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British Contact Lens Association

PHN has decided to trial run a new page for the BCLA which will provide space to expand some of their stories and allow us to host their Contact magazine and make it available to a larger audience. It has some interesting stories, plus all the latest diary dates. Download below:

BCLA Optical Assistants course is back

Myopia Control in the Spotlight

11th BCLA Pioneers Lecture Award & Praise for inaugural BCLA Pioneers & Visionaries Conference

Clearlab First to Support BCLA's "No Water" Campaign

BCLA's Passage to India

BCLA Contact Magazine

BCLA Optical Assistants course is back

January 2015

Recognising the important role that frontline staff play in successful contact lens practice, the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) is once again teaming up with optometrist and staff development consultant, Sarah Morgan, to launch a new series of one-day courses for optical assistants.

Kicking off on Thursday 19 March at the Ambassadors Bloomsbury Hotel in London, ‘Contact lenses – the ins and outs’, is ideal for staff wanting to increase their confidence with contact lenses. Key approaches and tips for teaching the new wearer, and promoting patient retention will also be central to the day.

Sarah said: “This course is for you if you’re helping, or thinking about helping, to teach new wearers how to wear and care for their contact lenses, and feel like you need to know a bit more about things such as lens types, solutions, compliance, lens application and removal, aftercare and customer service. The aim is to get you supporting your optometrist or contact lens optician with confidence and professionalism.

“It will be a friendly and fun day – and I promise you’ll return to your practice enthusiastic and invigorated about contact lenses and patient care,” added Sarah.

The course costs £120 for BCLA members who book on behalf of their staff before 31 January (£160 afterwards), and £180 for non-members who book on behalf of their staff before 31 January (£240 afterwards), with lunch and refreshments included. A special rate for hotel accommodation is also available.

Places are limited to 24, so book now by emailing or by downloading the booking form from the Events section of the BCLA website,

Myopia control in the spotlight

January 2015

Learn how to integrate myopia control strategies into everyday contact lens practice at the British Contact Lens Association’s (BCLA) February evening meeting to be held at Keele University on 2 February.

Following her highly successful lecture at the inaugural BCLA Pioneers & Visionaries Conference in London last November, Dr Nicola Logan will re-deliver her presentation, ‘Myopia control: where are we?’, for the benefit of BCLA members within reach of the Staffordshire-based venue. The presentation is approved for one CET point for both optometrists and contact lens opticians (Contact Lenses and Communication).

Dr Logan, a Senior Lecturer in Optometry in the School of Life & Health Sciences at Aston University, Birmingham, and a member of the Myopia Consortium UK, is one of the country’s leading experts on the epidemiology of refractive error, the development and aetiology of myopia, and ocular biometry.

Her current research projects include the Aston Eye study, investigating the prevalence of refractive error and its associated ocular biometry in a large multi-racial sample of school children in Birmingham, myopia control in children with contact lenses, and structural and functional aspects of myopia in eyes with ocular pathology.

During her presentation, Dr Logan will review the translational and clinical evidence showing how multifocal and orthokeratology contact lenses may slow myopia progression, and discuss how myopia control strategies could be integrated into clinical practice.

The evening will begin at 6pm with networking drinks followed by Dr Logan’s one-hour presentation at 7pm. BCLA members may attend this event free of charge and bring one guest. Register at or email

11th BCLA Pioneers Lecture Award & Praise for inaugural BCLA Pioneers & Visionaries Conference

November 2014

British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) President, Susan Bowers, presented the 11th BCLA Pioneers Lecture Award to Professor Harminder Dua at the inaugural BCLA Pioneers & Visionaries Conference in London this week (Monday 17 November).

In his presentation, entitled ‘The novel pre-Descemet’s layer (Dua’s layer): its discovery, characterisation, clinical implications and surgical applications’, Professor Dua told delegates how the discovery of a distinct layer in the pre-Descemet’s stroma had considerably improved current understanding of deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty (DALK) and endothelial keratoplasty, and had made DALK a safer procedure.

With regards to surgical applications, Professor Dua predicted that pre-Descemet’s endothelial keratoplasty (PDEK) would replace Descemet’s membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) within the next few years. “The anatomy of the human cornea has been redefined,” declared Professor Dua, whose June 2013 paper published in Ophthalmology described how the breakthrough could help surgeons to dramatically improve outcomes for patients undergoing corneal grafts and transplants.

After receiving his award, Professor Dua said: “The BCLA Pioneers & Visionaries Conference is a prestigious event that is held in high esteem in the UK eye conference calendar. It was an honour to be asked to deliver the 2014 Pioneers Lecture. The large attendance and the multitude of questions and comments my talk generated were particularly satisfying.”

New ‘visionary’ format

Held at the Royal College of Physicians, the new format BCLA Pioneers & Visionaries Conference saw delegates enjoy a full day of lectures, an exhibition, sponsor presentations on the latest industry innovations, and the chance to catch-up and network during coffee breaks, lunch and an evening drinks reception.

The day, which was free for BCLA members to attend, offered five CET points for optometrists and contact lens opticians (CLOs) via a series of presentations, described by CLO delegate, Julia Melling, as “indeed visionary”. Julia added: “The conference was forward looking, pacy, informative and youthful; I felt the BCLA leapt into a new era. I greatly enjoyed the day.” Fellow CLO Ian Billson echoed Julia’s sentiments, saying: “The day was informative and up-to-date, with relaxed learning – all free for BCLA members. What more could anyone want? I would heartily recommend this annual event.”

