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Opchat Magazine Charity PageCharity News, Janaury to March 2020



WCSM closes London base
WCSM announces a new Charity
The Khmer Sight Foundation has been named as Optrafair 20/20’s Official Charity Partner
Cardiff OpSoc plan Malawi Trip fundraiser
“Wondermoms” contact PHN with key messages: for those with and caring for, those with Vision Loss
Cardiff pop-up clinic sees 23 homeless patients, many for the first time!
Crisis volunteers see more than 300 patients
Daniel Williams joins the Nystagmus Network
Plans are well underway for NHS testing and specs for Special Schools in 2020
Stepper steps up for VCHP 2020 clinic
The WCSM Education Trust grant
Fight for Sight convenes leading ophthalmologists for urgent action on the '1 to 20' funding gap
Specs of Kensington minds the gap!
Blindness still provides a shocking barrier to educational success
Vision UK is "Making 2020 the ‘Year of Vision’"
Read archived charity news from October to December 2019 here

WCSM closes London base

March 2020

All Charity, Company and Society events are cancelled at least until the end of June.

This includes the Court Luncheon planned for Thursday 4th June 2020. The Livery Dinner is still scheduled for Monday 13 July 2020, pending any further public health advice.

The office staff are working from home so please use email if you can: or If you do call the office number, please leave your name, number and a short message and we will return your call as soon as we can.

WCSM announces a new Charity

March 2020

The Spectacle Makers’ Charity (registered in England and Wales, no 1186122), A New Charity for 2020


A commitment to help others is a fundamental part of Livery Company life. Charitable giving has been at the heart of The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers since our incorporation in 1629, in line with the Company’s fundamental objective to support the prevention and treatment of vision impairment. Our charitable giving is now worth c£75,000 each year, in the form of grants to organisations and students starting their careers in optics.

In the last few years, we have operated through two charities, The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers Charity (registered number 1072172) and The WCSM Education Trust (registered number 1135045). The Company believes that the time has come to consolidate our charitable activity into a single entity. With the support of The Court and the trustees of the existing two charities, we have now established a new Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), called The Spectacle Makers’ Charity (registered number 1186122).

The trustees of the existing charities have agreed to transfer all their funds to the new CIO over the next few months and we are now seeking members to act as trustees of the new organisation.

The objects of the new CIO bring together the work of the existing charities, namely:

1. Supporting people with vision impairment and/or sight loss; and,
2. The advancement of study, knowledge and education in the field of optics for the public benefit, including the promotion of research in the field of optics and the publication of the useful results.

A general power to support other charitable purposes as agreed by the trustees is built into the constitution. This will enable the CIO to continue to support charitable causes connected with the Lord Mayor and Livery Companies working together, such as the Magical Taxi Tour to Disneyland Paris for terminally ill children and The Lord Mayors’ Appeal.

We hope the new CIO will really make a difference to lives and we know that many people will be keen to get involved. There will be more information later in the year on how everyone can help.

For now, the focus is on getting the new Charity firmly established in line with its constitution and Charity Commission guidance. That means we are looking for up to 8 trustees who have specific experience in the following areas:

1. Charity fundraising and governance
2. Public relations, communication, branding and social media
3. Education of eyecare professionals, to include ophthalmologists, optometrists, dispensing opticians, optical technicians, clinical assistants and orthoptists
4. Sight loss, living with vision impairment and vision rehabilitation
5. Ophthalmic, optometric and Vision Science research
6. Finance and investment management (ideally a chartered accountant).

Applications are being invited from Liverymen & Freemen of the Company, including existing trustees.

If you are interested in becoming a trustee and have skills and experience in at least one of the above categories, please send a brief summary of your qualifications and relevant experience to Helen Perkins, the Clerk by email to Do not send CVs by post. Expressions of interest must be received by 5.30pm on Friday 3 April 2020.

New trustees will be expected to serve initially for up to 3 years. Some flexibility will be needed so that dates of retirement can be staggered. We will want to make sure that the Trustee Board always has the key skills and experience it needs.

Trusteeship carries legal responsibilities so new trustees will need to be ready to sign Charity Commission forms and disclose any relevant or potential conflicts of interest.

