; practice building contact lens modalities; space-age diagnostic technology; cutting edge lab equipment and the most advanced IT systems from around the world, will be experts to advise on finance, practice management and training.

Education and up-skilling support staff and lab technicians are high on the agenda, with many of the lectures booking up fast. For the profession there is an inspiring CET programme embracing 18 hours of lectures, four Show and Tell Workshops each day, and daily Peer Discussion sessions. The easy to follow CET poster trail, sponsored by Topcon, is a great way to take in all aspects of the show.

“The excitement in London for this, the Marathon weekend, is already spreading to the show with a host of sports eyewear providers catching the mood of the athletes – sports eyewear and opportunities for additional dispensing and getting people into contact lenses for the first time - are enormous. Certainly Optrafair is the time to come and seek out the experts. We will have the breadth and depth of optics here and no one should deny their patients these new innovations,” said Optrafair Chairman, Malcolm Polley.

For those looking to make the most of a trip to the Capital, with concerts, theatre and shopping Jigsaw Hotels are on hand to offer a range of overnight accommodation priced to suit all pockets – more details on www.optrafair-london.co.uk

And make sure to reserve your space at the free to attend CET events – places are booking up fast!

Local MP calls on constituents to look after their eyesight by having regular eye tests

March 2014

Local MP for North Tyneside, Mary Glindon MP, visited J A Hicks Optometrist in North Shields on Friday 14th March 2014 to find out why regular eye tests are so important in preventing blindness.

Read more about her visit on the Optical Confederation pages.

Free Legal Advice line highlighted at recent FMO Meeting

March 2014

The FMO’s spring meeting in Birmingham brought together the full spectrum of manufacturing optics as small domestic businesses networked with representatives from large multinationals. Chairman, Barry Dibble, highlighted the importance of good communication and engendering strong working relationships to protect the interests of the industry.

He urged members to ensure that The FMO looks to the future and becomes “even more inclusive attracting companies that are currently sitting on the edge of optics”.

The up-turn in the economy, although patchy, was positive news for the manufacturing sector, supported by the recent Budget rise in Capital Allowances to £500,000, the FMO finance company members reported.

Optrafair

Top of the agenda was an impressive report on Optrafair London and the totally all-encompassing nature of next month’s Olympia show – with all exhibition space now sold, all sponsorship opportunities seized upon, and visitor pre-registration climbing each day. Tim Porter, Sales Director of Reed Business Exhibitions, the FMO’s show partner, briefed the 68 delegates, many of whom are exhibitors, on the visitor marketing drive. He emphasised the fact that stands had been taken with all exhibitors paying consistent pricing for their floor space.

“We believe this is the ethical way to run a show, and our exhibitors appreciate this. We have attracted over 500 brands and more than 150 exhibitors. Already four Peer Review sessions and three CET workshops are fully booked during the three days of the event,” he said.

The excellent accessibility of Olympia; education and feature areas, including Window Dressing; The Fashion Quarter; London Lounge; and Ask the Expert forum were all highlighted. The importance of bringing the Optical Confederation together under one roof, and making the members accessible for discussion was an essential element of the show, he said. Marketing has targeted optical professionals both in the UK and abroad, delegates were told, and that London as a destination had been highlighted to all.

“We have attracted a number of international journalists and are certainly looking at a higher number of overseas visitors to the show than we generally see in Birmingham,” he said, quoting the pre-registration figures.

Moving forward, The FMO confirmed that Optrafair would return to Birmingham next year and would then be held in London again in 2016.

Free Legal Advice

The FMO’s free legal advice helpline was promoted as a key benefit for members, by Janet Pressley, the FMO Account Manager of the provider, Capita.
Operating 24/7, at weekends and even on Christmas Day, the confidential service allows callers to check their legal position for private and commercial disputes, as Janet explained –

“With a team of more than 40 solicitors, barristers, HR consultants and Health and Safety advisers, we provide free access to clear, practical, high quality legal advice. We are ISO 9001 Accredited and handle some 300,000 calls a year from a range of industries. Our callers find it to be very empowering to understand their legal position before committing to a course of action. Six of our barristers regularly sit on tribunals so are very up to date.”

Advice given may include issues relating to employment contracts; settlement agreements; contractual and consumer queries; intellectual property and artwork; trademarking; property/ landlord and tenant law, motoring; debt; and help with letter drafting. Personal issues are also covered by the scheme, including issues relating to divorce.

“Our advisers, based in Hinckley, generally work in teams of six and will research specific questions as and when they arise, calling back with advice when needed. The average length of a call is 20 minutes, but it may well take longer than that. We encourage callers to call again and to speak to the same adviser for continuity,” added Janet.

Following the networking lunch delegates broke into the Frame, Lens and Equipment sector focus groups to discuss their own sector’s opportunities and challenges, plus business benchmarking, and changes to the Consumer Credit Licence.

Winning Rodenstock Opticians Take in the Sights of Salzburg

March 2014

Opticians and guests from the winning practices in the Rodenstock Club Awards enjoyed a long weekend of fine food, spectacular sights and fun in the snow during a trip to Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart.
During the trip, 21 opticians and guests spent time in the beautiful baroque city, staying in a boutique hotel overlooking the river and fortress.

In addition to a fascinating tour of the city, the party also enjoyed a three-course dinner in the candlelit Baroquehall, prepared according to recipes of that period, listening to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed by the Amadeus Consort Ensemble.

Fun was had by all during a visit to the winter sports resort of Flachau in the Austrian Alps, where they tried their hand at Alpine triathlon, giant ski-ing, snow-bike racing and laser biathlon.

Rodenstock Lens Product Manager Debbie Bathgate says: “From the cultured surroundings of the beautiful city of Salzburg to having fun in the snow in the Austrian Alps, we were delighted to host some of our most loyal customers, who have worked so hard to win these prestigious awards.”

The winning practices were presented with their prizes at a luncheon and awards ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane last December.

March 2014

"Moot" derives from "gemôt," an Old English name for a judicial court. Originally, "moot" named either the court itself or an argument that might be debated by one.

The second definition is the very purpose of the Spectacle Makers Moot evenings where open discussion from the panel and from the audience prompts a line of questioning on the given subject.

Last week’s Moot question was “What’s Next for Optics” which brought out discussion on the way future automation will change Optics. And how it is already eliminating the need for an optometrist to perform a refraction and also how a dispensing optician or any one else for that matter can make any of the measurements to effect a good dispensing.

They did, of course, talk about the role of the optometrist in clinical assessments that cannot be 'delegated' to a machine.

There was discussion on the opportunities and the need for optometrists and dispensing opticians to extend their scope of practice, and of the problems that come from the business model that many suggest was arguably inflicted on us by the NHS, in which a fee for professional service needs to be supplemented for most practitioners by charging more for devices than on-line, supply only sellers need to do.

There was even a point made about asking the NHS to abandon GOS so that the business model could be sensibly changed. There was a lot of audience participation following a lively panel’s response to the subject.

The event ended with wine and canapés kindly provided by ABDO who were sponsors for the evening. Moot evenings are all about socialising with colleagues and friends drawn from a wide spectrum of those involved in Optics and it is also a good opportunity to experience the companionship of joining those in the Spectacle Company and Livery.

There are more Moots and Moot questions to follow during the year.

March 2014

Rodenstock UK has announced that Niels Jensen will take over the position of General Manager Rodenstock UK on 1 May 2014, following roles as General Manager of Rodenstock in Canada, and more recently General Manager of Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

Having been with the company for 16 years, Mr Jensen has not only very varied experience in the optical industry, but has been able to achieve considerable success in the Nordic region, which as well as being another price sensitive market, also exhibits other similarities to the UK optical market.

Ahead of his new responsibilities as General Manager of Rodenstock UK, Mr Jensen will attend Optrafair at London Olympia together with Dietmar Rathbauer who, following his successful extended contract in the UK, will move on to another role within the Rodenstock Group.

10 Year Anniversary for Homeless Charity at Optrafair!

March 2014

Optrafair London is a great time to join with Vision Care for Homeless People in celebrating the tenth anniversary of the charity.

“We are delighted to have been given a free space at the show and the opportunity that this brings for us to catch up with all of our loyal volunteers and fundraisers. Together we have helped thousands of people to a better vision and, for some, the first step in turning their lives around,” said Chair, Elaine Styles.
“Do come and see us at the Olympia show, which runs from 11-13 April, and find out how you can get involved – we now have centres in Birmingham, Brighton, London and Manchester.”

Optometry Tomorrow 2014 a great success in York

March 2014

The College of Optometrists welcomed 700 delegates to Yorkshire on 16 and 17 March for its annual conference and AGM, held at York Racecourse. It was the 10th anniversary of Optometry Tomorrow and proved to be the most successful conference the College has ever hosted.

Delegates attended over 50 lectures, seminars and workshops spanning a wide range of topics. The extensive two-day programme, which offered a total of 145 interactive CET points, saw optometrists discussing hot topics such as the results and recommendations of the AREDS2 study, providing eye care to patients with Down’s syndrome, management of angle closure glaucoma, improving eye health in deprived areas and ocular allergy.

There were more clinical and discussion workshops than ever before and a specialist therapeutics stream. Also new this year was a range of member-only peer discussion sessions, considering topical case studies based on real practice.

We also introduced a commissioning question and answer session with Dr David Geddes, Head of Primary Care Commissioning, NHS England and Dr Charles Alessi, Chairman, National Association of Primary care, which inspired lively debate with the audience. As part of this Dr Geddes outlined ambitious plans for a great role for optometrists in the future NHS.

The keynote lecture was delivered by Professor Gartry from Moorfields Eye Hospital, a specialist in corneal, cataract and laser refractive procedures. In his lecture he explained the principles of femtosecond lasers and their applications in eye surgery – this type of surgery is an exciting new development and undoubtedly the next big step forward in this field.

Running alongside Optometry Tomorrow was Fresh Eyes – a conference designed by the College and the Association of Optometrists for newly-qualified optometrists. This event, aimed at helping optometrists in the early stages of their career, offered a programme of expert presentations, hands-on and interactive sessions and demonstrated some of the latest optometric technology. Topics included communication in optometry, contact lenses, social media and legal pitfalls.

The highlight of the social programme was the gala dinner in the spectacular setting of York Railway Museum. Guests dined amongst the locomotives and carriages, danced to the swing band and tried out some of the many vintage street-party style games and activities.

Ian Humphreys, Deputy Chief Executive of the College of Optometrists said “We’re delighted with the feedback from delegates at this year’s conference at York Racecourse. One of the main aims of the conference is to provide a range of professional development opportunities as well an opportunity for debate, networking and exploring the latest techniques and research. This year’s conference programme demonstrates the role of the College in bringing together everything we do to support members. We’ve had fantastic feedback from so many of our delegates, including our newly-qualified optometrists and I hope everyone who came to York left feeling inspired and positive about the future of optometry.”

The conference also featured a trade exhibition with over 28 exhibitors and sponsors Johnson and Johnson Vision Care, Spectrum Théa, Carl Zeiss, Alcon, Eye Care UK, Essilor, Heidelberg Engineering and The EyeBag Company.

March 2014

David Parkins took over from Dr Kamlesh Chauhan as President of the College of Optometrists at the Annual General Meeting on Monday 17 March 2014, as part of Optometry Tomorrow 2014.

As outgoing President, Dr Chauhan said “I have thoroughly enjoyed my term as President and having worked with David over the past two years, I am delighted he will be taking over the reins. His extensive experience, especially in both commissioning and research, will prove extremely valuable in helping the College to continue to work with commissioners to improve eye care services across the country and strengthening the role of optometry”.

David Parkins said “The College has achieved so much in the last two years under Kamlesh’s presidency, particularly forming strong partnerships such as the Clinical Council, for Eye Health Commissioning and establishing the Sight Loss and Vision Priority Setting Partnership. I am proud to be taking over from him and I look forward to working closely with the Council, Board, Chief Executive and the senior management team as we head into our new three year strategy”.
David works two days a week as Assistant Director of Quality for the NHS Bexley Clinical Commissioning Group, responsible for the assurance of clinical quality and effectiveness of its commissioned services. He also works as an optometrist both in practice and in hospital and is currently working towards a professional doctorate. His research work provided the evidence for the effectiveness of ‘repeat measures’ and now a NICE proven case study.

Also at the meeting, Dr Mary-Ann Sherratt was appointed Vice President.

10,000 registrants complete peer review

March 2014

The General Optical Council (GOC) has revealed that over 10,000 registrants have now undertaken peer review as part of their Continued Education and Training (CET). The figures mean that over two thirds of registrants who must take part in at least one peer review activity by the end of 2015 have done so. Peer review is a compulsory part of the GOC’s CET scheme for optometrists and contact lens opticians.

Linda Ford, Head of Education and Standards, said: “Peer review is a valuable way for registrants to keep their skills and knowledge up to date by learning from each other’s experience and sharing best practice. “We are very pleased that a year on from the launch of our enhanced CET scheme so many registrants have already participated. In particular we are pleased to see that CET providers and individuals have organised enough activities to enable so many registrants to take part in peer review well before the end of the cycle.”

“Optometrists and contact lens opticians only have to do a minimum of one peer review activity per CET cycle. However, it is really good to see that many registrants have enjoyed their first experience of peer review and have chosen to attend more than one session.”

The GOC introduced the requirement following research that identified risks arising from registrants working and undertaking CET in professional isolation. Other changes introduced as part of the new CET scheme include a requirement to gain at least six CET points for each year of the cycle and at least 50 per cent of points must be by interactive learning methods.

Sunglasses sparkle in frame bonanza at Optrafair London

March 2014

Designer label sunnies, glare protection for sport, shades for driving, full wraps for little tots – all will be on offer at Optrafair London from the broadest choice of international suppliers.

Alongside the sun wear choices will be plenty of ophthalmic designs for every pocket, every face shape and tricky bridge imaginable. Visit our pre view pages and read more about who’s showing sunglasses at Optrafair

LOCSU welcomes NHS chief’s call for community-service approach

March 2014

LOCSU has welcomed a call by outgoing NHS boss, Sir David Nicholson, for community-based services to be at the epicentre of future health provision. The NHS Chief Executive warned that a community-based approach was needed if the NHS is to meet the challenges of the future.

Speaking in an exclusive interview to The Guardian recently, Sir David said that: “a large proportion of hospital care should be delivered in community settings if the NHS is to cope with the pressures posed by the ageing population, rise in the number of patients with one or more long-term conditions such as asthma or diabetes, and demand for new treatments.”

He acknowledged that more preventive work in the community reduces demand on hospitals and that concentrating specialised services leads to better outcomes for patients. LOCSU has welcomed Sir David’s call for a “change fund” to allow the NHS to run existing hospitals while new services in the community were created and built up with the intention of providing a large amount of care.

Responding to the health chief’s warning, LOCSU Managing Director, Katrina Venerus, said: “There is a real urgency for fundamental change in how eye health services are delivered and now is the time for CCGs to embrace community-based pathways and put eye health care on a sustainable basis for the future; making it more convenient and accessible for patients and more cost-effective for commissioners.

We know that despite the fact that research shows that nearly four out of five people attending eye casualty have conditions that can be deemed ’non serious’, just over 10% of CCGs have commissioned community-based minor eye condition services.

“Similarly, only a minority of CCG areas have a community service in place for monitoring hypertension or delivering post-operative cataract care. Innovation funding to support the development of community services would enable CCGs to succeed in reducing what Sir David referred to as its ‘outmoded reliance on hospital based care’.”

BCLA Fellowship deadline extended

March 2014

Members of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) now have until 14 April 2014 to submit their applications for BCLA Fellowship.
Since the scheme was launched in 2006, 165 members of the global contact lens community have become BCLA Fellows following viva voce assessment at the BCLA Clinical Conference and Exhibition – this year being held from 6-9 June at the ICC Birmingham (official hashtag #BCLA2014).

The Fellowship scheme is open to full BCLA members of all disciplines – including those working within industry – and allows successful candidates to use the affix FBCLA. Professor James Wolffsohn, BCLA Fellowship Consultant, said: “The BCLA Fellowship scheme allows members of the contact lens community at home and abroad the chance to demonstrate high esteem in the field of contact lenses and the anterior eye.

It demonstrates to both patients and peers that they have taken their commitment to the field one step further. We look forward to welcoming a new cohort of BCLA Fellows in Birmingham this June.”

BCLA President, Andy Yorke, will present the new BCLA Fellows with their certificates during the Gala and Awards Dinner – taking place at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, on the evening of Saturday 7 June.

Themed ‘Strictly Contact Lenses’, the evening will also reveal the winner of the inaugural BCLA Industry Award. Coaches will take delegates to the venue from 6pm for drinks at 7.30pm followed by dinner at 8pm and entertainment. Tickets priced £80 per person must be purchased separately, and table places booked in advance via the BCLA website.

Grafton on busy round of shows and conferences this year

March 2014

Hot on the heels of the Sight Care day for Opticians and the Midland Ophthalmological Society day for Ophthalmologists, Grafton’s technical team will be on the road again.

Grafton will be exhibiting at this years Optometry Tomorrow exhibition being held at York Racecourse. David Thickens and Barry Price will be on hand to help with any equipment needs you may have and look forward to meeting you at the annual conference.

On display at STAND NUMBER 24 will be iVue OCT, iFusion OCT + Fundus Camera combined, portable slit lamps, pachymeter and a wide range of optometry equipment.

Sunday, 16 March, 2014 - Monday, 17 March, 2014. 8:00 AM - 5:30 PM

They will be following this adventure with a series of roadshows provided by J & J which we hope to tell you more about shortly.

March 2014

Mark Truss, elected Vice-Chairman of The FMO this week, now supports Chairman Barry Dibble in leading the UK manufacturing body to new heights.

“I consider it to be a great honour and aim to contribute much. The FMO is to be celebrated for drawing all spheres of optics together as demonstrated by recent leaders. Former Chairman John Conway knew the lens sector extraordinary well, Barry the lab sector and my knowledge of frames and sunglasses brings a complete cross section,” he said.

As Sales Director for The Norville Group, Mark has a thorough understanding of the market, plus the threats and opportunities to increase business.

Barry is delighted that Mark – already an FMO Board Member and Chairman of the Frame Focus Group – has been appointed to the new role:

“Having worked with Mark on the Board for over two years I’ve got to know him well and greatly respect his professionalism and integrity. I firmly believe him to be the natural choice to succeed me at the end of my second term in December 2015,” said Barry.

Sharing industry knowledge and being at the forefront of change within the UK optical market are key benefits of being actively involved with the trade body, which is looking to bring more suppliers – large and small – into the group, for the benefit of all:

“The open exchange that The FMO facilitates is highly valuable. It also gives assurances of quality in business and services. We offer the chance to share market experiences, both good and bad, and to network. The FMO’s benefits package is substantial with preferential rates for Optrafair, the leading UK optical show; a direct legal advice line; the opportunity to influence industry standards; and to capitalise on industry benchmarks, and statistics,” said Mark.

“The huge advantage of a proactive trade association is that it gives us all a broader perspective of the optical market,” he added.

BCLA announce New two-day package PLUS free delegate places for #BCLA2014

March 2014

The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) is offering delegates a number of ways to reduce their registration costs for the 38th BCLA Clinical Conference and Exhibition, being held at the ICC Birmingham from 6-9 June (official hashtag #BCLA2014).

A fantastic new two-day value package, covering Sunday 8 June and Monday 9 June, has been designed with the busy independent practitioner in mind. It offers those who find it difficult to take a Friday and/or Saturday out of practice the chance to enjoy two days of world-class clinical and business education – and enjoy a saving of £50 when compared to booking the two days separately.

Those who book before the early bird deadline of Friday 28 March will enjoy even greater savings on the two-day package, which includes entry to all CET sessions*, the exhibition, Exhibitors’ Pavilion and Sunday night’s brand new ‘Unceremonious Event’ – a free and informal networking evening with drinks and a ‘Best of British’ buffet.

There is even the chance to enjoy two free days at the conference, since all full BCLA members who have not attended a BCLA Clinical Conference since 2010 can apply for one of 100 free delegate places courtesy of this year’s exhibitors. This package also covers the Sunday and Monday, overnight accommodation on Sunday night, and entry to Sunday’s ‘Unceremonious Event’. Visit www.bcla.org.uk to book and/or apply.

Highlights of Sunday’s programme include: a business session led by Ross Grant covering topics such as patient communication, marketing and money management; therapeutics and contact lens peer review; Professor Bruce Evans’ keynote address on paediatric contact lens practice; and a new ‘On the sofa’ session with Professors Phil Morgan and Lyndon Jones.

