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Optical News - April - June 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.


2014 World Sight Day Challenge

Adlens Appoints Dame Sue Street

Charity Partnership Shortlisted for Award

Optometry Tomorrow Bitesize Selling Fast

GOC Recognised as Meeting All Standards of Good Regulation

Obituary for Norbert Cohn

DVLA Contract Ends Today

SILMO 2014... At The Heart Of The Global Markets

Which? Report Reveals Best and Worst Opticians

Optical Confederation Welcomes Which? Report

PHN Media Partners for SILMO

UK Vision Strategy Implementation Group Announces Joint Chairs

Professional Development and Business Needs Determine Optometrists' Involvement in Community Schemes

Global Educators Honoured

College President Appointed London LEHN Chair

Vision UK 2014 Conference

Interview With Carrie MacEwan

Ireland Turns a Blind Eye to Health

OGS Looks for Volunteer Marketing and Fundraising Assistant

Call to Action Consultation

Lindsay Brown Appointed at Hoya

Speaker Programme Announced for Independents Day

Grafton to Introduce Innovative Products at Independents Day

Hearing Groups Provide a Lead in Hearing Commissioning

Companies Urged to Join FMO

New College Report Makes Recommendation for Reducing Vision Related Falls

College and University of Ulster Launch New Medical Retina Higher Qualification

Global contact lens community gathers for a ‘take away’

Six More Liverymen Join WCSM

Sad News of David Challinor's Death

Moot Discusses Implication of Internet

College Proposes Maturity is the Key to Contact Lens Fitting for Children

BCLA Welcomes New President and Councill

Dr Paul Rose Receives Inaugural BCLA Industry Award

Denise Mabey to Deliver Speech at Pre-Conference Dinner

Heidelberg Mastercalss Unites Spectralis Users

Society of Spectacle Makers Walk the Isle of Purbeck

BCLA Charts Progress in 2013-14 Annual Report

University/hospital Partnership to Offer College’s Professional Higher Certificate in Glaucoma

Blind Children UK Service User to Speak at Vision UK 2014

Diabetic Service Approval for Topcon 3D OCT

AOP Awards - Voting Opens

OGS Nominated for Charity Initiative of Year Award

MP Visits Redcar Practice

Regus and RNIB Share Vision to Promote Eye Health

UK Academic Among Team Heading for Middle East

Croydon Launch Community Ophthalmology Service

Vision UK 2014 Conference Question Time

Heidelberg Appoint Imaging Specialist

Second Global Contact Lens Forum to Focus on Retention and Therapeutics

GOC News from Council

Vision 2020 UK Chair to Step Down

Anne McGuire MP to Deliver Keynote Speech

Optical Lead Leaves LOCSU

European Academy Deliver Successful Conference

OGS Supporter Runs for Sight Again

New Moot Event to Look at Internet Challenges

OC Call on Practices to Act on Eye Health Manifesto

Argus II "Bionic Eye" System

IACLE Announces 1st Contact Lens Educators of the Year

Aston Students Help Raise Funds for Homeless

First Optical Confederation Conference Held Last Week

Chair's AGM Speech

More MP Visits to Optical Practices

Shamir/Transitions Results Declared for Prize Draws at Optrafair London 2014

WCO Announces New CEO

EUROMCONTACT Release 2013 Market Data Report

GOC Recruiting for Committees

FODO Ireland Welcome Appointment of a New Interim Registration Board

Local MP Visits Practice in Colindale

Optoms in Liverpool Become Kerasoft IC Fitting Specialists

Social Enterprise Think Tank Demand Radical Honesty on Future of NHS

Manchester Gives Fantastic Response to Charity Appeal

Irish Opticians Call for Improved Eyecare for 12-16 Year Olds

Peer Group Discussion Brings OCT into Practice

Royal College of Ophthalmologists Head to Birmingham for Conference and Exhibition

Snowbird Finance Goes Nationwide

Snowbird Finance Joins PHN Sponsors

Local MP Calls on Constituents to Look After Eyesight

College Urges Members to Sign Petition

Eye Cancer Protocol Supported by Colleges

Only a Few Stands Left at Vision UK 2014

Opening Day Preview for BCLA Exhibition

Mixed Feelings About Optrafair

Pincer Movement to Secure Allergan

FMO to Continue Relationship with Optician

College Seeks Nominations for Life and Honorary Fellows

Rodenstock Club Awards 2014 Announced

CET Points Confirmed for Warsaw 2014

From Eye Health to Bodily Health

FODO Expands Policy Team

New QiO Guidance for Standard Contracts

Window Dressing at Optrafair

LEHNs Reach Critical Mass

Vision 2020 UK Announce New Chief Exec

John Conway Elected IOD Fellow

AOP Survey Reveals Member Insights

OCUCO Acquire See 20/20

Nockolds Take Over Complaints Service

Time to Put an End to Neglect of Eye Health

New FTP Rules Come into Place

1st Eye Examinations Performed in Space

GOC Welcomes Draft Law Commission Bill

Grafton Announces New Partnership with Visionix

Hynes Optometrists Win Fundraiser Prize

Kent Optometrist Pioneers New Wet AMD Management

College Welcomes Publication of Chief Medical Officers Report

Business Matters at Optrafair London

All Devon MPs Engaged in Eyecare Agenda

Second Sight Argus Retinal Prosthesis System Granted Funding in France


2014 World Sight Day Challenge: Optometry Giving Sight sets global $1 million fundraising goal

June 2014

Optometry Giving Sight invites all members of the global eye care community and everybody who values good vision to help create a world where there is no more avoidable blindness, by taking the World Sight Day Challenge, throughout September and October 2014. World Sight Day is Thursday, October 9th.

Now in its 7th year, the World Sight Day Challenge is the largest annual global fundraising campaign to address avoidable blindness caused by uncorrected refractive error- the need for an eye exam and glasses.

The campaign has set a global fundraising target of $1 million in 2014 and will once again build on the concept of ‘strength in numbers’. The colourful new aqua blue logo and materials encourage fundraisers to join hands together and show the world just how important eye and vision care is, and how the eye care community is making a difference.

Participating is easy and can be as creative as you like – simply make a fundraising pledge, or a monthly or annual donation on or before World Sight Day, October 9th. Optometry practices and optical companies can also be creative and engage patients, customers and employees with fundraising events throughout the Challenge period. Those who take part will be supported with an exciting kit of materials which include the latest blue wristbands. This year why not challenge yourself and your staff to improve on last year’s great results and be recognised with our Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze Achievement Awards.
The ‘Cycle the World’ annual bike challenge Optoms Cycling for Sight is also returning for its fourth year in support of the World Sight Day Challenge, and invites the entire UK optical profession to take part. Visit www.oc4s.co.uk for more details.

“Each year more and more optometrists, students, practice staff and optical companies are choosing to invite their friends, family, customers and patients to take the Challenge,” says Clive Miller, CEO. “It’s easy and fun. Who wouldn’t make a small donation to help give people access to the eye care they need?”
Manny (pictured) is the new face for the 2014 Challenge. He was one of the tens of thousands of women, children and men who lost everything when tropical cyclone Yolanda smashed into the Philippines last November. Optometry Giving Sight was pleased to support the efforts of Third World Eye Care Society from Canada who mobilised volunteers and resources to visit the country in late January. More than 8,000 people received glasses as a result of their efforts.
To make or pledge your donation, or register your intention to fundraise, or to find out more, visit givingsight.org or call 020 7549 2080.

From June 2014 Optometry Giving Sight UK is proud to support the funding of desperately needed eye care services at home and abroad. Their National Charity Partner in the UK is Vision Care for Homeless People.

Registration for the UK is now open at www.givingsight.org

Adlens® appoints Dame Sue Street as a non-executive director

June 2014

Adlens, which claims to be the global leader in variable focus eyewear today announces the appointment of Dame Sue Street to the Adlens board as a non-executive director.

Dame Sue is currently a non-executive director at the Ministry of Justice and has a long and distinguished civil service career. In 2001 she became one of the most senior women in the civil service when she was appointed Permanent Secretary at the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), a position she held for five years.

On leaving the civil service Dame Sue became a strategic advisor to Deloitte. She also currently holds a range of appointments, including Trustee of the Royal Opera House, Governor of the Royal Ballet, Associate Member of BUPA and Associate Fellow of the Institute for Government.

Adlens Co-founder and Principle Owner of Adlens, James Chen, comments: “We are delighted that Dame Sue has agreed to join our Board. As Adlens looks to expand its global presence, her extensive experience in the leadership and governance of commercial and philanthropic organisations will be highly complementary to Adlens.”

Adlens Chief Executive Office and Executive Chairman, Michael C. Ferrara, adds: “Dame Sue’s deep understanding of government will be important as we continue investing into British research, design and manufacturing and create new jobs in the UK. Dame Sue will bring a wealth of skills and experience to our already talented and experienced Board, and we look forward to welcoming her to Adlens from September 1st 2014.”

Co-founded in 2005 in Oxford, England by businessman and philanthropist James Chen, Adlens® is the global leader in variable focus eyewear. Its highly skilled team of engineers, eyecare professionals and designers has developed a completely new category of vision correction. Adlens® is a commercial business with a social soul: for every pair of Fluid-Injection glasses purchased, the company donates a pair of glasses to someone in the developing world as part of its Buy One Give One programme. Distribution of the glasses is administered by Vision for a Nation®, a charitable foundation running an innovative programme to provide universal access to eyeglasses, one nation at a time, starting in Rwanda.

‘Transformative’ charity partnership with Vision Express shortlisted for award

June 2014

A children’s cancer charity has been shortlisted for an award for its successful partnership with optical retailer Vision Express.

The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) and the Vision Express 25th anniversary campaign has been shortlisted for Institute of Fundraising Best Business-Charity partnership (small charity) category.

CHECT is a small UK charity which supports families and individuals affected by the rare childhood eye cancer retinoblastoma. It also raises awareness of the signs of the condition and funds research into the disease.

Vision Express adopted CHECT as one of its partner charities in 2010. In 2013/14 staff raised more than £100,000 in store events and a sponsored 3-day cycle ride.

Joy Felgate, chief executive of CHECT, said: “We are delighted that this partnership has been shortlisted for this award and has been given the recognition it deserves.

“The work of Vision Express with CHECT has been truly transformative for the charity. It has allowed us to break new ground in supporting families and individuals affected, as well as enabling us to significantly increase our work in raising awareness of retinoblastoma.

“Staff fundraising has also offered a significant boost to our research fund, helping us to initiate and support several new projects.

“We have been bowled over by the commitment Vision Express staff throughout the company have shown to supporting our work and this has paved the way for a strong future for the trust.

“Support from Vision Express has not only been in monetary terms – CHECT has also benefitted from shared operational resources and support for its awareness work – in 2013 Vision Express became the first to adopt CHECT’s optician referral protocol for suspected retinoblastoma.

Children supported by the charity have also received free sports goggles to enable them to participate in sports despite the loss of an eye or vision.
Jonathan Lawson, CEO, Vision Express said, “I am very pleased the charity has been shortlisted for this award. Working with CHECT to raise awareness of eye cancer in children is incredibly important to all of us at Vision Express. The support CHECT offer families affected by this life threatening condition is incredible and their recognition is well deserved.”

The winners of the Institute of Fundraising National Awards 2014 will be announced on July 7, 2014.

Optometry Tomorrow Bitesize: workshop tickets selling fast

June 2014

Workshop tickets for the College of Optometrists’ upcoming one-day conference are selling fast, with members urged to book soon to avoid disappointment. The Optometry Tomorrow Bitesize workshops will offer interactive CET in gonioscopy and red eye.

The event will take place on Sunday 5 October at Ascot Racecourse and will repeat some of the most well-received lectures, discussions and workshops from the College’s most recent annual conference, Optometry Tomorrow, which was held in York in March. The popular red eye workshop ‘My, what red eyes you have Grandma!’ by Damian Lake, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Corneal and Refractive Surgeon at The Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead - described by past delegates as “enthusiastic” and “quite exceptional” - is one of the sessions which is close to selling out.

Speaking about the College’s Optometry Tomorrow series of events, Damian said: “It provides education in a concentrated form from the best experts in the UK. All in all, it’s a wonderful experience for any optometrist.”

College President, David Parkins says: “Optometry Tomorrow 2014 was our biggest conference to date and this is a fantastic opportunity to sample highlights from the event in a different part of the country. We’re offering peer review, workshops and practical sessions – it really does offer professionals the whole package.”

Tickets are just £60 for College members (£40 for those who qualified from July 2011) and includes a free peer discussion session worth three interactive CET points. Workshop sessions are available for £30 each, and a non-member rate is also available.

GOC recognised as meeting all the Standards of Good Regulation

June 2014

The General Optical Council (GOC) has been recognised as ‘maintaining its performance as an effective regulator’ by the body which oversees its work.

In its annual performance review of UK regulators, the Professional Standards Authority (the Authority) found that the GOC met all 24 of its Standards of Good Regulation during 2013/14.

The Authority reported being pleased at the high level of compliance from registrants with the GOC’s new Continuing Education and Training (CET) scheme. They also praised changes to the way the GOC captures patient feedback in its quality assurance of education providers, its efficient processing of registration and retention applications, the reduction in the median length of fitness to practise cases and its ‘proportionate and targeted’ draft strategy for tackling illegal practice.

The report did express concern about a decline in the median time for the GOC to make an Interim Order decision. It notes however that the GOC expects its new Fitness to Practise (FTP) Rules, which came into effect on 1 April 2014, to lead to improved performance against this standard in the future.

Gareth Hadley, GOC Chair, said: “We are very encouraged to receive a positive report from the Professional Standards Authority across all of our core functions. However we are determined to drive further improvement, particularly in realising the benefit of our new FTP Rules to help speed up the time in which we deal with complaints. It’s also great to see the Authority recognise the efforts that registrants have made in engaging with our enhanced CET scheme. We will continue to work closely with the Authority to explore how we can work together to protect and promote public health and safety.”

The report is available on the Authority’s website

Obituary for Norbert Cohn

June 2014

The College of Optometrists is sad to report the recent death of College Life Fellow and Trustee of the College’s and AOP’s Benevolent Fund, Norbert Cohn.

As denoted by his Life Fellowship award, Norbert made an enormous and lifelong contribution to the profession. Both his commitment and his many friendships within the profession are testimony to how well Norbert was liked and admired by all those that came into contact with him.

Norbert qualified in 1944 and worked in Tooting until he opened his own practice in Hampstead in 1951. Here, he continued to practice for over 40 years until he retired from full time work in 1992. After he qualified, he also joined the Voluntary Staff of what was then the London Refraction Hospital (LHR) – now the Institute of Optometry. His particular interest was orthoptics and he did much to enhance the reputation of the LRH as a centre of excellence in this field. He worked there as an unpaid member of the voluntary staff in various clinics for a remarkable 63 years until he eventually retired in 2007.

Norbert also worked tirelessly to support the profession at a local level, particularly in his own area of North London. He was a founder member and former Chair and Treasurer of the British Optical Association London Society and a member of the Camden and Islington Local Optical Committee, where he was Treasurer for over 30 years.

Camden Primary Care Trust recognised Norbert’s outstanding contribution to patient care in their area by awarding him the ‘People of the Year Award’ in 2007.

Norbert was a Trustee of the Benevolent Fund of the College and the AOP for more than 30 years, where colleagues spoke of his compassion and thoughtfulness towards members of our profession who faced hardship and needed the support of the Fund. He was also a Treasurer of the Fund for many years and, under his stewardship, the finances of the Fund strengthened enormously, enabling it to provide an increasing amount of help to a growing number of worthy beneficiaries.

Nobert Cohn died, surrounded by his family, at his home on Saturday 14 June, aged 88. He was buried at Edgewarebury Lane Jewish Cemetery in Edgeware on the 17 June.

DVLA contract ends Today!

June 2014

Following the award of the DVLA’s Vision Testing Services contract to Specsavers on 4 February, DVLA has written to practitioners to inform them that current provision will end on Monday 30 June 2014. Due to the crossover between the two services, practitioners may continue to receive referrals for a short period after 30 June. DVLA have requested that they (the practitioners) process these referrals as normal.

 

Silmo 2014 … At the heart of the global markets…

June 2014

Silmo 2014 is strengthening its leading position in Europe with, as always, a broad and balanced offering of exhibitors and businesses.

The optics and eyewear sector is expanding into new export markets and attracting new stakeholders both from within the industry and from related sectors, such as new technologies. The sector's global trade show in Paris is incorporating these enhancements via a more refined segmentation, the first stage in developing a more offensive strategy that will enable both exhibitors and visitors to be at the centre of international business.

With a commitment to excellence and service, Silmo 2014 continues to pay particular attention to developing an outstanding package of information points providing a wealth of useful and relevant information:

• Fashion Style
• Trends Forum
• Merchandising workshop
• Silmo D'Or awards, etc.

And the much-awaited Silmo Academy. On 28 and 29 September within the context of the trade show, the next edition of this scientific symposium will be chaired by Sarita Soni, Associate Vice President for Research at Indiana University and Vice Provost for Research at Indiana University-Bloomington. She is responsible for coordinating and developing research across eighteen research centres on the campus.

Focusing on the important and topical theme of "eye strain", the symposium will bring together a number of leading figures and specialists who will enhance participants' knowledge of this issue. Its various facets will be examined from the viewpoint of the ophthalmologist by Professor J.C. Hache*, the orthoptist by M. Routon, the optician/optometrist by D. Gormand, the researcher by B. Granger and the ergonomics specialist by B. Sanselme. There will be a special focus on eye strain in children and young adults, supplemented by a session outlining practical solutions to relieve or prevent eye strain and looking at problems that can arise when using some types of poorly designed equipment; the session will be illustrated by outlining real case studies involving people of all ages.

From 26 to 29 September 2014, visit Silmo and learn more about the entire international optics and eyewear sector, at the heart of the global markets, at the forefront of innovation.

New Which? Report reveals the best and worst optician stores

June 2014

A new “Which?” report reveals the best and worst places to buy glasses, with independents coming top.

"Independent optician shops" topped their survey with a customer satisfaction score of 88%, with wholesale co-operative Costco not far behind in second place, on 86%.

The “Which?” survey revealed a big differences between major high street chains and those in supermarkets. Specsavers came near the middle of the table with a customer score of 72%. But Tesco Opticians, Scrivens and Optical Express got their worst customer scores, with the lowest at 59%.

The survey is based on the views of over 5,409 Which? members in March 2014. Which? members can check out the eleven best and worst optician shops and learn how their customers rated them in areas from value for money, to price, to product quality (see link below).

Top-scoring opticians

The top-scoring stores are all about convenient appointments, punctuality, great products and value for money. And if budget is your main concern, New Which? had two stores getting five-star ratings for price.

But value can mean more to customers than price and special offers. One optician store was rated only average for price, but good value for money overall as customers praised it for staff skill, communication and customer service.

And only one was rated as excellent for customer service, staff skill and communication. Its staff were more likely to fix a problem with glasses at no extra cost.

Worst optician stores

Optical Express, Scrivens and Tesco were the worst rated opticians, with the former two rated poorly on value for money and price. One Scrivens customer said: ‘I was “sold” far too much, persuaded to buy glasses when I was looking for contact lenses and only then given vouchers which would’ve discounted my glasses.’

And Tesco Opticians lagged behind all others in the survey for its customer service.

Editor of Which?, Richard Headland, said: 'Not all optician stores are the same and we found big differences between them. The best one for you will depend on what you are looking for – whether it is value for money or the quality of the overall experience.'

Buying 'extras' at the optician

Four in five of customers were offered ‘extras’ on their visit to the opticians – for example, additional coatings or digital retinal photography. Of these, 9% felt pressured into accepting extras and 25% felt the extras made the cost more than expected.

To make customers get a good deal at the opticians, from choosing quality frames to whether you really need to spend on extras, Which? Has prepared five tips from expert optometrists on buying glasses.

Which? Reported league table:

Store Customer score

Local independent optician 88%
Costco 86%
Asda Opticians 77%
Rayner Opticians 74%
Specsavers 72%
Boots Opticians 69%
D&A/Dollond & Aitchinson 69%
Vision Express 68%
Tesco Opticians 65%
Scrivens Opticians 61%
Optical Express 59%

As well as rating the store they used overall (customer score), customers also rated them on areas such as price and customer service, on a scale of one to five: 1 – very poor, 2 – poor, 3 – fair, 4 – good, 5 – excellent. These results were then used to create star ratings. Full results are available on the Which? website.

Find out all the facts from the New Which website

Not a Which? member? You can sign up and get access to their full opticians results, plus all the reviews on the Which? Website for a £1 trial.

Optical Confederation welcomes Which? consumer report on opticians

June 2014

The Optical Confederation welcomes the latest report from consumer magazine Which? on public satisfaction with eye health provision in the community.

The report (published today) involved more than 5,000 Which? members about their experiences visiting optometrists and opticians to have sight tests and buy spectacles and/or contact lenses in the past three years.

The survey includes UK-wide chains, supermarkets and independent stores with the scores based on time-keeping, staff communication, staff skills, customer service, product rage, store environment, product quality, special offers, price, and value for money.

Levels of public satisfaction peak at 88% based on customers’ satisfaction with the store on their last visit and the likelihood of recommending it to a friend. The survey reveals that local independent stores came top in the polls with a customer score of 88% with members-only store Costco coming second with a score of 86%.

Don Grocott, Optical Confederation Chairman, said: “It is good news for the public that the Which? survey shows that High Street optical practices are providing such high levels of customer satisfaction. Optics is a very competitive business and so it is reasonable to expect great service and good products. It is always worth remembering, however, that the eye examination that determines the correct glasses and contact lenses is vital. It provides an invaluable health check as well as the essential precise measurements to ensure that new glasses and contacts are exactly right.”

Primary Health Net awarded accolade of Media Partners for the run up to SILMO 2014 and its conclusion

June 2014

Following on from their successful work on both 100% Optical and Optrafair London the PHN team has been awarded the job of being Media Partners for this year’s SILMO 2014 exhibition to be held in Paris on the 26th to 29th September 2014.

Bob Hutchinson said, "We see this as a natural progression from our work on this year’s two international shows in the UK. We have always striven to bring International shows like Silmo to the attention of the UK optical sector, where you will find many UK exhibitors who rarely frequent the UK shows. With the rail and air links so simple to get to the new exhibition space in Paris for some it is an easier option. Watch our space in the next two weeks for registration and tips on how to travel and maybe treat the family!”

UK Vision Strategy England Implementation group announces Joint Chairs

June 2014

Following the retirement of Stephen Remington, Chair of the UK Vision Strategy England Implementation Group, two Joint Chairs of the Group have been appointed.

John Thompson, Chair of the Lay Advisory Panel at the College of Optometrists, and Peter Corbett, Chief Executive of the Thomas Pocklington Trust, have been chosen to lead the group through the next stage of its development.

Their priority actions for the group over the coming months will be to:

• work with members to produce and monitor an updated England Implementation Plan document for turning the UK Vision Strategy into action, 2014 - 2018
• work with members to develop effective processes to identify areas of support and required action across the whole of the eye health and sight loss pathway (in conjunction with VISION 2020 UK special interest groups)
• explore setting up an effective regional structure to oversee implementation of the UK Vision Strategy across the whole of England
• review and update governance arrangements and membership to build and develop the implementation group

Commenting on his appointment Peter Corbett said: “I am delighted to be appointed to this role and look forward to working with the group. My ultimate goal is to ensure effective implementation of the UK Vision Strategy across all local authorities and clinical commissioning groups in England. This can only be achieved by partners across the country working together collaboratively to maximise opportunities and overcome challenges”.

Following his appointment John Thompson said: “I am looking forward to working with partners in new and innovative ways to ensure the UK Vision Strategy is put into action across England. I believe the group can achieve meaningful and lasting change to improve the eye health and sight loss pathway over the next four years”.

Anita Lightstone, UK Vision Strategy Programme Director and Chief Operations Officer for VISION 2020 UK commented: “The strength of this team will be a real asset to the England Implementation Group and meets its desire to focus on collaborative action to achieve the outcomes of the UK Vision Strategy across the whole of England”.

Professional development and business needs determine optometrists’ involvement in community schemes

June 2014

New research has found that UK optometrists participate in locally-based, enhanced eye care service schemes (ESS) primarily to further their professional development. However, as providers of ‘for-profit’ healthcare, participants made clear that they felt the need to consider the impact of the schemes on their business as part of any decision about involvement.

A qualitative study, funded by the College of Optometrists and conducted by researchers from the Centre for Public Health Research at City University London and the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, explored the views of 74 optometrists, ophthalmologists, and General Practitioners (GPs) involved in a minor eye conditions scheme (MECS) in South London and a glaucoma referral refinement scheme (GRRS) in Manchester.

Many of the optometrists questioned cited financial incentives and opportunities to develop their business as important drivers to participate. Access to training and accreditation was also an important incentive. Participating optometrists also identified potential benefits to the wider NHS through reducing the burden on Hospital Eye Services and overall healthcare costs. Optometrists not participating in the ESS believed that it would place pressure on their practice to adapt their booking systems, testing times, and to purchase new equipment. However, the majority of non-participants noted the benefits of participation for professional development and held positive views of the South London and Manchester schemes.

Professor Edward Mallen, Chair of the College’s Research Committee, said: “This is the first study to investigate the views and attitudes of eye care providers regarding the new community-based care pathways that have come into effect and significantly changed the landscape for the provision of eye care in the UK. Previous studies have evaluated similar schemes in terms of clinical outcomes and cost effectiveness, but we now have much greater insight into the views of a wide range of healthcare providers and what motivates them to participate in these important, community-based schemes.”

David Parkins, President of the College of Optometrists, said: “ESS are promoted by NHS leaders around the UK as a solution to the growing difficulty of meeting rising demand for eye care and minimising sight loss. To be effective, ESS need to demonstrate that they add capacity to the NHS, improve efficiency and deliver quality eye care. This research is part of a larger project to evaluate such schemes and its outputs will provide insights into how the organisation of services impacts on clinical outcomes, patient experience, and economic factors”.