The expected time commitment is 7-10 days per year. The trustees meet in February, May, September and November, ahead of quarterly Court meetings. Meetings last no more than 2 hours, with an hour or two’s individual preparation in advance. Meetings can take place at the Company’s offices in London or by video/telephone conference – distance should not be a factor.

Between meetings, there will be regular email and telephone contact between trustees and with the Clerk, who provides administrative support and acts as Secretary to the trustees. Grant applications are received and processed electronically so trustees must be able to receive information and contribute to discussions by email.

Expenses are not paid for attendance at meetings. Expenses will be reimbursed if trustees are asked to represent the Charity at an event or visit which is outside London and more than 25 miles away from their home. Trustees will be expected to support events that showcase the work of the Charity as they arise, at their own cost.

All expressions of interest will go forward to the four founding trustees for consideration, followed, if appropriate, by a more detailed conversation for short-listed candidates. The Clerk will also be happy to provide any further information you may need about the work of the new Charity and to answer any questions about the legal responsibilities and role of a trustee.

This is a very exciting time for the new Spectacle Makers’ Charity and we look forward to hearing from you.

The Khmer Sight Foundation has been named as Optrafair 20/20’s Official Charity Partner

February 2020

This exciting news is confirmation of how seriously the FMO is treating this year’s conference and exhibition in this Vision Year of 20/20.

Khmer sight Foundation

The Khmer Sight Foundation (KSF) is working to tackle the issue of blindness in Cambodia by performing sight-saving operations for those who cannot afford them, as well as investing in the country’s own ophthalmologists through teaching and training. Khmer Sight Foundation also supports volunteer surgeons who provide free eye surgeries for the poorest communities in remote parts of Cambodia.

Did you know there are no optometrists and only 35 ophthalmologists serving a population of 16 million in Cambodia?

After the blight of the Khmer Rouge, a communist movement resulting in the massacre of a quarter of Cambodia’s population, there has been a significant loss of key healthcare and eyecare knowledge. This, in combination with the extreme poverty prevalent in Cambodia and the shortage of health manpower, infrastructure and facilities, has led to a widespread eyecare problem.

Out of the country’s 16 million people, it is estimated that 200,000 men, women and children are completely blind. The leading cause of blindness in the country is cataracts, which are both preventable and reversible with an effective, cost-effective and life-changing operation. A simple procedure that takes just 20 minutes and costs $40 can give a Cambodian sight and change a family’s life.

Khmer sight Foundation

However, most sufferers are unable to work and support themselves or their families. They are extremely poor with little or no access to healthcare services, including this simple but effective operation.

Khmer Sight Foundation are working to not only provide these life-changing procedures, but also to support the training and education of the local population. Despite the challenges of staffing and operating locations, they are continuing to grow. In 2018 alone, KSF operated on 2,170 patients.

KSF also aims to develop sustainable eye care in the future. The Cambodian government has recently increased the number of training programs for ophthalmology specialisation in Cambodia.

KSF & Optrafair

Optrafair 20/20 is committed to improving the vision of the public by providing key knowledge and equipment to eye care providers. However, not everyone worldwide has access to this, which is why we're working with Khmer Sight Foundation.

How can you help?


Donate money or equipment to help improve KSF's medical facilities and provide scholarships for local Cambodian graduates who wish to learn more about eye care. You can find their donation page here.


Assist directly with KSF's mission. Whether you are a medical specialist, intern, student or administrator - KSF could use your help. Find out more at

You can find Khmer Sight Foundation on Stand G100 at Optrafair 20/20 to find out more about the charity and how you can get involved.

Cardiff OpSoc plan Malawi Trip fundraiser

February 2020

Cardiff OpSoc
How the Malawi project has been planned:

The 12 students (and 3 supervisors) are aiming to see 3000-3500 patients over the 3 weeks of the trip. They will be handing out glasses as well as making referrals for cataract surgery.

They hope to be assisting in cataract surgery, enabling them to be able to see the whole episode experienced by a given patient from start to finsish.