Meanwhile, Monday will see the conference’s first-ever ‘live surgery’ event with Professor Sunil Shah undertaking a standard modern day phacoemulsification procedure with implantation of an intraocular lens, followed by a Lensar femtosecond laser cataract procedure with a premium lens implant. The procedures will be transmitted ‘live’ to the ICC and Professor Shah will then return to the auditorium to join in the discussion.

Monday will also provide CET workshops, a specialty lens spotlight with Professor Patrick Caroline and Martin Conway, and Professor Phil Morgan’s BCLA Medal Address, ‘Changing the world with contact lenses’, which will close the conference.

“With such an amazing line-up of sessions and speakers for both the Sunday and Monday, our new two-day value package really is a superb opportunity for busy High Street practitioners to benefit from some of the best clinical and business education available in the contact lens field today,” said BCLA President, Andy Yorke.

Those who can also attend on the Friday and/or Saturday 6 and 7 June will experience much, much more ¬¬– including the second BCLA/Vision Expo Global Contact Lens Forum, the latest update from the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society, Grand Rounds, Dr Heiko Pult’s Irving Fatt Memorial Lecture, and other keynotes presentations.

If booked before the 28 March, the new two-day package rate is just £280 for full members, and £400 for non-members. From 29 March, the respective rates are £320 and £460 (early bird rates apply for all delegate packages booked before 28 March).

The latest programme can be found at www.bcla.org.uk/events along with registration details. Full details of the conference can also be found on the BCLA app, available to download from Google Play or iTunes.

* Offer excludes CET workshops, which must be booked separately.

OFNC welcomes voucher increases

March 2014

The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) has been told of the proposed increases in optical voucher values in England, Wales and Scotland from 1 April 2014, while awaiting confirmation of the increase in Northern Ireland.

OFNC secretary, Richard Carswell, said: “The two per cent increase offered by the government is welcome. It does not however compensate providers for the rises in the cost of spectacles which they will have to fund whilst striving to offer a range of high quality frames and lenses to meet all prescriptions. The OFNC had asked for a reasonable increase of 3.5%. Clearly The Treasury felt unable to oblige. However the long-term undermining of voucher values for NHS patients can only be detrimental to those patients at high risk or on low incomes who require vision correction as this may deter them from seeking care.”

The OFNC comprises the British Medical Association (BMA) and the following representatives of the Optical Confederation: the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO), the Association of Optometrists (AOP) and the Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians (FODO).

PHN will publish the new values as soon as made public and retain the information for continued usage.

Last call for posters and oral presentation submissions for Vision UK 2014

March 2014

There is less than a week left to submit abstracts for posters and oral presentations for this year’s Vision UK conference. The deadline for submission is Thursday 20 March at 5pm.

Vision UK 2014, taking place on 12 June 2014 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, is the leading conference for the eye health and sight loss sector. The conference is now in its sixth year.

Conference organisers are looking for submissions of posters and oral presentations which showcase an example of a piece of work or a project that demonstrates effective implementation of the UK Vision Strategy.

New to the Vision UK conference this year is the opportunity to submit an abstract for an oral presentation. In addition, the conference will also feature a poster session, which follows the same format as previous years. Posters will be displayed for delegates to view throughout the conference and awards for the best poster in each category will be presented on the day.

Anita Lightstone, UK Vision Strategy Programme Director and VISION 2020 UK Chief Operations Officer said: “I encourage everyone working to put the Strategy into action to send in their abstracts. By taking part in poster and oral presentations will you have the opportunity to profile your work to sector leaders and inspire delegates about they too can make the UK Vision Strategy a reality”.

LOCSU reviews 100% show and looks forward to Optrafair London

March 2014

Members of the LOCSU team answered questions from clinicians and practice owners at the 100% Optical trade fair at London’s ExCel centre attended by nearly 5,500 visitors last month.

Discussion topics included commissioning and the LOC Company Model. And LOCSU will be attending Optrafair from 11th -13th April 2014 held at Olympia National in London.
If you would like to book a specific time to speak to someone about commissioning or any other local issues, please email info@locsu.co.uk with details of when you are available.

Specialist lenses offer dispensing success at Optrafair London

March 2014

If you think it is time for a new lens supplier for your practice, or you’d like to know more about available offers, then make a date to visit Optrafair London 11-13 April, where all of the major international lens companies will be exhibiting.

Click here to read about the lens suppliers that will be at the show and much more on our preview pages for Optrafair London.

Student prize awarded for homeless vision study

March 2014

Laura Keywood, a City University pre-registration optometrist working at Moorfields Eye Hospital, has been awarded a coveted Naylor Prize for her research with the homeless.

Her final year project entitled ‘Causes and prevalence of preventable visual impairment and eye disease in homeless people in East London’, used information provided by Vision Care for Homeless People. With several centres in the Capital and other around the country, Laura took her data from visitors to the clinic in Whitechapel, which operates as part of the Crisis Centre. This project was supervised by Dr. Penny D’Ath, at City University.

Elaine Styles, Chair of the charity praised Laura’s work and the fact that it has highlighted the severity of people functioning with seriously impaired vision in one of the wealthiest cities of the world -

“The Naylor Prize was set up in memory of the late Dr John Naylor at Manchester and it solicits applications from all UK optometry schools so it is a great achievement for Laura to have won one of these highly sought after awards. We hope the awareness created will encourage more within the world of optics to support our very worthwhile charity – volunteers and fundraisers are always needed,” said Elaine.

Disability Minister visits Heidelberg UK to see advanced eye screening technology

March 2014

Pugilist and keen rugby-player, Mike Penning MP, related years of tough exercise and reported perfect vision other than the recent need for reading glasses, when he called into his constituency company, Heidelberg Engineering.

The Hemel Hempstead MP, a former fireman and Grenadier Guard, welcomed the UK supplier of advanced scanning technology to the town. After a tour of the head office, and training centre for glaucoma detection and management, he took the opportunity to have his eyes scanned on the SPECTRALIS high definition OCT. He was interested to learn more about the technology which is widely used by ophthalmologists, and growing in popularity amongst High Street optometrists, to aid the identification of the very first signs of eye disease.

“As Mike is Minister for Disability, it was a great opportunity to discuss the effects of vision loss and the tremendous opportunities to reduce the cost of care needed through early detection and treatment,” said Heidelberg UK Director, Krysten Williams.

FMO to meet in Midlands to focus on Optrafair London

March 2014

Maximising the upturn in the economy, plus a major focus on Optrafair London are the main themes of The FMO’s spring regional meeting, is to be held at The NEC, Birmingham on Thursday 20 March.

An opportunity to meet colleagues and competitors, it is also a chance to learn more about Optrafair London, and to quiz the organisers on last minute details.
Keen to encourage all aspects of the industry and profession to work more closely together, The FMO believes the easy to reach Midlands venue provides an excellent location for the majority of members.

Following a networking lunch FMO delegates will divide into their sector specific focus groups for Frames, Lenses and Technology.

Early bird discount for Vision UK 2014 conference ends soon

March 2014

There is less than a month left to take advantage of the early bird rates for the Vision UK 2014 conference, with early bird booking set to close on Friday 4 April.

Vision UK 2014, taking place on 12 June 2014 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, is the leading conference for the eye health and sight loss sector. The conference is now in its sixth year.

A number of speakers have been confirmed for the conference and include NHS England's Head of Primary Care Commissioning, Dr David Geddes, Sir Muir Gray, Chief Knowledge Officer to the National Health Service and Caroline MacEwen, the incoming President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

Anita Lightstone, UK Vision Strategy Programme Director and VISION 2020 UK Chief Operations Officer said: "Vision UK 2014 is about 'putting the Strategy into action' both locally and nationally and working together to make a difference. Make sure you book your early bird place now!"

College launches three new Higher Qualifications - in Contact Lens Practice and Medical Retina

March 2014

The College of Optometrists has added two new qualifications in Contact Lens Practice – the Professional Higher Certificate and the Professional Diploma – plus the Professional Certificate in Medical Retina to its growing suite of higher level eye care qualifications. These are now ready for universities and training providers, including hospitals, to offer alongside their existing eye health qualifications.

The College’s new higher qualifications have been designed to fit with life in a busy practice or hospital department, and are ideal for individual career progression and for practices offering extended services. The qualifications in Contact Lens Practice cover subjects including assessing and managing contact lens complications on the anterior eye and provision of complex contact lenses for refractive management, ocular surface abnormalities and disease. The qualification in Medical Retina recognises community and hospital based optometrists’ developing knowledge of common medical retina conditions and includes topics covering screening, referral and treatment pathways, with an emphasis on optical coherence tomography (OCT) interpretation and diabetic retinopathy grading.

Jackie Martin, Director of Education at the College said: “Optometrists and practice managers want specialist skills and the highest standards of professionalism. Our new higher qualifications are popular because they meet a growing demand for flexible, progressive qualifications that serve the changing needs of the modern practice or clinic.

“Universities and training providers offering the Contact Lens Practice or Medical Retina qualifications will be able to use the new, future-proofed learning outcomes to tailor existing Masters modules or create new programmes, which the College will accredit. The courses can be offered in partnership with other providers, including hospitals, enabling providers to reach a wider potential market.”

The College can now accept submissions to offer these three new qualifications, and any interested providers can find more information and download an application form at www.college-optometrists.org/HQ. The qualifications join the growing range of College higher qualifications, including glaucoma and low vision, and should be available to candidates later in the year.

March 2014

Following the end of the “standstill” period at midnight last night without further extension, LOCSU has this morning been informed by DVLA that the “contract has now been awarded to Specsavers Optical Superstores Ltd.”

LOCSU have not been advised of the date of commencement of the new contract or what the transitional arrangements will be for current contract holders. They will they say publish any further information they receive to assist current contract holders.

Alan Tinger, LOCSU Chairman said: “I have previously stated that the DVLA has reached a regrettable and destabilising conclusion for the UK Optical sector and that view is only strengthened by the support LOCSU received from within the sector to explore every possible rationale to mount a legal challenge within the “standstill” period. Unfortunately, the legal advice we received made it clear that such challenge would have been fruitless. I have expressed in no uncertain terms to DVLA the concerns of the sector to the outcome and I await their response, which they have said would follow after the end of the “standstill” period."

WCSM declares panel for Key Moot Evening on 13th March at AOP offices

March 2014

Don Grocott announced today that Bob Chappell OBE is to join his fellow members, Ian Davies, Dean Butler and Peter Black on the “Any Questions” panel that he (Don) will be chairing.

The 6.00pm start allows a little time for a glass of wine before the panel expresses its views on the future of The Opticians Act, regulation in general and takes a glimpse at what might happen to Optics in the future.

This is an opportunity not to be missed to have your say on the Strengths and Weaknesses and Opportunities and Threats that could affect your way of working and the eye health of a Nation.

It’s free, the evening being sponsored by ABDO. So just register your interest with the Clerk of the Spectacle Makers and join a lively debate.

Optrafair is time to drill down on lab work

March 2014

Thinking of taking some of your prescription work in-house, or perhaps time to upgrade existing lab equipment? There is no better opportunity to find out what is on offer by visiting Optrafair London: Olympia 11-13 April. Many exhibitors at the show are eager to convey the message that new, highly automated, technology with algorithms for modern lens options mean that lab skills may not be as challenging as in the past. Click here to read about those exhibiting and what you can see at Optrafair London.

GOC reveals proposed approach to tackling illegal practice

March 2014

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today launched a consultation on its approach to tackling illegal practice. The strategy covers all types of illegal practice prohibited by the Opticians Act 1989, from misrepresentation of title to online contact lens sales that do not comply with UK law.

The regulator is proposing to take a more creative and proactive approach to reducing public harm through measures such as raising awareness among contact lens wearers of the importance of regular check-ups and following aftercare advice, promoting a voluntary code of practice for online contact lens suppliers and extending its collaboration with other bodies with a role in enforcement and promoting public health.
Other proposed measures include producing new consumer guidance and continuing to handle cases in line with the GOC's prosecution protocol.

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Policy and Communications, said: "We face significant challenges in stopping certain types of illegal practice such as the supply of contact lenses via overseas websites that do not comply with UK law. That is why we are proposing to take a more creative and proactive approach.

"It will be vital for all interested parties to work together to effectively tackle these issues, so I look forward to hearing our stakeholders' views on the proposed strategy and how we can collaborate to take it forward."
The strategy has been informed by independent research commissioned last year into the risks to the public posed by illegal practice. The GOC has published this research alongside the consultation.

College of Optometrists appoints Deputy Chief Executive

March 2014

The College of Optometrists is pleased to announce the appointment of Ian Humphreys as its new Deputy Chief Executive. This new position focuses on developing an integrated and strategic approach across education, research and other functions in order to meet the evolving and growing requirements of College members.

Ian has held the role of Director of Membership Services and Communications at the College for six years. During this time he has driven major changes in the way the College communicates and the services it offers, which have had a significant impact on member engagement and satisfaction. In particular, he has led his department in developing many new member services, including a full calendar of CET lectures and peer discussions; a range of patient information materials such as leaflets on eye conditions and tear-off pads on the instillation of eye drops; and the growth of the College’s annual conference, Optometry Tomorrow, which now attracts over 600 delegates each year.

Prior to joining the College, Ian headed up communications and marketing for the Finance and Leasing Association, the leading representative organisation for the UK consumer credit, motor finance and asset finance sectors. He brings over 25 years experience in membership organisations and a track record of developing and implementing strategic change.

Ian said “I am delighted to be appointed to this new role at this time in the College’s development. There are many areas of our work, including our research and educational provision, which are developing fast and we must ensure they meet the needs of our members, their employers, and the various policy makers.

“We are currently finalising our new three year strategic plan which will take effect from October 2014 and I am looking forward to working with the Chief Executive, Board of Trustees, and the senior management team to implement this plan.”

Commenting on the appointment, Bryony Pawinska, Chief Executive, said: “Ian has been instrumental in helping the College respond to the changing needs of our members, and the profession, over the last six years. I am delighted he his moving into this new role at a time of change, development and growth for the College.”

Manchester invitation to Vision Care for Homeless people opening

March 2014

Vision Care for Homeless People is holding a volunteer open evening at the new Manchester centre on Monday 7 April and warmly welcomes the local and optical community to come and learn more about the charity. The event spans from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.

Volunteer Optometrists and Dispensing staff, plus a clinic manager, are needed to run the unit, and the evening is an opportunity to find out how rewarding donating a few hours of professional time each month can be.

Located within the Cornerstone Day Centre, at 104b Denmark Road, M15 6JS, it is close to the heart of the city, and serves a significant homeless population. The new clinic is furnished with modern diagnostic technology, kindly donated by the optical community.

To confirm your place at the open evening and to find out more about volunteering

Email info@vchp.org.uk

Calling all hot shots…BCLA invites photo competition entries

March 2014

Do you have an impressive clinical photograph to share at this year’s BCLA Clinical Conference & Exhibition? The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) is inviting online submissions for its 2014 photographic competition, by the closing date of Friday 25 April.

The prestigious BCLA photographic competition culminates during the Association’s annual Clinical Conference and Exhibition and attracts entries from contact lens practitioners across the globe. As well as receiving the accolade of best photograph of the year and a great prize, all winning entries are subsequently published in the BCLA peer-reviewed journal, Contact Lens & Anterior Eye.

Last year’s winner was Fabrizio Zeri (Italy) with his entry: ‘Hyperferritinemia cataract’. A special mention was given to Michelle Snowball (UK) for her image: ‘Meibomian gland dropout’. Immediate Past BCLA President, Dr Catharine Chisholm, presented Fabrizio with a digital camera, courtesy of 2013 competition sponsor Nikon Optical, during the 37th Clinical Conference and Exhibition in Manchester.

This year’s winner will be announced, along with the winner and runners-up in the BCLA Poster Competition, at 5pm on Sunday 8 June in the Exhibition Hall of the ICC, Birmingham, UK.

BCLA Academic Committee Chairman, Professor James Wolffsohn, who will be judging the competition along with contact lens expert Andrew Gasson, said: “If you have taken a photograph of the anterior eye over the last year that you are proud of, whether it was taken with a smart phone or a SLR camera, we want you to share it.”

The importance of encouraging a large audience has been underpinned by ABDO sponsorship of the next Moot

February 2014

The WCSM Moot Evening which we pre announced last month is to take place at the AOP offices organised and Chaired by the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers on 13th March at 6.00pm.

Titled WHAT NEXT FOR OPTICS?

What will change, what must change?

- What are the risks and benefits of change?
- Are there dangers for refraction-based spectacle selling?
- What are the risks and benefits of on-line sales?
- Might the patient’s perspective on the need for regular eyecare change?
- Will turf wars between professionals on scope of practice etc. impede progress?

Everyone interested in Optics or with a strong medical, business or finance connection with the regulation of the Optical Sector should make an effort to attend. Discussion on the relaxation on refraction, auto refraction prescriptions and the modernizing of the Opticians Act have prompted the ABDO, with an interest in Dispensing Opticians refracting to sponsor the entire event with canapés and wine available.

Those attending do not have to be connected to the WCSM and previous audiences have drawn attendees from a very broad group of interested parties.
The panel will be made up of key players both current and past who have the power to influence the future of optical provision. Among them so far confirmed are Peter Black (ABDO Chair), Ian Davies (J & J), with two other key optical players shortly to be confirmed and chaired by Don Grocott (Chair of OC).

Key players of the night are however the audience and the WCSM wants you to have your say in this important event and to enjoy the companionship that is the hall mark of the Spectacle Makers events.

If you wish, you can make a voluntary contribution to the Spectacle Makers’ Charity, (one of the important roles of the SMC); at the door upon entry you may do so.

It is essential that you book in with the Company’s Clerk in advance with the names of all your companions and/or guests. His email address is:
clerk@spectaclemakers.com

DVLA Contract remains at “Standstill”

February 2014

After our last report on the award of the DVLA contract to Specsavers was followed by notification the next day that it would be extended for a further four days to 5.00pm today, 25th February 2014. Now yet another deliberation appears to be taking place as Alan Tinger, LOCSU Chairman said: “It was no surprise that we heard today that there is to be yet a further extension of seven days to midnight on Tuesday 4th March 2014.”

Tinger, LOCSU Chairman commented last week, “I am satisfied that we have left no stone unturned throughout the extended “standstill” period to seek grounds for a legal challenge and I pay tribute to the extended LOCSU Team for all they have done in the very best interests of the sector. My thanks go to all those who committed to making a fair, sector-wide bid viable for the benefit of drivers and the DVLA.

“The DVLA has made it clear to us that our bid was the highest scorer in terms of quality and by implication therefore we lost out on price. We clearly do not know the price the winning bidder tendered but it is clear to us that if we had pitched at a level to win the bid it would have ended up with practitioners being remunerated substantially less than they currently are for the service.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing and no doubt after the event some might say “anything would have been better than nothing”. However that was certainly not the mood at the time of the bid, and bidding too low to be viable for many would not have been in the interests of those affected or the long-term viability of the sector.

“I have today written at length to the Assistant Director – Commercial at DVLA who is responsible to the DVLA Board for the conduct of the tender. I have thanked him for the courtesy and willingness to communicate during the extended “standstill” period which could not be faulted. I have, however, made crystal clear the feelings of those who currently provide the service and indeed a most effective service convenient for drivers and my letter concluded:

“ 'Whilst not originally intended by DVLA, this has reached a regrettable and destabilising conclusion for the UK optical sector, the repercussions of which will be felt for a long time and may well be a tipping point for driving any other competition out of the market to the detriment of the DVLA in the future."

Following the extension announcement Tinger said “It is not appropriate to comment further at his stage other than to state that the DVLA has now extended the “standstill” period on six occasions which may well be a record for such contracts.”

Grafton Optical to demonstrate new diagnostic Technology at revered Ophthalmology Forum

February 2014

Grafton Optical have announced their annual involvement at the Midland Ophthalmological Society in Wallsall on the 28th February where they will be demonstrating their complex diagnostic equipment to many well respected ophthalmologists from the International Stage. We will report on topics raised in later editions.

Waterside Labs welcome new show and give it 100%

February 2014

100% Optical saw the debut of the new OptikamPad from Waterside Laboratories and Managing Director Bob Forgan was delighted with his decision to launch at this show and the fantastic response to this exciting new dispensing system.

“For years I have been saying that the UK needed a show in London as it’s a location where visitors can combine business with pleasure and I’m delighted that 100% Optical proved my point.

As a location the Excel was a great success and the organisers Media 10 really showed that they are experts in this field by delivering a vibrant show with a really great look and a truly international feel (a show that the UK optical industry can be proud of).

Like any new show I always thought it was going to take time to attract visitor numbers but I was very pleasantly surprised by the volume of visitors we received at our booth and the distances that many of them had travelled. Next year there will not be the confusion of 2 optical shows in the same city and at Waterside we have already decided that London is the place we want to be by booking our booth at 100% Optical 2015”.