Both ophthalmologists and GPs expressed very positive views of ESS. Ophthalmologists cited the potential to reduce the number of unnecessary secondary-care referrals and reduce patient waiting times. The close involvement of ophthalmologists in the development and organisation of the schemes and the delivery of training to optometrists indicated strong inter-professional trust within both schemes. GPs surveyed also recognised the advantages of integrating community optometry into eye care pathways to provide appropriate care in a convenient location and identified the potential for reducing the number of referrals to Hospital Eye Services (HES).

A follow up to this qualitative study, which will include patient views, is planned for 2015.

Please click to our business briefing report containing the initial findings and links to the full BMJ article.

Global educators honoured at world’s largest annual contact lens meeting

June 2014

The International Association of Contact Lens Educators played a prominent role in the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Clinical Conference & Exhibition, held in Birmingham, UK from 6th to 9th June.

The conference marked the first IACLE Contact Lens Educator of the Year awards to recognise and reward achievements in contact lens education worldwide. The programme also included the first IACLE/International Session where researchers from the Netherlands, India, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Greece and Italy presented their work.

Three IACLE Contact Lens Educator of the Year awards were presented, one for each of IACLE’s global regions. The awards were supported by the BCLA and sponsored by CooperVision. Certificates were handed over by outgoing BCLA president Andy Yorke and Senior Vice President, Global Professional and Clinical Affairs at CooperVision, Dr Juan Carlos Aragón. This year’s recipients were:

Asia Pacific Region - Dr Rajeswari Mahadevan of Sankara Nethralaya Medical Research Foundation, Chennai, India

Americas Region - Dr Sergio Garcia of University of La Salle, Bogotá and the University Santo Tomás, Bucaramanga, Colombia

Europe / Africa – Middle East Region: Dr Eef van der Worp, affiliated with the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands

Dr van der Worp thanked IACLE for the award, which he said was an ‘enormous honour’. ‘I would actually need to honour IACLE with an award for its outstanding work – not the reverse! Networks exist for clinicians, and for researchers. But for educators – there isn’t much to fall back on. IACLE has always offered me great support as an educator.

The IACLE Travel Award, supported by BCLA, went to Wang Ling of the Jinling Institute of Technology, Nanjing, China.

Among many other highlights of the conference for IACLE:

• Vice President Professor Philip Morgan was awarded the prestigious BCLA Medal

• President Dr Shehzad Naroo was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the BCLA in recognition of outstanding contributions to the association

• IACLE members and FIACLEs among those receiving BCLA Fellowship were: Dr Rajeswari Mahadevan (India), Prasad Sawant (India), Dr Ali Masmali (Saudi Arabia), Dr Raquel Gil Cazorla (Spain), Professor Lyndon Jones (Canada), Caroline Christie (UK), and Robert Conway (UK)

Delegates from 51 countries attended the BCLA 2014 conference. The largest contingents from outside the UK were from the USA (57) followed by Denmark (50), Italy (34), Japan (32) and Germany (31).

IACLE’s Education Day and Annual General Meeting, held at Aston University in Birmingham on 5th June to coincide with the conference, attracted more than 40 delegates. The programme of lectures and workshops was jointly organised by the British Universities Committee of Contact Lens Educators (BUCCLE).

Next year, IACLE will hold the Third IACLE World Congress on Contact Lens Education in Manchester, UK from 23th to 27th May 2015. The congress is timed to precede the British Contact Lens Association’s 2015 Clinical Conference & Exhibition in Liverpool (29th May to 1st June). The theme for the congress is ‘Be the best in contact lens education’.

College President is appointed Chair of Local Eye Health Network

June 2014

David Parkins BSc MSc FCOptom FEAOO, President of the College of Optometrists, has been appointed as the London Chair of the Local Eye Health Network. David is also a member of the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning and the Vision 2020 ophthalmic public health committee.

David, who will be spending one day a week in his new role, said; “I am looking forward to meeting the wide range of stakeholders involved in eyecare throughout London. The formation of an Eye Health Network is a great opportunity to review the current state of eyecare pathways in London and to develop improved services for patients in line with the national eye heath pathways. I particularly want to focus on improving services for the hard to reach groups and developing the use of outcome measures for eyecare. The appointment coincides with the NHS England consultation ‘Improving Eye Care - A Call for Action' and this will be my main focus over the next three months.”

David also has a part time role as an Assistant Director of Quality for the Bexley Clinical Commissioning Group. Previously, he was Chair of the Professional Executive Committee for NHS Bexley and has held numerous roles involving ophthalmology/optometry pathway redesign.

He is currently conducting his doctoral research into the clinical decision making and the referral practice of UK optometrists. His previous research into 'repeat measures' in glaucoma is now a NICE proven QIPP case study on NHS Evidence.

David will participate in the National LPN Steering Group and will represent London at the National LPN Assembly.

Vision UK 2014 Conference displays its solid and well focussed message to over 500 delegates

June 2014

Held in the Queen Elizabeth Conference Hall last Thursday utilising 3 levels of the hall, Vision UK 2014 attracted an audience of well over 500 delegates from the length and breadth of the UK and N Ireland.

This is a date to put in your calendar every year from now on because it simply is the best conference in the Vision Conference Season by far.

Over the 6 years that Nick Astbury has served as Chair and in his final year one can see how the hard work has achieved a fine tuned vehicle in which unnecessary visual disability in the UK will finally be addressed.

It does so because Vision 2020 UK has built on the building blocks with its Strategy released last year on which it has encouraged research and a host of useful guidance and toolkits from a broad range of interested bodies. Not least from Government, vision charities, social care groups and our own College, OC and LOCSU as well as those like us (PHN and NEHW) keen to relate the messages.

There was a lot of “Calling” at this conference! Not least the “Call to Arms” from Anita Lightstone in her final year.

The case for improving the lives of those afflicted by visual impairment could not have been better put than it was in the early day section by a young and confident partially sighted 15 year old girl, namely, Tiri Hughes, a Blind Children UK service user for most of her life. She told of the good that had been done for her but she also gave a lucid account of the poor treatment meted out to the young visually impaired.

At this meeting the launch of NHS England’s “Improving Eyecare- A call to Action” was made by Dr Mike Bewick (Deputy Medical Director NHS England. There have been a series of these “Calls” in healthcare but normally to service providers this Call is focused on one organ namely the eye.

Although this message will prove to be key over the following months there needs to be better clarity as to what it is all about. In order for it not to be perceived as “grandstanding” the message must go out to all those providing eyecare services loud and clear that we must all be involved in the consultation. See our full news story and comments from David Parkins the new President of the College of Optometrists in our news this week.

The Oral presentations in the morning and poster display (supported by College) were all encompassing and provided an insight as to how far Vision 20 20 has come over the years.

The 10 – 15 minute spots for the presentations worked really well and we heard from keynote speakers in their chosen specialties.

Louise Gow presented on dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children in a primary setting.

There were analysis of who is not taking up eye tests and why they aren’t.

Three dedicated ladies, two medics and one from Social Change produced a report on their experience in reaching the public through educating children about eye care in their Eye Heroes project development. PHN will bring you much more on this subject and how you can get involved in the following weeks and months.

Sarah Buchanan from the Pocklington Trust explained how important it is to investigate sight loss in people with dementia. (750,000 currently in the UK).

Another research team looked at the incidence and connection of falls in and out of the home by those with visual impairment. The report was authored by a number of skilled personnel on behalf of the University of Ulster, RNIB N Ireland and Belfast Health & Social Care Trust.

Please read in later PHN news the College of Optometrist's report on vision related falls.

Another report on the views of stakeholders both providing and using enhanced service provision was very interesting as reported by Dr Evgenia Konstantakopouou on behalf of City University. You can read more in our Business Review Pages with additional links to BMJ.

The final 3 presentations were about putting strategy into direct action to help those with visual impairment. These included identifying at risk groups, engaging those with both visual and hearing impairment and planning for better access in building design.

The afternoon masterclass sessions each focused on one of the three outcomes of the UK Vision Strategy, as follows: Outcome one (everyone in the UK looks after their eyes and their sight): Prevention of sight loss, Reaching the hard to reach groups in eyecare. Outcome two (everyone with an eye condition receives timely treatment and access to early and appropriate services): New approaches to delivering eyecare, The future of rehabilitation. Outcome three (a society in which people with sight loss can fully participate): Excellence in recruitment, Implementing the children and young people’s pathway.

The day concluded with a Question Time panel, chaired by the BBC’s Gary O’Donoghue. The panel debated and discussed a range of questions covering the eye health and sight loss sector, with lively input from the audience. The four panellists were: Lesley-Anne Alexander, Chief Executive, Royal National Institute of Blind People and Chair, UK Vision Strategy Advisory Group; Vidar Hjardeng, Diversity Consultant, ITV News, Caroline MacEwen, new President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and Rachel Stancliffe, Director, Centre for Sustainable Healthcare.

Anita Lightstone, UK Vision Strategy Programme Director and VISION 2020 UK Chief Operations Officer said “Vision UK 2014 attracted the biggest audience yet with over 500 people attending and delegate feedback has been extremely positive. Thank you to everyone who attended including our fantastic speakers and the sponsors for making the event possible. We look forward to seeing you all next year!”

PHN interviewed many of the presenters and we hope to bring you exclusively more about their work and pass it onto to our public readership where relevant.

PHN Interviews Carrie MacEwen, the new President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists

June 2014

After congratulating Carrie on her new post we asked her why it was that eyecare for Children particularly the under 5’s was so poor in the UK. She agreed that children’s needs were not being addressed in the youngest age groups and concurred with us that CCGs, appeared to not understand that their remit should be to all age groups.

She announced that in her future talks with Government this would be one of her discussion points and suggested that the profession of Orthoptists are ideally positioned to screen young children in a environment that are used to (school) and in large batches. They are trained specifically to work with children and see it as their role in healthcare.

Carrie noted that many Optometrists and their practices did not entertain testing children of a young age and there was a need to find a more efficient and economical solution. In her opinion there are enough Orthoptists available to do the job.

We asked the thorny question about the lack of referral replies to referring optometrists. The President conceded that there is a poor response rate in many areas but that it was a multi-dimensional problem that will not be easily solved until the use of the NHS net becomes more readily available. That in itself has cost issues for all. There are other issues surrounding confidentiality as often they are not aware that the patients have given permission for reports to be sent and nor is it obvious, and sometimes undecipherable as to whether the practice address is a permanent optical practice regularly chosen by the patient or a one off event, seen maybe by a locum who will not necessarily see them again.

Ireland turns a blind eye to eye health

June 2014

Half of people in Ireland have not had an eye test in the last two years - the recommended maximum interval between eye tests.

The finding is contained in a Behaviour & Attitudes survey which also reveals that 21% have never had a sight test at all, rising to over 36% of those under the age of 35. The survey, in advance of a Healthy Eyes awareness week, found that the vast majority of those who have never had a sight test think they have 20/20 vision, even though they have no way of knowing if they do or not. It also reveals that 25% of Smartphone/tablet users under the age of 50 report eyestrain.

The survey, based on a population sample of 1,000 people, has been published to launch the second national Healthy Eyes campaign which runs from June 16th – 22ndand Optician groups said it demonstrates that many people are neglecting their eye health.

Healthy Eyes is being coordinated by the Federation of Dispensing Opticians (FODO) Ireland, the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI) and the Irish Association of Dispensing Opticians (IADO) to remind people that even if they think their eyesight is good, the only way to know for sure is to get your eyes tested regularly.

FODO Ireland Head of Policy, Ann Blackmore, said: “Research shows that sight is the sense people fear losing the most and yet most don’t consider an eye test to be a core part of their health routine. An eye test is a vital health check which can detect a range of health conditions for which you may be experiencing no symptoms and where early detection can prevent sight loss.”

AOI Chief Executive Peter Coleman said: “Sight loss is on the increase in Ireland. We have first rate eye care services in every community in Ireland. We need everyone in Ireland to take advantage of them.”

By 2020, the number of people living with sight loss in Ireland is estimated to increase to 271,996. Given the growing incidence in key underlying causes of sight loss such as obesity and diabetes, this could represent an underestimate if Ireland does not take a comprehensive approach to early detection and treatment.

IADO President Ruth Drennan said: “The survey results are a worrying reminder of the lack of awareness of eye health issues in Ireland. The Healthy Eyes campaign message is a simple one – everyone needs a regular eye test and we encourage anyone who has never had one to do so this week.”

It is estimated that more than 50% of sight loss is almost entirely preventable. Research also indicates that up to 75% of sight loss in older people can be avoided. These conditions can only be prevented if they are detected early and the key to that is regular eye tests.

There are already over 220,000 people living with sight loss in Ireland – and this number is projected to increase substantially as the population ages. The Government estimates that the number of people aged 65 years and older in Ireland will almost double over the period 2006 to 2026, with Irish and international data showing a marked increase in the frequency of sight loss with advancing age.

The Irish Government committed to the objectives of Vision 2020 almost ten years ago. This represents a global collaborative initiative led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) with the overarching objective to eliminate avoidable sight loss by 2020.

Images show Healthy Eyes Poster and Gay Mitchell MEP and active supporter.

OGS looks for a Volunteer Marketing and Fundraising Assistant

June 2014

Vision charity announces an opportunity for a passionate person to join Optometry Giving Sight – the only global fundraising initiative specifically targeting uncorrected refractive error – the simple need for an eye examination and spectacles.

This is an exciting time for the organisation and the Marketing and Fundraising Assistant will be working on high profile campaigns to help raise funds.

Optometry Giving Sight is highly flexible around the amount of time that can be volunteered, and would ideally like to recruit someone from July 2014 onwards.

This role would be ideal for a student, and for anyone looking to gain essential work experience. OGS is based at the AOP offices, in Farringdon, London.

Improving Eye Health and Reducing Sight Loss, a "Call to Action"

June 2014

Patients, professionals and the public are being invited to have their say by NHS England, in a debate around the provision of eye health services.
‘The NHS belongs to us all: a call to action’ was launched last July and set out the challenges faced by the NHS; those of an ageing population with complex conditions against a backdrop of financial constraints. Since then, separate ‘call to action’ engagements have been held for general practice, community pharmacy and NHS dental services. The final strand of the campaign will focus on improving eye health and the provision of NHS eye health services. The consultation will run until 12 September 2014.

Many long term conditions, such as diabetes and dementia, pose a significant risk to eye health. The projected increase in the elderly population and the number of people with multiple long term conditions has a knock on effect on long term planning for eye care. If not tackled properly, poor provision at a primary care level is likely to increase pressures elsewhere in the health and social care system.

It’s estimated that partial sight and blindness in adults costs the UK economy around £22 billion per year. This final ‘Call to Action’ will focus on a more preventative approach, early accurate detection by primary care services and effective management in the community.

To achieve that NHS England wants the public, patients, and professionals to engage with the ‘call to action’ and help review the current system to inform and develop a long term sustainable plan.

NHS England is aware that particular groups can experience difficulties in accessing appropriate health care services including eye health services. These include people with mental health issues; frail, elderly people; people with physical or learning disabilities and homeless people.

Dr Mike Bewick, NHS England’s Deputy Medical Director, said: “Preventing eye disease and promoting early detection of eye disease through improved access and uptake for routine eye tests are key components of this call to action. Ensuring that patients receive the most appropriate care at the most appropriate time and in the most appropriate location is also vital.”

Anita Lightstone, UK Vision Strategy Programme Director and VISION 2020 UK Chief Operations Officer, said: “We are delighted to welcome the consultation ‘Improving Eye Care - A Call to Action’ and congratulate NHS England on providing this much needed spotlight on eye care. We encourage all stakeholders involved in receiving or delivering eye care to have their say so we can work together to ensure the needs of eye care patients and people with sight loss can be met now and in the future”.

David Parkins talks to PHN about the possibilities he sees for the sector using the CTA

“The call for action is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  If we can get our key points into the debate then perhaps we can  ensure recognition that optometrists  have a greater role in NHS eyecare. We also need to make commissioning more effective and much more economical,” said David Parkins when interviewed at the UK Vision Strategy Conference by PHN.

 “At present while there have been many success stories in commissioning community services, the time and cost of procuring  such projects in every CCG area and region does not make sense. We need to relook at the pathways and find a way of repositioning services so they can be accepted across the country. We need a national strategy  and if we can convey that idea within the CTA maybe we shall see a significant change in our role in the future.”

The Call to Action Consultation Closes on 12 September 2014

Through the College, Parkins reiterated that the CTA is a huge opportunity for LOCs, optometrists and opticians to present the case to the NHS for the further development of local community eye health services and an increased utilisation of the skills of opticians and optometrists in primary care. The results of the CTA will determine policy on future commissioning of community eye health services, and it is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.

LOCSU also published a response to the CTA launch explaining that LOCSU and the Optical Confederation will submit a national response to the CTA with other stakeholders however, it is vital that LOCs work with practices and practitioners to ensure that voice of optics is heard locally and that a strong and coherent response on the development of community eye health services is articulated to NHS England.

We at PHN wholeheartedly agree that those involved with all forms of optical services to the public should engage in this process and not just leave it to the “usual suspects” as has commonly been the case in the past. It is our future that is at stake and the remedies perceived from interaction with ebullient service providers don’t always provide the result we expect. (The DVLA recent pitch being a prime example.)

We at PHN will be happy to moderate any ideas you have both anonymous and named if you wish so we can keep the sector aware of your views even if you are not inclined to share them with the CTA team. Just email us during the process and we will relate your views anonymously and try to keep our readership aware of the ideas as they start to be formulated. Just email us with ideas and comments at mail@primaryhealthnet.com.

Lindsay Brown appointed General Manager European Key Accounts at Hoya

June 2014

HOYA Vision Care Europe announces the appointment of Mr. Lindsay Brown as General Manager European Key Accounts as of June 1st, 2014. A member of HOYA’s central European organization, Lindsay reports to Hans Werquin, CEO of HOYA Vision Care Europe.

The appointment of Lindsay Brown follows the accelerated growth HOYA Vision Care experienced in Europe and confirms HOYA’s strong dedication to retail development and sales expansion in the region.

Lindsay has over 20 years experience in the optical industry. After having held several positions on retail side, he moved to Transitions Optical in 2005. In his most recent position of General Manager EMEA (2009-2014) he was responsible for the commercial, marketing, and operational organisations of Transitions Optical in the EMEA.

A graduate of the University of Port Elizabeth, Lindsay Brown holds a Bachelor of Science degree and is a qualified optometrist.

Hans Werquin on the appointment: “Lindsay is an experienced and devoted manager with a strong strategic focus and in-depth knowledge of the optical industry. With him on board we do not only commit to expand and develop our key accounts, but also to accelerate HOYA’s growth in Europe further.”

Differentiated Speaker Programme Announced for Independents Day

June 2014

Proven Track Record (PTR) has released details of the speaker programme for this year’s 10th Independents Day (i-Day) to be held this year on Sunday 6th and Monday 7th July at the HILTON Birmingham Metropole. Themed ‘Differentiate to Thrive’ – How to Survive in an Age of Killer Competition, this year’s speaker include a Keynote from the USA as well top talent from closer to home.

Alan Cleinman will deliver this year’s Keynote address ‘Differentiate to Thrive’. He has been a leader in the US eye care industry for almost forty years and is credited as the “father” of its buying group segment. He is CEO of Cleinman Performance Partners, the USA’s largest business consultancy specialising in the vision care industry, and thousands enjoy his popular blog and high-energy presentations annually.

Back by popular demand, Jonathan Winchester MD of Shopper Anonymous, will once again review the overall results of this year’s mystery shopping research. Thanks to sponsorship from Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, 50 iDay delegates will be able to participate and receive a confidential complimentary mystery shopping exercise in their practice.

Another highlight will be the six leading UK practice owners who will share how they have successfully differentiated their practices. Speakers include Nick Rumney (BBR Optometry) will discuss clinical excellence and how to make IP pay, with Conor Heaney (Jones & Co.) presenting the juxtaposition by sharing his practices unique boutique style approach. From a marketing perspective Ian Cameron will explain how an effective marketing and communications strategy has differentiated Cameron Optometry, whilst Brian Tompkins will share how he has successfully repositioned TKS Optometrists from a traditional to a cutting-edge style practice. Garry Kousoulou and Ian Chalmers will ably support them with insight into developing effective social media and professional fee strategies respectively.

PTR Director Nick commented, “Striving to continually improve, this will be our biggest and most exciting iDay ever! As the last couple of years have proven, iDay is particularly good for those who bring along members of their practice team; in addition to the learning, the time spent during the day is also be good for team bonding and motivation.”

Why not take up a unique peer discussion session to be held over breakfast, for delegates attending the Independents Day (iDay) business symposium on Monday 7th July. Sponsored and delivered in conjunction with Heidelberg Engineering, the 1-hour event will focus on the recognition and interpretation of OCT images and is approved for both optometrists and dispensing opticians. In addition to the peer discussion, delegates wanting further CET will be able to find it delivered via the iDay sponsors workshop programme.

Nick Atkins commented, “We are delighted to be able to bring our delegates the opportunity to gain at least 3-CET points before attending the main business symposium. It is great that they will have some points in the bag and can then spend the rest of the day focussing on the all-important commercial matters – the raison d’être for iDay”

Grafton to introduce new innovative products at Independents Day

June 2014

Grafton Optical will be exhibiting 2 new innovative products at this year’s event.

Clear Path DS 120 which detects diabetes. Manufactured by Meditech, it is made available by Grafton Optical and is a Non Invasive device , capable of detecting uncontrolled Glucose up to 7 years prior to end stage complications.

The evaluation starts with asking patients simple questions to assess their risk of having uncontrolled glucose problems. These questions are based on the American Diabetes Association Risk Test and include: height/weight, exercise, gender, race and family history of uncontrolled glucose.

In order to further confirm after one or more positive responses, a scan of the eye is performed using the CLEARPATH DS-120™ Lens Fluorescence Biomicroscope.

Highlights of the Scan Include:

• The system performs a self-test at start up.

• Only the patient’s chin and forehead contact the device. Both manual and computer interface adjustments are used to get the patient correctly positioned.

• The blue light scan is taken, usually taking just a few seconds.

• When the scan is complete, a graphical display of light scatter (top graph, blue), lens auto Fluorescence
(middle graph, green), and the ratio (bottom graph, violet) will be displayed.

• When the scan passes internal software checks on its validity, the fluorescence ratio (labelled “Fluorescence”) will be displayed.

• A report is displayed on the screen and that can be printed for the patient and/or for the patient’s file. The scan data is also automatically saved on the computer’s hard disk.

• By identifying patients with fluorescence ratios significantly higher than expected, the clinician can identify patients with signs of degenerative changes in the lens, identify potential risk of chronic systemic diseases in conjunction with the other data collected in a routine eye examination, and institute appropriate patient management plans.

Also on show at the Grafton Demonstration Stand T8 is a unique 7 in 1 analytical VX40 Waveslens Pro Automatic Lens meter from Visionix which adapts easily to any size consulting room with its space saving capability, it is easy to use and automated.

With its innovating system of frame support, the WaveLens Pro is the only lensmeter in the market which combines automatism with a high precision in measurement.

WaveLens Pro detects all types of lenses: progressives, office and single vision lenses as well as bifocals. It is compatible with all lens technologies and brands.

Giving a complete analysis of every lens, each point of a lens can be studied. The progressives and the freeform lenses will never be a mystery anymore.

The unique lensholder system allows a fast insertion of the frame with only one hand!

After pushing the measurement button the whole process works on its own.

This device proved highly popular at Optrafair this year.

If you require information on their affordable OCT packages or products, then please talk to their representatives at stand number T8.

View the latest offers on line on PHN/Grafton pages.

Hearing Groups provide a lead in Hearing Commissioning

June 2014

Guidance has been produced by: the National Community Hearing Association (NCHA) and the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists (BSHAA) on Commissioning to Meet Hearing Need and for Better Access, Outcomes, Quality and Choice.

Today 88% of the 8.4 million people in England with mild, moderate or severe hearing loss are aged 50 and over (AoHLa). People with moderate hearing loss can find it difficult to follow speech without support and it is estimated that 5.1 million people aged over 44 in England have a moderate or severe hearing loss (POPPI 2014).

Research has shown that early detection and support for hearing loss can help reduce the risk of depression, anxiety and sadness (National Council on Aging 2000). This is further supported by the Chief Medical Officer’s latest Annual Report which acknowledges that appropriate support for hearing loss can have “a substantial impact on quality of life” (Chief Medical Officer2014). Unfortunately despite the clear benefits of early detection and support, many people delay seeking help for up 10 years and this is a significant and growing public health concern.

Following NHS England’s and Monitor’s lead, the guidance advises that long-term sustainability is best achieved through closer working relationships between commissioners, providers and other community and charity partners. Transparency, competition and an integrated delivery model can help ensure future generations of people with hearing loss continue to be able to access high-quality NHS care in a timely manner.

The guidance also sits full square with NHS Executive Chief Executive Simon Steven’s calls to accelerate the redesign of care delivery, to develop alternative scenarios for demand and for efficiencies, payments linked to performance, quality and outcomes and his view that there is real momentum building in favour of testing new models of care in general practice and extended primary care, which the NCHA and BSHAA fully support.

NCHA Chief Executive David Hewlett said: “Despite the financial constraints in the NHS, we are potentially at the start of a better journey for people with hearing loss, particularly age-related hearing loss whose numbers are set to increase rapidly over the next few years. The International Longevity Centre’s Commission led by Baroness Sally Greengross is inquiring into hearing loss and will report in July, there is a call for screening pilots of age-related hearing loss and a national plan for deafness and hearing loss is in the offing. This guidance is an important contribution in all these areas”.