They plan to provide a teaching exeprience for medical students about the eye and common ocular conditions at the regional university

Cardiff OpSoc
The population of Malawi is approx. 18 million, with approx. 50 optometrists in the country, meaning the number of eye care specialists in the country will increase by almost a third whilst they're there

Their total fundraising target is £9000 required to maximise the impact they will make which works out at a cost of £750pp.

To assist Cardiff OpSoc in their exciting project Louis Stone donated 150 spectacle clips which can have a myriad of uses from lab coats, as hair clips, tie clips and many more

to assist the Cardiff University OpSoc's Malawi trip, helping the fund raising for a very worthwhile project.

Each clip were priced at £3 each and the vibrant collection of different coloured clips sold like hot cakes!

“Wondermoms” contact PHN with key messages: for those with and caring for, those with Vision Loss

February 2020

Opchat News expansion into the wider vision sector over recent years, partly achieved no doubt in our editor’s close connection with the Royal Society of Medicine and Vision UK, the Umbrella Organisation for Vision Charities, has shown a growing interest from complimentary vision outreach and charity groups.

This week Jackie Nunes from supplied us with some additional links for support to vision loss communities to add to our clinical briefing page.

PHN, the publisher of both Opchat News and Mylocaloptician welcome this broader information resource and recommend to other charities that they ensure they are recognised in our charity listing which is free to this sector.

The links cover the following topics:

Sleep Tips for People Who are Visually Impaired

Resources for Adults New to Vision Loss

Blindness and the Law

Financial Assistance for the Visually Impaired

and can be found here

Cardiff pop-up clinic sees 23 homeless patients, many for the first time!

February 2020

Some 23 homeless people in South Wales felt cared for last week when they had their eyes examined.

VCHP needs help in Wales

The pop-up clinic at a homeless centre in Cardiff resulted in 22 pairs of specs being dispensed, which the clinic will be supplying thanks to the support of Louis Stone frames and Lenstec, which provided the lenses.

Vikki Baker, an optometrist from Newport, decided to set the clinic up following the appeal by Vision Care for Homeless People asking practitioners to reach out in their local communities.

" Having studied in Cardiff, Vikki knows the area’s needs, and was aided by five volunteer colleagues. “We saw one patient with diplopia who was treating the problem with one of his lenses taped up, another with recurrent iritis, some significant myopia and several who needed reading specs. It was a very worthwhile clinic. Our receptionist at RW Cole Opticians in Newport sorted out the paperwork and with her help the clinic ran very smoothly – it was a true team effort,” she said.

Vikki is interested to see what the local optometric community can achieve, “There is a need for clinics in the area and my interest was sparked when I read about the Christmas Spectacle appeal by VCHP. I didn’t manage to fit it in at Christmas but the information pack was amazing – so comprehensive.

" It answered all my questions and gave me the confidence to give it a go: running the clinic was a lot easier than I thought. The Huggard Centre in Cardiff was the ideal location, especially as it is close to the station and they had plenty of space for us.”

Anyone interested in setting up a regular clinic in South Wales should contact:

Crisis volunteers see more than 300 patients

February 2020

VCHP Appeal
High levels of eye pathology were found amongst the 302 patients seen at the London Crisis at Christmas clinics in December. A total of 32 patients were referred to be seen by a dedicated Crisis ophthalmologist who was on hand each day and equipped with the latest Topcon technology.

Following his consultation several people were referred for further treatment including one patient with Retinitis Pigmentosa.

“The Crisis team are working hard to support this chap and to get him off the streets,” said David Brown, VCHP General Manager.

Volunteers came from all over the UK to run the clinics and found it to be a rewarding experience with 232 pairs of specs ordered and 102 pairs of ready readers dispensed.

Hospital optometrist, Nalayini Thangarajah, from Exeter, was delighted to be part of the team, “It was lovely to work with such great people while volunteering as part of the Crisis eyecare service. There were so many happy faces from both guests and volunteers.”

The Crisis clinics marked the end of a busy year for Vision Care for Homeless People with more than 300 clinics held during the previous 12 months and some 2,450 hours of optical volunteering.