Optikampad, which created great interest at the show, is ‘the’ complete modern eyewear dispensing system which combines powerful software with the portability of an iPad. The software consists of four modules - Measurements, Frame Selection, Lens Demos, and Augmented Reality.

When dispensed using the OptikamPad from Waterside patients can clearly see the advantages of premium lens options and will understand why they are investing more for their new lenses.

GOC seeks input for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Scheme

February 2014

The General Optical Council (GOC) has this week launched a consultation seeking feedback on its proposed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Scheme, which is designed to ensure these principles are embedded throughout its work.

The scheme includes proposals to ensure fair access to GOC services; to ensure that all staff, registrants, Council and committee members are adequately trained and informed of their duties in respect of equality, diversity and inclusion; and to gather more data to better understand the makeup of the optical professions.

Gareth Hadley, GOC Chair, said: "Reaffirming and reinforcing our commitment to the values of equality, diversity and inclusion is important to ensure that our services and those provided by our registrants, businesses and individuals alike, are accessible to all members of the public.

"I encourage all stakeholders, and particularly individuals and groups representing those with protected characteristics, to take a look at our draft scheme and let us know if we've got it right."

The regulator has said that it will work closely with stakeholders in implementing the proposed actions to conform with good practice and meet the needs of all groups.

The consultation will run until 19 May. More information can be found on the GOC website at http://www.optical.org/en/get-involved/consultations/index.cfm

College plans extra peer discussion sessions to meet demand

February 2014

The College of Optometrists has announced dates for more peer discussion sessions to meet member demand.

New events will take place in Manchester (5 March), Bristol (2 April), Reading (9 April) and Colchester (4 June), with each offering three interactive and peer review CET points, helping members to meet their requirements for this cycle.

Members can book their place online at www.college-optometrists.org/PeerDiscussion .

During each facilitated peer discussion, small groups of delegates will consider a number of specially developed case studies which will cover performance concerns, a cataract patient reluctant to have surgery, and low test reliability.

Ian Humphreys, Director of Member Services and Communications, said: “Members told us they would like more opportunities to attend a peer discussion session – and to make that possible, we have added extra events at venues across the UK.

“We have now developed several sets of case studies to allow members to attend more than one session in this CET cycle, and they are proving incredibly popular.”

The College has also published a range of support materials, including case studies, to help members run their own peer discussion sessions. These can be downloaded from www.college-optometrists.org/support-materials.

Frames, frames, frames abound for the widest showing at Optrafair London!

February 2014

The widest choice of eyewear is set to be revealed with a host of new launches at Optrafair London, Olympia, bringing contemporary twists on classic designs, striking acetates, and high profile brand names that draw in customers. Plenty of inspiration for juniors is also set to be on show from a host of children’s frame brands.Go to our Optrafair preview pages to read up on all the frame companies.

Ocuco Acquires Canadian Software Company

February 2014

Ocuco, the largest supplier of PMS and IT solutions to the UK and Ireland, has acquired Vancouver-based EMRlogic, provider of the ODPro Practice Management System (PMS) and activEHR certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) software systems.

Ocuco is the global software company behind Innovations Lab Management System (LMS) and the Acuitas Practice Management System (PMS).

“We’re very excited to have acquired a great, US-certified, EHR product,” said Leo Mac Canna, CEO of Ocuco (pictured). “But we are also very happy to have found such a great software team, and an excellent customer base to complement our own.”

“Since rolling out Acuitas in the US to a Group in Northern California last December we have been seeking to establish a major support base in the U.S. Pacific time zone, and grow our team to better support the North American optical retail software market. We already have a strong presence in Canada with FYidoctors, and many Canadian independents have already chosen our software.“

Troubled EMRlogic had been under protection from its creditors for some months. A settlement has been reached and the acquisition saves most of the jobs in the company and a future for the product.

Ocuco will honour all software support contracts. EMRLogic’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) software product (activEHR) will be enhanced under the new owner for Stage II Meaningful Use requirements while their PMS, ODPro, will be discontinued and replaced by Acuitas, Ocuco’s world class PMS.

“We are delighted to provide a safe home with Ocuco for our customers and staff who have invested so much with us over the past few years” said John McCormick, owner of EMRLogic.

Almost all of EMRLogic’s staff will be retained to form the core of Ocuco’s new North American retail software support team. The location has the advantage of being eight hours offset from the UK and Ireland, an advantage to a software company with the long-term goal of providing follow-the-sun support to a global customer base.

Ocuco already has an office in the US developing and supporting the Innovations LMS under Robert Shanbaum and the acquisition brings total Ocuco staff worldwide to 132 across eight countries, with over 7,200 optical sites in 35 countries using its software.

February 2014

German twins and owners of Felder Felder collaborated with Silhouette on a bespoke collection for their AW14 show at London Fashion Week. This forms part of the plan for Silhouette marketing for the future in terms of Silhouette taking more of a turn into the fashion world and using their new light and practical frames to accentuate the couture on the models and make the whole show even more stylish.

Visit our facebook page for pictures.

Local MP calls on constituents to look after their eyesight by having regular eye tests

February 2014

We report on another local MP getting involved in the eyecare message

Local MP Adrian Sanders visited Specsavers Opticians in Torquay on Friday 21st February 2014 to find out why regular eye tests are so important in preventing blindness.

Go to our dedicated OC page to find out about the visit.

100% Optical Here to Stay

February 2014

100% Optical 2014 has been a resounding success according to the feedback and reaction of many of the 5,483 (ABC Audit pending) opticians, optometrists, buyers and industry professionals who attended the first International Optical exhibition in ExCeL London in February, 16 – 18, 2014.

The three action packed days made a big impression on the international optical industry.

Top buyers from UK and Europe made the most of the opportunity to see a vast selection of leading brands and new and innovative designers under one roof and there was standing room only at many of the CET qualifying educational sessions which were integral to the events educational programme and attracted an accumulated audience of over 3,200. Plus many members of 100% Optical’s partner, the AOP, took advantage of access to their VIP Lounge.

Over 250 buyers from stores including; Harvey Nichols, Leightons Opticians, Specsavers and Vision Express attended the event.

The opening day event in the central bar of the show on Sunday 16th February was literally packed with show visitors and exhibitors full of praise and enthusiasm for the first day at 100% Optical. The event featured a DJ set from Gary Powell from The Libertines. On the evening of day 2, Moorfields Charity held a fundraiser which provided another opportunity for exhibitors and visitors to network.

Speaking at the end of a busy 3 days, Lee Newton CEO of organiser Media 10 commented, “This event has been spectacular – we have taken a strong vertical industry and launched an exhibition that will transform the UK optical market. The feedback from exhibitors has been overwhelming and we have shown that B2B events can have the wow factor. Our peers from international optical events were so full of praise for 100% Optical that we’ve done in 1 year what the industry has been crying out for for decades. London needed a world class optical event and we have given them exactly that”.

100% Optical’s interactive features and exclusive fashion shows and workshops also proved to be a big pull for visitors to the event:

International keynote speakers on the Main Stage attracted large audiences to the 200 seat theatre at the heart of 100% Optical. The programme of world-class speakers covering a variety of topics was assembled by the Association of Optometrists and included sessions by the world leader in vision science Professor Brien Holden, amblyopia expert Professor Anita Simmers and lens physicist Professor Joshua Silver.

The Lens Hall featured two seminar streams taking place on the Lens Hub, covering Contact Lenses and Ophthalmic Lenses. Top speakers and companies were represented in a variety of formats – from group discussions to individual seminars – and include the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) and University College London (UCL).

The Equipment Hub housed a selection of hand-picked equipment from leading equipment manufacturers, including as Optos, Hanson, Zeiss and Heidelberg. It offered visitors the opportunity to try out equipment in a non-sales environment and take advantage of the CET accredited seminars and workshops on offer. Workshops for small groups of four to six participants, and a series of mini-seminars were also held.

The Fashion Hub proved to be a focal point of the show, with the four live eyewear shows daily, organised by leading Fashion Show Producer Lindsey Hunt, attracting crowds to every performance. Eight Scenes followed Summer and Winter trends; The Great Luxe Outdoors, Film Noir, 21st Century Suiting, Modern Dandy, Typically English, Modern 60’s, Florals and swimwear. Clothing for the catwalk was supplied by top fashion designers including: Giles Deacon, Holland and Holland, Kinloch and Anderson, Rigby and Peller, Daks, Aimee Mc Williams, Superdry, Next – suiting and Austin Reed.

The Seminars and workshops from speakers such as Jason Kirk, Klaus Kosgaard, and Marie Wilkinson married extremely well with the shows creating a vibrant atmosphere. The Hub also contains an installation created by innovative and award winning visual merchandising company –KSHT

In the Business Hub visitors met with experts from the optical industry worldwide for advice and tips Expert consultations include Social Media Expert Garry Kousoulou, whose authoritative presentation qualifies for CET points and is GOC approved, Entrepreneur Imran Hakim and Independent Retail Designer Dean Waugh were extremely popular. Other experts included Lindsey Small director of ZIGZAG training and Sarah Morgan an optometrist and staff development consultant from Eye Communicate.

100% Optical created a ‘3D Frame Factory’ which allowed visitors to see first-hand how 3D printers work and how frames are printed. The hub showcased the latest 3D Printing technology and software including Creat3D’s CubeX and ProDesk 3D Printers. The new 3D handheld scanner was also on show, allowing visitors to scan their faces in order to design frames that are a true fit. Plus the latest 3D Printed designs including the first ever 3D Printed Titanium frames by Belgium designer and optician, Patrick Hoet.

A glimpse of the future talent in eyewear design was encapsulated within the The Royal College of Art Eyewear Competition finalists’ display of prototypes. Made and developed in conjunction with Jesse Stevens at Fish Island Design, and made by Algha Works in East London. The Black Collection – the favourites from a collection of over 2000 vintage frames amassed by Jesse Steven’s Fish Island Design and Tony Gross’s Vintage Collection were also inspirational aspects of the event.

Exhibitors and visitors were quick to praise the all new 3 day event:

“100% Optical is just what the industry needs. We are seeing loads of serious buyers. A lot from in and around the M25 but people have travelled too. It’s refreshing and different and exactly what the industry is looking for!” - David Evans, Director and Head of Engineering, Hanson Instruments

“We are picking up great numbers of potential clients and have sold more frames than we expected. The fashion show gives it an extra wow factor.” - Vibeke Andersen, UK Consultant, LINDBERG

“A vibrant show with a strong footfall. 100% Optical marries well with our objectives.” - Rob Lyon, Business Unit Manager, Zeiss

“Very successful for us. We’ve taken lots of orders including a large one from the Netherlands. We are very pleased we exhibited at 100% Optical and even better its alongside London Fashion week where our Spring Summer 14 collection features in several catwalk shows.” - Julian Clarke, Head of International Sales, Cutler & Gross

“100% Fantastic! We are having a fantastic show and excited to be here. We have had a great atmosphere on the stand, everyone is welcome to visit us whether they’re buying or not. 100% Optical brings the European feel to London. I’m delighted we decided to exhibit - as you can see our stand is extremely busy and we will definitely back next year!” - Robert Morris, William Morris

“We exhibit at all the international shows from Italy to China and we are very impressed by the look of 100% Optical. 100% Optical is extremely well organised and we are seeing lots of new and valuable visitors. We will definitely be back next year.” - Sven Reiss, Executive Vice President, Flair

Bob Forgan, Managing Director, Waterside: “Visitors to our stand have been truly international we’ve seen buyers from across the globe - Gibraltar, Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia, Algeria, Cyprus Greece!”

“We are here to purchase new frames and pick up some new brands for our practice. We have already purchased one brand, DUTZ and are looking at ¨rgeen. The show is brilliant. We had a specific goal in mind upon coming here, to find some new niche brands and we have definitely found them here.” - Alnoor Kassam, Optician, Kassford opticians, Forest Hill

“We have had a look at some frames but we are here because we are looking to buy OCT. We are currently deciding between Heidelberg and ZEISS. It’s also great to see a lot of smaller boutique brands, which we haven’t seen elsewhere. CET has been a big pull, the content is great -100% Optical is a one stop shop, and a great atmosphere.” - Gurpreet Garcha, Optometrist, Six Six Vision, Romford

“I came for the CET points, but 100% Optical is a fantastic opportunity to see new ranges of eyewear. We had a great time at the launch party as well. In all it has been a great day out, and a great chance to catch up with old colleagues and friends.” - Sarabjit Dhillen, Dispensing Optician, Locum

“It has been a wonderful refresher as to what’s out there. I will definitely come back. The laser surgery lecture floated my boat.” - Hardip Bansil-Shah, Optometrist, Vision Express

Heidelberg academy officially opens in Hertfordshire

February 2014

The Heidelberg Academy was officially launched last week at the grand opening of the new Heidelberg Engineering training centre and UK head office in Hemel Hempstead.

With an audience of leading UK optometrists and ophthalmologists, glaucoma specialists and Press, the local Mayor of Dacorum, Councillor Penny Hearn, toasted the centre of excellence.

Promotion to Director

Celebrating the success of the premium technology company in the UK since it became an independent supplier two years ago, was company founder, Christoph Schoess. Visiting from Germany, he delighted in promoting Krysten Williams from UK General Manager to Director. He said the UK operation for Heidelberg Engineering was one to be admired and to emulate – “We have a great team here”.

Mr Schoess outlined Heidelberg Engineering’s international growth during the past 23 years and the fact that SPECTRALIS technology is now being used in more than 100 different countries around the world.

Education and Training

The desire to boost the armoury of diagnostic technology available to optical healthcare specialists was echoed by Christopher Mody, Heidelberg Engineering Clinical Programme Manager -

“Heidelberg has a commitment to education and training which is unrivalled. We work very closely with the professional bodies and are developing new means of delivering education, not just through our Retinal Faculty and Glaucoma Faculty but also with valuable Peer Discussions,” he said.

Supporting higher education – at both under graduate and post-graduate levels – plus online learning through the Connect Programme, was reflected by keynote speakers at the launch – David Crabb from City University, London and Ethan Priel of the MOR Institute, Israel.

Disease Progression

David Crabb delivered a fascinating lecture “Disease Progression in Glaucoma” which reflected his longstanding interest in imaging and lab measurement techniques, particularly relating to perimetry and visual fields.

“When does the disease start to impact – on reading, on finding something on a supermarket shelf, on mobility, and particularly on driving?” he asked.
“We are aiming to find that point when a person is at risk for driving and this cannot be distilled to just a number or degree of sight loss, as this does not reflect the position of loss, or the patient’s function binocularly,” he said.

Stressing the importance of establishing the measurement of binocular vision loss, he said his team had examined hand-eye co-ordination and used hazard perception challenges, taken from the UK driving licence test. Used in conjunction with eye tracking technology to monitor fixations and saccades, the research had led to the view that patients with glaucoma make more, but smaller, saccades than those without glaucoma and that more research was needed in this field.

Widefield Imaging

Ethan Priel, who has devoted his professional career to the study of ophthalmic imaging techniques, stressed the importance of examining the periphery, particularly in relation to diagnosing Coates’ Disease -

“The central macular can look quite normal and so it is essential to use widefield imaging, especially for younger patients.”

He compared the images of fundus imaging with those provided by the SPECTRALIS, and stressed the benefits of this non-invasive, easy to perform diagnostic tool. He spoke of the potential for diagnosis of multi-modality imaging, “which has changed the way we examine the retina”.

Krysten Williams said the opening of the Heidelberg Academy demonstrated the commitment to early diagnosis of disease -

“It highlights the fact that in the UK we have 100 people a day who start to lose their vision but through early detection and careful monitoring 1:2 cases could be avoided. The SPECTRALIS detects the smallest change, with more than five times the accuracy of even its closest competitor.

“We are committed to education and to supporting our faculty members to provide better levels of patient care. We have made this technology affordable and networked to provide good connectivity to other systems,” she added.

See Heidelberg Engineering at Optrafair London 11-13 April 2014, Olympia.

Topcon to unveil 9 new products at Optrafair London

February 2014

The first ever Optrafair in London is going to be the platform for Topcon to unveil nine new products this year. From brand new non-myd Fundus camera, to a new 3D OCT and a new digital slit lamp, Optrafair delegates simply cannot afford to miss this immense product launch from Topcon.

Amongst the new additions to Topcon’s vast range of industry leading optical products there will be the brand new 4-in-1 instrument (TRK-2P): providing objective refraction; keratometry, non-contact tonometry and pachymetry. The new TRC-NW400 incorporating auto alignment and auto capture options is probably the most user friendly non-mydriatic Fundus camera on the market.

Adding to the ever growing family of OCTs, Topcon will be introducing the 3D OCT-1 Maestro Solo, which has all of the features of the industry leading 3D OCT-1 Maestro, but is aimed at users who do not need a colour Fundus image.

Topcon will also be introducing a new auto-keratometer (KR-800S), which is lightweight, flexible and easy to use autorefractor offering the opportunity to do subjective refinement. Another product being launched is a new digital slit lamp using the latest in LED technology (SL-D701) as well as having a much improved integrated camera option.

As the sole distributor of the Henson Field Analysers, Topcon will also be unveiling a brand new Henson 9000. This new visual field analyser is promising to be the talk of the show with its radical new design featuring new fast algorithms and improved threshold testing, using prior data for greater accuracy.

“This is the largest product launch for the company by far and Topcon is proud to bring this array of products in support of this major optical show, held in London for the very first time” commented Andrew Yorke, Managing Director of Topcon (GB) Ltd.

In addition to the new products, Topcon are committed to running ongoing training programmes, and at Optrafair London they are the sole supporters of the CET poster trail along with a keynote lecture on Sunday 13th April and a series of workshops throughout the show.

BBC journalist Gary O'Donoghue confirmed to Chair at Vision UK 2014

February 2014

Gary O'Donoghue, BBC Radio 4’s chief political correspondent and long serving journalist has been confirmed as the chair of the ‘Question Time’ panel at this year’s Vision UK conference, the leading eye health and sight loss sector conference.

The ‘Question Time’ session will give delegates the opportunity to question key leaders on the big issues surrounding eye health and sight loss.

Blind since childhood, Mr O’Donoghue has had a number of reporting roles at the BBC. He has been a general reporter on the Today programme and the World Tonight as well as a presenter on the BBC World Service. In addition he has made several documentaries for Radio 4. Gary has also been a contributor to and presenter of the In Touch programme for blind and partially sighted people.

Mr O'Donoghue said: “I look forward to chairing the Question Time panel at this year’s Vision UK conference. I think this will be a great forum to openly discuss developments and the big issues in the eye health and sight loss sector, and will hopefully get delegates thinking about what actions need to be taken to improves services for blind and partially sighted people.’’

Plasma contact lenses decrease bacterial infection significantly!

February 2014

A recent study on corneal infections has shown that plasma treated RGP contact lenses are the best choice for healthy eyes in patients wearing rigid lenses. The report from “Eye and Contact Lens: Science and Clinical Practice,” has observed contact lens safety and investigated the impact of plasma treated lenses and rigid contact lenses on bacterial adhesion. A significantly lower amount of bacterial colonies attach to plasma contact lenses, compared to contact lenses without the surface modification, stated M.S Wang, Plasma Surface Modification of Rigid Contact Lenses Decreases Bacterial Adhesion, November 2013. This is an important eye and lens healthcare find.

UltraVision provides a range of Plasma treated RGP lenses that provide comfort and enhanced vision, to keep the wearer comfortable in their daily routines.

February 2014

Strategic plan

Council approved the GOC’s strategic plan for the next three years, following a public consultation.

The regulator intends to play a more proactive role in promoting public health and safety through the standards it sets for optometrists, dispensing opticians and registered businesses, promoting public trust in the profession and helping to raise awareness of eye-health.

It will also seek to deal with complaints more quickly and effectively, for the benefit of both the public and registrants.

GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, Samantha Peters, said: "After receiving very positive and constructive feedback from our stakeholders we are pleased to have finalised our strategic plan. This plan places the public at the core of everything we do, and will help us to meet the expectations on all regulators following the Francis Inquiry.”

The strategic plan will come into effect on 1 April 2014 and will run until 31 March 2017.

Illegal practice strategy

The GOC will shortly be consulting on a new strategy to tackle illegal practice. The strategy is informed by independent research the regulator commissioned last year and seeks to reduce the risk of public harm arising from illegal practices such as misuse of a protected title and illegal online contact lens sales.
The GOC is proposing to take a broad approach, responding to complaints in line with its prosecution protocol, promoting public awareness of the need to follow contact lens aftercare advice and have regular check-ups, promoting a voluntary code of practice for online contact lens sales to help consumers identify suppliers who follow good practice, and deepening its collaboration with other enforcement bodies.