BSHAA Chief Executive Alan Torbet said: “It is hugely pleasing to see the success of the first wave of AQP contracting. This guidance paves the way forwards for CCGs who have not yet updated their services to deliver better outcomes for patients and spread the geographical reach of the clinical pathway for Adult Hearing Services.”

Guidance for Commissioners and Providers June 2014 can be found in our clinical briefing section in two parts.

Adult Hearing services in the Community

How to commission Adult Hearing Services

All optical suppliers urged to join the FMO

June 2014

The FMO is reaching out to new members who may not have considered joining the UK optical trade body, to gain the benefits of networking, free legal advice, professional guidance, access to the licensed Bad Payers’ List and much more. The exhibitors’ discount for Optrafair, The FMO’s flagship show, is also a key driver for many companies to join up.

The means of providing some 21million UK eye examinations each year – many with advanced optical diagnostics - could not happen without the technology provided by FMO members. The production and supply of bespoke lenses, sunglasses, sports eyewear and a host of health supplements and accessories together provide the fuel for a £2.8billion industry and The FMO is integral to oiling the wheels on the business of optics. It is also the voice of suppliers and manufacturers within The Optical Confederation.

The diverse membership of companies, which range in turnovers from a few thousand pounds each year to multi-million pound operations stretch from Cornwall to Scotland and across the breadth of the country. Despite great competition these companies are brought together by the trade body which was founded nearly a century ago, with a gentlemanly approach to business, and camaraderie, which is still the envy of many other sectors.

“We are valued for the breadth of advice and information which is available to the frame, lens and equipment groups, but we also support the IT providers, shop fitters, finance houses, management companies and optical educators. Our Paddington head office and regional meetings are a time for our Management Board to come together to seek out ways of supporting the profession and industry partners,” said FMO Chairman, Barry Dibble.

The knowledge of FMO members and the shared resources of experience are appreciated not just by UK companies but also by optical businesses abroad which look to the UK for guidance in a rapidly changing market, with more shop fitting companies, education and service providers, plus contact lens companies, looking to join.

Collaborative Working

Overseas member, Frederic Lefranc, PPG Industries’ Director of Sales, EMA and Pacific, believes the unity provided by The FMO is a vital strength of the UK optical sector –

“The FMO is a great asset to the industry – very few countries have such a professional organisation. It is a very good platform to create unity and give direction. We are made very welcome as overseas members and it is a great way to integrate into the country market.

“In the UK you have unity which is a great strength to business. We see a great pride in being a part of the FMO and we don’t see this so often elsewhere in Europe. The AGM luncheon is a great event and a terrific coming together of the industry.”

Essilor UK Managing Director, Mike Kirkley agreed –

“The FMO is very useful body to give guidance to all manufactures regardless of size. It is an informative and adventurous group always looking for opportunities to enhance the opportunities for its members.”

The close co-operation between lens providers, optical labs and coating houses, along with frame suppliers working together can provide a seamless journey for dispensing, as Gerry Biggs, Managing Director of Manchester-based Siltint Industries, emphasised –

“The FMO is a forum for all of the technologies involved in manufacturing spectacles to come together to find the best solution for the patient. Representing the views of the different manufacturers, it is very important that this voice is heard in various other optical bodies and most importantly within The Optical Confederation.”

Nigel Castle, Managing Director of leading lab service provider Lenstec, which now includes Tant and Rawdon laboratories, agreed –

“The FMO allows Lenstec to share ideas and network with fellow peers within the industry at the various meetings across the country. We value the interaction between all companies and across the user groups. We look to support the industry and commit to SMC training courses throughout our group.”

Education and Insight

For many the regional national meetings are as valuable as the link with the Spectacle Makers’ to promote optical training. Graham Coates, Managing Director of Coates Optical, praised a recent lecture provided by The FMO which provided an overview of the current UK optical landscape and how it differs from overseas markets –

“These lectures are extremely useful and are like gold dust to a small business like mine. It provided an amazing amount of information about the multiples’ and independents’ share of the market and that really helps us with our planning.”

The sharing of information was also a factor in new member, Optimum Coatings of Morecambe, joining, as Sales Director, Mark Marland explained –

“The FMO is a must for any business involved in our market: great training courses available to staff at all levels, regular newsletters with the latest industry information and a strong network of companies supporting each other. The meetings, held at different locations, are a good way to catch up with customers and suppliers alike, if you are not a member you’re missing out, The FMO really is the voice of the optical industry.”

For others – including frame company, Continental Eyewear, which is proud of a 30 year FMO membership – the meetings are of great value –

“Being able to convey ideas and listen to others in a convivial atmosphere has great importance in a very competitive market. The fact that we are in competition with each other isn't significant as it is a forum for open discussion,” said Neal Grimason, Sales and Marketing Director Continental Eyewear.

Optrafair and Trade Shows

The open discussion forum is essential to planning the flagship FMO optical trade show, Optrafair, which has led the field for more than 30 years, and which now alternates between London and Birmingham.

Hanson Instruments Sales Director, Wayne Coleman reflected the views of many –

“One of the great benefits of The FMO meetings is the chance to bounce ideas around, particularly for us on the instrument supply side. Discussing the dates and timing of trade shows is important. It is good to have feedback from the other companies to find out what benefits us all. As a body we have great clout with any issues that need tackling.”

Vital as trade show planning is, and discussions about which other optical events to support, much more is offered by the trade body, says Phil Mullins, Optinet and National Eyecare Group Director of Business Development -

“For many people The FMO is just seen as the organisers of Optrafair. However as a member we feel it’s an integral part of us doing business in optics. It is a group where competitors from all divisions of the industry come together to support each other and to work to improve and develop the whole industry. Add to this the activities and benefits such as legal services, credit management and information, insurance consultation, statistics, training you have a support group like no other.”

Longstanding member, Nick Fitrzyk, Managing Director of Carleton Optical, enjoys the camaraderie and much more -

“Membership brings excellent support. I particularly enjoy the regional meetings and the informative presentations from experts in and out of our field. As well as keeping us up-to-date on issues there are other advantages of being a member of The FMO, including the Optrafair discount rate which is an attractive benefit.”

“The FMO is always been a great forum to meet with many like-minded people who share similar problems and frustrations within the optical world. The focus groups are robust, frank and open and the various discussion points have on occasions coloured or altered my thoughts on some issues. Member benefits such as Hays DX rates, The Bad Payers’ List and Optrafair discounts - especially now that is has become an annual event - are in my opinion sufficient reason for any optical company to consider membership,” said Brulimar Managing Director Howard Librae.

Support and Assistance

With a management Board made up of representatives from optical companies large and small, it reflects the suppliers’ complete cross section –

“The FMO is always available for support and assistance in all optical matters. Through meetings, education and focus groups with members, the FMO enhances the optical world and creates strong links with other manufacturers and like-minded individuals. As the organisers of Optrafair, the FMO promotes and raises the profile of the optical industry,” said Martin Batho, Managing Director, Hoya Lens UK.

Keen to see other companies, large and small join, Barry Dibble draws attention to new member, Snowbird Finance and the words of Managing Director, Simon Freeman -

“Joining The FMO has given us the opportunity to keep right up-to-date with the latest technological advances in the market and to network with those at the heart of the industry.”

For Newcastle-based Lumley Opticals, membership of The FMO provides great peace of mind –

“Knowing that help with some of the headaches of business is just a phone call away is very reassuring,” said Managing Director Harry Lumley.

NB: Wednesday October 22 is next FMO Regional Meeting in Birmingham

New College report makes recommendations for reducing vision-related falls

June 2014

A report just published by the College of Optometrists shows a marked variation in the frequency and method of vision checks carried out by falls teams across the UK. Focus on falls is the result of a 12 month project to establish current provision of vision checks among UK falls services.

One in three people over 65 will fall every year in the UK, and falls are the biggest cause of accidental death in people aged over 75 . Ageing vision can significantly increase the risk of falling, and the NICE clinical guideline on falls recommends that multi-factorial assessments undertaken by falls services should include investigation of visual impairment. However, while the majority of teams interviewed and surveyed for the report stated that they were keen to provide some form of sight test, they also advised that they often lack the capacity, resources and support to do so.

The report also makes a number of recommendations on how the eye healthcare sector, particularly optometrists, can support national and local falls teams in reducing the number of elderly people who fall due to failing vision. These include proposals that optometrists connect with their local falls teams via an online directory, and that there is referral in both directions.

The College is working with LOCSU to support local optical committees and eye health networks in prioritising falls awareness, and working with the Thomas Pocklington Trust to provide all falls teams with practical, easy-to-use vision checking tools.

It is providing all of its members with support materials including a checklist to help them identify those most at risk and provide advice on how to support them. It is also sending posters to display in practice encouraging patients at risk to make an appointment for an eye examination.

The College is also supporting this work with an awareness campaign amongst the wider healthcare sector to ensure joined-up support.

College and University of Ulster launch new Higher Qualification in Medical Retina

June 2014

The University of Ulster is the first training provider to offer the College of Optometrists’ accredited Professional Certificate in Medical Retina. It will be offered as a blended learning course starting in July 2014.

This qualification will meet the increasing demand to provide community and hospital based optometrists with 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.

The Professional Certificate is part of a growing suite of higher qualifications offered by the College to enable optometrists to provide extended services in key areas such as low vision, glaucoma and contact lens practice. The qualifications are 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 qualification will take 10-26 weeks to complete depending on the individual learner. The course is a combination of online learning and on campus tutorials, practicals and assessments.”

Jackie Martin, Director of Education at the College said: “Optometrists and practice managers want specialist skills and the highest standards of professionalism. The College qualifications in Medical Retina will provide enhanced knowledge and experience to community and hospital optometrists.”
Raymond Beirne, Lecturer in Optometry, Ulster University said: “We are delighted to launch this exciting new course, accredited by The College of Optometrists. Alongside extensive course delivery using e learning it will allow hands on experience in the use of specialist equipment for retinal imaging, taught by optometrists and ophthalmologists with expertise in the area of medical retina.

“By enhancing the knowledge and skills base of community and hospital based optometrists in medical retina we hope that optometrists, in partnership with their medical colleagues, will be able to provide further help in the detection and management of sight threatening medical retina conditions in the community and within the hospital eye service.”

Global contact lens community gathers for a ‘take away’

June 2014

Global contact lens community gathers in Birmingham, UK, for four days of clinical and scientific education, networking and business development.

Held at the ICC Birmingham from Friday 6 to Monday 9 June, the 38th British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Clinical Conference and Exhibition attracted a total of 1,110 registered delegates and exhibition visitors from 51 different countries.

With the theme ‘What will you take away?’ – #BCLA2014 featured one of the most varied programmes ever, delivering more than 50 CET points for UK optometrists and contact lens opticians, COPE-accreditation for North American delegates and 25 CPD points for UK ophthalmologists.

In one of the many new programme features, Professors Lyndon Jones and Phil Morgan could be found propping up the bar, overseen by landlord Professor Noel Brennan, for an ‘On the sofa’ session inviting delegates to discuss burning topics such as myopia control, inflammatory responses and ‘what next after silicone hydrogels?’

Robin Baker, an optometrist BCLA member from West Wales attending the conference for the first time in five years on a sponsored delegate package, commented: “The ‘On the sofa’ session was really entertaining and the way the presenters got the audience involved added an extra element to the learning.” As an orthoptist who often prescribes contact lenses to children, Robin added that Professor Bruce Evans’ keynote address, ‘Kids 4 contacts’, provided plenty of ‘take-away’ pearls.

A new ‘Ask the Oracle’ session with Professor James Wolffoshn, Caroline Christie and Professor Lyndon Jones gave delegates practical insider tips on how to get more involved with conference presenting, including how to write and submit abstracts and case reports, and the route to being published in the science journals.

The second Global Contact Lens Forum, jointly organised by the BCLA and Vision Expo International, welcomed leading US optometrists and educators Dr Jack Schaeffer and Dr Kirk Smick to join the UK’s Anna Sulley and Simon Donne for a mix of business and clinical presentations.

Delegates were entertained by a video showing Demodex folliculorum, and the vision of one persistent mite wriggling across the microscope slide after being eradicated from a patient’s eyelash. Treatment methods of various ocular surface diseases were discussed, with comparisons made between the USA and UK.
On the Saturday afternoon, Dr Heiko Pult presented the 2014 Irving Fatt Memorial Lecture, ‘Clinical evaluation of dry eye: a year of research’, outlining the results of different clinical tests to detect and predict dry eye in contact lens wearers, naive contact lens wearers and non-wearers. The new 2014-15 BCLA President, Susan Bowers, remarked: “Heiko’s lecture was phenomenol and I learnt lots of new things about dry eye to take back to practice.”

A ‘live surgery’ event on the Monday morning saw 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 were transmitted ‘live’ to the ICC before Professor Shah returned to the auditorium to join in the discussion.

Nataliya Kashchenko, an ophthalmologist from Ukraine, said: “This session was great because it showed delegates what ophthalmologists do every day, helping to build relationships and a sense of teamwork. There was a really friendly atmosphere to this year’s conference, which I believe is the place to come and find out about the latest technology.”

Suzanne Dimayo, an optometrist from Guernsey, added: “The ‘live surgery’ was amazing – really fascinating and a welcome addition to the programme. The commentary provided was really engaging and helped us to make sense of the procedures being undertaken; the two hours passed extremely quickly.” Bristol optometrist, Amar Shah, said the session helped to open up the debate about NHS vs private provision of ophthalmic surgery and where to send the patient.
Antonio Calossi from Italy won this year’s photo competition with his piggyback image, and received a prize kindly donated by David Gould. The 2014 poster competition winner was Joan Gispets with ‘Corneal and anterior chamber parameters in keratoconus’. It was the fifth time that Joan had entered, and he received a £150 book voucher courtesy of Elsevier.

The poster competition runners-up were D. Yeung for ‘Scleral lens CCC by biomicroscopy’, Sarah Smith for ‘Subjective grading of lid margin staining’ and Dr Heiko Pult for ‘Impact of soft contact lenses on lid’, each winning a £50 book voucher, also courtesy of Elsevier.

The 2014 Da Vinci Award winner, Alex Hui, received his plaque from Immediate Past President, Andy Yorke, who also presented the 2014 Dallos Award to Pauline Kang, whose lecture was entitled, ‘Effects on binocular and peripheral visual functions of distance centre multifocal soft contact lens designs and significance of add power’.

More than 400 guests attended this year’s glitzy and glittering ‘Strictly Contact Lenses’ themed Gala Dinner and Awards at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. Many of the 23 new BCLA Fellows, who had taken and passed their viva voce examination on the Friday of the conference, were present to collect their certificates from the outgoing and incoming presidents.

Two special presentations took place during the evening: Dr Paul Rose, inventor of the Rose K lens for keratoconus, was named as the recipient of the first-ever BCLA Industry Award, and an emotional Dr Shehzad Naroo, Editor in Chief of the BCLA peer-review journal Contact Lens & Anterior Eye, was awarded an Honorary Life Membership of the BCLA.

On the Sunday evening, delegates enjoyed the new BCLA Unceremonious Event in the ICC, with its ‘Best of British’ theme, and the chance to relax and network over drinks and dinner. This was followed by a Top Trumps evening of education and entertainment with #BCLA2014 Partner, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. Delegates enjoyed the spectacle of presenters and peers singing and playing live music.

There were a total of 44 exhibitors at this year’s exhibition, including 11 first-time exhibitors. The early opening of the show on the Friday afternoon, leading into the BCLA welcome drinks reception this time held in the exhibition hall, was well received by delegates and exhibitors alike.

As the conference came to a close, Nick Rumney, BCLA Conference Programme Coordinator, said: “I’ve greatly enjoyed my first full conference in charge – but only now can appreciate what a sustained effort it takes by many people to stage. It’s the nature of my role to express my thanks to the speakers and presenters, not just the keynotes but to the unsung heroes in the peer discussion and workshops.

“One or two key ideas clearly worked, namely the business track and the over subscribed myopia session. Highlights will undoubtedly be the BCLA/Vision Expo International Global Contact Lens Forum, ‘On the sofa’ and ‘live surgery’ sessions. I look forward to see you all in Liverpool in 2015.”

Immediate Past BCLA President, Andy Yorke, commented: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my year as President of the BCLA, culminating in yet another great conference. We set ourselves some tough objectives – some of which we achieved, some of which are still a work in progress.

“Cheryl, Nick and the BCLA team will no doubt continue to push the boundaries to further improve what we do best, and I already know that Liverpool is going to deliver yet another exciting and dynamic conference in 2015. I wish Susan good luck in her year as BCLA President,” Andy added.

On the new Friday to Monday format, BCLA President, Susan Bowers, commented: “Speaking as a practitioner, it’s easier to take time out to attend on a Sunday and Monday so I’m really happy with new format. It will take time for it to ‘bed in’ but if future delegates are in clinical practice then I believe it will really suit them.”

The 39th BCLA Clinical Conference and Exhibition will take place at the ACC Liverpool, UK, from Friday 29 May to Monday 1 June 2015. Professor Fiona Stapleton (Australia) will present the 2015 BCLA Medal Lecture, and the Irving Fatt Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Dr Michael Read (UK).

Dr Nicole Carnt and Simon Kilvington will receive the 2015 Dallos Award presenting, ‘The relationship between environmental sources and the susceptibility and severity of Acanthamoeba keratitis in the United Kingdom’.

The theme of #BCLA2015 will be announced in the autumn, along with further details about the new programme. BCLA members will be informed when lectures from this year’s Clinical Conference are uploaded to the BCLA Virtual Lecture Library.

The next date in the BCLA Events diary is the 2014 Presidential Address, to be delivered by Susan Bowers on Wednesday 24 September.

Six more Liverymen join the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers

June 2014

The June Court meeting began with the admission to the Court membership of Robert (Bob) Hutchinson as Assistant to the Court. (Pictured below).

At the end of the WCSM Court meeting six members Free of the Company were clothed in the traditional way to join the Livery which maintains a number of 400.

They were Marc Stephen Bennett, Kevin James Bowers, Terry John Seymour, Hayley Annemarie Wainer, David Jonathon Whittaker, and Spencer Neil Parkes.

Spencer’s brother Brad Parkes is also a Court Assistant and is pictured below celebrating with a photo worthy of the family album. Another group picture is that of Father and Daughter from the Wainer family.


Sad news of David Challinor’s death reached us last week

June 2014

The PHN team are saddened by the news of the sudden death of David Challinor who we first worked together with at The Optician as their journalist who went on to become Editor in Chief of OT for many years.

“David proved his journalistic skills and attention to detail in the very difficult days surrounding the formulation of the Full Cost Apportionment Method following the victory in the Courts to obtain overpaid VAT. I was leading the sector team in negotiations along with Ernst Young and David played a significant part in relating what was a very complicated issue to get over to the profession, without causing a backlash from the public”, commented Bob Hutchinson.

Our deepest sympathy goes to his family and friends at this time.

Moot discusses the direction the Internet will take us in social and in business

June 2014

In recent months the Moot has been convened to discuss “the future of professions, charity and the City”, “What’s wrong with the Opticians Act?” and “What next for Optics?”

The WCSM put on the Moots in order to encourage fellowship and discussion within the Optical Sector and those from outside in a friendly social atmosphere. It is a chance for those neither members of the Company nor Liverymen to see and feel the WCSM in action.

Last week over 30 members of the audience participated in a lively debate on the future of the internet on “how it does and how it may in future affect our lives”, both professionally and personally.

Audience participation, as at all our Moots, played an important part in an enjoyable and challenging hour of discussion. The panel included:

Carl Miller - co-founder and Research Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM) at Demos

Angus Bankes - a Liveryman, CIO at Skimlinks and an expert on the internet outside optics

Andy Chance-Hill - opticommerce Director at optical software solutions company, Ocuco.

Carl from Demos predicted that future political elections and decision making in politics will be totally changed by the power of social media and that ballot boxes and the antiquated system we have now will be gone forever.

Angus Bankes mooted the idea that we are now in an era where IT has given us knowledge and power and the requirement for products and services to come to us when and where we need them has arrived.

And Andy Chance Hill amplified this view that people more and more will make decisions about those who they wish to use as service and product provider by selecting those who are up front on the web. Service providers who do not have an online relationship with their customers will lose out in the long run to its pressure.

As usual the evening was completed by canapés and wine generously provided by the sponsorship of Contamac. The WCSM also wishes to thank the AOP for the use of its building on the evening.

GOC Chair shares his views openly with a message after Moot sent to Don Grocott, Moot Chair

In a note received by the Moot Chair, Gareth Hadley who attended the Moot, provided us with this view:

“I found yesterday's Moot very interesting indeed. Amongst other things it served to reinforce my opinion that the immediate and near future challenges for our registrants are of such a proportion that, if they are to continue to earn livings from something akin to that which they currently do, facing up to the need to make fundamental changes - to both business and professional practice - is not optional. The GOC, as regulator, has an interest in this and can help facilitate change by ensuring that standards, guidance and scopes of practice facilitate registrants rising to the challenge, but leadership has to come from within the professions themselves. I am positive about this because, even in my short time in my position within the optics world, I do detect a growing degree of realism. By way of example, nobody has responded to our illegal practice consultation so far by telling us that this is a problem for the regulator alone to sort out There appears to be recognition that illegal practice an issue for us all, not just for the regulator - a rather different message to the one that I was hearing a year back. I'm also encouraged by Angus's rather backhanded compliment to the optics sector by suggesting that there were advantages to be had in being so far behind, thus avoiding some of the buffeting of the last decade! I was sorry to have to dash at the end and so was unable to stay for the continued discussion/networking over a glass or two.” Gareth Hadley Chair GOC

Grocott commented, “This note from Gareth provides an important perspective from the regulator and, in my possibly partial view, confirms that the Spectacle Company's role in providing an apolitical forum is worth the effort.”

The next Moot is planned for September 23rd so make a note in your diary and join in for another thought provoking and entertaining evening.

College proposes that “Maturity is the key to contact lens fittings for children”

June 2014

UK optometrists consider a child’s maturity to be the key factor in prescribing contact lenses, new research has confirmed.

A survey into contact lens prescribing habits for children and young people found that the patient’s maturity was more important than age in deciding whether they were suitable to be prescribed contact lenses. Other important factors optometrists take into account are the child’s interest and motivation to wear contact lenses, personal hygiene habits and ability to look after them.

A total of 748 practising optometrists participated in the research, undertaken by the College of Optometrists and co-funded by the College and Johnson and Johnson Vision Care. While more than half of respondents said their criteria for fitting contact lenses had not changed over the last five years, the results suggest that a percentage of the optometric profession are more likely to fit contact lenses now than they were five years ago.

While spectacles remain the main form of recommended vision correction for children/young people, the frequency with which practitioners recommend contact lenses, either as the primary or secondary approach to vision correction, increased with age, with 76.2% saying they would be likely to recommend contact lenses as part of the approach to vision correction for children aged 10-12 years. By age 15, less than 1% would routinely only recommend spectacles, and 44.6% would recommend contact lenses as the primary correction.

“This research is the first to provide organised and published information relating to current practitioner-reported attitudes and behaviours relating to contact lens use by children/young people in the UK,” notes Michael Bowen, Director of Research at the College of Optometrists, upon presenting the research at the 38th British Contact Lens Association Clinical Conference in Birmingham. “This research allows practitioners to compare their practice against a number of their peers, and to consider their level of confidence in their current approach.”

BCLA welcomes new President and Council members

June 2014

The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) has welcomed Susan Bowers as its President for the year 2014-15. The new President Elect is Brian Tompkins.

Outgoing President, Andy Yorke, presented Susan with the BCLA presidential chain of office at the Association’s Gala Dinner, held on the evening of Saturday 7 June at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry – Susan’s hometown.

Andy remarked: “As my term comes to a close I am delighted to be handing over BCLA presidency to Susan Bowers. Susan’s commitment to the Association goes without question and the tireless work she carries out behind the scenes is considerable. I know everyone will join me in wishing her much success in her presidential year.”

On taking office, Susan commented: “It is a great honour to become BCLA President at this exciting time. I plan to use my term to support members in encouraging many more patients to try contact lenses during their eye examination. I would also like to help raise the profile of fitting children and young people with contact lenses, as the benefits can be truly life changing.

“The BCLA works hard to educate its members but I believe the public needs educating too about the value of professional eyecare. It is incumbent upon us all to address this however and whenever we can, whether through social media, marketing or face-to-face in practice. I look forward to challenges and activities of the year ahead,” Susan added.

Commenting on his new role as BCLA President Elect, Brian Tompkins, said: “I am astounded! I’m so pleased to be leading the BCLA into its 40th year celebrations in 2016. I foresee an amazing time of education and entertainment ahead – well I would, as I am the ‘Edutainer’ when all said and done!”

The BCLA has appointed two new Optometric Representatives to the Council – Dr Christine Purslow and Andrew Elder Smith.

Dr Purslow, who is Head of Medical Affairs (UK & Ireland) at Spectrum Thea Pharmaceuticals, commented: “I am extremely honoured to have been elected to the BCLA Council at such an invigorating time, and as we head towards a special anniversary. I look forward to representing members’ viewpoints and helping the BCLA to grow further both nationally and internationally.”

Andrew Elder Smith, optometrist/consultant trainer at Contact Solutions Consultants, remarked: “I am thrilled and excited at being elected onto the BCLA Council. There are many challenges facing eyecare practitioners today and having the support of an organisation like the BCLA is invaluable.

“Young and experienced practitioners need resources to develop their knowledge and skills, not just to ensure that they stay ‘up to date’, but to progress and develop new areas of interest. I look forward to helping the BCLA reach out to the majority of optometrists and contact lens opticians, whilst engaging with specialist anterior eye practitioners and IP optometrists,” added Andrew.

The new line-up will see Shelly Bansal leave the BCLA Council after 10 years’ service. Paying tribute to Shelly, Andy Yorke said: “Unusually for me, I am lost for words to describe the monumental contribution that Shelly has made to the BLCA over his time as a Council member and as President for two consecutive years. On behalf of all of our members – a very, very big thank you.”