To find out more about volunteering at regional clinics throughout the year visit here

Daniel Williams joins the Nystagmus Network

February 2020

Nystagmus Network The Nystagmus Network has appointed Daniel Williams, sight loss campaigner and founder of Visualise Training and Consultancy, to its committee of Trustees.

Chair of the charity’s trustees, Tim Cuddeford said: “We are delighted to welcome Daniel to the committee as he brings a comprehensive overview of the sight loss and optical sectors and first-hand knowledge of the challenges living with a visual impairment can bring. As a well-connected young entrepreneur with a strong social media presence, he will also help us to raise the profile of the Nystagmus Network and the support services we offer.”

Daniel said: “I feel honoured to be part of a small charity that has the potential to support so many people with nystagmus. My younger brother was diagnosed with the condition at the age of one and, as an advocate for the sight loss sector, this appointment will help towards my aim of making the world more inclusive for people with visual impairments through increased opportunities and personal development.”

Plans are well underway for NHS testing and specs for Special Schools in 2020

January 2020

Gella Lerner helped by SeeAbility
As a result of SeeAbility’s campaigning, NHS England are planning for a new national programme of sight tests and glasses dispensing in England’s special schools from 2020.

SeeAbility’s model of sight testing is less stressful for children with learning disabilities and autism, as it reduces the time they miss from school and incorporates glasses dispensing as well as repairs.

We’re hoping all eye care professionals will embrace the new programme, which is highly recommended by eye care professional bodies.

SeeAbility’s Eye Care and Vision team, including clinicians and people with lived experience of learning disability, autism and sight loss, are able to provide a range of bespoke training and consultancy services for eye care professionals, including:

• CET accredited Training for community and hospital-based eye care practitioners (2 CET sessions are being delivered at 100% Optical)
• Keynote speakers, workshops and exhibition stands for eye care events
• Advising on the current accessibility of local eye care services for people with learning disabilities
• Providing solutions to increase accessibility of eye care services
• A range of free downloadable resources to support your patients with learning disabilities
• An optical database so people with learning disabilities know about the support your optical practice offers

Are you ready to join the growing community of eye care professionals who are changing the lives of children with learning disabilities?

A Change in Sight looks back at the last six years of SeeAbility’s work in special schools.

The project is the biggest global study actively reporting on the eye care needs of children with learning disabilities and its major findings - based on delivering over 3500 sight tests, and supporting nearly 1500 children - reveal that up to half of children in special schools have a problem with their vision.

The report can be downloaded here
SeeAbility are Official charity partner of 100% Optical 2020 this weekend

Stepper steps up for VCHP 2020 clinic

January 2020

STEPPER Eyewear is marking its 50th anniversary in 2020 with a generous donation to Vision Care for Homeless People.

Stepper assists VCHP
Founded in 1970, STEPPER is to underwrite the costs of running the charity’s Manchester clinic, in a city with one of the highest homelessness problems in the UK.

Peter Reeve, Managing Director of the Kent-based company explained, “We have been aware of the charity for many years and last year at the ABDO student games we sponsored the sack race which was a lot of fun. It set us thinking about what else we could do. We receive a lot of requests for various sponsorships but we have decided to put our charitable giving in one direction, where it can make a real difference for the year ahead.”

Elaine Styles, Chair of Vision Care for Homeless People praised the support saying, “This donation of over £7,000 will make a tangible difference for many people in the north-west. Manchester, a city of 600,000 people, has a street sleeper problem which is second only to London.

Our Monday clinic at the Cornerstone Day centre attracts patients from a very broad radius and word has got around that we are in the city, and provide a great service. Our qualified volunteer network, not just in Manchester, but at all of our clinics is the backbone of our service. We are hugely grateful to those who are able to give up a few hours each month to help in their local area – our work can be truly transforming for some vulnerable lives. Being able to see well can be the much needed first step to removing the barriers and helping to re-build lives.”

Image above, left to right: Martin Allen, Peter Reeve, Saskia and Hans Stepper of STEPPER Eyewear

The WCSM Education Trust grant

January 2020

The 2019/20 Travel Award Scheme for ophthalmologists in training is now open for applications.

It offers awards of up to £1,000 each to help with the costs of presenting research findings at national and international conferences and extending the Trust's reach to ophthalmology.