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Policy and Communications, said: “One of the biggest problems we face is the illegal supply of contact lenses from websites overseas. Unfortunately our ability to cut off this supply is limited, so we need a more creative and proactive approach. This will involve helping the public understand the benefits of choosing a supplier that provides first-rate clinical advice and aftercare.

“It will be vital for us to work closely with the optical professions, manufacturers, consumer groups and other enforcement bodies to tackle illegal practice effectively, and we look forward to hearing our stakeholders' views on our proposals and how we can implement them together."

The GOC expects to launch the consultation later this month and it will run until the end of May.

Nockolds Solicitors to run consumer complaints service

Council announced that the GOC has appointed Nockolds Solicitors to run its independent mediation service for optical consumers from 1 April 2014.

Other news

Council approved the business plan and budget for 2014/15, discussed the GOC's equality, diversity and inclusion scheme, and signed off the final version of the fitness to practise guidance to accompany the new Rules that are due to come into force on 1 April.

Additionally, Council reported a strong response to the recruitment process for case examiners, with a total of 356 applicants. Appointments will be confirmed upon completion of training, with the names of successful applicants to be published in March.

Council paid tribute to David Pyle, a member of the GOC education committee and former GOC Council member, who recently passed away following a battle with cancer.

Next meeting – Wednesday 14 May 2014 in London. Time and venue to be confirmed at a later date.

BCLA mobile app goes live

February 2014

The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) is proud to announce the launch of its first-ever mobile app, ahead of its flagship Clinical Conference & Exhibition in Birmingham this June.

“The BCLA mobile app is the latest in a growing suite of tools designed to enhance the experience of BCLA members and conference delegates alike,” said BCLA President, Andy Yorke. “Available to download now, the free app will ensure delegates have all the key information they need about the conference in the palm of their hand.”

Key features of the BCLA app

• iPhone and Android compatible
• A clean layout that fits well on desktop, tablet or smartphone web browsers
• Instant access to the conference programme, speaker information, exhibition and sponsor details, venue, maps and floorplans
• Quick links to the BCLA website for travel, accommodation, social events and contacts
• Access to social networks such as Twitter and Facebook
• Note-making facility
• In-box for the latest updates
• Favourites tool in the ‘My event’ area
• Exhibitor listings including product details and the opportunity to contact suppliers prior to the event

Jashan Bahia, BCLA Marketing Manager, said: “We will be updating the app at various stages in the lead-up to the conference as well as incorporating additional features. These will include, for instance, downloadable abstracts, venue maps and programme updates.

“We are extremely excited about this new tool for members and delegates, and would encourage all those planning to attend the conference to make full use of all its great features and benefits,“ added Jashan.

The BCLA mobile app is now available to download for free on the Google Play Store for Android and the Apple iTunes Store for iOS devices.

DVLA Vision Testing Services Contract - further update and further extension

February 2014

LOCSU has today been informed by DVLA that they have further extended the "standstill" period prior to the contract award to midnight on Thursday, 20th February 2014.

Alan Tinger, LOCSU Chairman said, "The DVLA has continued to helpfully agree to look at and comment on LOCSU's continuing grounds for a legal challenge in advance of LOCSU incurring the costs of such challenge.

"They kept to their word of providing a response to all matters raised by close of business on Wednesday, 12th February 2014. We replied again earlier this morning and as a result of the additional representations we made, they have agreed to a further extension of seven days during which period they will consider and respond to our representations."

“This will still allow time for a formal legal challenge by LOCSU, if the response from DVLA does not satisfactorily deal with all the potential grounds for legal challenge put forward again including requests for further information."

"It continues not to be appropriate to make any further public comment at this stage but we will continue to keep stakeholders informed."

Ocuco Launches Training Programme with Worshipful Spectacle Makers

February 2014

Ocuco, the providers of the Acuitas and Focus Practice Management Systems (PMSs) has engaged The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers to train all 75 of Ocuco’s UK and Ireland staff in optical practice. The programme has been customized to Ocuco’s needs, with all technical support and customer services staff expected to certify in at least one Level 2 course.

Leo Mac Canna, CEO of Ocuco commented: “We want to invest in training which helps new and current staff get closer to our customers and our customers’ needs We have always used highly qualified degree level engineering and computer science staff, but our optical training has been unstructured and ‘on the job’, making us perhaps more distant from customer needs than we should be. This initiative should improve across the board our development, support and quality assurance. Indeed we are also including non-customer facing roles such as finance: I believe it is important for all Ocuco employees to understand the industry in which we work.”

The courses will cover initially the Roles and Communication in Optical Practice, The eye and Ammetropia, and the different screening processes now taking place in the practice. Later further training units will cover Spectacle frame and lenses and contact lenses. It is hoped to put forward selected staff members to eventually take the final examination and gain a recognized award.

Alice Austin, Sales and Marketing Director, commented, “Understanding what a customer expects and the hurdles that practitioners must surmount to provide and be paid for that service are key to our products success. The WCSM courses will allow our developers a greater insight to add value to our system, allow our data engineers ensure that the relevant data is secure and retained for the future and provide our sales and support staff with the knowledge to work alongside professionals in the field confidently.”

According to Debbie Gigg, Head of WCSM Training, this course is the first to be rolled out for the optical IT industry. “Ocuco have already started the first tranche of technicians on the initial induction courses that have been carefully selected to provide the most appropriate detail for their company needs. We at WCSM have been working on courses where industry can better understand the needs of their customers.”

February 2014

A comprehensive eye health and sight loss statistics report for England has been launched today by the UK Vision Strategy Partnership.

The report brings together data for England on all aspects of eye health and sight loss including:

• The rate of Certification of Vision Impairment
• The numbers registered with sight loss or severe sight loss
• Sight tests
• Outpatient and inpatient information including waiting times
• Expenditure on eye care and treatments

Anita Lightstone, UK Vision Strategy Programme Director said:

“This report brings together key eye health and sight loss statistics for England in a straightforward and easy to use format."

“We hope this report will be a useful resource to eye health professionals, local authorities and voluntary sector organisations a like so they can assess the impact of their work and plan ahead for future opportunities and challenges”.

To read the report visit: www.vision2020uk.org.uk/ukvisionstrategy/statistics

February 2014

Sightcare One Day Conference, the perfect venue for Independents to see and understand the latest technology on show from Grafton.

The 2014 event takes place at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole hotel on Monday 3rd March 2014.

Themed "A Prism of possibilities", the programme provides an excellent opportunity for members to gain tangible business ideas from our line-up of speakers, many of whom are successful business people from outside the world of optics. SCS’s programme is always designed with all staff members in mind and for this reason they encourage members to close the practice for the day and come in force!

The conference programme includes:

• Workshop sessions sponsored on Sunday 2nd March 13.30 - 17.00
• Formal networking opportunity at the pre-conference dinner on Sunday 2nd March from 20.00
• Tangible business ideas from presentations on Monday 3rd March
• Panel session
• Opportunity to visit sponsor stands and take advantage of special offers
• Five delegate places per practice free of charge

Grafton Optical the equipment company will be the showing their latest in technology including their highly regarded iFusion using the iVue OCT and the CSO digital photo slit lamp along with the Cobra HD retinal camera. The conference provides a really good opportunity to spend time on their stand within a hotel setting. Grafton will also be demonstrating their new Wave Lens Pro a fully automated lensmeter from Visionix. Grafton are offering 4 pages of packed promotions on the day. Click here to see the day’s special offers from Grafton.

OCCS leaders lose tender bid for retention

February 2014

Nockolds Solicitors to run consumer complaints service

The GOC has appointed Nockolds Solicitors to run its independent mediation service for optical consumers from 1 April 2014. Nockolds were the successful candidate in an open tender process launched last year.

The mediation service for optical consumers does not have formal powers but acts as a mediator in disputes between consumers and practitioners. For example, the service may help consumers resolve customer service issues such as obtaining refunds for faulty glasses. The service can also advise registrants who receive consumer complaints.

Complaints that call a registrant’s fitness to practise into question will continue to be dealt with by the GOC.

Nockolds Solicitors are a regulated firm of solicitors with substantial mediation and complaints-handling experience. They also specialise in clinical negligence cases and will be able to draw on a panel of experts in optometry and optics in seeking to resolve consumer complaints.

Gareth Hadley, GOC Chair, said: “We are delighted to have appointed Nockolds to run our independent mediation service and we look forward to working with them.

“We were particularly impressed by Nockolds’ commitment to excellent customer service and to gathering high quality information about complaints that will help us better understand the public’s experience of the optical professions.

“They demonstrated a clear vision for delivering a professional and independent service that will help consumers and registrants to reach amicable resolutions to customer service disputes.

“We would like to thank Richard Wilshin and his team at the OCCS for their hard work and dedication to the interests of optical consumers over many years. We would also like to thank the professional bodies – AOP, FODO, ABDO and the College of Optometrists – that established the OCCS and continued to support it after responsibility for funding and overseeing the service passed to the GOC.”

The Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) will continue to provide a mediation service for the GOC until 31 March.

Optometrists invited to the first of what is hoped to be a series of lectures at the Benenden Hospital in Cranbrook in Kent

February 2014

The first lecture will be given by Anders Granberg and is titled “Refractive Lens Exchange and Laser Surgery”.

The aim of the presentation is to better inform optometrists of the choice of different lenses offered to cataract patients including the new refractive lenses. In addition he will describe the use of Laser surgery to modify refraction.

Venue: Benenden hospital Date: Tuesday 18th March 2014

Schedule:

18.00 – 18.30 Arrival, buffet and drinks
18.30 – 19.00 Presentation
19.00 – 19.30 Q&A and tour of facilities

R.S.V.P. to Gary Vaughan, Business Development Manager at: gary.vaughan@benenden.org.uk or call 01580 242 481 to confirm your attendance.

Career moves ahead at Optrafair London


Moving ahead with careers in optics for practice management roles, dispensing opticians and optometrists is a vital part of Optrafair London with all of the major companies represented.

Click here to see which companies, educators and recruiters will be at this year’s Optrafair London on our preview pages.

LOCSU advise DVLA “standstill” period extended by 24 hours

February 2014

LOCSU has today been informed by DVLA that they have extended the "standstill" period prior to the contract award to midnight on Thursday, 13 February 2014.

Alan Tinger, LOCSU Chairman said,

"The DVLA extended the "standstill" period yesterday by 24 hours to midnight on Tuesday, 11 February 2014. This was because they had helpfully agreed to look at and comment on LOCSU's grounds for a legal challenge in advance of LOCSU incurring the costs of such challenge.

They have today advised us that they will "provide a complete response to all matters raised" by close of business on Wednesday, 12 February 2014. This will still allow time for a formal legal challenge by LOCSU, if the response from DVLA does not satisfactorily deal with all the potential grounds for legal challenge put forward including requests for further information.

LOCSU is being advised throughout this process by experienced EU/Competition Lawyers and it is not appropriate to make any further public comment at this stage but we will continue to keep stakeholders informed."

OGS reflects on great year in 2013 in new ad campaign

February 2014

Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) allocated a record $1.8 million to 46 eye and vision care projects in 28 countries in 2013. Key highlights include:

• 34 students graduated from degree and diploma Optometry programs in Africa
• 12 Schools of Optometry received ongoing and new funding support
• 2,440 people OGSre given direct training and skills development
• 139,450 children OGSre screened as part of Child Eye Health Programs
• 44,268 people received direct access to eye and vision care

Schools of Optometry

OGS continued to prioritize support for Schools of Optometry in Africa (Malawi, Eritrea, Mali, Mozambique, Cameroon), Asia (Vietnam) and Latin America (Nicaragua, Argentina). OGS are now also supporting the establishment of new schools in Haiti, Mexico and Moldova (Eastern Europe); and the development of Optometry programs in Sri Lanka.

As a result, hundreds of students now have access to more equipment for clinical training, locally developed curricula and training materials, student scholarships and fellowships, and infrastructure support. Many more will benefit over time, with this year’s cohort of 34 new graduates already providing access to eye care as part of internships and local placements within the public health systems in their countries. Collectively, they have the potential to impact tens of thousand of lives in just their first year of practice!

Training Programs

Skills training has also been provided for 2,440 people. These include Eyeteach© workshops in India, Peru and online which are designed to increase the capacity of local clinicians to work as eye care educators; programs that provide clinical training for eye care workers in India, Indonesia and East Timor; a social entrepreneurship project in Haiti; and skills training for Optometry students working with Indigenous and remote communities in Australia and Latin America.

Vision Centers

OGS continue to provide support to Vision Centers, including the newly opened Vision Plus Clinic in Haiti, which currently sees more than 200 people per OGSek. Equipment and training OGSre also provided for Vision Centers in India; and for the development of Optical shops in El Salvador.

Child Eye Health

139,450 students benefited from Child Eye Health programs in Tanzania (Africa), Cambodia, Nepal, El Salvador and Australia. These programs help to ensure that children have access to eye care during their formative stages in school by training teachers and health care workers to undertake school screening and making referrals where needed.  

Advocacy

In May, the World Health Organization (WHO) unanimously approved the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Avoidable Blindness and Visual Impairment 2014-2019: “Towards Universal Eye Health”. Optometry Giving Sight provided funding as part of a consortium of eye health NGOs to support the development of the plan, which is now regarded as the most important strategic document in global eye health.

Emergency Response

The typhoon that hit the Philippines in December was a stark reminder of the impact that natural disasters can have on lives – and livelihoods. OGS have been working in combination with our partners to provide support for a team of global optometrists who are volunteering their services to provide eye care to people in the affected areas.

Service Delivery

An additional 44,268 people received access to an eye examination and glasses, and where needed a referral, in Singapore, USA, UK, India, East Timor, Haiti and Eritrea.

Vision Care For Homeless People reaches out at Optrafair

February 2014

Vision Care for Homeless People will be reaching out to volunteers at Optrafair London in April – particularly for the new centre which is opening soon in central Manchester.

Generous support from Optrafair exhibitors: Bondeye, Carleton, Specsavers and Thomson Software has ensured that the new Manchester centre is kitted out with the most advanced diagnostics and equipment.

“We pride ourselves on providing an eye examination which is as good as in any High Street practice. We are hugely grateful to our wonderful sponsors for enabling us to achieve this, and to Optrafair for providing us with a platform,” said Harinder Paul, Vision Care for Homeless People Managing Director.

Funding to cover the running costs of the new centre for three years has been pledged by Optometry Giving Sight – also to be part of Optrafair London.

Make sure you have the date in your diary to find out about supporting Vision Care for Homeless People with volunteers optometrists and dispensing opticians needed in London, Brighton, Birmingham and Manchester.

February 2014

Specialists in every aspect of optics – and how these benefits can be brought to patients – are set to be at Optrafair London. Many will be speaking as part of the free to attend three day CET lecture programme which runs at Olympia from 11-13 April. Peer Review sessions and workshops also bring an abundance of opportunities to really engage with the experts. Read about the many different specialities on Optrafair Preview pages.

College of Optometrists welcomes applications for 2014 research funding

February 2014

The College of Optometrists is currently accepting applications for research fellowships, postgraduate scholarships and summer scholarships. Researchers wishing to undertake projects in 2014 can now apply for one of the following grants:

• Research Fellowships and Clinical Research Fellowships – supporting new lecturers and hospital-based researchers in establishing research laboratories (up to £30,000 funding)
• Postgraduate Scholarships - full or part-time study leading to the award of a PhD (up to three years’ financial support)
• Summer Scholarships – short paid supervised projects (six to eight weeks) for undergraduates.

The deadline for applications is Friday 14 March 2014.

The College has an ongoing commitment to supporting research and study that further the science and practice of optometry, and improve treatment for patients, through its annual funding programme. Mike Bowen, Director of Research at the College, said: “The College and our members have been supporting research for many years through our Research Fund scholarships and awards. These play a key role in enabling the profession in the UK to make a significant contribution to the global evidence base for optometric practice and to the general knowledge base for optics and vision science. I am delighted that we are able to continue to support all levels of research and would encourage anyone interested in applying for a grant to contact us.”

Applications can be made through the research section of the College’s website at www.college-optometrists.org/funding.

Specsavers brings eye screening to the House

February 2014

Specsavers Corporate Eyecare’s vision screening service has been testing the eyesight of MPs at the House of Commons.

Working alongside insurer RSA and road safety charity Brake, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare has been involved in the ‘Fit to Drive’ campaign since it was launched by RSA in 2011.

Laura Butler, key accounts manager for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: “Fit to Drive has targeted support from prominent parliamentarians from the start but for MPs to put themselves forward and take part in vision screening was a great display of their support.”

Specsavers Corporate Eyecare offered vision screening by a qualified optometrist to all MPs with an interest in road safety and eye health and dozens took the opportunity to have the eyes checked.

Matthew Maxwell Scott, RSA’s Fit to Drive campaign manager, said: “Specsavers made sure we had a really successful event. They were able to bring this important issue to life for MPs and it was a great way to get our messages across about eye health and road safety.”

The portable eye screening machine used for events like these allows Specsavers Corporate Eyecare to check whether a person’s eyesight meets with the basic legal requirements for driving, which equates to the ability to read a number plate at a distance of 20.5 metres.

However, RSA’s Fit to Drive campaign calls for the current ‘number plate test’ to be scrapped and replaced with an eye examination by a qualified professional for all learner drivers.

Furthermore, it calls for eye tests to be mandatory every ten years, linked to driving licence renewal.

Optical Confederation disappointment as LOCSU DVLA bid goes to Specsavers

February 2014

The Optical Confederation has expressed disappointment following the announcement that the LOC Support Unit (LOCSU) bid for the Provision of Vision Testing Services for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has been unsuccessful. The DVLA have confirmed that it is their “intention to award the contract to Specsavers Opticians”.

The Confederation, together with Optometry Scotland and Optometry Wales, supported the cross-sector bid submitted by LOCSU in response to the tender advertised by the DVLA, for the delivery of a managed network of optical practices and optometrists across England, Scotland and Wales.

Alan Tinger, LOCSU Chairman, said “I and everyone associated with the bid are very disappointed with the DVLA’s decision. The objective of our bid was to retain the management and delivery of this significant service, which operates across three nations, within our professions. However, the DVLA have chosen to favour another provider over the sector bid.”

Mr Tinger added: “Over 2,000 practices had already expressed an interest in getting involved in the service, ranging from part-time independent practices to large multiples. This demonstrates how colleagues across the sector felt that it was important for LOCSU to bid. The LOCSU team that worked on the bid, including an experienced Project Manager, had a wealth of procurement experience and we were confident that our service delivery model would meet the DVLA’s requirements. We have submitted a request for feedback from the DVLA to understand why our bid was unsuccessful.”

Speaking on behalf of the Optical Confederation, Don Grocott, said: “It is disappointing news that LOCSU’s bid has been unsuccessful. The LOCSU bid would have enabled any practice to participate, so this is a blow for the entire sector and a setback in our progress towards sector unity. Many practices, both multiple and independent, have invested money in acquiring the equipment needed to carry out this work for the DVLA and rely on the income generated by it. The loss of this revenue will significantly damage their practice profitability."

“The decision will be especially galling to those organisations which held back from bidding in order to get behind a bid that gave all practices the opportunity to participate and offered patients the ability to visit the optical practice of their choice.”

Ed’s Comments:

We can understand the extreme disappointment at the rejection of the LOCSU bid, but it is a sign that community and additional services will attract tenders from both companies within the sector and those outside. We are not privy to who entered this particular process but could easily imagine those in the health sector like pharmacy chains who can provide easy accessibility might well have considered the opportunity.

We hope that LOCSU will, after the cooling period, open up the contents of its tender for all those disappointed to understand on what terms the bid failed. Could it have been that the expressions of interest from 2000 practices were not as guaranteed as Specsavers “boots on the ground”? Or that the bid was overpriced or was presented by an organisation with less control over a disparate community of practices compared to a company in control of its own outlets and with branding known well by the public? The sooner the whole bidding process is in the open the more we can learn for the future and we can move on without recrimination to losers or winners of the tender.


The ASA has banned an eye surgery advert for Optegra

February 2014

The Advertising Standards Authority has agreed to ban an eye surgery advert for Optegra starring Ruth Langford, following complaints that it misled viewers into believing they would no longer require glasses after undergoing the procedure.

The Ad featured the TV presenter, who told the camera: “As a TV Presenter it was so frustrating having to rely on glasses and contact lenses, but for me laser eye surgery wasn't suitable. Then I discovered Clarivu from the eyecare experts at Optegra. Clarivu corrects both long and short sightedness in a proven and permanent lens replacement procedure. Clarivu has changed my life forever. Goodbye glasses, hello Clarivu. See my story at Optegra.com.”

An optician complained that this statement was incorrect; pointing out that multifocal lenses cannot provide the full range of near vision correction that would negate the need to wear spectacles.