Also leaving the Council are Jonathon Bench, who was co-opted onto the BCLA Council for one year, and Dr Ursula Vogt, who served four years as Medical Representative. Andy thanked both for their contribution and services, and welcomed Dr Purslow and Andrew Elder Smith.

The composition of the 2014-15 BCLA Council is as follows:
• Susan Bowers, President
• Andy Yorke, Immediate Past President
• Dr Catharine Chisholm, Past President
• Brian Tompkins, President Elect
• Karl Aberdeen, Technical Representative
• Maxine Green, Technical Representative
• Iain May, Contact Lens Optician Representative
• Katherine Reed, Lay Member
• Keith Tempany, Contact Lens Optician Representative
• Andrew Elder-Smith, Optometric Representative
• Dr Christine Purslow, Optometric Representative
• Siobhan Wren, Medical Representative

A vacancy currently exists for a Medical Representative and BCLA Student Rep. BCLA student members will be invited to nominate candidates in September.

Dr Paul Rose receives inaugural BCLA Industry Award

June 2014

“Be passionate about everything you do – you never know where it may take you,” Dr Paul Rose, 2014 BCLA Industry Award winner

Dr Paul Rose – inventor of the Rose K lens for keratoconus – has been named at the first-ever recipient of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Industry Award.

Launched in 2013 to honour and recognise the entrepreneurial work being carried out by individuals working in contact lens science, research and technology, the 2014 BCLA Industry Award was bestowed on New Zealander, Paul, during the BCLA’s annual Gala Dinner held at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, UK, on Saturday 7 June.

Unable to attend the event after an “acrobatic backward flip” off a ladder left him with a ruptured Achilles tendon, Paul thanked the BCLA and the contact lens industry in general for his award via video message.

“I feel very humbled as I can think of many individuals within the contact lens industry who certainly also deserve this award,” said Dr Rose. “In accepting this award, I do so on behalf of the many people who have contributed to make my lenses as universal as they are today.”

Paul thanked Menicon for its “ongoing support and belief in my designs”, and Dr Jennifer Choo, who heads up Rose K as Manager of Specialty Lens Clinical Affairs for Menicon Holdings. “Jennifer’s enthusiasm and drive has been a major factor in the brand’s continuing growth around the world, with the lenses now being fitted in nearly 90 countries,” said Paul.

Paul also thanked David Thomas Contact Lenses UK, which began producing Rose K in 1997, for its ongoing support and the company’s Managing Director, Kevin Mitchell, who had nominated Paul for the award.

“I have been asked many times if I had a masterplan for Rose K, when I initially set off on the Rose K journey back in the late 1980s,” continued Paul. “I can honestly say that I never had such a plan and that the lens designs have evolved out of a desire and passion to make a better lens for these patients, whose lifestyle was often compromised by their condition, and a lens that could be easily used by the majority of prescribers with reasonable success.

“Certainly in my wildest dreams, I could have never envisaged my designs being used in as many countries as they are today. I am still very passionate about what I do, and I will continue to attempt to add further designs to the Rose K family,” Paul concluded.

Dr Choo was present on the night to collect the award on Paul’s behalf from BCLA President, Andy Yorke, who said: “Paul’s outstanding contribution to the field of contact lens research and development is, without question, extraordinary. This has been clearly recognised by his peers and he is an extremely worthy winner of this prestigious new award. I am sure the whole industry will join me in congratulating Paul on his achievement.”

Nominations for the 2015 BCLA Industry Award will open in the autumn.

Denise Mabey of VISION 2020 LINKS programme to deliver speech at Vision UK 2014 pre-conference dinner

June 2014

Denise Mabey of St Thomas’ Hospital and the VISION 2020 LINKS programme, has been confirmed as the speaker for the pre-conference dinner for Vision UK 2014, the leading eye health and sight loss sector conference.

Vision UK is now in its sixth year and will take place on 12 June 2014 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London. This year’s conference also marks the one year anniversary of the launch of the UK Vision Strategy 2013-2018, a UK-wide framework for the future of eye health and sight loss.

Denise Mabey is a consultant ophthalmologist at St Thomas' Hospital, London and has worked as part of the VISION 2020 LINKS programme for 8 years. Established by the International Centre for Eye Health in 2004, the VISION 2020 LINKS programme is designed to increase the quality and provision of eye care services and training in low income countries. This is achieved through collaboration and linking with a UK partner.

Mrs Mabey said: “I am delighted to be speaking at the Vision UK 2014 pre-conference dinner. I look forward to informing delegates about the work of the LINKS programme with our Tanzanian partner, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, to learn from each other and strengthen ophthalmology training.”

Anita Lightstone, UK Vision Strategy Programme Director and VISION 2020 UK Chief Operations Officer said: “The work of the VISION 2020 LINKS programme is truly inspiring. It is a perfect example of how working in partnership can be the foundation of momentous change. With an emphasis at this year’s Vision UK conference on collaboration, and action, Denise’s address at the dinner will set the tone for the conference. I’m sure that delegates will find her address interesting and thought-provoking.”

Heidelberg master class unites Spectralis users

June 2014

SPECTRALIS OCT users from the UK, along with international colleagues, united at the Heidelberg Masterclass, staged alongside The College of Ophthalmologists’ conference, in Birmingham last week.

Chaired by Professor Alan Bird, the open forum for the 75 delegates brought an unrivalled opportunity to share knowledge in advanced imaging techniques and to discuss complex diagnoses.

This, the third annual Heidelberg Academy Masterclass, demonstrated “our high levels of educational support and partnership with the profession, further uniting the medical retinal fraternity,” said Heidelberg Engineering Clinical Programme Manager, Christopher Mody.

The evening commenced with Dr Stephan Schultz, Head of the Heidelberg Engineering Academy, outlining the NASA ocular health study and use of the SPECTRALIS OCT to monitor the retina of astronauts taking part in missions to the international space station (ISS). He told delegates that optic disc oedema; globe flattening; choroidal folds; cotton wool spots and RNFL thickening had all been detected and are being carefully monitored.

“This ocular health study is questioning the role of increased cranial pressure as a risk to eye health in space travel. We are certainly extremely proud that we are the only OCT in space,” he said.

Stephan added that the Academy and Masterclass “allows advanced level discussions and the informal nature creates an atmosphere where people feel confident to voice opinions and where specialised exchanges flow freely”.

Back to terrestrial eye examinations, Professor Frank Holz from Bonn, who trained with Professor Bird at Moorfields, stressed that the new imaging technologies are “a pre-requisite for personalised medicine with better outcomes and more efficacious therapies”.

He said that multi-modality imaging provided the means for refined pheno-typing, a means to identify different underlying biology and to develop specific pathways of treatment.

Highlighting the ability to spot new atrophy over a ten year period in a patient, he drew attention to the comparisons of lesion growth, “diffuse trickling” and the direction of spread and growth.

Professor Roger Anderson of Moorfields Hospital reported on his research into imaging the photoreceptor mosaic with a SPECTRALIS HRA –
“With ethical approval we use a laser scanning ophthalmoscope, modified by Heidelberg Engineering, to scan over 3 degrees rather than 30 degrees which allows the retinal cones to become visible without complex adaptive optics. With this we have been able to look at early AMD changes and perform cone counts.”

Challenging cases were presented from round the UK – with the overall best case study winning a trip to the International SPECTRALIS Symposium in Istanbul in October. The outstanding winner was Mariano Cozzi, a research photographer from the macular unit at Rugby Hospital, who was praised by the panel of judges for the clarity and comprehensive nature of his images. Mariano’s case study featured a 55 year old female with images captured using an ultra wide-field lens -

“Multi-modality imaging was an essential tool in diagnosing the stellate, non-hereditary idiopathic foveomacular retinoschisis,” he said.

Dr Alaa Attawan from The Royal Hallamshire, Sheffield, presented the case of a 40 year old woman who was found to be HIV positive and suffering from high grade lymphoma, with her symptoms possibly masquerading as Harada’s Disease.

Dr Kirti Jasani from Royal Bolton Hospital detailed the case of a 78 year old lady who experienced sudden onset loss of vision in one eye, and demonstrated the benefits of MultiColor imaging with infrared revealing little, but the green and blue scans showing signs of dry AMD without vitreous changes.

Dr Elisa Carini, from Coventry and Warwickshire Trust, demonstrated the essential use of multi-modality imaging in the case of an 18 year old who had sudden reduced vision, and was found to have a leaking lesion treated successfully with oral steroids.

Samer Elsherbiny, Consultant Ophthalmologist from Birmingham, demonstrated the essential use of OCT in vitreoretinal schisis.

Krysten Williams, Heidelberg UK Director, thanked the esteemed panel of experts judging the cases - “This Masterclass was another great night for multi-modality imaging and the wide range of applications in which the SPECTRALIS proves its value,” she said.

Society of Spectacle Makers walks the Isle of Purbeck

June 2014

Liverymen, and members of the society including guests met up for three day’s of walking around the beautiful Isle of Purbeck. The group enjoyed a warm up walk on the first day around Swanage before returning to their hotel which was base for three days.

Day two commenced with an exciting ride on the Swanage Steam Railway past Corfe Castle which then necessitated a long 8 mile ramble back over Nine Mile Ridge down into Swanage.

We were very lucky with the weather once again having no rain and sunshine all the way. On our final day, some of us nursing tender heads from the night before party, we walked around Durlston Country Park. Many thanks were given to Martin Keys and Helen Short who planned and tested all the walks on our behalf and a gift was presented to them by Sue Haig Brown, a member of the organising committee.

“As always these activities arranged by the Society provide a wonderful social atmosphere and an opportunity to meet other Spectacle Makers and their friends. Over the years many have joined the Spectacle Makers Company after coming on the events, and nobody talks shop!” Said Bob Hutchinson. “The Society has many different trips arranged, the next being at Hampton Court Flower show and we welcome all space permitting whether SMC members or prospective members and guests."

Pictured are some of the intrepid walkers and Sue and Nigel Haig Brown enjoying the delights of a truly English Seaside Scene!

BCLA charts progress in 2013-14 Annual Report

June 2014

The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) has published its 2013-14 Annual Report, in which BCLA President, Andy Yorke, pays tribute to Vivien Freeman, who retired as Secretary General at the end of 2013, and welcomes CEO, Cheryl Donnelly, who he said had joined the BCLA at a time of considerable change.

Describing activities to improve membership services and events – from the annual Clinical Conference to the Association’s peer-reviewed journal Contact Lens & Anterior Eye ¬(CLAE) – the Annual Report charts the BCLA’s progress in enhancing its core offering and introducing new benefits and resources for members both at home and abroad.

Highlights for 2013-14
• Launch of new interactive website
• Introduction of first-ever mobile app
• Launch of Global Contact Lens Forum in partnership with Vision Expo International
• 10 per cent increase in attendance at the Clinical Conference
• First-ever BCLA business workshop
• CLAE Impact Factor rating elevated to 1.500

In his Letter from the President, Andy Yorke writes: “As with all organisations, there is a team of people working hard behind the scenes ensuring the BCLA continues to move forwards and progress. So to the staff in the office, our consultants, the Council, Executive Committee and all who have contributed over the past year – a very big thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to me and to the Association.

“As I [prepare to] hand over the presidency of the Association to Susan Bowers, I would also like to thank my many friends in the industry, my company for its support and last but not least, my family. The honour of becoming BCLA President has without doubt been the pinnacle of my career so far.”

The 2014 Annual General Meeting of the BCLA will take place at 5.45pm on Sunday 8 June at the ICC Birmingham

Download the report on PHN here.

June 2014

The Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London (UCL) and Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is set to be the first partnership to offer a College of Optometrists higher qualification. The Professional Higher Certificate in Glaucoma will be delivered as part of a Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Clinical Optometry (Glaucoma), a nationally recognised qualification that will develop advanced specialist skills and knowledge. It is hoped that the first students will be admitted from January 2015.

The Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Clinical Optometry Glaucoma is part of a planned MSc in Advanced Clinical Optometry. The programme has been designed by optometrists and ophthalmologists at Moorfields Eye Hospital, which provides unparalleled clinical knowledge and expertise, and the Institute of Ophthalmology, which has a world-leading reputation in the delivery of research-embedded educational programmes. Students will further benefit from studying at a university with a global reputation for excellence and world-renowned educational resources and infrastructure.

The new Professional Higher Certificate in Glaucoma is part of a growing collection of higher qualifications offered by the College of Optometrists to enable optometrists to provide extended services in key areas such as low vision, contact lens practice and medical retina. The UCL- Moorfields partnership is currently developing a suite of specialist postgraduate awards in these areas for which it will be seeking accreditation from the College of Optometrists.

Jackie Martin, Director of Education at the College of Optometrists says: “The College’s growing range of higher qualifications opens up new opportunities to optometrists, practices and clinics and training providers. A partnership approach to delivering the qualifications is a great way to ensure the balance of theoretical and practical skills, enabling more training providers to deliver the qualifications and increase access for learners.”

Professor Philip Luthert, Head of the Institute of Ophthalmology says: “The proposed programmes further consolidate the close relationship between the Institute of Ophthalmology at UCL and Moorfields in terms of research and clinical practice. The venture opens new avenues for partnership in developing high quality joint educational programmes, building on the excellence, expertise and clinical applications of research of both great institutions and is allied to UCL’s Global Health strategy.”

Dan Ehrlich, Head of Optometry at Moorfields NHS Foundation Trust says: “These new advanced qualifications in Optometry will not only allow optometrists to deliver new skills and expand their expertise in terms of patient care, treatment and management of eye disease but also meet the ‘gold standards’ of academic quality provided by this partnership with UCL and professional standards set by the College of Optometrists.”

Blind Children UK service user Tiri Hughes to speak at Vision UK 2014

June 2014

Blind Children UK service user Tiri Hughes, speaking at this year’s Vision UK conference, will share her experiences as a service user and also her thoughts on how eye health and sight loss services could be improved. The Vision UK conference is the UK’s leading eye health and sight loss sector event.

Fifteen-year-old Tiri is registered partially sighted, with eye conditions including Ocular Motor Palsy and Nystagmus. She is a member of the Great Britain Women’s Disability Artistic Gymnastics Squad, and recently won a gold medal in her category. An avid reader, Tiri has written for many charity newsletters and blogs. Tiri is currently studying for 11 GCSEs and hopes to pursue a career in medicine or psychology.

Tiri said: “I look forward to speaking at this year’s Vision UK conference. I think this will be a great forum for me to discuss my experience of eye health, and will hopefully get delegates thinking about what actions need to be taken to improves services for blind and partially sighted people, especially children and young adults like myself.’’

Blind Children UK is the leading charity for children and young people with vision impairments, helping them and their families tackle the challenges associated with sight loss so that they can enjoy their childhood and realise their potential as adults.

Vision UK is now in its sixth year and will take place on 12 June 2014 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London. This year’s conference also marks the one year anniversary of the launch of the UK Vision Strategy 2013-2018, a UK-wide framework for the future of eye health and sight loss. To book your conference place go to www.visionuk.org.uk or call 01920 885 162.

Diabetic Screening Approvals for Topcon’s 3D OCTs with built-in Fundus Camera

June 2014

Topcon have announced that their complete portfolio of high resolution Fundus cameras have all been approved for Diabetic Eye Screening. This puts all of their 3D OCTs with in-built Fundus cameras on a selective list of national screening devices for diabetic retinopathy.

The NDESP recommends that all programmes intending to purchase cameras for use in diabetic eye screening should select cameras from the framework agreement as this ensures they obtain the most suitable equipment and the correct maintenance contract. For full list of cameras visit http://diabeticeye.screening.nhs.uk/cameras

Topcon’s 3D OCT-1 Maestro is the latest Fundus camera to be combined with a Spectral Domain OCT, enabling the clinician instantaneous confirmation of pathological structure. Other 3D OCTs include the 3D OCT-2000 (50K) and 3D OCT-2000FAplus (with auto fluorescence).

The OCT function that comes with the Fundus camera provides an extremely advanced health check for people of all ages. Very similar to ultrasound, but using light rather than sound waves to illustrate the different layers that make up the back of the eye, it also captures a true colour digital photograph of the surface of the eye to cross reference areas of concern.

In addition to the 3D OCTs, Topcon’s Retinal Camera range is also approved, which include the TRC-NW8, NW8F and NW8Fplus as well as the latest TRC-NW400 with the same automated capture system as the 3D OCT-1 Maestro.

“Now that our OCT imaging range and latest non mydriatic Fundus cameras are fully approved for photography and certified for 3rd Party software connectivity, Topcon GB are well prepared for the future of diabetic eye screening as the service embraces OCT technology. Our world first combination of true colour photography and OCT registration coupled with reliable/lightweight solutions will ensure Topcon customers will always be ahead of the curve in managing patients with diabetic retinopathy in both the community and NHS environments” commented Tim Cole, Clinical Product Specialist at Topcon GB Ltd and former NHS medical photographer.

AOP Awards 2014 – voting opens

June 2014

The shortlisted nominees for the AOP Awards 2014 have been announced and voting has now opened. Run by the Association of Optometrists (AOP), the awards recognise the highest levels of achievement in UK optics.

Since voting opened last week (23 May) the AOP has received an unprecedented level of interest, with nearly 2,000 votes already cast for the shortlisted candidates.

There are eleven categories to vote for, including two new categories for 2014 – ‘Young Practice of the Year’ and ‘Specialist Practice of the Year’.

OGS Nominated for Charity Initiative of the Year Award

June 2014

Optometry Giving Sight has been nominated for a prestigious national award for 'Charity Initiative of the Year' for Optoms Cycling for Sight. Run by the Association of Optometrists (AOP), the awards recognise the highest levels of achievement in UK optics.

Former AOP Chairman and AOP Awards 2014 Head Judge, David Shannon, said: "Throughout the year members of our profession and the industry provide first-rate eye and vision care to the public. The standard of entrants for this year's AOP Awards has been exceptionally high and in reaching the shortlist the nominees have shown both innovation and distinction. These awards give the public an opportunity to think about all the other potential winners out there and the importance of our sector to eye health."

The annual cycling initiative Optoms Cycling for Sight (OC4S) is entering its fourth year in 2014 and has gone from strength to strength thanks to the amazing efforts over the years of organisers Fares Hatoum, Jessica MacIsaacs, Abubakr Patel and Gemma Hill.

OC4S has helped raise the profile of Optometry Giving Sight as well as a fantastic total of £18,000 in the UK which has made a huge difference to the sustainable eye projects operating in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe and the UK.

OGS asks for your support in the vote to be announced at the AOP Awards ceremony on 23 October in Birmingham. You can place your vote at: http://www.optometry.co.uk/awards/charity-initiative-of-the-year-2014

MP visits Redcar

June 2014

Local MP for Redcar, Ian Swales visited Campbell & McDearmid Optometrists in Redcar on Friday 23rd May to find out why regular eye tests are so important in preventing blindness.

Read on further for LOCSU Optical lead, Zoe Richmond’s comments on our OC pages.

Regus and RNIB share vision to promote eye health among Sunderland’s office workers

June 2014

Workspace provider Regus will be supporting the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s (RNIB) ‘Love Your Eyes’ campaign throughout the month of June. RNIB will collect donations at the Regus centre at on Doxford International Business Park and host a free drop-in eye care advice session on Tuesday 24th June from 12-2pm.

The free drop-in session is open to all and will be led by RNIB staff who will encourage more people to look after their eye health and promote keeping their eyes healthy and comfortable when, for example, using a computer, mobile phone, driving, and those other aspects of modern life that can put your eyes under unnecessary strain.

All donations will go towards helping RNIB offer information, support and advice to anyone with an eye condition.

John Spencer, UK CEO at Regus comments: “We are proud to support RNIB’s vital work and encourage our customers and other local business people to look after their eyesight. We know that we can count on the local community to dig deep for this worthy cause and we hope that people will take advantage of the eye care advice sessions.“

Helen May, Eye Health Advisor at RNIB said; “Eye health is an area which is often overlooked and it is important that everyone has their eyes examined regularly by an optometrist. There are almost two million people living with sight loss in the UK and around 50% of these cases are preventable. Currently RNIB is only able to reach one in three people who need their help so support from organisations like Regus will allow RNIB reach more people who need their help.“

The initiative in Sunderland is part of the nationwide ‘Love Your Eyes’ campaign with similar events being held at Regus centres across the country.

UK academic is among a team of vision care specialists heading to the Middle East to provide eye health as part of a €565,000 EU-funded project

June 2014

Dr. Frank Eperjesi of the Vision Sciences group at Aston University, will join vision specialists from 10 other institutions across Europe and the Middle East travelling to the region to assess local health care professionals they will be teaching and working with.

The team will travel to Bethlehem and the West Bank in Palestine to assess how local optometrists and ophthalmologists are delivering eye care to people in the region, Dr Eperjesi’s focus will be paediatric assessment and care.

The mission is part of a two-year Curriculum and Skill Development in Vision Rehabilitation project, which is sponsored by the EU Tempus education programme and co-ordinated by the German Jordanian University.

Dr Eperjesi said: “Our work on this humanitarian project is vital and I’m looking forward to getting started on it. Good vision care and rehabilitation is crucial in ensuring people maintain a good quality of life. Too many people in Jordan and Palestine are suffering serious visual impairment because of conditions that can be treated relatively easily.”

Figures from the World Health Organization estimate that 2.5% of people in Jordan and Palestine have issues with their sight, and due to a lack of further training and resources, the services offered to them are considered poor.

Dr Eperjesi added: “Health care specialists in the region are largely unacquainted with the needs of persons with vision impairment and lack specialised tools and strategies to deal with a variety of conditions. Another problem is that when people are given medication, they are taking incorrect dosages to make sure their supply lasts longer. In so doing, however, they fail to correctly treat their condition. We hope to change that.”

Croydon Launch Community Ophthalmology Service as an exemplar for many LOCs

May 2014

Following a competitive tendering process, Complete Ophthalmic Services CIC, a company established by Croydon LOC, is pleased to announce the launch of its Community Ophthalmology Service on 12th May.

The aim of the new service is to provide patients who are experiencing recently occurring eye conditions with treatment closer to home, refine cataract and glaucoma referrals, and generally reduce the number of patients needing to attend Secondary Care.

The unique aspect of this service is that the company employs a Consultant Ophthalmologist (Prof Will Ayliffe) who will provide both clinical sessions and act as the Clinical Lead for the service. This enables the service to further reduce the number of patients going to Secondary Care. It is believed that this is the first Community Ophthalmology Service in the country to make extensive use of optical practices which will act as the core of the service.

Charles Greenwood, our PHN Director, who project managed the bid and implementation said, “This has been a long and complex project, with the bid process starting last summer, but it does show that individual LOC companies can be competitive and win these tenders. I hope that this will become a model for more services throughout the country and that other LOCs will be inspired by our success.”

Christopher Kerr, Chairman of the LOC and Governance Lead for the new service stated, “This is a land mark achievement for both Croydon and the Optometric profession. For me personally this marks the culmination of twenty years of continuous work in Croydon since the foundation of the LOC. The goal achieved is that Optometrists in Croydon are, uniquely now, the "Gatekeepers of Eye care”

Applauding the LOC Company’s success, LOCSU Managing Director, Katrina Venerus said: “This is a fantastic achievement that demonstrates the flexibility of the LOC company model which is adaptable to meet the requirements of any community service.”

LOCSU Optical Lead, Poonam Sharma said: “It is terrific to see the Croydon Community Ophthalmology Service finally roll out after all of the work the team has done. I have worked with a number of LOC companies on Any Qualified Provider bids and competitive tenders, but I have to say that the Croydon project has been particularly rewarding as it has brought about collaboration with ophthalmology and really recognises community optical practices as key providers of eye health services.”

Success in the Croydon competitive tender was the result of a huge amount of work by a dedicated team from the newly created Croydon LOC Company which was set up to retain a strong sense of ownership locally and to provide for future opportunities, combined with expertise and hands on support from LOCSU.

Croydon Community Ophthalmology Service (COS)

COS is a service which is run by Complete Ophthalmic Services CIC (a new and unique company formed by the Croydon Local Optical Committee). It is a free service and is available to all patients 5 years and above who have a Croydon GP. The aim of COS is to provide patients who are experiencing recently occurring eye conditions, suspected cataracts or glaucoma with treatment and advice closer to home.

COS is provided by local optometrists with the knowledge and skills to carry out this work at locally approved optician practices. Patients can access COS by going to one of the approved practices who are involved in the service. The list of those practices is contained with the section 'Practices Involved' on the Croydon Public website hosted by PHN as part of the public educational site mylocaloptician.co.uk

You can find out more by clicking http://www.croydoneyes.co.uk

The LOC has thirteen opticians’ practices involved and one domiciliary provider who can visit people in their own home if they are unable to get out because of health reasons. Px’s can contact any of these approved practices directly to make an appointment and ask to be seen under COS. Appointments are available during normal working hours.

Alternatively, they can make an appointment to see their GP, who may refer them to an approved optometrist for further assessment and possibly treatment.

May 2014

The Vision UK 2014 conference is inviting delegates to submit questions for the event’s Question Time panel. Chaired by Gary O’Donoghue, BBC Radio 4 Chief Political Correspondent, the Question Time session will provide delegates with the opportunity to engage with sector leaders on the key issues surrounding eye health and sight loss.

The four panellists are: Lesley-Anne Alexander, Chief Executive, Royal National Institute of Blind People and Chair, UK Vision Strategy Advisory Group; Vidar Hjardeng, Diversity Consultant, ITV News, Caroline MacEwen, new President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and Sir Muir Gray, Director of the National Knowledge Service and Chief Knowledge Officer to the National Health Service.

Vision UK is now in its sixth year and will take place on 12 June 2014 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London. This year’s conference also marks the one year anniversary of the launch of the UK Vision Strategy 2013-2018, a UK-wide framework for the future of eye health and sight loss.