The closing date for applications is 5pm on Wednesday 19 February 2020. Payments will be made in late April/May 2020.

Fight for Sight convenes leading ophthalmologists for urgent action on the '1 to 20' funding gap

January 2020

Fight for Sight has convened the UK’s leading ophthalmologists and researchers to draw attention to the ‘1 to 20' funding gap in eye research.

Twelve leaders in the field have signed up to a public letter which is published in today’s Guardian (January 7), calling on the new government to develop a national plan on sight loss.

Currently, only one percent of national research funding is invested in eye research, even though twenty percent of people in the UK will experience serious sight loss or blindness in their lifetime[1].

The prevalence of sight loss is also on the rise – the number of people in Europe with the leading cause of blindness, age-related macular degeneration, is projected to hit 10 million by 2050.[2]

Fight for Sight and other leading experts believe that in 2020 this is shameful, particularly as gene therapies and stem cell treatments are already restoring sight for patients with some eye conditions at clinical trial.

The call comes after the WHO World Vision Report in October 2019 found that more than one billion people worldwide are living with sight loss, which is contributed to by a lack of investment in eye care and research. Moreover, in September 2019 the UN General Assembly political declaration on Universal Health Coverage identified eye health as an area that should be addressed if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Fight for Sight will be conducting a major research study in 2020 which will show the economic and personal impact of sight loss. Blindness can have a huge impact on people’s mental health and ability to work, increasing costs on health systems and infrastructure. Hundreds of people with sight loss will be interviewed for the study and the research will include economic analysis, statistics and a literature review to understand the health economics of serious sight loss and blindness.

The findings, which are due in July 2020, will be used to lobby decision-makers and funding bodies for a national plan on sight loss that will ensure eye research gets the funding it badly needs. Fight for Sight is encouraging everyone who believes action should be taken to prevent more people losing their sight to join them and add their voice to the campaign.

Head of Research at Fight for Sight, Dr Rubina Ahmed said: “It’s shameful that in 2020 so little national research funding goes to eye research, especially when science offers so many possibilities to transform lives and there are breakthroughs happening every day. We’ve seen the first gene therapies for eye diseases become available on the NHS and stem cell treatments are already restoring sight for patients at clinical trial. However, the amount of funding currently is not fit for the scale of the challenge, with hundreds of eye diseases and millions of people affected globally. Science and technology have the answers, the only barrier is the funding to make it happen. We're encouraging everyone to join us and make 2020 the year urgent action is finally taken on sight loss.”

Chris Hammond is the Chair of Ophthalmology at King’s College London, St Thomas’ Hospital, London and Chair of the Grant Application Panel at Fight for Sight.

He said: “We know that serious sight loss doesn’t discriminate - it can affect anyone at any time and it is on the increase. We are so close to outcomes that were not possible a decade ago, yet so much more needs to be done to develop new universal treatments.”

There are currently over two million people in the UK living with sight loss. This number is projected to increase to 2.7 million by 2030 and to double by 2050.

The letter was signed by twelve leading ophthalmologists and researchers from across the UK who are also core members of the Fight for Sight Grant Assessment Panel.

Read the letter

See Story on Opchat's General News Page

Specs of Kensington minds the gap!

January 2020

Daska and Elaine An independent practice in one of the UK’s most affluent areas is set to make a tangible difference to homeless people’s lives with the sponsorship of a community eye care clinic.

Specs of Kensington is to sponsor the Shepherd’s Bush Vision Care for Homeless People clinic for 2020, helping to ensure a better view of the world for hundreds of people. Daska Barnett, owner of

Specs of Kensington, was inspired to donate more than £7,000 to the charity which one of her optometrists, Elaine Styles, co-founded and continues to lead.

“I have enormous respect for what Elaine does. We have worked together in the practice for 26 years and for some time together at Moorfields. As a practice we all felt it was good to consolidate our charitable giving into one cause that will make a real difference and to support Elaine’s unswerving commitment to homeless people. We have sold VCHP greetings cards and sponsored many of

Elaine’s gruelling cycling challenges. Her colleagues looked on proudly when she carried the Olympic torch in 2012 in recognition of her charitable work. The Shepherd’s Bush VCHP clinic is just 1.5 miles from our practice but is a world apart.