Despite Optegra providing supporting scientific evidence for their claim the ASA ruled: “We understood that the use of multifocal intra-ocular lenses, such as those used in the Clarivu procedure, could provide sufficient correction of both long and short distance vision to the extent that many patients would no longer require glasses or contact lenses after the treatment, but that this was not guaranteed for all patients.”
As a result the ad must not appear again in its current form.

Record numbers for Specsavers charity campaign in Morningside

February 2014

Morningside residents have helped a local optician to stockpile its largest ever collection of old and unwanted glasses to help people in developing countries. Specsavers Morningside has amassed more than 3,500 pairs of specs, thanks to kind donations from the public.

The huge haul will be handed over to eyecare charity Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) which recycles the specs and uses the funds generated to provide eyecare to those who need it in the developing world.
Among those involved in creating a mountain of unwanted specs were pupils from nearby schools and First Ranger Guides, Brownies, Beavers and the South Morningside Explorer Scout Unit.

Michael O’Kane, store director of Specsavers Morningside, says: ‘I am overwhelmed by the huge support from the local community who have contributed to our VAO appeal to help those in need.

‘In particular I’d like to thank the children and young adults from all of our generous local schools and groups for going out of their way to organise collections and donations, helping us to collect our largest pile of VAO specs to-date.

‘Specsavers has been a supporter of VAO for nearly a decade. It’s a fantastic charity giving the gift of sight to people with vision problems across the developing world. Many people overseas do not have access to the most basic of eyecare so receiving a pair of prescription glasses can mark a massive change in their lives.

The VAO donation is just one of many sight-improvement initiatives supported by the store. Specsavers Morningside recently funded flight costs for an optometrist to take a trip to India, providing vital eyecare services for those suffering from sight problems and blindness.

Specsavers is a long-standing supporter of Vision Aid Overseas, donating more than 250,000 pairs of glasses and raising enough funds to build a school of optometry in Zambia, with eyecare outreach clinics in much of the country.

IRB confirms new approach to protective goggles on the field of play

February 2014

Protective goggles suitable for rugby have been approved for the first time by the International Rugby Board, whose headquarters are in Dublin. The wrap around protection, which has been designed by sports company Raleri, will go on trial immediately.

The goggles have been particularly developed for young players with eye problems and who are not yet ready to wear contact lenses.

Designed with an outside protective covering and an inside slot where a player’s lens can fit without fear of moving, the innovation adheres to current rugby equipment laws. Normal spectacles cannot be worn but the lenses from spectacles can be inserted and will be protected by the outer covering.

It is recommended that the corrective lenses should be prescribed by an optician or doctor and installed in the provided “clip on” that mounts in the inner side of the goggles. The goggles will go on trial for a year effective from now.

“The IRB recognises that not everyone who needs corrective glasses can wear contact lenses, particularly children, so we have been collaborating with a leading manufacturer to design and rigorously test a pair of Rugby Goggles that will be safe and effective in a rugby environment. We believe we have done that now and this trial is good news for anyone with eyesight issues who wishes to play the game,” said an IRB official.
“They can also be worn by senior players with eye conditions and have been designed with no sharp or protruding edges than can be harmful to the wearer or opponents,” he added.

The goggles feature high-speed impact resistance, anti-abrasion surfaces, anti-fogging, UV protection and a specially designed strap with no clips or buckles. Only those goggles bearing the IRB approved logo can be worn and referees have been empowered to make the necessary checks.

The goggles are not yet available in retail outlets but can be purchased from the manufacturer online through a registration process. The main reason for this is that as a global trial product the IRB hope to gain feedback from wearers to ascertain the long term suitability of the equipment.

The cost of a pair of the goggles is €74 and, according to an IRB official they will be available in retail outlets once the Trial period is over and they have been fully approved.

LOCSU considers challenge as it fails on DVLA tender process

February 2014

The LOC Support Unit (LOCSU) regrets to announce that its bid on behalf of the majority of the sector to be the Prime Contractor for the Provision of Vision Testing Services for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has been unsuccessful.

LOCSU, with the support of Optometry Scotland, Optometry Wales and the Optical Confederation, submitted a highly competitive bid in response to the tender advertised by the DVLA which was based on delivering a managed network of optical practices and optometrists across England, Scotland and Wales.

Alan Tinger, LOCSU Chairman said “I and everyone associated with the bid are extremely disappointed with the outcome. The objective of our bid was to retain the management and delivery of this significant service, which operates across three nations, within our professions delivering high quality at an affordable fee.” Mr Tinger added “Over 2000 practices had expressed an interest in getting involved in the service, ranging from part-time independent practices to large multiples. This demonstrates how much colleagues across the sector felt that it was important for the sector as a whole to bid.”

“The LOCSU team that worked on the bid included an experienced Project Manager with a wealth of procurement experience and we were confident that our service delivery model had a very good chance of success.”

The legislation provides for a ten day cooling off period before the contract with the winning bidder can be signed. This period will conclude at midnight at the end of 10th February 2014. LOCSU is exploring whether there is a legal basis upon which to challenge the outcome.

As momentum gathers speed for 100% Optical, Orasis announce their attendance

February 2014

Practitioners visiting 100% Optical 2014 who are looking at Practice Management Software can visit Orasis and participate in a Demo of the system. Orasis (a PHN supporter) also invite existing customers onto the stand to demonstrate the new or enhanced features of the system.

These include: a dispensing system that uses manufacturer’s catalogues, online lens ordering – incorporating tracing and blank size optimisation, clinical records, contact lens management, diary management, a new word processor and an enhanced marketing module which can target specific customers for example on spend, gender, age and lens brand.

Thanks to the latest Windows 8 technology, Orasis can send messages via text, email, letters, cards and use low cost print and mail companies saving you up to 60% on postage costs. This will result in satisfied patients, increased sales and profitability.

Orasis has been supplying software to opticians since 1995 and it continues to evolve its modern appearance and layout enabling users to easily carry out functions.

Visit Orasis's Page on the Site

Programme announced for world’s first Global Contact Lens Forum

February 2014

Hailed as – “The perfect collision of scientific education and business content” – the world’s first Global Contact Lens Forum (GCLF) will take place in New York next month.

The first event of its kind, the Global Contact Lens Forum is the result of a joint partnership agreement between the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) and the International Vision Expo & Conference.
Taking place on 26 and 27 March at the Javits Centre in New York, immediately prior to Vision Expo East 2014, the two-day event will offer world-class continuing education and business lectures jointly devised by the Vision Expo Conference Advisory Board and the BCLA.

The Forum will explore all aspects of contact lens practice business, the COPE-approved programme features internationally-renowned speakers such as Professor Lyndon Jones (Canada), who will deliver the keynote address, Nick Rumney (BCLA/UK), Joe Barr (USA), Kirk Smick (USA), Jack Shaeffer (USA) and Shelly Bansal (BCLA/UK).

Topics will include:

• Contact lenses yesterday, today and tomorrow
• Contact lenses are good business
• Utilising the tools of the trade
• Contact lens wearing schedules: an ongoing debate
• The response of the ocular system to contact lenses
• How will patients get their contact lenses tomorrow?
• Q&A of ‘Here we are today and what we can do now’

Kirk Smick, Chairman of International Vision Expo’s Conference Advisory Board, commented: “We’re proud to collaborate with the BCLA on this entirely new, stand-alone contact lens programme. The BCLA Clinical Conference is the most respected contact lens meeting on the globe, and Vision Expo is leading the field in practice management trends and business strategies. It’s the perfect collision of scientific education and business content.

The myth that contact lenses are not profitable anymore will be dispelled and attendees will be exposed to the current thinking in contact lenses as it relates to successful business practice, especially in light of the many recent changes in healthcare. This is one of many exciting changes to the continuing education programme offered at Vision Expo East and further enhances our position as a world-class content provider,” added Kirk.
Nick Rumney, BCLA Conference Programme Coordinator, said: “The partnership between Vision Expo and the BCLA has afforded both organisations new opportunities to jointly develop exciting, innovative educational content to position eyecare professionals with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed in today’s healthcare environment. The Global Contact Lens Forum is not to be missed.”

The Global Contact Lens Forum is part of a multi-year, content exchange agreement between Vision Expo and the BCLA designed to improve continuing education offerings at their respective conferences. A second forum will take place during the 38th BCLA Clinical Conference and Exhibition, from 6-9 June at the ICC Birmingham, UK.

BCLA members who would like to attend the GCLF in New York are being offered free exhibition hall admission, representing a saving of US$75, and 10 per cent off of the entire continuing education programme by visiting www.visionexpoeast.com/BCLA

Call for posters and oral presentations for Vision UK 2014

February 2014

The UK Vision Strategy is calling for abstracts for posters and oral presentations for this year’s Vision UK conference. Vision UK 2014, taking place on 12 June 2014 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, is the leading conference for the eye health and sight loss sector. The conference is now in its sixth year.

Conference organisers are looking for submissions of posters and oral presentations which showcase an example of a piece of work or a project that demonstrates effective implementation of the UK Vision Strategy.
New to the Vision UK conference this year is the opportunity to submit an abstract for an oral presentation. In addition, the conference will also feature a poster session, which follows the same format as previous years. Posters will be displayed for delegates to view throughout the conference and awards for the best poster in each category will be presented on the day.

Anita Lightstone, UK Vision Strategy Programme Director and VISION 2020 UK Chief Operations Officer said: ‘’We are excited to be able to offer the opportunity for people to share the good work that they are doing in implementing the Strategy across the UK. We hope that the posters and oral presentations will inspire delegates and give them practical tools and ideas for how they can turn the Strategy into action in their local areas.’’

Research presents new hope of early diagnosis of major cause of blindness

February 2014

Research is under way to develop new techniques for detecting diabetic retinopathy at early onset with the hope of improving prevention and treatment of this major cause of blindness.

The disease is the most common cause of sight loss in people of working age. It is estimated that in England every year 4,200 people are at risk of blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy, with 1,280 new cases identified annually.

As part of the Retinal Vascular Modelling, Measurement and Diagnosis (REVAMMAD) project led by the University of Lincoln, UK, Marie Curie Researcher Georgios Leontidis is investigating new methods for the early screening and diagnosis of the disease by developing computer models which can detect small changes in the blood vessels of the eye.

Funded by the European Union's 7th Framework (FP7) Marie Curie Initial Training Network programme, the University of Lincoln has been awarded 900,000 euros from the 3.8 million euro budget to lead the project and to develop retinal imaging and measurement training and research. It aims to improve diagnosis, prognosis and prevention of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke and coronary heart disease and retinal diseases.

Georgios, an Electronics and Computer Engineer within the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, is investigating the effects of diabetes on the retina’s vessel walls and how this ultimately affects the flow of blood in the whole vasculature of the retina. He said: “Here at the University of Lincoln, our efforts focus on analysing images of diabetic patients before the first stage of diabetic retinopathy. In that way we want to see what changes diabetes causes to the retina vessels and how these changes progress to retinopathy. We will then try to correlate the standard features we extract from these images with functional changes that occur, such as abnormality in blood pressure, blood flow volume and blood flow velocity, as well as to associate them with some risk factors like age, type of diabetes, duration of diabetes, gender and smoking.”

100% Optical 2014 announce complete agenda for an exciting three days in London

February 2014

100% Optical 2014 attendees will be met with an industry encompassing array of events and features to take in during their visit. This first international annual optical event to be held at ExCeL London in February, 16 – 18, 2014, will incorporate an unrivalled line up of educational sessions, over 75 hours of CET qualifying education, workshops, demonstrations, interactive features and exclusive shows. Taking this in to account, plus the fact that the event will host over 400 brands, 2,000 product launches, 12 fashion shows and 60 international speakers, event organiser, Media 10, is strongly recommending that show attendees plan their visit in advance to ensure they don’t miss vital sessions, products and features.

100% Optical Diary of Events round up:

Opening Event – Sunday 16th February

To celebrate 100% Optical’s opening day there will be a party in the central bar of the show from 6pm. Visitors are invited to join event organisers and exhibitors for a glass of fizz and canapés, enjoy a DJ set from Gary Powell from The Libertines, and watch a special catwalk show in the Fashion Hub. (NB Media are invited to an exclusive fashion hub preview at 2pm)

Main Stage

The main stage is a must for many professionals. A comprehensive educational programme with four international keynote speakers each day will take place on the Main Stage in a 200 seat theatre at the heart of 100% Optical. Highlights include…

•Leading ophthalmologists from the UK and abroad are covering keynote seminars in refractive, cornea or cataract, and femtosecond laser cataract surgeries, as well as delivering OCT seminars. Speakers are also looking at the latest developments in contact lenses, technology, business advice, practice growth and customer service.
•The Association of Optometrists has assembled a world-class selection of speakers covering a variety of topics. World leading consultants from Moorfields Eye Hospital are also lined up to take part. Speakers include world leader in vision science Professor Brien Holden, amblyopia expert Professor Anita Simmers and lens physicist Professor Joshua Silver.
•There will be Big Debates each day on topics including the role of the optician on the high street, The 3D Printing revolution and how it might impact the industry, and the Future of Eyewear Design.

See full programme here http://www.100percentoptical.com/timetable

The Lens Hub

The Lens Hall features two seminar streams covering Contact Lenses and Ophthalmic Lenses. Top speakers and companies are represented in a variety of formats – from group discussions to individual seminars – and include the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) and University College London (UCL).

Ophthalmic lenses seminar sessions include…

Ian Cameron ‘I’ve Got The Stigmata, Doctor!’ – Communication And Contact Lenses (supported by the BCLA) • David Bennett: Presbyopic RGP • The AOP’s Guide To Staying On The Right Side Of The Law And The General Optical Council (GOP)• Dementia Awareness (supported by University College London • Ken Pullum: End Points For Keratoconus RGP Lens Fitting (supported by Jack Allen)

Contact lenses seminars include…

Phil Gilbert : Understanding BSI, EN And ISO Standards, And A Look At Why We Need Them • Paul Adler: Tips For Toddlers • Zahra Jessa/Louise Gow: Can I Have Stronger Glasses? Confidently Managing Patients With Low-Vision Needs • Lindsay Small: Why Training Is Essential For The Practice Team • Stephen Kill/Scott Watkin: Now You See Me, Now You Don’t – How To Increase Eye Care • Access For Patients With Learning Disabilities (with SeeAbility) • Sarah Morgan: Support Staff Training

The Equipment Hub

The Equipment Hub is a ground breaking feature for any optical exhibition. It houses a selection of hand-picked equipment from leading equipment manufacturers, such as Optos, Hanson, Zeiss and Heidelberg. It offers visitors the opportunity to try out equipment in a non-sales environment and take advantage of the CET accredited seminars and workshops on offer. Workshops are held for small groups of four to six participants, and a series of mini-seminars are also being held.

Peer Discussion sessions, which involve sharing views on a variety of case scenarios where small round-table groups and participants will be encouraged to reflect privately on how their learning can be applied to their own clinical practice will be another facet of this area.

Topics covered in the Equipment Hub include…

OCT Imaging, Glaucoma Care, Dry Eye workshops, Prosthetics and Surgical Techniques, to name a few. Contributors have been drawn from Moorfields Eye Hospital, Heidelberg, Zeiss and Associated Optical

Fashion Hub

The Fashion Hub is a multi-purpose feature. It will stage live eyewear shows of four daily Catwalk Shows are organised by leading Fashion Show Producer Lindsey Hunt, whose vast knowledge and experience of the industry brings a creative flair to the event. The 100% Optical Catwalk will feature eyewear from key exhibitors, in an 8 scene show. Scenes will follow Summer and Winter trends; The Great Luxe Outdoors, Film Noir, 21st Century Suiting, Modern Dandy, Typically English, Modern 60’s, Florals and swimwear. Clothing for the catwalk will be supplied by top fashion designers including: Giles Deacon, Holland and Holland, Kinloch and Anderson, Rigby and Peller, Daks, Aimee Mc Williams, Superdry, Next – suiting and Austin Reed.

The Fashion Hub also contains an installation created by innovative and award winning visual merchandising company –KSHT who have designed beautiful display windows to inspire opticians to create more cutting edge and inviting shop windows themselves. Each window has a different theme; THE LIBRARY (Everyday essentials), WATCH THE BIRDY (Glamour), SAFETY FIRST (specialist safety frames) and LIGHT LADDER (Colour Frames).

Seminars and workshops from speakers such as Jason Kirk, Klaus Kosgaard, and Marie Wilkinson will also feature within the Fashion Hub.

Business Hub

Here visitors will meet experts from the optical industry worldwide for advice and tips, whether it’s individuals seeking career advice or independent opticians looking for practical business tips, visitors can either have a 40 minute seminar or book a free one-on-one consultation. Expert consultations include Social Media Expert Garry Kousoulou, whose authoritative presentation qualifies for CET points and is GOC approved, Entrepreneur Imran Hakim and Independent Retail Designer Dean Waugh. Half hour slots, for one to one advice with all three can be booked online in advance. Other experts include Lindsey Small director of ZIGZAG training and Sarah Morgan an optometrist and staff development consultant from Eye Communicate.

Seminars on the Business Hub include…

•Marc Bennett – Thrifty Shades of Pay
•Andy Clark – The Opticians Revolution
•Garry Kousoulou – Social Media: Communication for the 21st Century
•Jonathan Winchester – Five Fantastic Findings from Mystery Shopping
•Patrick Myers – Survive and Thrive
•Jonathan Winchester – How great customer service leads to more profitability
•Paul Surridge – What makes an independent practice successful long- term: 10 vital ingredients
•Marc Bennett – Selling my practice
• Imran Hakim – Future proof and super – charge your practice
•Dean Waugh – It’s what inside that counts: the importance of design in an optical environment

3D Frame Factory

To accompany the 3D Printing debate 100% Optical has created a ‘3D Frame Factory’ which will allow visitors to see first-hand how 3D printers work and how frames are printed. The hub will showcase the latest 3D Printing technology and software including Creat3D’s CubeX and ProDesk 3D Printers. There will be live demonstrations of printing frames and visitors will even have the opportunity to customise their own frames. Visitors will get the chance to try out the 3Doodler, the world's first 3D printing pen, allowing limitless design possibilities and presenting a new future for the accessibility and approach to 3D printing development. The new 3D handheld scanner will also be on show, allowing visitors to scan their faces in order to design frames that are a true fit. Plus the latest 3D Printed designs including the first ever 3D Printed Titanium frames by Belgium designer and optician, Patrick Hoet.

Even More 100% Optical Features…

The Royal College of Art Eyewear Competition - The winning 8 prototypes of this competition have been made and developed in conjunction with Jesse Stevens at Fish Island Design, and made by Algha Works in East London. Come see the designs concepts and a glimpse of the future talent in eyewear design.
The Black Collection - Over the years, Jesse Steven’s Fish Island Design has amassed close to 2000 vintage frames. With such a variety of frames at their fingertips, both designer and client start the design process by riffling through this veritable museum. Each frame influences and provokes an interesting hinge, temple, base curve or fit and much more. These are the key foundations for any designer, their favourites will be on display at 100% Optical.

The Vintage Collection - Since the late 1950s, Tony Gross has collected a vast array of eyewear sourced from around the world. In 2001, Cutler and Gross opened the vintage shop where Mr. Gross’s taste and attention to detail are all part of the shop's continuing appeal. 100% Optical visitors will be treated to a taste of the store plus a source of inspiration for international designers, architects, art collectors, and discerning eyewear enthusiasts.

Media Lounge – 100% Optical is supported by UK and international Optical Media. The Media lounge will be a focus for these publications and a source of essential show information.

AOP VIP Lounge – Members of 100% Optical’s partner, the AOP, will be able to take advantage of a range of benefits including access to this lounge.

For Latest product news, a full list of exhibitors and featured exhibitors can be found on the event website. For further info and to register to attend please visit http://www.100percentoptical.com or call 020 3225 5200

College celebrates research excellence at inaugural lecture

February 2014

The College of Optometrists held its first Research Excellence lecture at The Royal College of Physicians on Monday 3 February. The guest speaker, world-renowned Professor Larry Thibos from Indiana University, USA, presented his lecture on retinal imaging - From optics to vision: the ultimate challenge. He reviewed the latest technology for measuring optical aberrations and provided fresh insight into the nature of the flawed retinal image caused by a number of conditions including presbyopia, tear film break up and dry eye.

On the evening, Professor Thibos became the first recipient of the College of Optometrists President’s Research Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to research and lifetime career contribution to the field of optometry. The medal, which will be awarded every four years, is the College’s highest research honour and the most prestigious of the Research Excellence Awards. These Awards recognise achievement and celebrate outstanding contributions to research in the fields of optometry, optics and vision science.