Anita Lightstone, UK Vision Strategy Programme Director and VISION 2020 UK Chief Operations Officer said: “Debating issues impacting on eye health and sight loss is an important way to raise awareness of and engagement with the issues. I encourage all delegates to submit their questions and contribute to the Question Time session at the conference.”

To submit your questions, visit: www.surveymonkey.com/s/VisionUKQuestionTime

Deadline: Friday 30 May. Delegates must be in attendance at Vision UK 2014 to have their questions answered. Delegates who have been successful with their question submissions will be notified by Friday 6th June. To book your conference place go to www.visionuk.org.uk or call 01920 885 162.

Heidelberg engineering appoints imaging specialist for academy

May 2014

Heidelberg Engineering is enhancing its UK Academy and training with the appointment of Ken Binns who joins from The London Medical private clinic as an experienced ophthalmic photographer.

As Applications Specialist, Ken will be providing all levels of training and education to Heidelberg Engineering clients and helping to expand the research of the Heidelberg Engineering Academy, led by Clinical Programme Manager Christopher Mody.

“My aim is to aid practitioners in maximising their investment in OCT technology. My previous experience in running workshops and tutorials on how to use and interpret images is very valuable experience,” he said.

“The scale of the information on pathology – now available at High Street clinic level via OCT – is fantastic. The patient doesn’t even need to be dilated and less than a minute later you have an amazing amount of information as a basis for diagnosis. It is outstanding what you can do with the technology. Coming from a technical photography background I am very critical about equipment but the quality, consistency and repeatability of the Heidelberg SPECTRALIS OCT is unrivalled,” he added.

Tuesday 20 May 6pm-10pm – Heidelberg Academy Masterclass (Birmingham)
Friday 30 May - Structure and Function in the Evaluation of Glaucoma (Hemel Hempstead)
Friday 27th June - SPECTRALIS Multimodality Imaging (Glasgow)

May 2014

The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) will welcome leading US optometrists and educators, Dr Kirk Smick and Dr Jack Schaeffer, to the UK next month for the second BCLA/Vision Expo International Global Contact Lens Forum (GCLF).

Joining Drs Smick and Schaeffer as a speaker and chair is Anna Sulley, a past BCLA President and Associate Director Medical Affairs EMA, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. Past BCLA President and leading UK contact lens optician, Shelly Bansal, will co-present with Anna.

The theme of the forum, to be held from 12 noon until 3.30pm at the ICC Birmingham on Friday 6 June – the opening day of the 38th BCLA Clinical Conference and Exhibition – is: ‘Retention of patients: common dialogue between the USA and UK’.

As well as exploring tried and tested strategies for contact lens patient retention, the forum will look at how introducing independent prescribing to the practice can lead to a competitive advantage on the High Street.

The second GCLF is a follow-up to the successful inaugural forum held on 26 and 27 March at the Javits Center, New York, immediately prior to Vision Expo East. The event attracted 270 delegate registrations with more than 150 delegates in attendance at any one time.

Nick Rumney, BCLA Conference Programme Coordinator, said: “The response to the first-ever Global Contact Lens Forum in New York was highly encouraging. It proved a great forum to share ideas and we look forward to welcoming delegates to the second GCLF – where as well as focusing on patient retention, we will learn how therapeutically-trained optometrists in the US have utilised independent prescribing as a USP in looking after their patients.”

The presentations are as follows:

• ‘Squaring the circle: retaining patients by offering what they want or delivering what you think they need? A professionally clinical led approach’ by Dr Jack Schaeffer and Dr Kirk Smick
• ‘How to retain your customers year after year. The things you thought you knew kept contact lens customers loyal need rethinking’ by Anna Sulley and Shelly Bansal
• ‘Improving contact lens patient care by delivering diagnosis and treatment when things go wrong’ and ‘How to retain the patient who experiences contact lens complications’ by Dr Kirk Smick and Dr Jack Schaeffer

A networking lunch will be included in the forum, along with the opportunity for delegates to question the speakers and share ideas. A follow-up peer discussion session will be held from 9-10.30am on Saturday 7 June.

May 2014

Financial performance

Council reviewed the GOC’s financial performance report for the year 2013-14 which shows that the regulator achieved a surplus of £379,000 against a budget of £6 million. The biggest contribution to the surplus was a rebate of business rates from Westminster City Council after the GOC was awarded charitable status. This was a one-off receipt to the GOC of £282,000.

The GOC also achieved efficiency savings in areas including insurance, media monitoring, transcribing hearings and travel booking.

Samantha Peters, GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “As we rely almost entirely on registrants’ fees for our funding, we know how important it is to use that money efficiently. The rebate has helped us to achieve a good headline figure but it shouldn’t distract from the hard work that has gone on throughout the GOC to make numerous smaller savings, the cumulative effect of which is also significant. We will continue to do our utmost to use our resources prudently and keep fees at a reasonable level while ensuring public protection remains at the heart of everything we do.”

Other news

Council also discussed the progress that has been made to address the issues raised by the Francis Inquiry, many of which are being tackled through the GOC’s ongoing review of the standards it set.
Other items Council considered include the GOC’s procedures for dealing with requests for change of gender identity and the Remuneration Committee’s terms of reference.

Next meeting – Wednesday 23 July 2014 in London. Time and venue to be confirmed at a later date.

VISION 2020 UK Chair to step down

May 2014

VISION 2020 UK Chair, Nick Astbury has announced today, 21st May, that he will be stepping down this September, following seven years in the role, to enable him time to focus on his work at the International Centre for Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Nick Astbury was elected as Chair of VISION 2020 UK in 2007 and was re-elected by the VISON 2020 UK Board for a second term in 2010. During this time he has continued to work at the International Centre for Eye Health as clinical advisor, particularly involved with the VISION 2020 Links programme and the Community Eye Health Journal. He is also on the board of the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital, chair of the Duke-Elder Fund, vice-chair of the Impact Foundation and a Keeler Scholarship trustee.

Mr Astbury said: “It has been a privilege to be Chairman of such an ambitious and forward thinking organisation. I believe VISION 2020 UK has enabled the sector to work together in an innovative and effective way and I am proud of all it has achieved to date. After many enjoyable years as Chair, I have taken the decision to step down so I can focus my time on my international work. I will ensure a smooth handover with the newly elected Chair and look forward to following the progress of VISION 2020 UK as it continues to go from strength to strength”.

Anita Lightstone, Chief Operations Officer for VISION 2020 UK said: “Nick’s leadership has enabled VISION 2020 UK to grow as an organisation, increasing both our membership and profile.He has been a fantastic ambassador for VISION 2020 UK both in the UK and globally. He will be greatly missed but we wish him much success with his ongoing work with the VISION 2020 links programme”.

Amanda Ariss, Deputy Chair of VISION 2020 UK said: “Nick has been an outstanding chair. His passion for collaborative working and improving outcomes for blind and partially sighted people has resulted in great strides forward during his time in this role. I would like to thank him for all his hard work which has enabled VISION 2020 UK to grow and flourish. I wish him much success in his ongoing work in the sector”.

VISION 2020 UK will shortly be recruiting for a new Chair to replace Mr Astbury when he steps down in September 2014

The Rt Hon Anne McGuire MP to deliver keynote speech to Vision UK 2014 conference

May 2014

Anne McGuire, MP for Stirling and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Disability Group (APPDG), has been confirmed as the keynote speaker for Vision UK 2014, the leading eye health and sight loss sector conference.

Vision UK is now in its sixth year and will take place on 12 June 2014 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London. This year’s conference also marks the one year anniversary of the launch of the UK Vision Strategy 2013-2018, a UK-wide framework for the future of eye health and sight loss.

Anne McGuire was elected to the House of Commons in 1997 and was previously both Minister and Shadow Minister for Disabled People. Ms McGuire said: “I am honoured to deliver the keynote speech for the prestigious Vision UK conference. I look forward to sharing my experiences of working within the disability sector, and also welcome the opportunity to learn more about the wonderful progress of the current UK Vision Strategy.’’

UK Vision Strategy spokesperson Katherine Raven said: “We’re delighted to welcome Anne McGuire as our keynote speaker for Vision UK 2014. Anne has campaigned tirelessly for the disability sector both on a professional and voluntary basis, and I’m sure the delegates will find her address insightful and thought-provoking.’’

To book your conference place go to www.visionuk.org.uk or call 01920 885 162.

Optical Lead Liz leaves LOCSU

May 2014

LOCSU paid tribute to the excellent contribution from Liz Greenwood who is stepping down from her position at Optical Lead due to family and personal commitments. They will be recruiting a new Optical Lead to the LOCSU team and more details about the role and the recruitment process can found on their website.

European Academy delivers successful sixth annual conference - Warsaw 2014

May 2014

Over 270 optometrists, dispensing opticians and contact lens opticians from 36 countries attended Warsaw 2014, the sixth annual conference of the European Academy of Optometry and Optics’ on 16-18 May.

The conference, held jointly with the European Council of Optometry and Optics’ (ECOO) Spring Meeting, included twelve clinical workshops and keynote lectures from Professor John Marshall on the ageing eye and Stefan Bandlitz on the anterior eye and tear film.

The conference programme also included sessions and workshops on contact lens practice, caring for the ageing eye, age-related macular degeneration: measuring and preventing vision loss, and understanding glaucoma. Five new EAOO Fellows were announced at the event:

• Professor Roger Anderson (UK)
• Dr Annemieke Coops (Netherlands)
• Dr Simon Barnard (UK)
• Dr Einat Shneor
• Dr Helder Bértolo (Portugal)

Academy Trustee, Eduardo Teixeira (Portugal), said: “Warsaw 2014 was a very helpful and fruitful conference with very interesting talks and inclusive and in-depth discussions. I really had a good time in this year and feel that during these three days we were shaping optometry. Congratulations to EAOO.”

In a change to previous years, delegates registered with the General Optical Council (GOC) were able to gain up to 16 Continuing Education and Training (CET) points over the three days from conference sessions and workshops. Certificates of attendance will be awarded to all delegates and may be used as evidence in their local continuing professional development schemes.

At the closing address three conference prizes were awarded to Monika Wojtczak - New Researcher Prize, Dr Elena Cannavò - Poster Presentation Prize and Catriona Barrett - Outstanding Contribution Prize. Each winner was awarded a certificate and €200 prize.

The Academy’s seventh annual conference and joint meeting with ECOO will be held in Budapest, Hungary, 14-17 May 2015.

Optometry Giving Sight supporter runs for sight once again!

May 2014

Manchester based Dominic Watson, Director at Myers La Roche, has set himself another challenge in order to raise funds for Optometry Giving Sight, this time to run the Liverpool Rock and Roll Marathon on 25th May.

This is the second time that Dominic has run in support of Optometry Giving Sight, previously taking part in the Great North Run five years ago. He has been in training for the last few months, including early starts and weekend runs to get in shape in time for his first ever marathon.

Dominic Watson has worked within the optics profession for over 15 years and recognises the importance of sight. Recently setting up an online JustGiving page he noted: “Sight is the most treasured of our five senses. We see the world and its myriad of colours and shapes through the windows of our eyes. We learn with them. We communicate with them. We provide for our families with them. We see our loved ones with them.”

Mr Watson added, “Having supported Optometry Giving Sight for the past 5 years I am aware of the incredible work they do across the world but also here in the UK”.

Optometry Giving Sight provides ongoing funds to projects that are training local eye care professionals and establishing vision centres, so that eye care and low cost glasses continue to be delivered in communities where these services do not currently exist. In 2013, the charity donated funding to 46 projects in 28 countries, including Mozambique, Haiti, Cambodia and El Salvador. These new professionals will go on to provide optometry services where they were previously unavailable, extending the reach of the profession to those who desperately need it. Since 2011 Optometry Giving Sight has also funded Vision Care for Homeless People who provide eye care services to homeless and other vulnerable people in the UK. This includes the funding of their new Manchester clinic set to open this year.

Sandra Mallia, Marketing Communications Manager of Optometry Giving Sight said, “It’s a fantastic achievement to get to the level of fitness required to run a marathon and we are extremely grateful to Dominic for choosing to raise funds in aid of Optometry Giving Sight again this year. All funds raised enable us to make a significant contribution towards eliminating avoidable blindness.”

To support Dominic’s fundraising go to: https://www.justgiving.com/dominic-watson3

Next Moot will provide an exciting look at the challenges the Internet brings to the marketplace

May 2014

The Spectacle Makers Company is holding a Moot about the 'Internet - present and future' on Thursday 5th June at 6.00pm and finishing at 8.00pm.

The centre-piece is a panel discussion between three internet experts: Carl Miller from Demos, Angus Bankes from Skimlinks and Andy Chance-Hill from Ocuco. All are welcome - for the welcome glass of wine and canapés, to join in the discussion with the panel and to enjoy further conversation over a glass before the Moot ends.

This meeting is open to everyone interested, is to be held at the AOP Offices in Clerkenwell and sponsored by Contamac, the CL and IOL materials producer. Space is limited and so booking is essential: email to clerk@spectaclemakers.com

The title “THE INTERNET - PRESENT AND FUTURE” will provide all business whether optical or not with an insight in the importance of understanding the changing landscape in retail (B to C) and manufacturing and wholesale (B to B).

In its current series of Moots, the Spectacle Makers and their friends have debated issues for the future of professions, charity and the City and discussed “What’s wrong with the Opticians Act?” and “What next for Optics?”. Now they have gathered some experts from cyberspace to talk of the internet and how it does and how it may in future affect our lives - both professionally and personally.
Audience participation will, as at all their Moots, be an important part of an enjoyable and challenging hour of discussion. The panel will include:

• Carl Miller - co-founder and Research Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM) at Demos
• Angus Bankes - a Liveryman, CIO at Skimlinks and an expert on the internet outside optics
• Andy Chance-Hill - ecommerce Director at optical software solutions company, Ocuco

The discussion will begin with some scene-setting from the panel followed by “Question Time” meets “Any Questions” when all can join in.

Arrangements have been made for this Moot to take place by kind permission of the Association of Optometrists at their offices in Woodbridge Street, Clerkenwell, EC1, on Thursday 5th June 2014, starting at 6.00 p.m. (location: http://www.aop.org.uk/about-the-aop/contact-us/).

Arrive from then for a preliminary glass of wine (or two) and canapés before proceedings get under way. Further drinks will be served after an hour or so’s discussion, with the meeting scheduled to close at 8.00 p.m.

If you have an interest in the subject and would like to experience an evening amongst the Spectacle Makers then please sign up and feel free to bring guests – there will be plenty to talk about both for those with an interest in the current and future practice of eyecare as well as for people from almost every other walk of life. These are open meetings specifically run to provide an insight into the social life at the Company of Spectacle Makers.

Contamac, the largest contact lens and IOL materials producer in the world, has kindly sponsored this event.

Space is limited and 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

May 2014

The Optical Confederation calls on UK practitioners to ask local MEP candidates to sign the European Coalition for Vision’s Manifesto before polls open for the European Parliamentary Elections on May 22.

The European Coalition for Vision (ECV) Manifesto promises support for eye health and vision throughout the five year term of the next European Parliament, including prioritising vision and eye health in public health strategies, ensuring fair and equitable access to eye care and promoting an inclusive society.

The UK is known for our strong support for eye health issues in Europe and the Optical Confederation member bodies are encouraging optometrists and dispensing opticians to make their voice heard. Members can help put pressure on local candidates to become ophthalmic public health champions both nationally and in Europe before the vote on Thursday 22 May.

The ECV exists to improve eye health in Europe, help prevent avoidable visual impairment and secure an equal and inclusive society for those with irreversible blindness or low vision. As a founding member of the ECV the Optical Confederation works closely with partners to push optics up the agenda in Europe and take the same coordinated message back to national decision-makers and health commissioners.

The Manifesto outlines that over 20 million people are suffering from serious vision impairment across Europe. According to UK Vision Strategy this would include some 2 million people in the UK, a number which is expected to double by 2050.

Julie-Anne Little President of ECOO said “The European Coalition for Vision promotes eye health and vision, improves access to care and supports individuals with sight loss across Europe. By signing the Manifesto, politicians are underlining their support for these goals and commit to working with us to achieve them through European legislation”.

David Hewlett from the Optical Confederation added, ‘European level advocacy complements our work to improve vision and eye health in the UK and this is an area where we must show leadership.

We are very grateful to those candidates and MEPs who have already signed up and encourage all OC members to press candidates in their local area to back the ECV Manifesto”.

May 2014

Prof Mark S. Humayun delivered the honorary lecture: “Argus® II, retinal prostheses are a reality, outlining best achieved vision in 30 implanted patients after 5 years”

In Nuremberg, Die Innovator’s Lecture or Albrecht-von-Graefe Lecture is one of the highlights of the International Congress of German Ophthalmic Surgeons (DOC) and an invitation to attend is a great distinction for ophthalmologists. This year, Prof Mark S. Humayun gave the honorary lecture titled "Bioelectronic Vision – a Clinical Reality" and elaborate on the efforts to develop retinal prostheses, spanning more than 20 years and preliminarily culminating in the marketing authorization for Argus II.

Mark S. Humayun was among the first scientists to no longer accept that patients with retinitis pigmentosa eventually become blind. As one of the leading biomedical technology experts for cell and neurobiology, he very early recognised the possibility to use a prosthesis to bypass dead retinal cells. Since the beginning of the 1980s, Humayun’s research into retinal prostheses has contributed significantly to the development in this field.

Together with Dr Robert Greenberg, the President and CEO of Second Sight, he pioneered the “bionic eye” for patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and other degenerative retinal diseases. Dr Greenberg as an engineer was primarily responsible for the development of the hardware. Prof Humayun’s contribution as a medical specialist was to ensure that the retinal chip was perfectly designed to be implanted into the human eye.

“In the early 1980s, we took on the task of shifting the boundaries of what medicine can do for patients with retinitis pigmentosa and other degenerative retinal diseases and bring back some degree of vision to those affected”, said Prof Humayun, describing the early stage of Argus II’s development. We are delighted to see that our work is no longer experimental. Argus II is the first product to be approved in Europe and the United States – and to become a clinical reality. Today, we can bring back functional vision to patients diagnosed with RP – and this helps patients a great deal to manage their daily lives more independently.“

Best achieved vision is 20/1260 (0.02-1.8 LogMAR)

In his lecture, Prof Humayun presented the latest data from a long-term study following-up 30 Argus II patients over up to 60 months. The average vision of the 30 patients with retinal implants participating in the study improved from sensing light to recognizing hand movements and some even advanced to being able to count fingers, read, and more. The best vision achieved so far is 20/1260 (0.02-1.8 LogMAR)

Today, more than 80 patients worldwide are enjoying the benefits of the first approved retinal prosthesis system. Blind users of Argus II have experienced dramatic improvements in performing their daily activities, including, for example: locating everyday items, identifying objects at various distances, crossing the road independently by being able to recognize pedestrian crossings, avoiding obstructions while walking, and avoiding drooping branches and other obstacles at head height.

Since having been granted CE mark approval in 2011, the Argus II has continuously been developed further. Improvements to the solution, which comprises a camera with glasses and a video processing system, have enabled patients to see the contours of the image perceived at approx. 20° visual field more clearly, enabling them to better recognise them. The camera and video processing system are not implanted into the eye. Thus, the Argus II is the one and only retinal implant allowing patients to benefit from technological advances based on hardware and software updates without the need for further surgery.

Ophthalmologists and patients who like to learn more about eligibility criteria and the benefits for the patient can contact patients@2-sight.com.

May 2014

The International Association of Contact Lens Educators has today announced the winners of the first IACLE Contact Lens Educator of the Year awards to recognise and reward achievements in contact lens education worldwide. Supported by the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) and sponsored in this first year by CooperVision, three awards will be presented, one from each of IACLE’s three global regions.

The 2014 IACLE Contact Lens Educators of the Year are:

• IACLE Asia Pacific Contact Lens Educator of the Year
Dr Rajeswari Mahadevan of Sankara Nethralaya Medical Research Foundation, Chennai, India

• IACLE Americas Contact Lens Educator of the Year
Dr Sergio Garcia of University of La Salle, Bogotá and the University Santo Tomás, Bucaramanga, Colombia

• IACLE Europe / Africa – Middle East Contact Lens Educator of the Year
Dr Eef van der Worp, affiliated with the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands

The awards will be presented at a special IACLE session at the BCLA’s Clinical Conference & Exhibition in Birmingham, UK, on Saturday 7th June 2014. IACLE’s Education Day will be held at Aston University in Birmingham on Thursday 5th June to coincide with the conference, which runs from 6th June to 9th June at the city’s International Convention Centre (ICC).

Chaired by IACLE President Dr Shehzad Naroo, the first IACLE/International Session at BCLA will take place from 12.05pm to 1pm in Hall 9 of the ICC. The awards ceremony at 12.45pm will be preceded by five presentations on highly commended poster abstracts from researchers in India, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Greece and Italy, and a report on dry eye care in primary healthcare in the Netherlands.

The IACLE Travel Award, offered for the first time in 2013, is a travel bursary for an IACLE Educator Member who would not otherwise be able to attend the BCLA and IACLE events. This year’s recipient is Wang Ling of Jinling Institute of Technology, Nanjing, China, who will be presented with the award at the ceremony.

Contact Lens Educators of the Year receive a full delegate package to attend the BCLA Clinical Conference courtesy of the BCLA, a generous award towards the cost of travel and accommodation thanks to sponsorship from CooperVision, and a place at IACLE Education Day. The successful applicant for the IACLE Travel Award receives the same benefits, sponsored by IACLE and supported by BCLA.

Dr Naroo congratulated all this year’s awards winners on their success: ‘The Educator awards are new for 2014 and are a great accolade. The winners were difficult to choose and were based on their contributions to contact lens education over many years. We’re also proud to be able to offer the IACLE Travel Award again this year. The standard of applicants was very high.

IACLE would like to thank the BCLA and CooperVision for helping to make these awards happen. Finally, a big thank you to all who entered and we look forward to even more applicants next year,’ he said.

BCLA President Andy Yorke commented: ‘We’re proud to support the inaugural IACLE Contact Lens Educator of the Year awards. The BCLA has a long-held tradition of recognising and rewarding the achievements of those working in clinical practice, research, industry and education, both at home and abroad – and so we welcome the opportunity to host IACLE’s new awards during our prestigious international meeting. On behalf of the BCLA, I would like to personally congratulate the winners, whose work undoubtedly serves as an inspiration to all our members and delegates.’
Aston optometry students help raise funds for homeless

Aston University optometry students turned out in force to support a good cause that is close to home last weekend

May 2014

A team of undergraduates volunteered to act as marshals for the Knowle Lions Club five mile fun-run which took place in wonderful sunshine. With more than 2,000 runners the event raised more than £50,000 for the Lions, which in turn, is making a generous £10,000 donation to the Vision Care for Homeless People’s clinic in Birmingham. Well supported and with recent generous technology donations from Mainline Instruments and Haag Streit, the Sifa Fireside Clinic is always keen to hear from volunteer optoms and dispensing opticians who have a few hours to spare.

Pictured left to right are some of the volunteer Aston students: Jon Antonio, Ramita Anand, Rosie Pattison and Emma Percy.

First Optical Confederation Conference held in London last week

May 2014

Departing from its normal introduction to its contingent members AGM’s as it has done since its 2010 birth, the Optical Confederation held its first ever own conference with the member bodies having their own AGMs after its close.

Don Grocott introduced the day as being a significant step forward in the history of the OC and over the last few years the OC has demonstrated how working together creates a force greater than the sum of its parts. Far from being an additional cost to the profession and industry OC has proven that there are savings to be made by joining together and its additional united presence had helped deal with many issues. In fact Optics was the only health profession where every point of discussion brought to it by Government had received a response.

It successfully sought remedies for the fluorescein strip debacle and has worked for the good of Optical Public Health at local, regional and Government levels.

It is at the centre of the public health debate and has for the first time put Optics on an equal footing with any of the primary care professions.

Grocott introduced Earl Howe as the first speaker and who has been a health spokesman for 17 years and who can be regarded as our Health Minister for eyes and eye health.

Earl Howe began by expressing his belief that Eye Health with the help of OC and its collaboration with Vision Strategy UK had risen up the agenda. The challenges were great with a rising population and escalating costs but Optics was now in a position to work within the primary care sector to meet those challenges.

The NHS GOS system of eye care provided wide choice and early detection of sight problems on the front line. These he said were exciting times for the profession and the new opportunities given by the transfer of power to NHS England would provide for a more efficient and cost reducing service.

Flexibility was the name of the game to help integrate services across the professions.

The key here in his view was the forming of LPNs and in particular Local Eye Health Networks.

These teams would be charged with the duty to promote both better commissioning and better outcomes for patients not just in primary health care but with social care as well as the voluntary sector.
In the autumn we will see a “Call to Action” from NHS England published for the benefit of eyecare, services following the same action for other primary care professions. There will be 12 weeks of discussion with:

OC
RC Ophth
C of Optoms
Vision Strategy UK
LEHNs
LOCSU

in order to identify the following aims:
• Stimulate better prevention
• improve outcomes
• alleviate financial costs

Earl Howe praised the public health indicator for eyes to monitor raised levels of AMD, Glaucoma and Diabetes. Results will be published annually and considered by OC and the Clinical Council for Eye health in the community for the consumption by NHS England, in order to encourage further engagement with CCGs and Health and Wellbeing Boards.

It was queried why a better understanding of needs would not have been achieved by a “call to action” for the whole primary care providers and referrers rather than isolating Optics. Howe suggested that it would have just been too big a cake to bite and could have stagnated the whole process. This way its results will be shared with the others within the strategic framework.

Questions were asked of the Minister about the poor progress on IT implementation. His response was that a poor business case had been put together but he realised himself that e-GOS and e-referral had strong cases but that they fell amongst many more requests NHS England had as yet found the case to be proven. He will keep pressing them for a positive answer.

The Minister apologised for the exceedingly long delay in agreeing what if any will be the increase in NHS fees for examinations. (Based on retention, recruitment and the costs.)
It is hoped that an announcement will be made very shortly.