“Our practice patients have so many choices through their relative wealth but Elaine’s work with homeless people finds her looking after clients who present with very different and difficult challenges.

She switches so easily from dealing with some of the most privileged in society to the most vulnerable and often unsupported. We are so proud that Elaine is part of our team,” added Daska.

*Added to the latest donation, Specs of Kensington patients and the practice team have donated some £20,000 to the charity in funds and optical equipment since 2012.

Pictures show:

Daska outside Specs of Kensington with Elaine as she sets off on a cycling challenge

Elaine on the Olympic torch bus in 2012 with Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders on headline page

Blindness still provides a shocking barrier to educational success

January 2020

Blind and partially sighted school children are gaining fewer qualifications than their classmates, prompting calls from a sight loss charity for action to close a ‘shocking and unnecessary gap in attainment’.

In a submission made on Thursday, December 19th to a Scottish Government review of additional support for learning, RNIB Scotland says: “Blind and partially sighted pupils require additional support over the course of their education in order to access the curriculum and achieve the same level as their sighted peers.”

Most of Scotland’s estimated 4,570 pupils with significant sight loss are now educated in mainstream schools. But while only two per cent of pupils with no additional support needs failed to achieve at least one National 4 qualification, the figure was 20 per cent for those with sight loss.

Likewise, while 92 per cent of pupils with no additional needs achieved at least one National 5, only 64 per cent of those with sight loss did. And while 71 per cent with no additional needs achieved at least one Higher, only 40 per cent of those with sight loss did.

But RNIB Scotland insists: “With the right support visual impairment does not have to have an impact on the potential of a pupil to achieve. There is no reason why this attainment gap could not be significantly narrowed if the correct provision is in place.”

However, the charity points to a 2016 survey that found of the 94 teachers in Scottish schools with - or training to obtain – an additional qualification in teaching children with a visual impairment, their median age was 50, meaning many could soon be retiring.

Alarmingly, there is little incentive to encourage more teachers to take the additional qualification needed. Funding, lack of time, and distance from training provision can discourage more teachers from choosing to adopt this specialist role. To compound the problem, there is no extra financial incentive either.

In its submission, RNIB Scotland says: “The Scottish Government should anticipate this potential shortfall and incentivise teachers to obtain the qualification. Incentives could include financial support and time out of class in order to study for the qualification.”

It also urges that more training is given to teachers and classroom assistants generally on how to support pupils with sight loss.

The charity has welcomed a recent £15m funding boost for additional support for learning but remains concerned that local government cuts could still put budgets at risk. “We urge the Scottish Government to produce an additional support for learning attainment gap strategy to close this unnecessary and shocking gap between pupils with a visual impairment and their sighted peers,” it says.

Vision UK is "Making 2020 the ‘Year of Vision’"

January 2020

Vision UK has rightly dubbed 2020 the ‘Year of Vision’. It is urging us all to adopt this powerful descriptor to the anniversary of the WHO VISION 2020 Global Initiative to eliminate the main causes of all preventable and treatable blindness as a public health issue by 2020.

Vision UK has identified five objectives for members and associates to sign up to:

1. Together we will raise awareness of the need for medical research to encourage investment in eye health

2. Together we will promote better eye health to prevent sight loss

3. Together we will advocate for improved eye care and the best possible support for children and adults living with vision impairment

4. Together we will celebrate those having a positive impact on people’s vision and daily lives 5. Together we will work towards equality for people who are blind or partially sighted.

FODO fully supports these objectives and will also be making the case in 2020 that improving eye health and addressing refractive error remain a critical part of our national priorities when tackling the burden of disease associated eye problems.

The Year of Vision theme has also been picked up as a rallying theme by the European Coalition for Vision (pan-European not just EU), which is chaired by FODO Director David Hewlett.

These themes will also be to the forefront of thinking at this year's Optrafair 20/20 with live streaming of eye surgery and key speakers addressing the key problems in Vision Loss seen in the UK.

See the program as it expands ready for a memorable Optrafair in the year of 2020 here.

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