Speaking after his lecture, Professor Thibos said: “It is easy for us in the research community to speak to each other and to feel like we are progressing vision science, but what really matters is making a clinical difference for patients. I’m delighted to be given this opportunity to share how this work is doing that and I’m proud to receive the College’s first President’s Research Medal on behalf of my many colleagues and students.”

Dr Kamlesh Chauhan, President of the College of Optometrists, said: “Research is key to our profession. It creates the evidence base which tells us which treatments produce the best outcomes and which systems of eye care represent the best value for money, thus affecting practice for all of us. Our Research Excellence Awards are a means of recognising the best of this research and its role in shaping future best practice.

“Professor Thibos is a true pioneer in the field of retinal imagery research and has made a unique and signifiant contribution to the advancement of our profession. He is a truly worthy recipient of this, our first, President’s Research Medal.”
Nominations are now invited for the Colleges Research Excellence Awards 2014.

The European Coalition for Vision calls on MEPs to support better vision and eye health across Europe, and uphold the rights of visually impaired people

February 2014

The European Coalition for Vision (ECV) (1) and the Coalition’s manifesto for the European Parliament elections were launched today (Tuesday 4th Feb) at the European Parliament seat in Strasbourg. The manifesto, presented in an event hosted by the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Marian Harkin (ALDE, IE), calls on the European Parliament to use its significant powers to improve the lives of people affected by vision impairment or at risk of vision loss.
“Brussels can do a better job when it comes to encouraging European Union (EU) Member States to prioritise vision and eye health within their health strategies – an area largely neglected by most European governments,” said Peter Ackland, Chief Executive Officer of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). Europe is facing an invisible epidemic, with 25 million Europeans suffering from serious vision impairment - including 2.7 million who are blind. Since an estimated two-thirds of these cases could be treated or prevented, the hefty burden that vision impairment imposes on affected individuals, their families, EU Member States and the EU as a whole could be alleviated with the right measures in place.

Lower rates of vision impairment and blindness will help EU Member States make considerable healthcare savings. In addition, better vision and eye health will not only greatly improve the lives of the people affected – it would also yield major productivity gains across sectors.

EU Member States should, once and for all, take off their blindfolds on vision and eye matters and begin adopting available, yet shockingly overlooked, cost-effective solutions (3) –with fair access to eye care for all, and rapid intervention- to help tackle the mounting challenge of vision impairment for individuals and society across Europe. For this political commitment to unfold, the ECV’s electoral manifesto calls on the European Parliament to adopt a resolution to make this happen.

“Both today’s rise in diabetes and an aging Europe (4) threaten to increase the numbers of avoidably vision impaired and blind persons. There is an urgent need to address the gaps in eye health provision in Europe, and to promote the rights of the blind and partially sighted so that they can live a life of equal opportunities within a socially inclusive Europe,” said MEP Marian Harkin.

(1) The European Coalition for Vision (ECV) is an alliance made up of professional bodies, patient groups, European NGOs, disabled people's organisations and trade associations representing suppliers. The coalition exists to raise the profile of eye health and vision, help prevent avoidable visual impairment and secure an equal and inclusive society for those with irreversible blindness or low vision in Europe.

(3) In May 2013 the World Health Assembly adopted Resolution 66.4 which included the global Action Plan "Universal Eye Health- a global Action Plan 2014 -2019". It is now of paramount importance that the 28 Member States of the EU each develop country specific plans to achieve implementation of the Plan.
(4) The main causes of visual impairment in Europe are uncorrected refractive error (48%), cataract (13%) and macular degeneration (6%), which can affect people from childhood to old age.

FMO attracts new members to networking trade body

February 2014

The FMO has a surge in new members joining from across the optical supply spectrum: companies which are keen to maximise the benefits of the industry working together to promote excellence on the High Street. From the diagnostic technology sector is Scotland-based Optos; newly joining frame companies include Ronit Furst, Capitol Optical, Emporium Eyewear and Eyespace Eyewear; and from the lens sector is New Malden-based G.W. Optics.

For many, networking is an important aspect of joining The FMO, but for others advice, regulatory updates and frame, lens and equipment supplier focus groups are the attraction. “Since joining I have been impressed by the range of benefits available and may well take advantage of the credit insurance scheme. As a growing company I feel that membership of the UK trade body confers another stamp of authority on our business profile. The stand discount at Optrafair is the icing on the cake,” said Helena Finden-Browne, Managing Director Ronit Furst Eyewear.

Joining the FMO was always important for newly-formed Eyespace Managing Directors Jayne and Julie Abel, when they established their own company. “Pooling nearly 40 years of experience in the optical industry from International Eyewear we are passionate about the UK optical profession and value the involvement with the FMO. Enlisting Eyespace was a natural step. There are numerous benefits to becoming a member of such a vital industry organisation. The first and most obvious reason is the significant discounts that FMO members receive towards the leading UK optical exhibition Optrafair,” said Jayne.

“Over the years, I've thoroughly looked forward to the Frame Focus groups meetings and the new venues nationwide and informative guest speakers. It's a great network of professional people and an ideal arena to discuss developments within the optical world. Despite the dawn of social media and twitter, nothing can beat an open discussion with a group of like-minded individuals who want to drive their businesses forward. We've benefited from the ever valuable bad-debtors list which has saved us lost money in the past. We've negotiated as a group, improved postal charges with Hays Dx and we've received help and advice with other issues such as insurance, logistics and training which has been incredibly useful,” she added.

For lens company G.W. Optics there are multiple benefits, says the Sales Manager Nick Figures, “We joined the FMO for a number of reasons; we wanted to broaden our knowledge of the UK optical industry, not just in the lens field but across the board; we wanted to show our customers we were committed to the UK market for the long term; we were keen to meet people within the industry and we wanted to take advantage of the FMO’s expertise, experience and know-how.”

For Optos, the reasons for joining the FMO are numerous, said newly-appointed Managing Director, Mark Braddon, “We want to become more involved in the UK optical industry and joining the FMO was the logical first step. On top of this we wanted to use the expertise within the FMO to help show our commitment to our customers and the industry.”

UltraVision inspires the next generation of Innovators!

February 2014

As part of their studies in A Level Science, students from Vandyke Upper School and Community College enjoyed a second visit to contact lens manufacturer UltraVision. Double the amount of students attended this year, making it the busiest tour yet. Josie Barlow and Wendy Churchill led the visit for the students by presenting the science behind vision, contact lenses, and how UltraVision changes patients’ lives on a daily basis.

UltraVision uses all three applied sciences that will help Vandyke students in their course. The tour included the manufacturing processes involved in making contact lenses and the science behind making a contact lens safe and comfortable to wear.

UltraVision enjoys supporting the local community and welcomes any educational visits from schools and colleges in the surrounding counties.

BCLA announces spring meetings programme

February 2014

The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) has lined up an exciting programme of meetings for spring 2014 now available to book – including a business workshop, ‘BCLA to go’ peer review discussions, and a business evening lecture.

Kicking off the programme on Tuesday 4 March (6-8pm) will be Ross Grant, optometrist and founder of ToolBox Training and Consultancy, who will lead an evening of contact lens business discussion at the BCLA’s office in London. In his session, entitled: ‘You’re a good contact lens practitioner: how’s your business?’, Ross will look at areas such as customer service, staff motivation, practice finances, and how to create an overall strategy for contact lens practice growth.

Ross commented: “I’ll be illustrating my discussion with exercises and from attendees’ own experiences, with the intent that each member of the audience leaves with at least one idea that they can put into practice the next day.” (Please note: no CET is available for this meeting).

On the same evening – Tuesday 4 March, 6-8pm – BCLA Council member (Optometric Representative), Jonathon Bench, will facilitate a ‘BCLA to go’ peer review discussion session at the Alcon Academy in Camberley, Surrey. The evening will look at generic contact lens case records, taken from the College of Optometrists, ABDO and LOCSU, and is approved for three CET points (optometrists and contact lens opticians).

It’s back to the BCLA office in London on Monday 10 March for a second ‘BCLA to go’ peer review discussion session, this time led by BCLA Council Contact Lens Optician Representatives, Iain May and Keith Tempany. Again, the session takes place in the evening (6-8pm) and is approved for three CET points (optometrists and contact lens opticians).

Next stop Leeds, as ‘BCLA to go’ travels north for more peer review discussion at Blenkinsop Opticians on Tuesday 18 March (6-8pm). Facilitating this session will be optometrist Alison Alderson, taking attendees through generic contact lens case records and on their way to earning three CET points (optometrists and contact lens opticians).

Rounding off the programme of confirmed dates so far will be a BCLA business evening meeting (6.30-8pm) on Wednesday 26 March at One Drummond Gate, Victoria, London. In his session entitled: ‘Building your business by engaging with your patients’, Phil Mullins, Director of Business Development for the National Eyecare Group, will encourage audience participation and the sharing of ideas.

Phil commented: “During these competitive times, it is important to engage with your patients and educate them as to why eyecare is an important part of their overall healthcare regime. This, in turn, will lead to more loyal patients who then go on to spend more on their eyecare. I’ll be looking at ways to communicate and engage with patients and how these can be implemented into the day-to-day running of a modern contact lens practice,” added Phil. (Please note: no CET is available for this meeting).

Mainline Instruments- NEW Website, NEW Offers, All with free delivery

January 2014

Mainline Instruments have launched a new e-commerce website full of new offers and promotions. Each month, new web only offers are added from a range of manufacturers such as icare, Keeler, Tomey, Huvitz, Oculus, Neitz and many more. When ordering online, you receive FREE delivery on all items whether big or small. Become a registered user to get special pricing, latest offers and keep up to date with ex-demo stock clearances. From small vision accessories to large ophthalmic instruments, it can all be found on www.main-line.co.uk

Visit Mainline's Page on this site

What will you take away from the 38th British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Clinical Conference and Exhibition?

January 2014

To be held from 6-9 June at the ICC Birmingham

With online registration now open, 100 sponsored two-day packages on offer and a new mobile app launching soon, the countdown to the BCLA’s ‘take-away’ themed 2014 conference has begun.

“With so much to take away this year, we will be providing all the resources delegates need to continue enhancing their clinical skills and business strategies long after the conference doors close,” said BCLA President, Andy Yorke. “BCLA 2014 heralds a new direction for our flagship international conference. With new digital platforms to inform and engage, it will be a truly interactive event for – and in support of – the global contact lens community.”

All delegates will be able to build their own schedule prior to the four-day event, which for the first time will run from Friday to Monday. The initial programme, which will be regularly updated, can now be viewed at www.bcla.org.uk. A mobile conference app will be available to download from the BCLA website or iTunes from February, enabling delegates to make appointments directly with exhibitors.

With the High Street contact lens practitioner in mind, this year there will be more hands-on workshops and a renewed focus on everyday contact lens practice issues such as comfort, keratoconus and myopia control. A business session will include topics such as systems pricing, optometrist/contact lens optician interaction, KPIs, and the implications of online contact lens supply. Contact lens marketing and communication will be covered in the programme too.

CET workshops will run for the full four days of the conference, with some workshops being repeated depending on demand. Peer review discussion groups will also take place each day of the conference and will include therapeutics and contact lens case records. To book workshops, Clinical Spotlights, and peer discussion, visit www.bcla.org.uk

The free BCLA exhibition will open early this year, on the Friday evening from 6-7.30pm, coinciding with the BCLA welcome drinks reception. The exhibition will then open on Saturday 8 June from 9am to 5pm, Sunday 9 June from 10am to 6pm, and Monday 9 June from 9am to 5pm. The Exhibitors’ Pavilion will operate during coffee breaks and lunchtimes only – except on Sunday afternoon when the poster and photo competition winners will be announced. A full list of exhibitors can be found at www.bcla.org.uk

The Gala and Awards Dinner – themed ‘Strictly Contact Lenses’ – will take place on Saturday 7 June at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. Coaches will take delegates to the venue for drinks at 7.30pm followed by dinner at 8pm and entertainment. The annual Fellowship Awards and inaugural BCLA Industry Award presentations will take place during the evening. For the first time, there will be a BCLA ‘Unceremonious Event’ on the Sunday evening from 7-8.30pm. This free event will be open to all registered delegates with drinks and a ‘Best of British’ buffet.

BCLA members with a minimum of two consecutive years of membership qualify for a loyalty discount and can save up to 45 per cent on the full delegate rate, if booking by the early bird deadline of 28 March. Those who join the Association prior to booking on 28 March will still save almost 25 per cent on this rate. Rates plus terms and conditions can be found in the online brochure at the BCLA website.

For the first time, there will be a special two-day package for delegates wanting to attend on just the Sunday and Monday. “This new package is particularly geared towards those independent practitioners who find it difficult to take time out of practice on Friday or Saturday,” explained Nick Rumney, BCLA Conference Programme Coordinator. For BCLA members, the cost is at the reduced price of £280 if booked before the early bird deadline of 28 March, after which the rate will be £320. For non-members, the rates are £400 and £460 respectively.

Once again, in association with its exhibitors, the BCLA is offering 100 delegates the chance to attend two days of the conference for free. The sponsored delegate package includes a Sunday and Monday delegate pass, entry to the ‘Unceremonious Event’ on the Sunday night and Sunday night accommodation at a designated hotel. For full terms and conditions, visit www.bcla.org.uk

Keynote speakers
• BCLA Medalist, Professor Philip Morgan (UK): ‘Changing the world with contact lenses’
• Irving Fatt Memorial Lecturer, Dr Heiko Pult (Germany): ‘Clinical evaluation of dry eye: a year of research’
• Professor Lyndon Jones (Canada): ‘Tune in or drop out’
• Dr Motozumi Itoi (Japan): ‘Management of keratoconus with hard contact lenses’
• Professor Bruce Evans (UK): ‘Kids 4 contacts: building a paediatric contact lens practice’

Sponsors:
• Partners: Alcon, CooperVision and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care
• Platinum Sponsor: Sauflon
• Gold Sponsors: David Thomas Contact Lenses/Menicon and Topcon

College releases further workshop places for annual conference – Optometry Tomorrow 2014

January 2014

Due to increasing demand, the College of Optometrists has now released additional workshop places for its annual conference Optometry Tomorrow 2014. Held on 16 and 17 March at York Racecourse, the conference, which includes 36 workshops, will cover all the optometric competences required to comply with CET requirements.

Ian Humphreys, Director of Member Services and Communications at the College says: “We think this year’s conference is going to be the best yet - mainly because we have spent a lot of time listening and talking to members to make sure we’ve put together a programme that really ticks all their boxes! They asked for more workshops and so we have increased these quite significantly to cover a wide and diverse range of topics including dry eye , diagnosing AMD, paediatric prescribing, optic nerve head disorders and contact lenses for presbyopia.

“Our clinical workshops always fill up really quickly so we’ve packed in as many as we can, and we’ve added more opportunities to gain CET points, particularly in more difficult to fulfil competency areas. We’ve also significantly increased the content available for hospital optometrists. Delegates with a general interest in eye health care should find our Q&A session on the new clinical commissioning guidelines both interesting and enlightening.”

The College has also introduced a rolling programme of peer discussion sessions running throughout the event, and to meet increasing demand from IP qualified optometrists and those studying for the diploma in therapeutics - independent prescribing, there is now a full day of therapeutic sessions available. There will be presentations on a range of topical and familiar subjects including evidence based optometry, migraine and gene therapy. Speakers include Dr Traci Clemons, Senior Statistician/Vice President of the EMMES Corporation in Maryland, who will outline the findings of the organisation’s high profile Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), investigating the role of nutritional supplements in the prevention and management of AMD.

Rodenstock promotion leads to surge in sales of near vision products

January 2014

A major national promotion to help independent opticians increase their sales of near and intermediate vision spectacles has had a dramatic impact on sales, reports Rodenstock UK.

The Rodenstock Near Vision lens promotion was supported with nationwide workshops, which included CET presentations and sales training to overcome the challenges of dispensing multiple pairs of spectacles, together with a comprehensive range of point of sale material.

“The feedback from the Ergo promotion and near vision workshop was extremely positive, with an 84% increase in volume since the promotion. In fact the increase exceeded 125% in December!” said Lens Product Manager Debbie Bathgate. With more people spending increased amounts of time using computers and handheld devices, there has been a huge growth in the use of ‘computer glasses’ and there is still lots of potential. We know that some opticians find it challenging to talk about complementary spectacles, particularly to someone who has already agreed to purchase progressive spectacles, so we invited Martin Gross, a professional trainer and coach for opticians, to share his ideas on how to approach this with a completely different mind set.”

“We had such positive feedback following Martin’s training that we plan to hold more sales training workshops in 2014,” added Debbie.

WCSM gives a second and continuing opportunity to openly discuss the benefits and risks of changing the Opticians Act at Moot Night

January 2014

The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Maker’s last Moot evening was held at the Institute of Optometry and started the discussions on “What’s wrong with the Opticians Act” with a panel and an audience of around 40. Audience participation at these events is encouraged and that night was no exception, but most wanted more time to discuss issues about risks and benefits that might come with any change at all.

Hence a new date has been set for Thursday 13th March and the venue has moved to the AOP offices in Clerkenwell starting at 6.00pm.

This is an opportunity to experience the friendship available at SMC events without being a member. In fact the Moot evenings have been attended in the main by an equal mix of members and non-members.

As before the evening will begin with an “Any Questions” to a panel of experts who will then debate the issue with the audience. Topics likely to be aired are:

• What will change, what must change?
• What are the risks and benefits of change?
• Are there dangers in refraction-based selling?
• What are the risks and benefits of on-line sales?
• Might the patients perspective on the need for regular eye care be affected by changes?
• Will turf wars between professionals on scope of practice impede progress?

Background

The law commissioners are looking at all regulatory health bodies including the GOC and they have taken the opportunity to relook at its registration process for businesses and for students. Their early conclusions and recommendations for business are now published and will have cost implications. Not just because of an expected rise of 4000 registrants but also the considerations of policing practices and business protocol.

Add to this the expected drive to lower the hurdle in allowing refraction only dispensing but also who can do it. Perhaps the pressure from the Dispensing community to allow refraction is just a small part of the changes that retail and more likely on line businesses really want to see.

At the last Moot, the past GOC CEO, Peter Coe’s comparisons with other professions was most interesting and we doubt whether most of the optical community bar those who remember the early days realise what a privileged position was achieved in the current act.

Well now is your chance to join us at the next moot on March 13th at the AOP offices. Whether you attended Part 1 or not the format of these evening allows for audience participation and the SMC welcomes you all, from any sector in business, health and the professions.

Arrive on time for a glass of wine and after the discussion stay on for canapés and drinks and meet up with colleagues and SMC members. Bring £10 on the night to pay towards the evening’s wine and food and please email the Clerk to book in advance.

You can invite guests to join you in this important event, just book before hand by email as soon as possible. This could be a sellout given the interest in the subject.

Email: clerk@spectaclemakers.com

C.W. Dixey Eyewear Joins Master Craftsmen at Linley Exhibition

January 2014

The fine craftsmanship and timeless elegance of C.W. Dixey & Son Eyewear is celebrated in a new Linley Exhibition at the flagship store on Pimlico Road, London, SW1.

Joining other prestigious and luxury brands esteemed for their excellence, C.W. Dixey & Son will be promoting the elegant lines of its tortoiseshell and black ophthalmic and sunglass collections for Spring 2014.

Other greats of British design included in the Linley Exhibition are McLaren Automotive; Rolls Royce Aerospace; gun maker Purdey; bespoke boot maker John Lobb; hatters Lock & Co; Bremont Watches; and Linley itself.

“We were delighted to be invited by Linley as we share the same values and ethos of design excellence, using only the very finest materials with the greatest possible attention to detail,” said Simon Palmer, Manager Director of the 235 year old independent eyewear company.

Curated by David Linley and Scott Simpson, the exhibition opens on 26 February and runs until mid-March. The concept grew from David’s desire to encourage an appreciation of ‘making’, not only in terms of traditional craftsmen but also the modern day innovators and engineers who are artists and craftsmen in their own right. The carefully selected brands forming the exhibition are all renowned for the creation of fine objects and have been brought together under one roof in a celebration of British craftsmanship, design, engineering and innovation.

“Providing a captivating insight into the traditions and values of the selected brands, from cufflink designers to bespoke milliners and spectacle specialists, the exhibition aims to unlock the creation process, and in doing so celebrates the unquantifiable amount of skill and attention to detail involved,” said the organisers.

C.W. Dixey & Son Eyewear is available from selected opticians and retails from £380, supplied with embossed handmade leather cases.

Grafton report much interest in their Optovue iFusion OCT and Fundus Camera at Eyecare 3000

January 2014

It was a busy two days for Grafton Optical in Glasgow with much interest shown in their dual diagnostic OCT and fundus camera.