A final question was from Nick Rumney who queried that in Scotland and N Ireland a registered therapeutist could prescribe NHS drugs from their clinic but why it was that in England where around 200 optometrists are now registered that they could only prescribe privately or request that a GP surgery transpose their prescription into an NHS RX. Many of who refused to do so.
Howe admitted that he was not up to date on this issue and would report back ASAP as to why these changes had performed at such a slow pace.

The next speaker was Samantha Peters CE and Registrar of the GOC


Health Regulations Bill –Optics, to discuss

Changes are occurring in healthcare and in the scope of practice at great speed and one of the advantages of a new bill to replace the Opticians Act (1989) would be to allow a greater scope to the GOC in responding to then, said Peters in her opening remarks.

The new bill will be one piece of legislation with annexes dealing with each health profession.

This is not intended as a specific ruling for Opticians only and the specialist requirements that they have and so will not concern themselves with what and examination should comprise of or in changing protected titles.

The GOC is already leading the way in many ways in healthcare regulation and has insisted that it only is prepared to act where the need is appropriate and where an overwhelming case is made for change to protect the profession from unnecessary costs.

Its new CET arrangements with over 72% of registrants already taking peer review have proved popular but it will not go as far down the road as GPs with extra assessment under the GMC proposed rules.

The drivers in the new bill were to enable excellence and efficiency at least cost.

Patient safety and cost efficiency are the balance they wished to achieve.

The second driver emanated from the Francis Report and although our profession was not implicated in the report it had repercussions for “fitness to practice”, conduct and whistle blowing.

Making it easier to complain about poor service and speeding up the judgemental process makes it better for all.

Already Peters explained that a 10% reduction in investigatory time has been achieved in the last year.

The GOC wants the power to be able to provide a consensual disposal of a case where admission has been made or where ill health is a cause that will be followed by the retirement of those professionals. In this way the case load can be reduced dramatically.

So the GOCs requests in the bill are to allow voluntary erasure on health grounds and select the correct route for cases that need little time.

With 211 CCGs all with different agendas and needs it was important to ensure that professionals scope of practice were not limited for those who wish to extend their services whilst others preferred to continue providing a standard range of practice.

But consultation will be necessary to allow Mandatory and Non Mandatory standards. So the registration process will need to change to registration according to function.

The GOC does not see the whole proposed bill as perfect and wishes continued discussion with the sector on a number of issues. As at present a requirement exists to carry our “Fitness to Practice” in the home town or country of the professional or where the problem took place. (A very onerous cost against the profession)

There is also a proposal to include a new misdemeanour under the title “Disgraceful Misconduct”, truly difficult to define and in the GOCs eyes the term as of no greater benefit that the existing Misconduct ruling.

OCCS has been very successful but the process is not defined in the Bill.

GOC “F to P” currently requires a lay majority to judge but the new bill does not.

In all the new bill she said would allow greater flexibility for the changes required, allow professionals to fulfil potential and improve fitness to practice systems.

The GOC wants the ability to change rulings itself without going back to Government for statutory powers. Although protected titles will remain the same under the GOC, it is assumed that other regulatory bodies dealing with non professionals might consider creating registration for those involved in supporting registered professionals.

The day ended with the AGMs being held for each partner within the OC.

May 2014

Swift changes were made to FODOs original timetable as the current Chairman was unable to attend on the day so it was announced that Glen Tomison would take the Chair as Chairman Elect and that he would be confirmed as the new Chair of FODO on the day.

Glenn Tomison today replaces Jayne Rawlinson as Chair of the FODO Board of Directors.

The announcement was made at the FODO AGM, held in conjunction with the inaugural Optical Confederation Conference. Glenn is a dispensing optician with over 30 years’ experience working across the independent, multiple and Domiciliary sector and also as an educator at the University of Manchester and University of Singapore.

The AGM marked the publication of the FODO Annual Report and also saw a change to the FODO Articles of Association to formalise the link with newly established sister-company the National Community Hearing Association (NCHA).

FODO stalwart Brian Carroll was presented with Honorary Lifetime Membership at the AGM as he stepped down from the Board after many years distinguished service in UK optics on behalf of the GOC, Optical Confederation, FODO and FODO members.

Glenn Tomison said: “Jayne’s dedicated service, as our longest serving Chairperson, has brought stability and continuity over a period of great change and growth for the organisation and wider sector. I look forward to the role as FODO continues to look to the future and adapt to new challenges. I hope I can bring a new perspective to the role whilst staying true to Jayne’s open-minded, transparent and consensus-building approach.”

Jayne Rawlinson said: “It has been a privilege to serve the sector with my colleagues on the Board and have a front row seat forming and influencing developments at the top table of optical policy in the UK, Ireland and across Europe. It is a great pleasure to see the Optical Confederation organise its first stand-alone national conference today, an organisation that didn’t even exist when I started at FODO, and know that I helped play a small part in securing the future of the sector.”

David Hewlett, FODO Chief Executive, said: “There have been many changes at FODO over the last five years and Jayne has provided invaluable leadership as we expanded our offer to individual members, Irish optical professionals and now hearing care providers. Jayne’s and Brian Carroll’s roles in these developments cannot be overestimated and we have been lucky to have had them as long as we have. We’re a future-focused organisation, however, and adaptability is in our DNA. I feel very fortunate at FODO to have such a high calibre Board supporting our work and I know Glenn will no doubt excel in his new role and take us forward to meet new challenges and new opportunities.”

New FODO’s Chair’s complete speech to the FODO audience

May 2014

I hoped FODO members enjoyed the new conference format and asked for feedback for future years.

Glen introduced the FODO Annual Report 2014 and looked back over the past year.

It had been a year of an incredible amount of work, often in the face of misunderstanding, ignorance and sometimes just plain obtuseness by NHS officials and occasionally even people on our own side.
However, as always, FODO has kept going and delivered on the key issues which are important to FODO members in all four UK countries and the Republic of Ireland. And we have done this whilst changing staff at senior level, without increasing our fees and whilst launching our new sister body the National Community Hearing Association.

Particular highlights this year have been our leadership on CE-marked fluorescein strips, where FODO led the way. We established a clinical consensus panel, which no-one else would do, and provided leadership and guidance not only within the UK but across Europe. That is ongoing with Ann Blackmore replacing the excellent Mark Nevin in these key areas.

FODO has also put in some amazing footwork in establishing the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning – which originally did not include the Optical Confederation, despite the Council being our idea!

Local Eye Health Networks and developing the standard operating model for GOS in England have also been successes and the strategy, tactics and effort which also resulted in a two percent increase in voucher values were also largely down to FODO’s leadership.

For Ireland I want offer my congratulations to Peter McGrath , who has been reappointed as Chair of the FODO Executive Board in Ireland. And also to him and others who have been appointed to the interim Opticians Board of CORU, the new regulator, in Ireland. So my congratulations all round. The fact that we have achieved all of this on a budget which is only twenty percent that of our partners is nothing short of a miracle and is down to the hard work and commitment of my colleagues on the FODO Board and staff.

As you know, the past Chair Jayne with her business in mind which has undergone a significant change in the past year as she moved from leading an SME company to joining one of the major players in the market. This means that she now travels a lot more so, regrettably, although she still hopes to still play an active role on the Board, she does need to cut back on her FODO activity which is why she is standing down as our longest serving chair.

Jayne has been an exemplary Chair, always ready to wave the FODO flag wherever and however necessary. She has been an indefatigable force for good in the sector pursuing the interests of all FODO members – large and small – business and individual and a champion for modernisation and change. Jayne has also gone out of her way to keep the Board up to date, to bring on more women directors and to develop new talent.

I am sure you will agree Colleagues that, in absentia, Jayne goes with a wealth of love and affection from her colleagues on the Board, the staff at 199 and all FODO members. I know that you will all join with me in wishing her all the very best for the future.

In the meantime, and in tribute and thanks to Jayne's success, I commend to you this year’s Annual Report as the latest chapter in FODO's impressive track record of achievement
Colleagues - you will have noticed from the elections to the Board that, sadly, Brian Carroll told me at Christmas that he would be standing down from the FODO Board this AGM. Brian has been a mainstay of FODO for as long as any of us can remember serving three years as Chairman, longer than anyone can remember on the GOC and Companies Committee (including chairing Companies Committee) as well as chairing many of our committees, not least the key committees on Policy & Strategy, Information and IT and – the one we never admit to – VAT and Tax.

Brian was also the driving force behind Anglia Ruskin and over many years has played vital ‘behind the scenes’ roles as recruiter and mentor to our various Chief Executives and staff, and Chair of both the FODO Educational Charity and the Irvine Aitcheson Memorial Fund.

In all these roles Brian has driven progress, brokered agreement and kept driving forward for the benefit of FODO members - and the wider sector - in ways the rest of us can only hope to - always keeping out of the limelight, leaving vainglory for others and modestly understating the major role he has played for over 25 years in FODO’s success.

As everyone will know, at FODO, we are very reluctant to let talent go and although Brian is standing down from the Board, he will be with us for a while yet continuing to Chair the crucial Information and IT and VAT committees through some difficult negotiations particularly around information governance and NHS mail, etc.

We will therefore find some a tangible way of thanking him at the FODO family dinner this autumn but, in the meantime, I would be very pleased - Brian - to invite you today, on behalf of the entire FODO membership, to accept Life Membership of the Federation in recognition of all that you have done for Optics and for FODO.

The AGM closed for 2014

May 2014

Read more about further local MP visits to their local practices around the UK on our dedicated OC pages.

Shamir/Transitions results declared for prize draws at Optrafair London 2014

May 2014

Shamir UK Ltd and Transitions Optical would like to thank all of the entrants taking part in the recent Shamir/Transitions prize draws at Optrafair London 2014. They would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate our winners:

Danuta Fidyka
Paul Gallivan
Harry Craig-London
All winners of an iPad Air.

Jane Dexter
Paul Jeffries
All winners of a Playstation 4 games console.

Jay Taank
Syed Hashmi
Mrs E Hammond
All winners of a Chrome Virgin Experience.

Jane Charlton
Claire Brass
Roop Maini
Suleyl Baledur
David Hershman
Tom Lewis
Mark Hammond
Kim Marchant
All winners of an iPod Shuffle.

The World Council of Optometry announces appointment of new Chief Executive

May 2014

Natalie Briggs has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of the World Council of Optometry (WCO).

Susan Cooper, President of The World Council of Optometry said: “We are delighted that Natalie will be joining The World Council of Optometry as Chief Executive at this very exciting time for the organisation. “WCO’s mission is to promote eye health and vision care as a human right through advocacy, education and policy development and during 2014/5 we will be working closely with our global optometry partners to campaign for increased access for high quality eye health and vision care.”

Commenting on her appointment, Natalie Briggs said: “I think that WCO has an extremely important global agenda that will have a huge impact on the eradication of avoidable visual impairment. I am delighted to be joining WCO and I look forward to working with colleagues to develop our strategy.”

Natalie has worked at executive level in education and management and, until recently, was the Chief Executive of Vision Aid Overseas. Previously she was Head of the Raven Department of Education at The Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Natalie has served as a Trustee on the VISION 2020: Right to Sight board and is currently a Trustee with The Steel Charitable Trust. She is also a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Euromcontact General Assembly celebrates 25 years anniversary and Release 2013 Market Data Report

May 2014

Euromcontact held its 2014 Annual General Assembly on 24th April 2014, in Brussels. This meeting gave an opportunity to all the members to review 2013 achievements and major activities performed during the year, and identify key focus for the year to come. In particular the Annual General Assembly welcomed the continuous efforts of the Regulatory Affairs Working Group, chaired by Hilde Viroux, to strongly defend and promote the interests of the CLs business on the regulatory side, supported by the Public Affairs group when outreaching to EU decision-makers. The AGM also adopted the 2013 Stats reports, and thanked the Chairman Helmer Schweizer for their redaction. The Euromcontact Stats reports have been published since 2003 and provide collective, syndicate market data analysis to the business. The 2014 AGM also endorsed the project to organise a seminar in fall 2014, targeting Eye Care Professionals, to exchange on CLs and market development.

Helmer Schweizer states: “As chairman, I am very pleased to chair this 2014 AGM, which celebrates the 25 years anniversary of our organisation Euromcontact. This association together with its members has been very active, through its projects and partnership with other platforms, to support the CLs and care products business in Europe. The last 25 years have been very busy, and it is likely that future years will keep us as busy, with the regulatory developments, market developments, etc.”

EUROMCONTACT releases the 2013 Market Data Report

EUROMCONTACT released the 2013 market data report on sales of contact lenses and lens care products. Since 2003, EUROMCONTACT provides the framework for statistics on market data and analysis, based on a collection and compilation of data from an independent company.

The report “A Comparison of European Soft Contact Lens and Lens Care Markets in 2013”, from Euromcontact a.i.s.b.l will be made available of release on our business briefing pages.

You can download the entire report by clicking here.

In 2013, the market value of soft contact lenses (SCLs) at industry to eye care professionals (ECP) level grew by 3.6% to € 1’468 million. The market is defined as the 33 countries (6 are clustered in 3 pairs) for which EUROMCONTACT collects data for Daily Disposables (DD), Weekly / Bi-Weekly and Monthly (W/B&M) and conventional soft (CS) CLs.

With a total of 13.5% (+7.1%) of the 15-64 years old population wearing CLs, Sweden is leading the penetration ranks, ahead of Norway (10.5%, +9.5%) and Denmark (10.5%, +3.3%)). Lowest among the eleven is Spain (3.4%, -1.1%).

Silicone Hydrogels (SiHy) now have a 78.2 % share of the value in the W/B&M segment (all corrections) and above 55% in all of the reported eleven countries.

EUROMCONTACT is the voice of European contact lens and lens care industry to the European Institutions, media, stakeholders and the public.

EUROMCONTACT is the European Federation of National Associations and International Companies of Contact Lens and Lens Care Manufacturers.

EUROMCONTACT members include National Associations of Manufacturers, representing Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom; the global companies Alcon, AMO Ltd., Bausch & Lomb, CooperVision, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Menicon; and the European Federation for the Contact Lens Industry EFCLIN.

GOC recruiting for committees

May 2014

The General Optical Council (GOC) has launched a campaign to recruit three new members for its advisory committees. The regulator is seeking a dispensing optician for its Standards Committee, a lay member for its Education Committee and an optical business representative to sit on the Companies Committee. Applications close on 27 May at 17:00.

Gareth Hadley, GOC Chair, said: “The committees have a crucial role in enabling Council to make well-informed decisions.

"As we seek to achieve our strategic objective of raising standards across the profession, it is vital for us to understand how optical care is delivered and how it is likely to change. We also need to respond to the Francis Inquiry, including the increased focus on openness and candour.

“We are addressing these and other issues, such as revising the business code of conduct, as part of our ongoing standards review, and our advisory committees will have a big part to play in influencing this work. We are looking for experienced candidates who can operate strategically and who have strong communication and influencing skills. I would encourage anyone who fits the bill to apply.”

The positions have a commitment of three to four days per year, with a requirement to attend meetings in London. A fee of £270 per day is paid, along with standard-class travel and expenses.

Anyone interested in applying can find more information and apply via the GOC website:

http://www.optical.org/en/about_us/working_for_us/vacancies/index.cfm

FODO Ireland welcomes the appointment of a new Interim Optical Registration

May 2014

The Irish Government has announced the appointment of the new Interim Optical Registration Board of CORU, the new regulator overseeing the fourteen healthcare professions. The Minister has appointed four optometrists and two dispensing opticians to the new Optical Board.

Ann Blackmore, of FODO Ireland, said: “We have supported the establishment of CORU throughout as an important step towards modernising the regulation of optometrists and dispensing opticians. We welcome the appointment of the Interim Optical Board. The Minister for Health has appointed a strong team which will bring new thinking to help develop the ethical and regulatory landscape for optics in Ireland.”

Giles Butler, of FODO Ireland, added: “We are pleased to see that there is balanced representation between the two professions. We look forward to working with the new Optical Board and CORU to prepare the transfer of functions from the Opticians Board.”

The Interim Optical Registration Board has been appointed to support the transfer of functions from the Opticians Board to CORU. The Opticians Board will be abolished once that is complete, and legislation to enable the transfer is expected to be laid before the Irish Parliament shortly. The Opticians Board has regulated the professions in Ireland since it was established under the Opticians Act in 1956.

Dr James Reilly, the Irish Minister of Health invited expressions of interest in serving on the Interim Board from suitably qualified and experienced professionals in November 2013. Under the provisions contained in Health and Social Care Professionals Act [2005], each professional representative board is composed of thirteen representatives, six of whom are from the professions being regulated.

Local MP calls on constituents to look after their eyesight by having regular check-ups

May 2014

Local MP for Hendon, Matthew Offord visited Boots Opticians in Colindale on Friday 11th April to find out why regular eye tests are so important in preventing blindness. Read more about this and many more successful MP visits on PHN’s dedicated OC pages.

Optometrists at The Royal Liverpool University Hospital become KeraSoft IC fitting specialists

May 2014

One of the recurring problems for contact lens wearers is being uncomfortable with their lenses if the lenses are not well-fitting. UltraVision is going nationwide to address this problem by training optometrists on how to fit lenses correctly, helping improve patients’ comfort and happiness. Recently, optometrists at The Royal Liverpool University Hospital received advanced training on fitting UltraVision’s soft KeraSoft IC lenses, designed to fit all irregular corneas. Josie Barlow, SMC (Tech) FBDO CL, Clinical & Customer Services Manager at UltraVision CLPL, hosted the training session.

Shahista Patel, an optometrist from Southport and Ormskirk Hospital, was very pleased with the training. “The session was very informative and everyone who attended felt more confident in fitting comfortable lenses for their patients.”

Kimberley Burns, Marketing Executive, explains “the knowledge gained from these training sessions is invaluable in creating a better quality of life for patients.”

Social Enterprise think tank demand radical honesty on future of the NHS

May 2014

How the public can save the NHS

The independent, social enterprise think tank 2020health is calling for the restoration of a truly National Health Service which rewards positive behavioural choices and offers a strategic hospital network.

In their report ‘Going with the Flow’ they highlight details of the funding crisis, public confusion and frustration over what is made available on the NHS and urge government to produce a National Financial Plan and work towards a ‘National Service Guarantee’ to end the postcode lottery of treatment.
They call for a ‘Payment by Results’ tax benefit for people who make positive behavioural choices that reduce their risk of developing illness, and honesty from politicians and NHS leaders on what the NHS can provide in the 21st century.

The ‘Going with the flow’ report also calls for a strategic review of hospitals, public consultation on services, and for greater public understanding of the appropriate use of services.

Julia Manning, CEO of 2020health said: “Politicians should be honest with the public. We are facing a financial crisis and we all need to play our part to ensure we have an NHS for the next generation.”

Gail Beer, co-author of the report said: “We identify some of the themes of the current debate and look beyond ‘the NHS must change’ rhetoric to actually consider how the NHS can survive.”

May 2014

The north-west’s optical community is set to provide “an overwhelming level of support” to Vision Care for Homeless People’s appeal for volunteers to work at the new clinic within Cornerstone Day centre in Manchester.

More than 60 people attended with 44 optometrists and dispensing opticians expressing an interest to volunteer for the weekly Monday clinics – which commence on 12th May.

Harinder Paul, Charity founder, was delighted with the warm response from Manchester at last week’s open evening –

“This was the best attended event since the charity was founded 11 years ago. So many expressed an interest in volunteering at least once each month. The centre’s manager, Angela Shannon, spoke movingly about the problems of homelessness and the issues that were faced in the area. The potential to change lives at the centre is enormous and it is heartening to see the role that we, as the optical community, can make in ensuring that this happens,” he said.

To be funded for three years by Optometry Giving Sight, equipment for the new centre has been generously provided by Bondeye Optical, Carleton, Specsavers, Thomson Software and Topcon – companies which, together, have ensured that the new centre is equipped with advanced diagnostics.

Picture shows: Sandra Mallia, Marketing Manager, Optometry Giving Sight; Elaine Styles Chair of VCHP; Richard Harvey, Product Manager of Bondeye at Optrafair London

Irish Opticians call for improved eyecare for 12-16 years olds

May 2014

Free eye tests nationwide for teens for month of May will be available from EyeZone opticians.

Opticians are calling for improved eyecare for 12-16 year olds – who are falling into a gap in services.

EyeZone, which represents almost 100 independent opticians across the Republic of Ireland, said the situation is unacceptable and called for a dedicated scheme to support this age group. To address the issue in the immediate term, EyeZone members are offering a free six point vision test to children aged 12-16 throughout May.

EyeZone Manager Ray Bissett said: “Member Opticians are putting their words into action by offering the test. We are hopeful that this will provide much needed support for children.”

Under current services children up to the age of 12 receive eye tests through the School Medical Scheme. After 12 some receive care if their parents have a medical card. At 16 those with medical cards then become eligible for adult services. EyeZone Chairman Diarmud Keane said: “The fact that the number wearing glasses or contact lenses doubles from 10-20% between 12 and 16 highlights the need for a dedicated public eyecare scheme for this age group. The majority of the children in this age group receive no eyecare at all. We need a scheme to target teenagers which is reliable and consistent countrywide,” Mr. Keane said.

Peer group discussions bring OCT into practice

May 2014

Heidelberg Engineering’s Peer Discussion Group sessions have brought the tangible benefits of OCT to life for more than 300 High Street opticians.
The three month national programme, which attracted four CET points, was met with great enthusiasm from practitioners who are keen to learn more about enhancing their diagnostic knowledge. OCT in Acute Vision Loss - Peer Discussion, took place around the country – in the Wirral, Oxford, Manchester, Sheffield, Hemel Hempstead, Leeds, Epsom and Wolverhampton.

Speaking at the Hemel Hempstead event, Moorfields’ Consultant Ophthalmologist Mr. Praveen Patel, praised the initiative by Heidelberg, adding, “With early diagnosis of wet AMD we can make a huge difference to treatment outcomes. OCT really helps us in terms of urgency of referral and optometrists can really get the ball rolling with care.”

Focusing on the interpretation of OCT, and pinpointing warning signs, he explained how the cross sectional images allow detailed analysis. Mr. Patel, a specialist in the treatment of macular disease, AMD and imaging, spoke about becoming familiar with the terminology of OCT imaging and using the referral pathways appropriately.

“Wet AMD has in the past few years become a chronic disease rather than an acute condition, and this causes us challenges in how to care for these patients. As optometrists you are central in getting care to these patients,” he said.

A variety of case studies and Peer discussions were presented by Christopher Mody, Heidelberg Engineering’s Clinical Programme Manager. Discussions on commonly occurring chorioretinal pathologies, including signs and symptoms followed with advice on when to refer and with what degree of urgency the patient should be seen, and when monitoring was more appropriate.

The events were praised by delegates, Linda Lucas, optometrist at Skye Optometrists in Harpenden, said, “It was absolutely brilliant, with lots of answers to questions. Reading a text book is hopeless in comparison to talking to Peers as it brings it all to life. Having the ophthalmologist here was great as he gave us so much advice.”

Her colleague, Jane Barnard, agreed, “The interpretation and case studies make it very real as this is exactly what we see in practice. It was a very good refresher on retina anatomy and the Peer discussion was very positive.”

David Abrahams, an optometrist from St Albans appreciated the help with interpretation of OCT, “Taking the images is one thing, but the advice on analysis was very good. OCT is one of the most exciting things that has happened in optics for a long time.”

Royal College of Ophthalmologists head for Birmingham for the UK’s Largest Ophthalmic Conference And Exhibition

April 2014

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists Annual Congress 2014, will be returning to the ICC, Birmingham from 20th – 22nd May 2014. Conference organisers have worked hard on the scientific programme and have chosen the best speakers in their different fields. These are dynamic internationally renowned lecturers.

They are very pleased to welcome Richard Abbott, John Marshall, Neil Miller and Gullapalli Rao who will be delivering their eponymous lectures this year. The President’s session on the first morning of their Congress, will also feature internationally renowned speakers.

On Monday 19th May is the RCO’s fifth Retina Day and the second Glaucoma Day will be held. The presentations on both these days will complement content of the main meeting.

RCO also announces the return of the Allied Professions Day on Wednesday 21st May and we will be holding our first GP Day on Thursday 22nd May. We look forward to welcoming our allied professions.

Supporting the themes of the conference and demonstrating the latest and finest ophthalmological equipment currently available will be our own homebred equipment company Grafton Optical whose presence at Optrafair was highly successful with is new range of new products from its new partnership with Visionix.

Malcolm Redfearn who is charged with assisting the ophthalmic hospital and clinical sector told us he was looking forward to this high profile event which always provides Grafton with an opportunity to show off its latest technology in diagnostic eye care to the mediacl profession.

Among the ophthalmic range they will be showing the XR Avanti With its Widefield Enface OCT with SMART™ Motion Correction, simultaneous Multi-Layered Assessment of Peripheral Retina Pathology. providing a forward-thinking platform for future innovations.

Also on show will be the next generation Ocular Response Analyzer.

The Reichert Ocular Response Analyzer is the only instrument in the world capable of measuring corneal biomechanical properties and corneal compensated IOP (IOPcc). This valuable information enhances the ability of the eye care professional in Glaucoma with accurate IOPs and in Kerataconus.

Among other demonstrations will be the i fusion fundus and OCT system which is more well known to optometrists and was one of the show stoppers at the recent Optrafair Exhibition.

Snowbird Finance goes nationwide at Optrafair

April 2014

The Snowbird Finance team were out in force at the recent Optrafair, meeting Optical practitioners and business owners. Managing Director, Simon Freeman was joined by Samantha Shayler, area manager for Southern counties and recently appointed Rob Griffin, whose territory covers the Midlands and Northern England.

“There has never been a better time to invest in your business” says Simon. “The financial climate is extremely favourable at the moment. Low interest rates and a generous tax relief allowance coupled with our expertise in securing tailor made finance solutions mean we can now source extremely competitive funding options for anything from new equipment and vehicles to more complex shop fit projects”

With an expanded team of dedicated professionals now covering the entire country, Snowbird Finance is now best placed to offer their unrivalled market knowledge to optical professionals nationwide.