Many delegates attended and stopped by for a demonstration and others took the opportunity to arrange for a demo on a later day.

With their “purchase on the day” shop there was also a keen interest in trial frames lensmeters and lens sets.

Grafton will be displaying their broad range of equipment to Optical professionals next at the Sight Care Services day on the 2nd March. Wewill report on any special promotions nearer the time.

View Grafton's Page

LOCSU at 100% Optical and Optrafair London

January 2014

LOCSU will be represented at both 100% Optical (Feb) and Optrafair London (April) events over the next few months. As well as an opportunity to answer queries from LOC members, it is a chance for clinicians and practice owners from across England, that are represented by LOCs to raise any current issues with LOCSU. If you are attending either event, please visit the LOCSU stand with any questions or to simply give us your views. If you would like to book a specific time to speak to someone about commissioning or any other local issues, please email info@locsu.co.uk with details of when you are available.

January 2014

Grafton have a long and proven relationship with ophthalmologists both in the UK and around the world and are regular attendees of the “Trends” meeting.
Malcolm Redfearn is Grafton’s lead in the ophthalmic world where many specialized equipment has been placed both within the NHS and private clinics. Grafton are NHS preferred suppliers for ophthalmic equipment.

The event will be held at The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG and is aimed at an audience of Consultants, Associate Specialists, STs and Staff Grades.

Grafton will be showing their Optovue Avanti Widefield RTVue OCT developed for disease tracking in retinal conditions as well as macular mapping. These high precision diagnostic ophthalmic systems are designed for treatment based analysis in a clinic environment, one step further than is required in an optometric setting. But is shows how optometric equipment improvements have been developed on the back of ophthalmological research.

This year topics will include:

Medical Eye Unit Case Presentations, Trends in Oculoplastics, Glaucoma Management, Adult Strabismus, Vitreoretinal Surgery, and Cataract Surgery and includes The Michael Saunders Lecture, by Professor John Elston, Oxford Eye Infirmary.

View Grafton's Page

Fresh Eyes 2014

January 2014

Newly qualified optometrists are invited to attend the Fresh Eyes Conference, where LOCSU Optical Lead Liz Greenwood is presenting. Fresh Eyes is jointly organised by the Association of Optometrists and the College of Optometrists and is also held on 16th and 17th March in York. For more details please visit
http://www.fresheyesconference.org/


100% Optical declare 8000 registrations to visit the show in February at Excel and 13 new brands have just signed up to show

January 2014

They include AEL Partners LLP, Wolf Eyewear, SEEOO, horn-I, Bondeye Optical Ltd, Black Eyewear, OGS, Pajuk Optiek BV, Tree Spectacles, Palens Barcelona, Onkel Ferdi, Metzler International, and Finest Seven.

This brings the total of brands represented to over 400 at the show. Have you registered yet?

January 2014

A group of optometrists, many students and recent registrants as well as academics have launched a petition on www.change.org to try to influence the GOC and HM Government to introduce a cap on optometry students in the UK. They have reached 1148 but need a number 3852 under the rules of the petition.

The petition reads:

To:

HM Government and The General Optical Council

Stop Hertfordshire University's plans to create a new optometry course and introduce a cap on the number of Optometry students in the UK.

Sincerely,
[Your name]


Those evoking the petition explain their reasoning as follows:

Currently, there are 9 universities which are accredited by the optical regulatory board, The General Optical Council (GOC). The current job market is currently able to just support the number of graduates that these universities are producing, allowing them to complete their training and become fully qualified optometrists. However, we believe that increasing the number of graduates will saturate the market. This will mean that graduate optometrists will not be able to complete their training as of increased competition for these positions. We also feel that this saturation of the job market will reduce further the salaries of Optometrists as well as increase competition for jobs. This we feel, will deter the best and the brightest from pursuing a career in optometry and drive them towards courses which lead to professions with a more generous salary.

Eds Notes

Some will remember a similar resistance to the new course at Anglia in the late 90s and much of the same arguments were used about loss of earnings, lack of pre reg positions and a lessening incentive to join the profession.

Opposite arguments that were made and can still be used today are that there are still large pockets of the UK where finding optometrists to fill the roles available still exist, that a small surplus allows employees to pick the best on offer rather than excepting applications from a small pool (sometimes 1 or 2), and that it is the duty of the GOC to promote safety and ensure full provision of optical services countrywide and not to protect professionals’ incomes.

Maybe Anglia showed us the way in only accepting sponsored candidates guaranteed a pre reg post, in the early days or possibly the increased work load in enhanced community care will create a new career ladder for new registrants to aspire to higher levels of service.

It seems strange that this has evoked such a response this time around when the Plymouth Venture went unnoticed and very little backlash has been heard about the Dispensing Bodies desire to refract, surely if it transpired, a much greater brake on Optoms salary earning powers would occur.

We want to hear from you either by email or on our forum. Tell us how you see today’s market affecting optometrists and whether a government cap on numbers would be right or successful.

Consultation to improve regulation of health and social care providers

January 2014

Proposed changes to Care Quality Commission registration requirements set out basic level of care that all health and care organisations must provide. Optical services appear to remain outside CQC remit.

DOH asks for views on new draft regulations that will introduce fundamental standards as legal requirements that all providers of health and social care must meet to be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The fundamental standards will make it clear that there are some standards of safety and quality that should always be met. They will be used as part of the CQC’s inspections and regulation of care providers – the CQC will be able to hold providers to account if they are not being met, including through the courts where appropriate.

The fundamental standards are:

• care and treatment must reflect service users’ needs and preferences
• service users must be treated with dignity and respect
• care and treatment must only be provided with consent
• all care and treatment provided must be appropriate and safe
• service users must not be subject to abuse
• service users’ nutritional needs must be met
• all premises and equipment used must be safe, clean, secure, suitable for the purpose for which they are being used, and properly used and maintained
• complaints must be appropriately investigated and appropriate action taken in response
• systems and processes must be established to ensure compliance with the fundamental standards
• sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, skilled and experienced staff must be deployed
• persons employed must be of good character, have the necessary qualifications, skills and experience, and be capable of performing the work for which they are employed

Anyone who is cared for by an NHS hospital, foundation trust, mental health service, independent hospital, care home, nursing home, GP practice, dentist, ambulance, or community services will benefit from the protection the fundamental standards will bring.

The introduction of fundamental standards was recommended by the Francis Inquiry report. The CQC carried out a consultation on the principles of the standards last year and the responses have helped in developing the regulations that are now being consulted on.

The consultation will help ensure that the regulations are easy to understand and effective.

Pre-reg RGP workshop inspires and educates

January 2014

More than 70 students enjoyed a welcome boost in RGP lens theory and practice, ahead of their final PQE assessments, at a recent British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Pre-reg RGP Workshop.

Held at Aston University on Sunday 19 January, the one-day workshop for pre-registration optometrists was designed to support students through the final stages of their assessments and to help them to build their confidence in fitting RGP lenses.

Morning sessions were devoted to RGP lectures, delivered by Professor James Wolffsohn, Deputy Executive Dean in the School of Life and Health Sciences at Aston University, and Caroline Christie, Associate Director of Contact Lenses at City University, London. Students were also able to get ‘hands-on’ with RGP lens fitting during the day under the expert guidance of BCLA President Elect, Susan Bowers, and a team of helpers.

BCLA member Dan Varcoe, a pre-reg at Alan Duchemin Opticians in St Helier, Jersey, said: “The workshop really helped me to think about fitting RGP lenses in a different and more logical way. Putting together the experience I already had, and the useful tips given in both the theory and practical elements of the day, I feel that I am now more ready to attempt the RGP fitting and aftercare part of my pre-reg assessments.

“Some slightly more complex lens types were also briefly covered for those of us thinking of taking hard contact lenses a bit further than just passing the necessary stages of the pre-reg year. This really inspired me, and I hope that in the future I will be able to be involved with fitting some more complex lenses,” Dan added.

Commenting on the day, Susan Bowers said: “It was a pleasure to help so many pre-reg students gain RGP fitting experience before their PQE assessments. All the students seemed very enthusiastic and I hope that they enjoyed their special day. It was so well attended that we are hoping to run two ‘Pass your RGP assessment’ days next year.”

The workshop sponsors were:

• Bausch + Lomb
• Boston
• Contamac
• David Thomas Contact Lenses/Menicon
• Jack Allen Contact Lenses
• Medmont Pty
• No 7 Contact Lenses/Medmont
• Paragon Vision/Six Six Contacts

Eyewear takes centre stage at Optrafair London

January 2014

OPTRAFAIR London beckons with a tremendous choice of new eyewear launches and styles to suit every practice need. The UK’s Federation of Manufacturing Opticians is proud of the large number of UK and international frame companies that are being drawn to the stylish show at Kensington, Olympia, from 11-13 April.

Check out our Optrafair Frame page amongst the many preview pages for the show.

LOCSU responds to an ophthalmologist’s reader letter published in the Times on Friday 17th January

January 2014

Following an extensive article earlier in the week on pharmacy community services a letter was published from a ophthalmologist in Wrexham, accusing optometrists of inundating the Hospital Eye Clinics with referrals because they had not seen their Doctor first. He used this as a reason for not expanding community services in Pharmacy.

The purpose of the response letter signed by Alan Tinger, Chair LOCSU, Katrina Venerus, its CEO and the Chairman of OC (Don Grocott) was to draw attention to the wider role that community optometrists and dispensing opticians can play in easing the burden on hospital eye clinics and providing additional patients’ benefits. This avoided entering into a public debate with ophthalmology in the Press which would not improve the reader’s perception of the value of community eye health services and which could bring the professions into disrepute.

The response letter read as follows:

Sir, Whilst the legislation that governs NHS sight tests in England requires optometrists to refer a patient to the appropriate specialist (usually an ophthalmologist), if an abnormality is detected (letters January 17th), GPs in many areas have recognised the valuable role that optometrists working in their community can play in easing the burden on hospital eye clinics. Some Clinical Commissioning Groups have commissioned local optometrists to provide services ranging from management of minor eye conditions to post-operative cataract checks. These community services offer patients fast access to a suitably qualified clinician at a choice of convenient location and appointment time to suit them. Whilst a small number of GPs have developed a special interest in ophthalmology, it is important to remember that the vast majority of GPs spend only two weeks on eyes during their training. This is one of the reasons why an increasing number of Clinical Commissioning Groups are taking a multi-disciplinary approach to providing care for patients with eye problems.

ALAN TINGER
Chairman
KATRINA VENERUS
Managing Director
Local Optical Committee Support Unit
DON GROCOTT
Chairman
Optical Confederation


January 2014

UK Vision Strategy Director and VISION 2020 UK Interim Chief Operations Officer, Anita Lightstone has today announced that she will retire in summer 2014.

Anita Lightstone began her role as Programme Director for the UK Vision Strategy in April 2008, having project managed the work to develop the Strategy in the previous year.

In July 2012, Anita took on the additional role of Interim Chief Operations Officer for VISION 2020 UK. Since this time she has led both initiatives and brought them into closer alignment building on the strengths of both.

Ms Lightstone said: “It has been a privilege to lead both the UK Vision Strategy and VISION 2020 UK. I believe both have enabled organisations across the sector to work in collaboration with each other and with blind and partially sighted people to achieve major successes. This united approach will have a significant impact for people living with sight loss and improve the eye health of the UK.

“I have taken the decision to step down following a period of ill health last year which put me out of action for several weeks. Such events focus the mind and, while I regret doing this earlier than I had originally intended, I do believe this is the right decision and the right time for the UK Vision Strategy, for VISION 2020 UK and for me.

“I am immensely proud to have been part of both VISION 2020 UK and the UK Vision Strategy. I have worked with so many interesting and wonderful people and I know that through continued collaborative working, there is a positive future ahead with many successes still to come”.

Lesley-Anne Alexander, Chair of the UK Vision Strategy and Chief Executive of RNIB said: “Anita’s leadership has enabled the eye health and sight loss sector to work together in ways which had never been achieved before.

“One of her most notable successes was the way she coordinated the work to influence the Government to make eye health a public health priority. This was the first time any Government across the world had recognised the importance of eye health in this way and it is already resulting in positive changes to approaches in commissioning eye health and sight loss services.

“Anita has without doubt made a truly outstanding contribution to the eye health sector.”

Nick Astbury, Chair of VISION 2020 UK said: "Since joining VISION 2020 UK, Anita has brought with her fresh energy and enthusiasm that has reinvigorated all aspects of our work.

“She will leave VISION 2020 UK in a fantastic position to thrive and meet the challenges ahead. I want to take this opportunity to thank Anita for her hard work and dedication in making this possible”.

VISION 2020 UK will be recruiting for a new Chief Executive in January 2014 and RNIB will shortly be recruiting to fill the role in the UK Vision Strategy team.

International optical companies invited to join UK’S FMO

January 2014

The UK’s respected optical trade body, The Federation of Manufacturing Opticians (FMO) is inviting companies outside of the UK to join and share in many of the benefits of membership.

With central London offices, The FMO is an ideal meeting place with a choice of rooms available to members at the prestigious Paddington address. In addition, all FMO members benefit from the unrivalled optical expertise which exists within the three FMO industry focus groups for Frames, Lenses and Technology.

“We are a valuable, and much used, reference point for our members and handle a broad range of technical queries about all aspects of manufacturing optics,” said FMO Chief Executive Malcolm Polley.
FMO membership is, for some, the most cost effective way of keeping in touch with changes to European Optical Standards and to find out about optical training.

“The FMO brings a great depth of knowledge to the world of optics and is a valued source of reference to its members. The Frame, Lens and Equipment divisions all have relevant expertise and are available to offer confidential support and guidance, drawing on many years’ of experience. As owner of Optrafair, the UK’s longest standing and largest optical show, The FMO is a central point for all UK optical business and increasingly for international companies.

“Manufacturing and frame distribution news, standards and benchmarking are all of great interest to many of our overseas colleagues and for those who would like a closer view of how the optical market operates in the UK they have a chance to join and benefit from our vast pool of experience,” added Mr Polley.

Established in 1917, The FMO is one of the world’s longest established optical trade bodies and benefits not just from the UK focus but also from membership of EUROM 1, the collective European optical body.

The close links with optical lobbyists in Brussels are of particular interest to many companies wishing to enter the UK market. Training is also an important opportunity with many distance learning courses held in conjunction with the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers.

Regular meetings with topical business leaders offer inspiration and an insight into the wider optical market. The excellent networking opportunities are supported by a host of member benefits:

Networking
Central London meeting rooms
Exhibition Subsidy
Bad Payers’ List
Training
Discounted rates on British Standards for optical appliances
EC Reporting
Equipment, Lens and Frame focus groups
Market data
Optical Standards

National Optical Conference (NOC) 2014 date announced for 2014

January 2014

Following the success of NOC 2013 – the major conference for the development of local community eye care services – LOCSU and the Optical Confederation are pleased to announce that NOC 2014 will be held on: Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th October 2014 at the Hilton Metropole, NEC Birmingham. More details of the programme and booking information will be announced soon.

AOP PR and Marketing Manager encourages delegates to get registered with one month to go for 100% Optical Show

January 2014

There is still time for delegates to register for the show which takes place on 16-18 February 2014 at ExCeL in Docklands. The exhibition will see four keynote seminars each day, from 12 leading international experts, offering more than 85 hours of education throughout the show. CET points are available across optometrist, dispensing optician, contact lens optician and therapeutics optometrist competencies. Delegates will have the opportunity to learn from the experts and pick up ideas from more than 150 exhibitors launching over 2,000 products, from boutique manufacturers to specialist equipment suppliers.

Image supplied Henrietta Alderman AOP CEO

See 100% Optical's Page and our Preview Pages

Ocuco announces Andy Chance-Hill as ecommerce director

January 2014

Ocuco has appointed Andy Chance-Hill as eCommerce Director to oversee the development of Ocuco’s eCommerce, Cloud and other online initiatives. Andy has more than 25 years’ experience in IT business systems delivery, and optics. Andy first designed an ophthalmic practice management system 20 years ago. From here he conceptualised and built the world’s first web-based ophthalmic practice management system which is sold through his previous company See 20/20. Andy also led development teams that delivered the UK’s first comparative motor quotation system online and the world’s first independent, web-based banking platform.

‘We are delighted to have Andy join the Ocuco team,’ says Leo MacCanna, Ocuco CEO. ‘Andy is an internet pioneer, with both the optical business and online commerce in his blood.

’Ocuco are helping its customers compete on the virtual High Street against online retailers. Our integrated OptiCommerce and appointment solutions provide the edge required, allowing our customers to leverage their most important asset - their customer databases - in the battle for market share.’ commented Chance-Hill

Heidelberg Engineering roadshows awarded cet points

January 2014

Want to know more about OCT and how it works in the practice?

Heidelberg Engineering’s free to attend Peer Review Roadshows are an opportunity to learn more about the advantages of OCT technology and to gain valuable CET points.

The three hour sessions are worth four CET points and focus on commonly occurring chorio/retinal disease affecting the macular. Identifying the symptoms through fundus imaging and OCT, appropriate referral for on-going management will be addressed by respected consultant ophthalmologists.

“We will look at causes of acute vision loss and symptoms, examining vascular occlusion, arterial occlusion, diabetic retinopathy/maculopathy, ARMD, VMA/T and CSCR. OCT evaluation and descriptive terms will be covered, followed by the ophthalmologists presenting pathologies and all aspects of patient management – signs, symptoms, history, diagnosis and referral strategies,” said Christopher Mody, Clinical Programme Manager Heidelberg Engineering.
Group discussion of four or five case studies, and referral plans, will conclude the sessions on:

6 February, 6pm: Leeds University, with Cons Oph Martin McKibbon
4 March, 6pm: Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral, with Cons Oph Vineeth Kumar
11 March, 6pm: Heidelberg Engineering Training Centre, Hemel Hempstead with Cons Opth Praveen Patel
25 March, 6pm: Holiday Inn, Oxford, with Cons Oph Geeta Menon

In addition, Heidelberg Engineering’s new training centre in Hemel Hempstead is the location for a full day’s CET-accredited training: SPECTRALIS Multimodal Imaging Course on 24 April, starting at 9.00am.

The multi-modality imaging course for new and experienced users features hands-on opportunities with the SPECTRALIS in addition to comprehensive guidance on image analysis, use of the software, and case studies.

Ocuco set to demonstrate new commerce solution with eCommerce at Eyecare 3000 this week

January 2014

Ocuco will be at the show to demonstrate Acuitas and Focus 2. And these will both be able to support Ocuco’s newest value addition of “eCommerce”.

Ocuco set about the task and reviewed the market for web development experts who were currently operating within the ophthalmic market and following detailed due diligence partnered with OptiCommerce, based in London.

Ocuco have now built a comprehensive eCommerce solution that can be adopted quickly and efficiently by any independent optician. Each site is unique and yet quickly built to customers specification from a standard framework and connected directly to their Ocuco PMS system in order to provide the practices services and products on the web to new and existing patients.

This allows independent opticians to quickly deploy a full eCommerce solution selling Spectacles, Contact Lenses and more directly on the web with easy maintenance which Ocuco can provide as required.

Ed: PHN will provide a fuller story on eCommerce shortly in product news but for now those able to call in at the free Eyecare 3000 exhibition (no registration required) in Glasgow can get first-hand information and a demonstration.

International visitors drawn to Optrafair London

January 2014

Visitors from Australia, Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sri Lanka and USA are among those who have booked their flights and pre-registered for Optrafair London, which will run from 11-13 April at Kensington, Olympia. Read our Optrafair preview page for Hotel information.

Latest products to be unveiled at 100% Optical

January 2014

100% Optical 2014, the first international annual optical event to be held at ExCeL London in February, 16 – 18, 2014, has been singled out by a whole spectrum of leading industry sector companies to unveil and profile their latest product ranges and services.

100% Optical is hosting more UK and international eyewear brands than any other UK show. Click to our 100% preview page.

College of Optometrists releases next phase of its guidance for consultation

January 2014

The College of Optometrists is undertaking a major revision of its Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Professional Conduct. The guidance sets out the profession’s clinical and ethical standards and complements the General Optical Council’s Code of Conduct.

Today (15 January 2014), it is releasing the next domain for consultation, inviting feedback from eye health professionals and other interested parties.
Following wide consultation, the College has reviewed the format and organisation of the guidance and is developing a more user-friendly version that is easily accessible through a range of mobile devices as well as online and in print.

The new guidance has been divided into four domains: Knowledge, skills and performance; Safety and quality; Communications, partnership and team work; and Maintaining trust.

The College has consulted on the revised content of the Communications, partnership and team work domain and is now consulting on the content of the Knowledge, skills and performance domain, which covers topics such as the routine eye examination, contact lenses and examining patients with specific conditions.