New to the team, but certainly not new to the finance industry, Rob Griffin is based in the Midlands and joined Snowbird after many years as an independent financial adviser. “We were delighted when Rob agreed to join our team. He’s one of a rare breed! Someone you can really trust to give you good, honest, sound advice” added Simon.

Snowbird Finance is proud of its overarching philosophy of offering bespoke, competitive funding, delivered with expertise, service and integrity. Building on their success at Optrafair, they would invite anyone considering a purchase either for personal or business use, to contact them for an impartial, informal chat about their funding options at any time.

PHN Welcomes Snowbird Finance as Latest Sponsor

April 2014

This month sees another sponsor join other well-known names in the optical industry, this time from the world of finance.

Snowbird Finance and their Managing Director, Simon Freeman are known by many in the Dentistry and Veterinary sectors and indeed Simon previously worked in Optical Finance for 20 years , but now they have re-entered the Optical Market and have chosen to keep their contact details in front of the 7000+ users on your PHN site.

“Snowbird Finance sees helping PHN as a win-win solution, by supporting them we can keep our name and credentials readily available for the moment that professionals need our help and advice in raising finance and helping with business development. Whilst at the same time our support allows PHN to continue to grow both their public and professional sites and provide a valuable communications tool free to the profession,” said Simon Freeman, Managing Director.

Bob Hutchinson, PHN Director commented “We are always pleased to welcome new sponsors to the PHN family especially when it allows us to cover yet another industry sector in Optics. Welcome aboard Snowbird and we hope our readership will help support your growth and visit your pages on the site to find out what you can do for them. Without companies supporting PHN we could not provide the only free and fast responding optical news on the web to the profession providing regular news updates and of course the provision of the most visited public site www.mylocaloptician.co.uk in the UK, containing the only up to date practice address guide.”

Visit the Snowbird Finance Page

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

April 2014

Local MP for Eastbourne, Stephen Lloyd MP visited Barraclough and Stiles Opticians in Eastbourne on 11th April to find out why regular eye tests are so important in preventing blindness.

Optometrist and Director, Nigel Barraclough, explained the health benefits of regular eye tests:

“As technology has developed, eye examining and the dispensing of spectacles has moved to new levels. We have invested heavily in instruments like the Daytona Optomap laser retinal scanner which enhances our ability to detect and monitor eye and general health conditions in both adults and children. This is more effective than a routine eye examination alone and I would recommend everyone to consider making it part of their eye examinations. Regular eye examinations are extremely important as many eye and health conditions are preventable.”

Commenting on his visit Stephen Lloyd said:

“I was fascinated to see the advanced technology now available in optical practices on the high street – viewing the back of my own eye on Optomap was a particular highlight! I encourage all my constituents to have regular eye tests; so many serious eye conditions can be treated if they are caught early. It was also great to see another Eastbourne business thriving.”

College urges members to sign petition

April 2014

The College of Optometrists is urging its members to sign the All Trials campaign petition, which is demanding the registration of all clinical trials and the publication of their results.

The campaign was launched in January 2013 by groups including the Cochrane Collaboration and the BMJ Group. It addresses the issue that many clinical trials have not published their results, causing clinical decisions (both in drug procurement and prescribing) to be based on inaccurate evidence. This harms the ability of clinicians to provide effective and evidence based treatment for patients.

These issues are especially important to eye care, as the relatively low number of trials undertaken in this area means that publication bias is more difficult to identify and that the missing data from just one trial could reveal a very different picture.

Michael Bowen, Director of Research at the College of Optometrists says: “The College is pleased to support this campaign and would strongly encourage its members to sign the petition calling for all trials to be registered and their results published. Recently developed treatments mean the NHS can now treat eye diseases that would previously have left hundreds of thousands of people visually impaired. Having access to all trial data will enable us to save the sight of even more people in the years to come.”

The petition can be signed at www.alltrials.net.

Eye cancer protocol supported by the Colleges

April 2014

Leading professional bodies the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the College of Optometrists are supporting an initiative from The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) to help cut delays in diagnosis of childhood eye cancer.

The opticians’ protocol on suspected retinoblastoma was developed by CHECT to prevent babies and young children with eye cancer having their diagnosis delayed.

Figures¹ from CHECT show that in general opticians are correctly referring on children with suspected retinoblastoma (Rb). However, some children face delays in obtaining appointments, or are turned away by staff unaware of the signs and symptoms of the disease and the need for urgent examination.

Vicky Pain, from Hertfordshire, was told by an optician’s receptionist that a change in colour to her daughter Amelia’s iris was ‘completely normal in a child of eighteen months’ and did not require an optician’s appointment. “Luckily I just felt she was wrong, and pursued it further with our GP,” said Vicky. “Within two weeks Amelia was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, and a week later her eye was removed to save her life. I hate to think what would have happened if I had taken that initial advice.”

CHECT chief executive Joy Felgate said: “It’s great news that in 2012 100% of opticians who examined children with Rb, prior to diagnosis, made the appropriate referral, but this doesn’t tell the whole story. In our experience staff at some optician stores, which choose not to examine babies and young children, have sent parents away with misleading or no information at all about where to seek help and the need for an urgent examination. As a result, some babies and young children are facing serious delays in receiving life-saving treatment.

“We want to ensure that no child displaying signs of retinoblastoma is turned away from an optician without the correct information about where to go next. We want all optical practices in the UK to adopt our protocol, and having the support of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the College of Optometrists is a huge step towards this.”

CHECT’s protocol aims to address this by stating that all staff working in an optical practice should be aware of the main signs of Rb which include:

• A white reflex (leukocoria) or an abnormal reflex in flash photographs
• A recently onset squint
• A change in colour to the iris
• A deterioration in vision

Occasionally a retinoblastoma may present as a red, sore or swollen eye without infection.

The protocol offers clear information on what action to take if a parent is concerned by any of these main symptoms of Rb.

Ashwin Reddy, consultant ophthalmologist and member of the paediatric sub-committee at The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, commented, “We wholeheartedly support the work of the charity in providing much needed guidance to eye care specialists in recognising the signs of retinoblastoma. The Royal College has worked with CHECT on developing this protocol for opticians, to recognise and to refer on. This protocol will help to ensure that children and their family members are given the right information in order to seek further help and potentially life-saving diagnosis and treatment.”

David Parkins, president of the College of Optometrists, says: “Retinoblastoma is a rare but very serious condition and we are pleased that optometrists are making appropriate referrals. This protocol will help other staff who work in optical practices ensure they give appropriate advice to parents whose children may have this condition.”

CHECT is urging all opticians to download and implement the protocol at http://www.chect.org.uk/cms/index.php/information-for-professionals/opticians.

Only a few conference exhibition stands still available for Vision UK 2014

April 2014

Organisations wishing to connect with the eye health and sight loss sectors have until Tuesday, 29 April, to apply for the last remaining exhibition stands left at the Vision UK 2014 conference.

Vision UK 2014 Conference is giving charities, groups and commercial bodies the chance to promote their brands and engage with eye care and sight loss leaders, professionals and service users through a special exhibitor package. The package, which includes a stand at the conference and promotion in the conference programme, will directly position organisations’ products and services as solutions for those tackling the big issues across the eye care and sight loss sectors.

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.

UK Vision Strategy Communications Manager Katherine Raven said exhibition stands provide an excellent networking opportunity to meet with key delegates across the public, health and eye care sectors, as well as the voluntary sector.

“The 2013 conference attracted over 500 people from a range of professions and sectors including health professionals such as GPs, nurses, optometrists, ophthalmologists, orthoptists, local authority representatives, the employment sector, transport industry and the voluntary sector,” Katherine said. “We received fantastic feedback from exhibitors last year who highly-valued the networking experience.”

Opening day preview for BCLA2014 Exhibition

April 2014

Those planning to attend the 2014 British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Exhibition at the ICC Birmingham are invited to a special opening day preview and welcome drinks reception on Friday 6 June.

For the first time the BCLA Exhibition of more than 40 stands will cover all four days of the BCLA Clinical Conference, which takes place from 6-9 June at the ICC Birmingham, opening from 3.30pm to 7.30pm on the Friday.

BCLA President, Andy Yorke, explained: “Because there is so much for conference delegates to participate in – from workshops and peer review, to CET lectures and sponsor showcases – we wanted to provide a dedicated, exhibition only session this year. So we will be opening at 3.30pm on the first day, and then inviting everyone to join us for welcome drinks in the exhibition hall from 6pm to relax, network, discover the amazing products on show and meet with our valued industry supporters.

“As always, the exhibition is free to attend for registered delegates and non-delegates alike,” continued Andy. “There will also be a slightly later opening on the Sunday morning this year, at 10am, to give delegates and exhibitors a little lie in after Saturday night’s partying at the gala dinner. Our popular Exhibitors’ Pavilion will be back, offering bite-size chunks of product and technology education within the exhibition hall during coffee and lunch breaks – except on the Sunday afternoon when we will be announcing the winners of our poster and photographic competitions.”

The exhibition opening times are as follows:

• Friday 6 June: 3.30pm to 7.30pm (drinks reception 6-7.30pm)
• Saturday 7 June: 9am to 5pm
• Sunday 8 June: 10am to 6pm
• Monday 9 June: 9am to 5pm

Taking centre stage at the exhibition will be the BCLA stand, where visitors can find out about the latest membership offers, including how to save up to 25 per cent on the 2015 conference fee, and how to be in with the chance to win a great prize using social media during the conference. “The BCLA team will be delighted to welcome visitors to the stand to discuss membership benefits and services, or simply to use us as a base to network with friends and colleagues whilst enjoying complimentary refreshments,” said BCLA CEO, Cheryl Donnelly.

2014 sponsors:

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

The Exhibitors’ Pavilion timetable, along with a complete list of exhibitors, can be viewed on the BCLA website, www.bcla.org.uk. Pre-registration is available on the BCLA website too, but it’s also possible to register at the ICC on the day. Download the BCLA app from Google Play or iTunes for detailed information about this year’s exhibitors and their products, and to make individual appointments.

Mixed feelings about the success of Optrafair from a number of camps

April 2014

Andrew Yorke, Managing Director of Medical at Topcon (GB) Ltd commented that after a good start on Friday, Saturday’s attendance left Topcon (GB) Ltd with some degree of concern, however, Sunday he felt was just like a true Optrafair Sunday, which was absolutely fantastic.

Andrew also added “We as a company were concerned that as Optrafair had been under attack by rival shows, we were worried that this would impact on our success. Clearly however we were wrong as our customers still consider Optrafair to be the premier event.

We have already booked our place at next year’s show and are extremely excited by the proposed new show format and the plans that are already well in hand for next year’s event. The FMO and Optician have any number of fresh new initiatives that will add to the shows attraction, and there is no doubt in my mind that next year’s Optrafair could be one of the greatest Optical events in Europe in 2015, and we simply have to be there”.

With the next shows continuing to be run jointly with the Reed Business Group who publish the Optician Magazine it seems that the rivalry as Andrew expresses as “an attack” could well continue as 100% have already announced dates and bookings for next February 2015 in London. What is not clear is whether the AOP will remain on board as they did this year.

The saving grace next year being that 100% optical will continue to be in London in February and Optrafair will return to the NEC in April, at least providing some geographical distance between the contenders.

The argument though must be about why there needs to be this contention between show providers backed individually by OT (AOP/100%) and Optician (FMO/Optrafair) this year?

This year proved reasonably successful for both if you listen to the optimists and mildly unsuccessful for both if you have the ear of stand holders that were displeased. If it is a competition then perhaps we should call it a draw?

Meanwhile the President of the Optical Confederation, the umbrella organisation that loosely houses both show groups’ optical bodies has reported on how poorly the Spectacle Makers Stand was positioned in the Optrafair Gallery. A comment on stands that we heard repeated by many in that galleried area of Olympia. It is his view and that of many concerned that the visit rates especially by those who did not rise above the ground floor were poor and that the venue had seen better days.

“Olympia is not a very exciting location and the good weather and competing attractions of the weekend will have discouraged attendance,” he said. “There are too many exhibitions in the optical calendar (four in three months: 100% Optical, Optometry Tomorrow, ABDO and London Optrafair) with the BCLA still ahead and I think the OC is going to try to do something about it.”

With the FMO’s influence on its members Optrafair will continue to be well supported by exhibitors but even they must have concerns at the escalating costs of putting on shows. However the Chairman of the FMO Barry Dibble remains upbeat, “We had an incredible response from visitors and exhibitors alike and we are delighted to have such a strong platform to build upon for future shows – the width and breadth of UK Optics plc came together at Olympia for us. We know there are aspects of the show that can be developed and we are keen to do this – nothing stands still in optics. We value the support of our loyal optical supplier members and work closely with them to produce an event which works in their best interests.”

Some view the 100% offering as a great pitch for frame companies and more diverse small optical companies with a lesser number of equipment companies attending. However of those that attended 100% Optical we heard no disquiet at all especially from those equipment and finance companies that attended.

According to both parties the number of visitors for each show over all 3 days was as follows:

Optrafair London: 4616
100% London: 5483

Both numbers have we think not been audited.

So if not a draw it was still pretty close. It would be interesting to know how many visitors attended both shows.

The optical profession, the customer, should become central to the future planning of events and an annual event held in the South in London one year and NEC, if needs must or elsewhere in the next year could ensure that both were better attended by visitors and exhibitors alike.

Maybe however both London and another more Northern venue could sustain an annual event each year perhaps bookending the year, like MIDO and SILMO do currently.

A one stop shop for all must surely be what opticians want and so that includes the return of contact lens companies that over past years it seems like many have deserted for the international show of the BCLA as an alternative.

Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management and Valeant Pharmaceuticals announce pincer movement to secure Allergan

April 2014

Bill Ackman who now owns around 9% of Allergan stock is working as “tag team” partners to buy out Allergan, the makers of Botox.

"This proposal represents an undeniable opportunity to create extraordinary value for both Allergan and Valeant shareholders by establishing an unrivaled platform with leading positions in ophthalmology, dermatology, aesthetics, dental and the emerging markets" said J. Michael Pearson, Valeant's CEO.”
Valeant already own Bausch & Lomb and a considerable market share within the pharmacy and OTC sector.

Allergan shares soared 19% in pre-market action, while Valeant rallied 7%.

Some question whether the acquisition might create an anti-competitive environment giving the suggested company a 60% hold on the sector.

FMO announces it will continue relationship with Optician (Reed Business Industries)

April 2014

The partnership of The FMO and OPTICIAN Journal thanked the industry for its support at the inaugural Optrafair London and said much could be developed from this initial show. Optrafair returns to Birmingham in April 2015, with a further show planned for London in 2016.

Many exhibitors were seen signing up for next year’s Optrafair NEC with the forms supplied and organised by RBI.

Meanwhile the FMO/RBI has produced a bullish account of how their first show in London went and has released the numbers attending at 4616 over the whole event.

FMO states that the Innovators were rewarded at Optrafair London as visitors to the three day event showed a keen appetite for technology and products that will differentiate their practices.

New gadgetry, space age diagnostics, bespoke contact lenses, business advice, significant advances in IT and fashion eyewear enticed visitors to the most comprehensive optical show ever staged in London, which attracted 4616 attendees over the 3 day show.

Read more about all the sections views sent on to us by the joint organisers by clicking here.

College of Optometrists calls for nominations for Life and Honorary Fellowships

April 2014

The College of Optometrists is seeking nominations from members for its award of Life and Honorary Fellowships.

Life Fellowships are awarded to members who demonstrate important contributions made during a lifetime’s service to the profession. Honorary Fellowships are awarded to non-members who have demonstrated clear evidence of a real and important contribution to the profession of optometry.

The College has bestowed just 46 Life Fellowships and 31 Honorary Fellowships since it was founded in 1980, and these prestigious awards are in recognition of outstanding contributions to the profession of optometry, or to the College.

At its Diploma Ceremony in Central Hall, Westminster, last year, the College awarded Honorary Fellowships to Lord Low of Dalston CBE and Professor David Gartry, both high-profile advocates for the development of optometry and eye health care. It also awarded Life Fellowships to Professor Jan Bergmanson, Professor Daniel O'Leary, Jonathan Pointer, Kenneth Pullum, Geoff Roberson, David Stidwill and Elaine Styles.
If you would like to nominate someone for either award, visit www.college-optometrists.org/fellows for the nomination form. The deadline for submissions is 12 noon on Friday 6 June.

Rodenstock Club Awards 2014 launched; fantastic trip to Rome awaits winners

April 2014

The Annual search is on for top-performing independent opticians

A trip to Rome is the fabulous prize waiting for winners of the 2014 Rodenstock Club Awards, which reward independent opticians for their loyalty and support.

Winners of each award category, together with the Centre of Excellence and runner up, will enjoy a stunning trip to the Eternal City‎ in March 2015. Staying in the heart of the city centre, the Rodenstock party will enjoy touring the historical sites and sampling the Italian culture, fine cuisine and hospitality.

They can look forward to wandering around the classical ruins, early Christian places of worship, Renaissance palazzos and Baroque fountains, while also enjoying browsing the stylish shops and stores and soaking up the city’s unique atmosphere.

Practices from across the UK will compete in a number of product specific categories, including Perfection lenses, Excellence lenses, Wimbledon eyewear, Ergo lenses, luxury brand eyewear and Rodenstock eyewear. Excellence in marketing is also recognised in the annual awards.

Niels Jensen, in his first communication since he took over as General Manager of Rodenstock UK, said: “I have heard great things about the Rodenstock Club, including the camaraderie and best practice sharing that goes on when members get together. I’m delighted that my first task is to invite our highly-valued Club members to participate in the annual awards, which are now in their 23rd year.

“I’m really looking forward to rewarding our loyal customers and thanking them for their continued support. We’re always keen to attract new customers to Rodenstock and there are many benefits available to independent practices who work with us. They will have access to the best products at highly competitive prices, and enjoy a huge range of sales and marketing support.”

The competition runs until 30 November. The winning practices will be announced at a luncheon and awards ceremony at the four-star Rosewood Hotel, near London’s Covent Garden, on Wednesday 17 December 2014.

All of the winners will receive an invitation for two people to join Rodenstock in Rome. As an alternative, category winners can choose to receive a marketing contribution of £3,000 in lieu of their Rome prize.

CET points confirmed for Warsaw 2014

April 2014

The European Academy of Optometry and Optics (EAOO) have confirmed today that optometrists, dispensing opticians and contact lens opticians can gain up to 16 Continuing Education and Training (CET) points over three days from conference sessions and workshops at their annual conference.

Warsaw 2014 is set to take place from 15-18 May 2014 and will be held at the Novotel Hotel Centrum, Warsaw, Poland, alongside the European Council of Optometry and Optics (ECOO) Spring Meeting.

The conference programme has been compiled by an expert panel in order to inspire delegates and provide valuable training opportunities. Out of 12 workshops available at the conference, 11 are eligible for three CET points each. Conference sessions, include: Caring for the ageing eye, AMD: Measuring and preventing vision loss, optometric low vision rehabilitation and Understanding glaucoma, and will earn delegates one CET point each.

The CET points gained are not just for practitioners registered with the General Optical Council (GOC) in the UK, as certificates of attendance will be awarded to all delegates and may be used as evidence in local continuing professional development schemes.

The workshops are filling up fast, however there are still some spaces left for:
• How to test for and manage binocular vision in your practice
• Making decisions about glaucoma
• Managing contact lens discomfort
• Slit lamps for beginners
• Fitting multifocal soft contact lenses
• How to set up a vision screening programme for children
• OCT has landed

Professor Paul Murphy, President of the Academy, said: “We are incredibly grateful to our speakers for Warsaw 2014 who have helped us apply for Continuing Education and Training credit for their sessions. At this conference we’re offering more CET points than ever before.

“We believe this will enhance the whole conference experience for those in attendance. Delegates will not only gain practical skills from workshops and invaluable knowledge from lectures, they will also be able to use Continuing Education and Training to maintain the up to date skills and knowledge needed to practise safely and effectively throughout their career”.

The full programme and booking details can be found at www.warsaw2014.info. Bookings will close at the end of April.

Prices start from only €225 for Academy members with additional discounts for presenters and students.

From eye health to bodily health – Denise is on a mission

April 2014

An optometrist based in South Gloucestershire has embarked on a gruelling training programme in order to raise sponsorship and awareness for a not so common form of cancer and for research into it.

Denise Pinnell from Wickwar in South Gloucestershire is an optometrist with Norville Opticians which has practices across South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire. When her husband Gerard was diagnosed with a form of kidney cancer last September she decided that she wanted to help in some small way.

So she has entered a Sprint Triathlon to be held later this spring and also embarked upon a campaign to raise awareness for this not so widely known ailment.

She said: “Gerard is fortunate. His cancer was picked up at an early stage but not so many are as lucky. Half of those who are diagnosed with cancer of the kidney die because it is already too late to do anything about it. In Gerard’s case it was found so early that all that was necessary was to remove the affected organ. He didn’t even need any chemotherapy.”

She added: “With some help from the Hogweed trotters Running Club in Chipping Sodbury I am trying to raise some badly needed funds for research into this awful condition. The Bristol Urological Institute is a leading research unit, is local to us here in the south west and every penny raised goes straight into the research without any being diverted towards admin.”

The Sprint Triathlon is to be held at Westonbirt School on Bank Holiday Monday 26th May and comprises a 400 metre swim, a 24 kilometre cycle ride and a 5 kilometre run.

Anyone who wishes to sponsor her exploits can do so at www.justgiving.com/DenisePinnell.

FODO Expands its Policy Team to Support Cross-sector Alliances

April 2014

Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians (FODO) who are members of the Optical Confederation announce that they are strengthening our policy support for the sector.

They have appointed Ann Blackmore as our new Head of Policy and Strategy, and she will be supported by Jakob Stenkvist in the newly created role of Policy Officer.

Both roles focus on building partnerships and joint working across the broader sector and policy environment. FODO are pleased that, once again, their senior policy expert will also be working for Optical Confederation partners the Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers (ACLM) and the Federation of Manufacturing Opticians (FMO). Jakob’s position will involve working with our sister organisation the National Community Hearing Association (NCHA) as we embrace the wider sensory impairment agenda being pursued across government.

Ann has a wealth of experience. At the Electoral Commission she was Head of Media and Public Affairs and took forward legislation for the Scottish independence referendum. Before that she was Head of Campaigns and Communications at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and prior to that their Head of Policy, where she oversaw the reform of charity law and regulation. She began her career as a civil service fast-streamer at the Department for the Environment. Jakob holds an MA in European Politics and Policy and alongside support for Ann and NCHA Head of Policy Harjit Sandhu will also help FODO continue to have a strong presence monitoring and influencing EU policy developments.

David Hewlett, FODO CEO said: “I am delighted that Ann is coming to join us. At FODO our slogan is “by the best for the best” and Ann brings a wealth of experience and skill which the optics and eye health desperately needs. She will be a considerable asset for the Optical Confederation and the wider sector. Jakob also joined us recently and is already proving his value. We are delighted to have them both on board. They will help us do more for everyone in the sector.”

Ann Blackmore said: “The FODO job excited me as soon as I saw it. The big attraction is trying to improve things for the sector as a whole, working in partnership within the Optical Confederation, in particular across eye health and in Europe. Working for the ACLM and FMO will be both a privilege and a challenge. I look forward very much to picking up where Mark Nevin left off and to getting started on the many challenges we face.

Jakob Stenkvist said: “To say that I am finding optics stimulating would be a serious understatement. There is so much to do, and so much we can do, to improve eye health and develop the sector. I am delighted to be working with Harjit, Ann, David and optical sector colleagues to do just that”.

New guidance to ensure compliance with the NHS Standard Contract, however this does not affect the GOS section of QiO which is unchanged

April 2014

The Quality in Optometry (QiO) website has been comprehensively revised to provide guidance and help to comply with the NHS Standard Contract 2014/15.

This will prove an invaluable resource for everyone providing community services by providing the help and advice needed for compliance with the NHS Standard Contract.

There are three new checklists depending on specific contracting arrangements: (a) for LOC companies, (b) for LOC company subcontractors, and (c) for practices contracting directly with CCGs.

Fun at Optrafair!

April 2014

Do you struggle with window displays? Always looking for fresh ideas to draw in customers?

Many clever tricks of the trade are due to be revealed at the inspiring Optrafair London Window Dressing workshops with tips and guidance on how much to display and the psychology of what makes people stop and take note.

Each morning and afternoon of the three days there will be dedicated advice for optical practices – all free so make sure you are there: Optrafair, which runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11-13 April at Olympia, London.

Read more on our Optrafair Preview Pages

Local Eye Health Networks reach 'critical mass'

April 2014

News that clinical chairs for have now been appointed by almost all NHS England Area Teams has been welcomed by leaders from across the eye health sector.

Reaching the milestone will give the development of Local Eye Health Networks a real boost claims LOCSU Managing Director, Katrina Venerus.
And she insists that these appointments ‒ combined with the specific “Call to Action” for eye health ‒ creates “critical mass” for the profession, giving it real influence in shaping health provision.

Reacting to the widespread appointment of clinical chairs, Ms Venerus said: “It is great news for the eye health sector that NHS England continues to back LEHNs and also that it has established plans for a specific “Call to Action” for eye health to follow on from the general practice, pharmacy and dentistry initiatives.

“It is really encouraging that NHS England is giving equal prominence to eye health among the rest of Primary Care, and I hope that the whole sector will get behind the ‘Call to Action’ when it is published in May and take the opportunity to create some real influence.”

Ms Venerus was speaking following the third national assembly of Local Professional Networks in Manchester on March 25. The bi-annual event, hosted by NHS England, brings together network chairs from across the country to share experiences and plan for the future.

Following the huge success of the event, the LOCSU Managing Director said: “The energy at the national assembly was fantastic and the dedication and determination of those who have been appointed was great to observe.