Dr Susan Blakeney, the College of Optometrist’s Clinical Adviser, said: “Our guidance reflects good practice and it’s really important that optometrists are familiar with it. We would very much welcome feedback from optometrists and others about the content of this new domain.”

Josephine Mullin, Director of Policy and Strategy at the College of Optometrists commented: “Many of our members refer to the guidance on a daily basis and they have to find the information they require quickly and easily. We’ve listened to feedback to develop a resource that meets the needs of the busy modern optometrist. Our main aim is to ensure that the guidance is relevant and accessible by making it more user-friendly”.

You can contribute to the consultation and give your feedback at www.college-optometrists.org/guidance. This part of the consultation is open until 21 February 2014.

Manchester marks new centre for Vision Care for Homeless people

January 2014

Manchester is to be the location for the latest Vision Care for Homeless People clinic, with the opening due to take place in March.

Contracts have been signed with the Cornerstone Day Centre, in Denmark Road, close to the heart of the city, with a dedicated room for optometry. The largest venue of its type in Manchester, it has a footfall of at least 100 people a day. As the charity managing director, Harinder Paul explained –

“We work closely with other homeless charities and have known for some time that there is a need for our service in the north-west and we are delighted to be able to proceed, thanks to the generosity of our wonderful sponsors. The trustees at Cornerstone have been most welcoming,” he said.

Funding for three years has been generously donated by Optometry Giving Sight – their major sponsorship project which celebrates ten years of OGS and VCHP. Optical equipment and glazing has been pledged by several optical companies – Optix software to run the administration and records of the clinic, Caledonian Optical to provide glazing and lenses, Carleton Optical to supply the diagnostic equipment, Specsavers for frames and equipment, and a digital test chart donated by Thomson software.

As well as professional staff being needed each week, a volunteer optometrist or dispensing optician manager is sought to oversee the running of the clinic –
“This is a very rewarding role and takes about an hour of work a week, to ensure that the staff are co-ordinated and supplies in order. The good thing is that the volunteer manager can pretty much select their own times of working too,” added Harinder.

Registration is now open for Vision UK 2014 which will be held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London on Thursday 12 June

January 2014

Vision UK 2014 is the leading eye health and sight loss sector conference that brings together a wide audience including health and social care professionals and representatives from the voluntary sector. The 2013 conference attracted over 500 delegates.

The theme for the 2014 conference is ‘Turning strategy into action’ and will review the progress that has been made in implementing the UK Vision Strategy since it was launched in 2013.

The one-day conference will include a series of masterclasses where delegates will hear from experts in the public health and eye care sectors about a range of subjects, and will take away tools and ideas for implementing the Strategy locally. The programme also features a Question Time panel where delegates will have the opportunity to challenge key leaders in the sector.

Anita Lightstone, Programme Director, UK Vision Strategy and Interim Chief Operations Officer, VISION 2020 UK, said: ‘‘After a successful conference in 2013 where we launched the UK Vision Strategy for 2013-2018, it will be great to bring the sector together again to share examples of best practice and to showcase the excellent work that has been taking place across the UK to turn the Strategy into a reality’’.

To register for the conference, please visit www.vision2020uk.org.uk/ukvisionstrategy/vision-uk-2014 or call 01920 88 51 62. Early bird rates are available.

GOC retention opens for 2014/15

January 2014

Optometrists, dispensing opticians and optical businesses can from today renew their General Optical Council (GOC) registration for 2014/15. Applications must be submitted by 15 March together with the required fee. The retention fee for 2014/15 is £290.

By law UK optometrists and dispensing opticians must register with the GOC in order to practise. Certain optical businesses must also register. Failure to complete retention each year will lead to removal from the register.

Philip Hallam, GOC Head of Registration said: “Registration is a legal requirement for anyone carrying out restricted functions or using a protected title. Those who fail to retain will be removed from our registers and will be unable to practise.

“I would therefore encourage registrants to apply for retention as soon as possible. The process is quick and simple on our website, and by applying in good time registrants will have peace of mind that they are registered for the next year.”

Practitioners with a total gross income of less than £12,000 per year are eligible for the GOC’s low income fee of £190. They must apply for the reduced fee by 1 February 2014 by completing the application form that is available on the GOC website before completing their retention application online.

Any practitioner who does not apply by the 15 March 2014 deadline will face a £20 late application fee. Registrants who have still not renewed their registration by 31 March 2014, including payment of the late fee, will be removed from the registers after 1 April 2014.

Anyone removed from the registers will be unable to practise in the UK, or use a protected title such as optometrist or dispensing optician, until they have successfully applied for restoration.

Registrants can apply online at www.optical.org

US Patent Office Grants OCUCO Request

January 2014

The U.S. Patent Office has granted Ocuco Inc.’s request for a re-examination of Carl Zeiss Vision’s patent 6,089,713, which is related to freeform back-side progressive lenses.

Ocuco, which produces Innovations Laboratory Management Software, filed a request for the re-examination in early October, wherein they raised what they claimed were “substantial new questions of patentability” on all of the claims in Zeiss’ patent.

In this action, the Patent Office agreed that Ocuco raised such “substantial new questions” and so will proceed with a re-examination of the patent in light of the questions raised.

Robert Shanbaum, president of Ocuco Inc., said that “If we succeed, it will mean significant savings for our customers, but this is only the first hurdle our re-examination request had to clear. We’ve submitted our arguments to the Patent Office and they’ve agreed to consider them. We’re certainly happy about that. Now it will be up to the Patent Office and the patentee to put the information we’ve raised to the test. If the Patent Office agrees with our analysis, the ultimate outcome still may not be determined for a year, maybe even a little longer. ”

“Until then,” Shanbaum continued, “I want to stress that Zeiss’ patent remains valid until the Patent Office says it’s not, and Zeiss continues to be entitled to collect royalties from firms that practice their patent.”

Last May, Ocuco filed a similar re-examination request on Seiko Epson’s patent 6,019,470, which like Zeiss’, claims the invention of broad classes of freeform progressive lenses. The Patent Office recently issued a Non-Final Office Action in which it found that Seiko Epson’s patent should be cancelled in its entirety.

Grafton show off at Eyecare 3000

January 2014

Grafton Optical regular supporters of Eyecare 3000 to be held on January 18/19th will be presenting the latest OCT Technology from Optovue for Optometrists, ‘iFusion OCT and fundus camera’ offering Retinal, Glaucoma and Cornea Diagnostic Solutions.

From the CSO range, they will be displaying CSO Cobra Compact Fundus Camera along with CSO Photo Slit Lamp.

You can also take a look at the new Visionix’s Wavelens Pro Lensmeter and also the latest Shin Nippon LCD-900P Test Chart.

They also have a range of computerised test charts featuring the Reichert Clearchart2, and the Apple iMac based SixSix Acuity System Software.

Combined with their range of non and contact tonometers, they will be offering the World’s leading Pachymeter, “The Pachmate”, at a Special Eyecare 3000 price, exclusively available from Grafton Optical. Save over £200 when placing an order at the show.

Grafton Optical provides the best of many worldwide manufacturers products so that you have a varied choice in brand and complexity to suit your needs.

To help point you in the right direction for selection of Optical equipment Grafton have produced a special booklet explaining the basic needs of level 1 optometry equipment requirements through to enhanced service and “Centres of Excellence” options that you can choose from written for them by a leading optometric advisor and compliance officer.

Make a point of dropping by and pick up your free copy on:

Grafton Optical - Stand No S18 & S19.

For a sneak preview of the new chart click here to see the Shin Nippon LCD-900P Test Chart.

You can read more about i-fusion and pachymetry in the PHN story published last year in October

Have you been to Eyecare3000?

January 2014

Eyecare3000 is Scotland's headline conference and exhibition for the optical industry.

January 19th and 20th 2014 8.00am till 6.00pm at the Business Centre, Glasgow Hilton.

The exhibition is FREE-TO-ATTEND for all OO’s, DO’s, CLO’s and optical support staff whether they attend the conference or not: it regularly features 50 or more exhibitors and suppliers plus special exhibition offers and promotions.

The two day conference programme offers 24 interactive CET points, available through lectures, seminars, peer review sessions and workshops from internationally-renowned speakers.

It’s not all about education; Eyecare3000 is also a great social event and networking opportunity. This year there is a free to attend networking event on Sunday evening from 7pm until 9pm. A chance to catch up with friends and colleagues before sampling some of the night life Glasgow has to offer!

Be a part of Scotland’s leading optical event as we welcome more than 250 optometrists and dispensing opticians to Glasgow for an update on the optical industry and profession.

Click here to register http://getperceptive.com/conferences/view/38-eyecare-3000-glasgow-2014

Or simply turn up for the exhibition on either day.

Norville Opticians help out over Xmas

January 2014

Norville Opticians in Keynsham near Bristol has helped to raise more than £12000 through its involvement with the Saltford Santa Dash which took place just before Christmas.

500 runners dressed as Santa covered a five–mile, figure-of-eight course through the picturesque lanes of nearby Saltford while 200 younger ‘elves’ ran, walked or toddled a special shorter course.

All were raising money to provide a defibrillator for the local sports ground and also to make a donation to CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) following the tragic death in 2009 of a Saltford teenager who died of cardiac arrest while playing football.

The event organiser was optometrist Roger Spooner who knew the teenager and his family. Following his retirement Roger sold his practice in Keynsham to Norville Opticians.

Optical Confederation Policy Expert to move to Australia

January 2014

After four years working at the top of UK, Irish and European eye health and optical policy, not least managing the Clinical Consensus Panel on fluorescein strips last summer, Mark Nevin is moving to Melbourne Australia in the spring to pursue a broader policy interest outside eye care. Mark is a well-known figure in the sector, representing three Optical Confederation bodies as Director of Policy and Strategy at FODO, the FMO and the ACLM.

Mark worked as an optometrist for ten years before retraining as an economist (where he took a first class degree) and then in public policy at the London School of Economics before beginning his career in healthcare policy at FODO. Over the last four years he has been one of the driving forces behind the Optical Confederation’s work on the NHS reforms, IT strategy, the regulation of optical businesses, public health and road safety. In addition, he established FODO’s Ireland operations in early 2012 and has in a short period built relations with the Irish Government and key stakeholders.

Mark is also recognised for the work he does across Europe as secretary of the Public Affairs and Economic Committee of the European Council for Optometry and Optics (ECOO), representing the UK eye health sector to an international audience, building new partnerships for ECOO and helping to influence high-level policy before it cascades from European down to national level.

Mark said: “I’m very proud of the work I’ve done with colleagues across the sector to form the Optical Confederation. I think such collegiate working has helped to secure the long-term interests of optometrists, dispensing opticians, and the patients they serve. I feel I owe a lot to optics, but it is now time to move on to a new challenge. I look forward to handing over to my successor in an optical role which offers the rare opportunity to really make a difference.”

Don Grocott, Chairman of the Optical Confederation, said: “Mark is that most rare of things – a policy expert in healthcare who also has a wealth of clinical experience. He has been an enormous asset to the sector, especially in the work he has done increasing our profile at European level and fending off a series of threats to eye health and to the optical sector. The good news is that Mark leaves a solid legacy for his successor to carry forward.”

David Hewlett for FODO, the FMO and ACLM said: “Mark will be a tough act to follow but, as a high flier, it was inevitable that he would move onwards and upwards. It is part of our policy always to get the best people even if that means we only have their contribution for a few years. We owe it to the whole sector to get someone good again and recruitment for a high calibre successor has already begun. In the meantime Mark will continue to support us through the transition. We all wish him every happiness and success in his new life. Wherever Mark goes we know he will always be a powerful advocate for eye health and optics.”

January 2014

Major international lens companies – along with many innovative smaller suppliers – are gearing up for Optrafair London, which runs from 11-13 April, at Kensington Olympia.

The unrivalled opportunity to see the benefits of upgrading patients to premium lens options, and utilising specialist dispensing aids to maximise the advances made - particularly in bespoke free-form options - is a vital business opportunity.

“Differentiating your practice by providing the very best lenses available and ensuring that patients know the merits of office/computer lens options; enhancing driving vision and reducing glare at night; customising the lenses to lifestyles and by being bold about promoting the very best that is available, is the future. Come to Optrafair and see what is available for you to take back home to your patients,” urged Optrafair Chairman, Malcolm Polley.

Read more on the companies exhibiting on the Optrafair page.

Crisis service reaches out to vulnerable in Capital

January 2014

Vision Care for Homeless People reached more than 250 vulnerable people during seven days of eye clinics held in conjunction with Crisis during the festive period, from an all-time record of 10 London centres.

Shaneela Chana, Trustee of Vision Care for Homeless People, said the dedicated support provided by the team of 45 volunteers which included an ophthalmologist, optometrists, and dispensing opticians, had made a tremendous difference to many vulnerable people during the clinics –

“We made a number of referrals for further treatment and were relieved to help one patient with a prescription of -19.00D who had been wearing the same contact lenses for three months. She was too afraid to take them out because she felt so vulnerable on the streets. As our opticians service was located with all of the other Crisis healthcare teams, such as medical and podiatry, we were able to contribute to a better all-round level of care for patients.”

Any professionals who have a few hours to spare each month should visit www.visioncareforhomelesspeople.org to find out about volunteering at the London, Birmingham and Brighton centres. Soon to open is a new centre in Manchester which is also seeking volunteers.

Heidelberg technology facilitates macula research

January 2014

Heidelberg Engineering’s SPECTRALIS OCT is at the heart of six glaucoma research projects currently being conducted in the West Midlands under the direction of Consultant Ophthalmologist and Retinal/Macular specialist, Sergio Pagliarini.

One of the first NHS Trusts to network macular screening hospital services, the innovative and practical approach to advancing patient care is also aiding the research projects.

As lead clinician of macular services at University Hospital, Coventry, and Warwickshire NHS Trust, Mr Pagliarini has had five SPECTRALIS units and one Heidelberg Retina Angiograph unit networked by fibre optics between the hospitals in Coventry and Rugby for the past three years, since the state-of-the-art macular unit opened in Rugby. This provides a much valued choice of location for up to 900,000 patients covered by the Trust.

The multi-modality imaging system brings great benefit in the ease of reviewing images, believes Mr Pagliarini.

“The SPECTRALIS is very versatile and can be used as a diagnostic tool for taking decisions by doctors and clinicians. In anti-VEGF clinics, if used well, it can save time in avoiding having to take patients back to the slit lamp. The SPECTRALIS makes assessment decisions robust. The mapping software is particularly valuable clinically for the most challenging patients, particularly for decision on whether to re-treat or not as subtle retinal changes can be reliably followed through individually numbered scan lines. This is possible thanks to the SPECTRALIS dual laser hardware design, with one laser conducting the scan and the other tracking the eye position.

“One of the great benefits is that a line can be taken at any point on the macular: its length can be changed and the image averaging adjusted to achieve sharp images. In addition, one can overlap OCT on more than one imaging modality. This facilitates sub-type recognition of wet AMD, such as Retinal Angiomatous Proliferation (RAPs) and idiopathic polypoidal chroidopathy (IPC). The speed and accuracy of SPECTRALIS, plus the software integration for angiography and fundus autofluorescence images, is very important for accurate disease characterisation and monitoring,” he added.

The SPECTRALIS ultra-widefield angiography allows views of the macular and peripheral retina in one single image. At the same time, enhanced depth imaging (EDI) of the choroid has made it possible to assess the choroid and abnormal choroidal thickness in retinal conditions ranging from uveitis and central serous retinopathy (thicker choroid) to age-related choroidal atrophy and high myopia.

The clinical trials currently in progress using the SPECTRALIS include:

RELIGHT, Prospective UK modified treatment protocol for Lucentis in diabetic macular oedema (DMO)
COMRADE B RCT comparing head to head Ozurdex versus Lucentis in branch retinal vein occlusions (BRVO)
COMRADE C RCT comparing head to head Ozurdex versus Lucentis in central retinal vein occlusions (CRVO)
OCTAVE, RCT comparing 2 different monitoring protocols in wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
LUMINOUS, prospective observational study on efficacy and safety of Lucentis in wet AMD, DMO, BRVO and CRVO
ROSA, Stage 1 assessing presence of sleep apnoea in patients with diabetic macular oedema
ROSA, Stage 2 RCT assessing value of treatment of sleep apnoea inpatients with diabetic macular oedema

Visitors and migrants who wish to use NHS services will have to pay

January 2014

Between Christmas and the New Year the Government made a statement on the unfair use of tax payers’ money on visitors and migrants within Primary Care. The changes will affect Optical Services once a charging system has been announced. Here is their statement:

Visitors and migrants who wish to use NHS services will have to pay, the Government announced today as part of its clampdown on abuse of the NHS.

New changes to be introduced will include:

•extending charging for primary care services, such as prescriptions. GP and nurse consultations will remain free, which will mean that everyone will continue to have initial access to prevent risks to public health such as HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections. Other types of primary care services that are being considered for charging include minor surgery that is carried out by a GP and physiotherapy that has been referred through a GP
•overseas visitors paying higher charges for services that are subsidised for patients entitled to free NHS care. These include optical and dental services which are currently highly subsidised
•a new system for identifying and recording patients who should be charged for NHS services
•the introduction of charging for A&E services for visitors and migrants including emergency care. No one will be turned away in an emergency. The changes will allow the NHS to recoup money and will create a consistent charging system across the NHS whilst encouraging only those who need urgent and emergency care to attend

Health Minister Lord Howe said: “Having a universal health service free at the point of use rightly makes us the envy of the world, but we must make sure the system is fair to the hardworking British taxpayers who fund it. We know that we need to make changes across the NHS to better identify and charge visitors and migrants. Introducing charging at primary care is the first step to achieving this.

We are already looking at taking action and next year we will set out our detailed plans to clamp down on the abuse of our NHS.”

A recent government consultation looked at improving the system for charging visitors and migrants and making more NHS services chargeable, including primary care.

The consultation also asked people whether certain services should be exempt, including maternity care.

The overwhelming response from NHS frontline staff was that maternity care must not be provided free for everyone and that we must remain firm.

Current rules already state that, while services should not be withheld, an overseas visitor identified as chargeable and wishing to receive maternity or antenatal care must pay for any services they receive.

We know that some people are abusing the system by coming into the country early enough to have one or more antenatal appointments before giving birth on the NHS - without the intention to pay.

The announcement follows a Department of Health study which estimated that up to £500 million could be recovered from overseas visitors’ and migrants’ use of the NHS every year through better charging.

Many changes will start to be introduced over the coming year. Further detail on the timing for implementation will be available in March 2014.

The regulatory position on fluorescein strips - MHRA explains

January 2014

Following the discontinuation of Fluorets strips by Bausch & Lomb earlier this year, the MHRA has received a number of queries about the regulatory classification of fluorescein strips.

The MHRA's position is that fluorescein strips intended for diagnostic purposes are regarded as medicinal products because they are in vivo diagnostic agents. Therefore they need a marketing authorisation under the requirements of the medicines legislation if they are intended for diagnostic purposes.

These strips, if intended and marketed only for the fitting of contact lenses, can be CE marked as medical devices, but the manufacturer should not describe such products as suitable for diagnostic purposes.

The regulatory classification of this category of products is currently being considered at European level.

However, to avoid shortage of supply, the MHRA will not take formal regulatory action to stop these products with a CE mark being used for diagnostic purposes until a decision about these products has been made at European level.

There are no restrictions on the sale and supply of medical devices, therefore practitioners can use a product which has been CE marked as a medical device.

Ed. So basically you can use for cl fitting, but not as a diagnostic tool, although you can and no action will be taken at the moment against you.

(See also story Grafton stocks up with Fluorets)

College Patient leaflet order tops one million

January 2014

Over one million copies of the College of Optometrists’ patient information leaflets have now been ordered by members.

The leaflets, which cover common eye conditions, were launched in June 2011. Since then, members have ordered over one million of the publications which provide practical advice and guidance to patients, complementing information given during consultation.

Leaflets cover ageing eyes and falls; blepharitis; cataract; flashes and floaters; glaucoma; macular degeneration; and children's eye health. These are available to order alongside a short leaflet written for primary school pupils on how the eye works, and activity sheets and stickers for children.

All the leaflets have been carefully checked by expert optometrists and approved by the Plain English Campaign. Information on the conditions covered by the leaflets is also available on our award-winning consumer website www.lookafteryoureyes.org.

Ian Humphreys, Director of Member Services and Communications, said: “Our leaflets are designed to complement and reinforce the information provided to patients during consultation. They also help patients to develop a better understanding of their condition and options for management, and we are pleased with how well received they have been by patients and members.”

Member Gillian Bruce from Cameron Optometrists in Edinburgh said: "We find that the written information is much appreciated by the patients to back up the information we discuss with them in the test room.”

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