“One thing that struck me is that there is a real mix of backgrounds among the chairs that have taken up post, and I believe that this will be extremely valuable in bringing different skills and experiences to the networks.”

Other leaders agreed that the event had given LEHNs significant momentum to push eye health up the agenda.

Assistant Head of Primary Care Commissioning at NHS England and lead for Local Professional Networks, Sue Pritchard, said that LEHN chairs would play a “pivotal role” in delivering the “Call to Action” for eye health.

“There was clear motivation and commitment from all of the LEHN chairs to ensure the eye health agenda is embedded within the national priorities, whilst also recognising the balance for local need.”

Deacon Harle, Chairman of the NHS Kent and Medway LEHN gave the assembly meeting the thumbs up commenting that it was great to see local chairs getting together and regional teams being established.

“There is undoubtedly enthusiasm and drive to improve eye health. And while there is clearly a lot of work to be done, I would urge professionals to get involved in their local eye health network; not just optometrists, but ophthalmologists, dispensing opticians, those from third sector and social care sector should all play their part. There is no better time with the NHS ‘Call to Action’ being launched next month,” Mr Harle said.

Angela Henderson – Chair of the North East and Cumbria LEHN and Clinical Advisor – Optometry for the Cumbria Northumberland Tyne and Wear and Durham Darlington and Tees Area Teams agreed it was exciting to see that LEHN's are gathering pace as more areas fully embrace their roles.

She said: “The LPN assembly was a great opportunity to network with colleagues and see that we share many of the same challenges, not only in eye health but across pharmacy and dentistry. Early successes reinforce the importance of these networks in providing a truly impartial clinical input across the commissioning process.

“It was also reassuring to hear that NHS England fully support the work the LPN's are beginning to do and this will undoubtedly reinforce the validity of our role and encourage engagement across all areas of Eye Health.”

Wojciech Karwatowski – Chair of Leicestershire & Lincolnshire LEHN added his support, saying he was delighted to see that LEHNs are moving forward so positively. “I think that they present a real opportunity for improving public and patient services. It’s good to see all the professionals involved in eye care working collaboratively with other key stakeholders to achieve the improvements they all want to see in their local services.”

April 2014

Mercy Jeyasingham MBE has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of VISION 2020 UK, the umbrella charity for the sight loss and eye health sector. Mercy will begin her new role on 1 July 2014 following the retirement of Anita Lightstone.

Mercy has worked as a management consultant, researcher and trainer for the last 13 years and has held senior posts in both the voluntary and public sector. She has also been an executive and non-executive board member of a number of national and local organisations. She is a member of the fitness to practise committee of the General Optical Council, former Non - Executive Director and Chair of HR Committee, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, and was previously a member of the Ministerial Advisory board for the Medicines Controls Agency.

Nick Astbury, Chair of VISION 2020 UK said: "We are delighted that Mercy will be joining VISION 2020 UK as Chief Executive. She has a wealth of experience, including working with high profile health organisations. I look forward to welcoming her to the great team at VISION 2020 UK”.

Commenting on her appointment, Mercy Jeyasingham MBE said: “I am really pleased to be joining VISION 2020 UK. It’s an incredibly exciting organisation with a terrific history of working in partnership with the eye health and sight loss sector. I’m really looking forward to meeting the team and to the challenge ahead.”

John Conway Elected Fellow of IOD

April 2014

John Conway, Managing Director of Seiko Optical UK, has been elected a Fellow of The Institute of Directors, the highest rank of membership for the internationally respected business leaders’ organisation.

The IoD invites only 3.5% of members to take up fellowship each year. It has 38,000 members of which 4,600 are Fellows.

John, immediate past Chairman of The FMO, established Seiko Optical as an independent company in the UK in 2005 and, with his team, has built the lens supplier into a significant, respected, business. Building links with other optical companies is a key focus for John, along with an emphasis on training for his team and himself.

He recently completed a Masters in Procurement; he is a Chartered Director and holds The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers’ SMC Tech qualification.

“I am very honoured to be made a Fellow – I am also grateful for the great benefits that can be derived from membership of the Institute of Directors. Their training courses and the advice provided, at all levels, are fantastic. It is realistic and relevant for small, medium and large businesses and a great benefit to anyone who is a director of a company,” said John.

Simon Walker, Director General at The IoD, welcomed John as a Fellow –

“Having attained both Fellowship and Chartered Director demonstrates John’s wealth of experience and his ongoing commitment to business. We extend our congratulations to John and wish him every success for the future.”

Association’s survey reveals members’ insight

April 2014

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) recently undertook a comprehensive membership survey to identify the changing needs of members. The research, including quantitative and qualitative methods, measured perceptions of the AOP. The survey response rate was well above average, with 31% of members who were invited to respond to the research completing the online survey.

AOP Chief Executive, Henrietta Alderman, said: “I would like to thank all our members who took part in the survey. We have listened to what you have said and will respond to your needs based on the feedback. The research has shown that there are a lot of things we’re doing right. We will build on this. But you have also indicated where and how we can support you more in your career and on professional issues. The excellent response provides a strong mandate for our approach going forward.”

The research revealed that eight out of ten members rated the AOP as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. 84% of members responded that AOP membership is good value for money. The top five words used to describe the AOP were: ‘helpful’, ‘informative’, ‘representative’, ‘trusted’ and ‘approachable’.

Key reasons for joining the AOP included the in-house legal services, medical malpractice insurance and clinical support. The Association’s continuing education and training (CET) programme was highly rated, along with the AOP’s flagship journal, Optometry Today.

The top concerns of members in regards to the profession included financial pressure compromising clinical standards, free/discounted private sight tests and a lack of awareness of good quality eye health.

A large number of members already benefit from the AOP’s CET but commented that they would like more choice and regional meetings. In response to this, the Association has developed its programme of regional peer review and legal roadshows around the UK.

Ocuco Acquires See20/20

April 2014

Ocuco, the UK’s market leading practice management system vendor, has acquired See20/20, the supplier of the world’s first entirely cloud-based practice management system.

The acquisition effectively secures the future of the See20/20 product for the current customers. It will also enable Ocuco to build on its current UK market presence in cloud-based practice management solutions.

The See 20/20 product will continue to be supported and all staff will join the Ocuco team.

“We recognise that the Software as a Service or Cloud deployment business model offers a low upfront cost service option which is particularly appealing for smaller independent opticians. The acquisition of See20/20 will extend our already existing capability to offer cloud-based (SaaS) practice management solutions to opticians.

We plan to improve See20/20 by integrating it with our OptiCommerce, adding an online sales and appointment booking channel to See20/20’s customers’ practices. We are also looking forward to benefitting from See20/20’s excellent pool of experienced talent in the development of cloud-based practice management solutions,” says Leo MacCanna, Ocuco CEO.

Following the acquisition, Andy Chance-Hill will take over as the divisional director for the business. He will be located with the rest of the current See20/20 team at Ocuco’s new offices in Brierley Hill, near Birmingham.

Andy brings with him extensive experience leading the development of online SaaS offerings for opticians. Over the past year working for Ocuco, he has led the development and launch of SaaS and OptiCommerce offerings.

Nockolds take over complaints service for optical consumers

April 2014

Nockolds have today started work as the new provider of the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS). The firm will provide a free and impartial mediation service for both consumers and registrants, funded by the General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for the optical professions.

The OCCS mediates complaints regarding the goods and services provided by optical professionals, such as obtaining refunds for faulty glasses. The service does not have any enforcement powers, and the GOC will continue to deal with any matters relating to a practitioner’s fitness to practise.

Samantha Peters, GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “Many optical complaints relate to consumer issues, which do not call a registrant’s fitness to practise into question.

“Funding the OCCS means that both the public and registrants have access to an independent and impartial mediation service that can work to resolve consumer issues in an efficient and mutually agreeable way. I am confident that Nockolds will do an excellent job of carrying on this invaluable service.”

Jennie Jones, Head of the Optical Consumer Complaints Service, said: “Nockolds is looking forward to working with the optical professions and consumers to resolve complaints fairly and swiftly to maintain standards and consumer satisfaction in this healthcare sector.

“The Optical Consumer Complaints service will continue to mediate complaints and communicate with all involved to preserve the trust placed in, and promote the importance of, the provision of optical services by those professionals and practices regulated by the General Optical Council.”

Jennie Jones will take part in an ‘Ask the Expert’ session at Optrafair London on 11 April 2014 to answer questions and explain how the new service will benefit those involved in optical care.

Time to put an end to the neglect experienced by eye health in Europe

April 2014

The European Coalition for Vision (ECV) met today with the European Union (EU)’s Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO) and EUROSTAT, the statistical office of the EU, to reiterate its call to European decision-makers to include eye health and vision in the European political agenda.

Earlier this year, in an event supported by several Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), the ECV launched its Manifesto for the European Parliament elections in which it 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.

”Europe is facing an invisible epidemic, with an estimated 20.4 million people in the whole of Europe suffering from serious vision impairment - including 2.3 million who are blind. Without adequate action, these worrying numbers will only increase with the rise of diabetes and the aging population (4). Shamefully, two-thirds of these cases could actually be prevented or treated and are not,” said Bob Chappell, Past President of the European Council of Optometry and Optics.

“For way too long eye health and vision has been neglected. Brussels should make up for lost time. For starters, it could begin promoting more accessible eye care for all and providing improved and timely rehabilitation services – measures that would go a long way to improve the lives of those at risk of and those with vision impairment,” said Zoe Gray, Advocacy Manager for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.


In its meeting with DG SANCO and EUROSTAT, the Coalition drew attention to the absence of official data on eye health and vision and ways to address it. “Data collection is crucial to better appreciate the magnitude of the issue we face, as well as to develop more efficient solutions to it,” said Jean-Felix Biosse Duplan, President of Vision Impact Institute. “Specific indicators should be coordinated and monitored by EU Member States so that EUROSTAT can deliver tangible, interlinked and clear data. This would also help assess results of public health policies to tackle eye health and vision impairment across Europe,” concluded Mr Biosse Duplan.

Contact information: Zoe Gray, Advocacy Manager with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), at zgray@iapb.org

The ECV is an alliance made up of professional bodies, patient groups, European NGOs, disabled people’s organisations and associations of health and medical suppliers. We exist 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.

New Fitness to Practise Rules come into force

April 2014

New Fitness to Practise Rules intended to speed up the handling of complaints received by the General Optical Council (GOC) came into force today. The GOC has also announced the appointment of 15 case examiners who will play a central role in the new process.

The introduction of case examiners is one of the key changes under the new Rules. Pairs of case examiners (one registrant and one lay) will work together to decide whether a case should be referred to a fitness to practise hearing.

The Investigation Committee, which currently considers all complaints, will still decide on cases where the case examiners do not agree or where a formal assessment of a registrant’s health or performance is required.

Other changes include a greater ability for the regulator to fast-track cases by allowing the Registrar to refer the most serious cases directly for a fitness to practise hearing.

Mandie Lavin, GOC Director of Regulation, said: “The new Rules will help us better protect the public by acting on complaints more quickly. This will also benefit registrants by shortening what can be a long and stressful process.

“The process will remain as fair and rigorous as before, and the decision-making will be subject to a quality assurance process to ensure proportionality and statutory compliance. Registrants will continue to have an opportunity to respond to all allegations made against them and all final decisions will be made independently, supported by expert and legal advice.”

The GOC has appointed ten registrants and five lay people as case examiners.

First Eye Examinations performed In Space

April 2014

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are tracking the effects of zero gravity on the eye for the first time, as part of NASA’s Ocular Health Study. These first eye examinations using optical coherence tomography (OCT) in space are intended to understand the changes which occur as a result of space travel, potentially with long-term consequences.

Using advanced eye scanning technology – the Heidelberg Engineering SPECTRALIS - astronauts underwent thorough baseline eye examinations before departing on the mission. Since October they are being monitored at fortnightly intervals, with the results being fed back to Mission Control in Houston, Texas. The eye examinations will continue for some time when the astronauts return to earth.

Examining the back of the eye, the research follows recently discovered ocular changes in astronauts after space flight. It may provide an insight into mitigating potentially sight-threatening risks for astronauts on long duration missions with changes to inter-cranial pressures due to fluid shift in zero gravity.
As Heidelberg Engineering UK Director, Krysten Williams, explained –

“All of the eye examinations utilise the SPECTRALIS AutoRescan function which ensures that all OCT images are captured at the identical retinal location. The consistency of the scans provided by the SPECTRALIS – whether in space or on earth – ensure the data is an unrivalled means of tracking any changes. We are measuring to 1/1000th of a millimetre.”

“Spectral domain optical coherence tomography – SD OCT – is a valuable aid to tracking the minutest changes within the eye and to detect the first signs of ocular disease and its progression. The high resolution, cross sectional images of the retina and fundus allow a comprehensive study of the back of the eye,” explained Dr Gerhard Zinser, Managing Director of Heidelberg Engineering.

The AutoRescan function of the SPECTRALIS and active eye tracker ensures that terrestrial and extra-terrestrial OCT scans are performed at the same anatomic location on the retina, to enable tracking of ocular changes.

The technology required vigorous testing by NASA prior to the launch with zero gravity tests performed over the Gulf of Mexico last year –

“We were happy to see the SPECTRALIS unit was fully functional after rocket launch - space was not a location we envisaged when the product was designed,” admitted Dr Zinser, with a smile on his face.

Image shows Japan Aerospace astronaut Koichi Wakata performing a SPECTRALIS OCT examination on board the International Space Station.

GOC welcomes draft Law Commissions Bill

April 2014

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today welcomed the UK Law Commissions’ draft Bill on the regulation of health and social care professions. The GOC hopes the Government will introduce the Bill to Parliament later this year.

The Bill is intended to replace the laws covering the UK’s nine healthcare regulators – including the Opticians Act – with a single piece of legislation covering all healthcare regulators.

Gareth Hadley, GOC Chair, said: “We welcome the publication today of the draft Bill, which is designed to help all UK healthcare regulators to protect the public by handling complaints in a more streamlined and efficient way.

“The Francis Inquiry has made it clear that all regulators having fast and effective FTP processes is crucial for patient safety. The draft Bill, if implemented, will help all regulators cut the time it takes to resolve cases.

“Our new Fitness to Practise Rules, which came into force yesterday, will help us to reduce the time we take to deal with complaints. On top of this though, the proposals in this draft Bill would enable us to do even more to protect patients.

“The proposals will also give us more flexibility to adapt how we carry out our functions in response to changes in public expectations and developments in the optical sector.”

The GOC also hopes the Bill will be a step towards introducing a level playing field for optical businesses. It would enable the GOC to ensure that all businesses carrying out restricted functions, such as testing sight, are required to register.

Grafton announces new partnership with Visionix to bring many new exciting products to show at Optrafair

April 2014

The partnership with Visionix will provide for an even broader range of technology products to suit the ever increasing demands for streamlining essential services, upgrading to community enhanced services and to provide added value to the eye examination and pretest diagnostic room.

This is a very exciting venture that we have undertaken and we are pleased that its timing has coincided with the most important optical exhibition in London this year. It will give us the opportunity to demonstrate exceptional products alongside other highly praised partners like CSO and the Cobra fundus camera and affordable Optovue ‘iVue’ OCT, among many other top choices and shows our commitment to UK optical practitioners” Said Brian Bowles CEO at Grafton.

The new partnership with Visionix offers their WaveLens Pro to the market. This new generation of completely automatic lens analyser is based on Visionix wave front technology. Also new is the L40P 24" Test Chart from Visionix. complete with 24’’ screen and dynamic polarization on white background. Using combination of high-technology and know-how this new LCD is the best device you will find for your examination room. Fully featured, ergonomic and upgradable, the L40P is nevertheless as simple to use as a charts projector.

Grafton Optical offers the new diagnostic 7 in one tool from the VISIONIX range. This is the first all combined device (Refraction - keratometry - aberrometry - topography - pupillometry - tonometry - pachymetry) with fully automated measurement.

These and many other new exciting products will be on show for a full demonstration at Optrafair London on Stand C60. Take a look at Grafton’s website to whet your appetite before the Show at www.graftonoptical.com and our small equipment shop will be open for business to make purchases on the day, pick up our new catalogue and our practice essentials leaflet.

Hynes Optometrists wins top donation box fundraiser prize for second year

April 2014

Hynes Optometrists in Ealing, Greater London, is celebrating after Optometry Giving Sight, an international eye care charity, presented the practice with the top donation box prize for a second successive year.

Joy Hynes, Optometrist and practice owner, with her dedicated team at Hynes Practice came first place across the nationwide competition after raising £1060 from their donation box throughout 2013. They were presented with the Cardiff Acuity Test, valued at over £500, which had been kindly donated by Fogarty Associates on Friday, 21st March.

Joy was overwhelmed to have won, “I can’t believe it!” exclaimed Joy, “I’m absolutely thrilled, you have no idea how much this means to me, especially to be recognised again for the second year running.” During the presentation, which took place at one of the popular fundraising tea mornings, Joy added, “l really must say thank you to all of you who are here today for being so generous and contributing so much to our chosen charity Optometry Giving Sight”.

The independent practice has raised more than £5000 in the last 7 years and will continue to fundraise with a number of activities including an annual children’s raffle and Christmas cake sale which raised over £400 collectively in 2013. In addition the practice organises tea mornings every three months. The events are enjoyed by customers and have put the practice at the heart of the community.

Optometry Giving Sight provides ongoing funds to projects that are training local eye care professionals and establishing vision centres, so that eye care and low cost glasses continue to be delivered in communities where these services do not currently exist. In 2013, the charity donated funding to 46 projects in 28 countries, including Tanzania, Cambodia and El Salvador.

Sandra Mallia, Marketing Communications Manager of Optometry Giving Sight said, “We are incredibly grateful to the Hynes team for taking the time and putting in the work to raise so much for our charity. The support from practices like Hynes makes a significant difference and, put simply, we would not be able to fund as many projects without them.”

Optometry Giving Sight is thankful to William Morris London for sponsoring the donation boxes. The British frames company have helped raise vital funds for Optometry Giving Sight during the last four years including through their support of the donation box programme.

Kent Optometrist Pioneers New Wet AMD Management

April 2014

Shared care in the community for Wet AMD patients is now routine for Kent optometrist Niall O’Kane, who has just scooped an Excellence in Ophthalmology Award* for this work.

The coveted award recognises his development of a community-based Wet AMD treatment scheme in conjunction with Maidstone General Hospital.

At first a pilot scheme, launched four years ago, the flexible approach to appointments for patients is now routine for the Strood optometrist and the hospital, which is 10 miles away.

“The pilot scheme worked very well and so we are now routinely getting patients back into the community with follow-ups, mid-treatment and after treatment. Using the Heidelberg SPECTRALIS we are screening patients three times at monthly intervals; three appointments at 60 days, and then three appointments at 90 day intervals. The beauty of the SPECTRALIS is that the eye tracker ensures that follow-up images are always taken at the same spot each time, making change easier to detect,” explained Niall.

A total of 94 patients have been cared for since the scheme was launched, each with individual appointments, rather than as part of a block-booked clinic.
“The patients go back to the hospital for discharge but they have had a personal service, have not had to wait and this is generally better for them,” he added.
Niall praised the SPECTRALIS’s progression software which highlights changes in retinal thickness and the ease with which the software integrates into the practice management system for comprehensive record keeping.

*The 2014 Eye Health Award for Allied Healthcare Professionals promotes innovation in reducing patient numbers attending hospital and promoting care within the community and is sponsored by Novartis Pharma and Alcon.

College of Optometrists welcomes publication of the Chief Medical Officer’s annual report

April 2014

The College of Optometrists welcomes the publication of the Chief Medical Officer’s annual report into the state of the public’s health and particularly the latest findings regarding the causes and impact of visual impairment.

The report highlights the need for more research to be undertaken to understand the ‘substantially greater probability of those with blindness reporting with Alzheimer’s or dementia’ – an issue the College is currently researching, The collaborative PrOVIDe project (Prevalence Of Visual Impairment In Dementia, funded by NIHR) aims to investigate the prevalence of vision impairment and eye health in people with dementia and to explore the experiences of eye health services of people with dementia, their carers and eye health professionals. The project is due to complete at the end of September and the findings are expected to be published soon after.

The CMO’s report also shows that more people are losing their sight to glaucoma and macular degeneration. It also confirms a ‘substantial and significant’ link between the prevalence of blindness and higher levels of socio-economic deprivation. Next month, the College of Optometrists will begin a new project looking at how the NHS can increase the number of people in poorer socio-economic groups accessing eye care.

David Parkins, President of the College of Optometrists, said: “This is the first time the Chief Medical Officer has looked at the impact of sight loss in such detail. It confirms our suspicions that not only are people with dementia more likely to have vision problems, but also that they are less likely to get the help they need to keep seeing clearly too. The report highlights how much more we could do to prevent sight loss and improve vision among vulnerable people in England. Our innovative research will help the NHS plan its response.”

Business Matters at Optrafair London

April 2014

Building a successful business becomes much easier with the right advice and there is no better place to take advantage of the very best guidance, than Optrafair London next week – Olympia 11-13 April. Read on about the specialist business advantages and tips you can pick up on our Business Pages on the Optrafair PHN preview pages.

All Devon MPs engaged in eyecare agenda

April 2014

Over the past 2 years all 12 of the Devon Members of Parliament have visited a local Opticians Practice in their constituency.

The objective of an MP session is to brief key members of parliament on the importance of Optometrists within the Community, the health benefits of regular sight tests and to highlight the high levels of avoidable sight loss. Also Optometrists are an underutilised resource that could be key in solving the problems within secondary care eye departments.

What has Devon LOC managed to achieve with MPs visiting local Optician Practices?

• We highlighted national issues such as raising awareness of avoidable sight loss and regular sight testing
• We had the opportunity to utilise the MPs Political influence to push eye care up the agenda both locally and nationally
• We raised the awareness of specific eyecare schemes and what local optician practices can do. Therefore highlighting the lack of primary care services and to show how efficient and cost effective we are compared to secondary care.
• We had an opportunity to showcase innovative technology in the optical community.

Commenting on the MP visits, Chair of Devon LOC Charles Bill said “we are grateful to all the practices who have hosted MP visits over the past two years. We are excited that all the MPs across Devon are engaged in eyecare and we have seen the benefit of the MPs holding the CCGs to account for their commissioning of local eyecare services. This has been a great success and will help us develop enhanced services across Devon. This will ensure high quality eyecare services across the entirety of Devon.”

Read all the MP reactions and discover what went on at the Round Table event in Westminster on our PHN Optical Confederation pages.

Second Sight Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System is granted innovation funding by the French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

April 2014

The Argus® II ‘bionic eye’ restores some functional vision to blind patients living with the rare disease retinitis pigmentosa

The Swiss Company – Second Sight Medical Products Inc. (Second Sight) announced yesterday that the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, the world’s first approved device intended to restore some functional vision for people suffering from blindness due to outer retinal degenerations, has become the first recipient of the French Government national healthcare reimbursement program entitled ‘Forfait Innovation’.

The French Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Marisol Touraine, and her cabinet selected the Argus II for the ‘Forfait Innovation’ Award, a new funding mechanism launched by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to fast track the provision of innovative healthcare technologies to French patients. Argus II represents the first ever medical device to benefit from dedicated support through this program.

The Forfait Innovation funding covers the costs of implantation of Argus II and also includes patients’ hospital fees. With funding for this innovative technology now in place, a long-awaited official program to treat advanced retinitis pigmentosa (RP), is commencing in France. Up to 30 RP patients per year in France now stand to benefit from this life-changing technology.

Significantly, the FDA-approved and CE-Marked Argus II is the first medical device to receive funding through the ‘Forfait Innovation’ in the five years since the funding was announced.

Marisol Touraine has confirmed that the 'Forfait Innovation' means that French patients with advanced RP will gain “early access” to the innovative Argus II treatment.

Professor Jose-Alain Sahel, Professor of Ophthalmology, University Pierre et Marie Curie, Head of Department, Quinze-Vingts Hospital, Director of the Vision Institute (UPMC/INSERM/CNRS), said of this decision: “We have been involved in the development of this product for more than five years. This announcement is hugely significant for us and for French patients blinded by retinal diseases. These patients face a great, unmet medical need, as there are no current solutions to improve their vision. Additionally, the announcement provides encouragement for other solutions currently under development at Vision Institute in Paris, to further ameliorate conditions resulting in blindness.”

Gregoire Cosendai, Second Sight’s Vice President, Europe, said: “We salute the decision of Marisol Touraine, Minister of Social Affairs and Health following a thorough health technology assessment conducted by the team at the Haute Autorite de Sante who determined that this innovative solution for restoring vision was worthy of reimbursement in France. It is tremendous news for several patients in France who have been blind for some time and awaiting a treatment to improve their vision and quality of life. It’s also a great tribute to the excellence of the Quinze-Vingts Hospital who participated in the multicenter clinical trial that lead to the first market approval of the Argus II retinal prosthesis in Europe and the USA.”

With this decision, France joins a number of other countries in Europe that fund the Argus II device, while, in the UK, the National Health Service is currently considering reimbursement for the device. After commercial launch in Europe in 2011, Second Sight announced in January of this year (2014) that the first US patients have been implanted following FDA approval last year (2013).

The Argus II System works by converting video images captured by a miniature camera housed in the patient’s glasses into a series of small electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes on the surface of the retina. These pulses are intended to stimulate the retina’s remaining cells resulting in the corresponding perception of patterns of light in the brain. The patient then learns to interpret these visual patterns thereby regaining some visual function.

According to a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology (BJO) 1 the majority of blind subjects fitted with the Argus II consistently identify letters and words using the retinal implant, indicating reproducible spatial resolution. This, in combination with the proven, stable, long-term function of the device, represents significant progress in the evolution of artificial sight.

1. BJO: http://bjo.bmj.com/content/early/2013/02/19/bjophthalmol-2012-301525.short

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