Presentations included an update on myopia control and current strategies to employ in practice by Dr Nicola Logan, who predicted that 2015 would see the introduction of commercial lenses for myopia control. Dr Logan said there were promising interventions but that the potential ‘rebound effect’ of accelerating axial growth, and knowing when to stop treatment, remained two key challenges. Delegates were invited to attend the 2015 BCLA Myopia Day on 29 May at the ACC Liverpool to hear more about the latest research and in-practice strategies for myopia control and management.

Dr Nicole Carnt presented the results of a recent clinical audit of nearly 200 cases of acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) presented at Moorfields Eye Hospital (MEH) mostly since 2000. She reminded the audience that AK was a rare and severe infection that was rising in incidence and severity, but that avoiding water contact could prevent 90 per cent of cases; she urged delegates to include AK in the differential diagnosis of contact lens wearers with infection. She also reminded delegates to stop by the BCLA stand for a free sample of the BCLA ‘No water’ stickers for contact lens packaging.

Dr Carnt also presented a humorous take on contact lens patient compliance through a patient/practitioner role-play session entitled, ‘Don’t let this conniving bug put your patients in the naughty cornea’. The perspective and thought processes of patients, when deciding whether to follow eye health guidance, were examined – as well as the role of the practitioner in communicating compliance messages effectively.

Self-confessed ‘bug-buster’ and dry eye expert, Sarah Farrant, gave an enlightening presentation on how to identify and treat Demodex folliculorum, which she declared was prevalent in 100 per cent of patients over 70 and in 20 per cent of patients under 20. She recommended careful use of a 50-50 preparation of tea tree oil and macadamia nut oil along the edge of the eyelids and lashes to mechanically remove Demodex collarettes. (Note: the College of Optometrists recently issued supplementary advice on using tea tree oil to treat Demodex blepharitis. View it here.)

Matthew Carter presented an insight into keratoconus monitoring and cross-linking listing criteria at MEH’s early keratoconus clinic, where 90 per cent of patients had proven stable within 12 months of treatment. Matthew described the risk factors for keratoconus progression, and offered delegates guidance on scanning, with tools such as the Oculus Pentcam, such as remembering to scan like-for-like for accurate comparisons.

Finally, before dispelling a series myths surrounding specialist contact lens practice, Sophie Taylor-West encouraged younger members of the audience to get involved in this potentially ‘dying art’. Sophie’s myths included: you can only fit specialist lenses if you are an expert or work in a hospital; it’s hard to fit astigmats with multifocal lenses; and patients won’t pay the extra for specialist lenses. “They will,” she declared.

GOC announces illegal sale strategy

Announcing the General Optical Council’s (GOC) new strategy on tackling illegal sales published on the same day, guest speaker Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Policy and Communications, told delegates that the Council could no longer “sit on its hands” and would be taking a proactive, multi-pronged approach to reducing public harm through its new strategy.

These actions include:
• Raising awareness among contact lens wearers of the need to follow aftercare advice and have regular check-ups
• Developing a code of practice for online contact lens suppliers
• Acting on complaints in line with its prosecution protocol
• Strengthening its collaboration with other bodies with a role in enforcement and promoting public health

Mr Bridge said: “We are particularly concerned about the unlawful supply of contact lenses and as well as dealing with complaints; we want to raise awareness among consumers of how to gain the benefits of wearing contact lenses without compromising the health of their eyes. This will require coordinated action with stakeholders, combining our collective resources and insight.”

He added that a new project group had been set up, chaired by Dr Rob Hogan, to advise on the implementation of the strategy in partnership with stakeholders, including the BCLA, over the next six months. It was confirmed that the GOC would provide a progress report at the 2015 BCLA Clinical Conference and Exhibition in Liverpool next May. (Read the full GOC statement at

Commenting on the GOC’s announcement, Cheryl Donnelly, BCLA CEO, said: “We are greatly encouraged that the GOC is taking a collaborative approach to tackling illegal practice, and to promoting the benefits and positive messages surrounding contact lens wear and care direct to consumers. The BCLA will continue to be involved in discussions with the GOC and other stakeholders to drive the strategy forwards for the benefit of our members and the general public.”

Tribute to contact lens pioneers

As is tradition, Tim Bowden paid a warm tribute to the pioneers of the global contact lens community who had passed away in the past 18 months. This year’s roll call of pioneers included past BCLA Presidents, Keith Edwards and Dr Bill Sammons, Bill Twemlow, Alan Simons, Daniel Klaff, John Clenton, and Brian Mulcahy.

After describing the contribution that each had made to the industry and profession during their lifetime, Tim informed delegates that it was 200 years since the invention of the monocle in Austria, and 150 years since the first person was fitted with contact lenses for the correction of myopia.

Summing up the day, CLO Nick Howard had this to say: “The refreshing programme style and cutting edge content of this inaugural conference was at times gripping and highly entertaining. A superb opportunity to digest, learn and encourage patterns of thinking a little ‘outside the box’, with ample time to debate and network with a ‘who’s who’ of the contact lens profession. From the excitement of myopia management and the worries of mutating Acanthamoeba and mating Demodex, this was BCLA at its best – looking onwards and upwards to a rewarding future.”

BCLA members will be notified shortly when they may view Professor Dua’s Pioneers Lecture, as well as Dr Nicole Carnt’s session, on the BCLA YouTube channel. Photographs from the event can be viewed on the BCLA Facebook page.

For the latest information about BCLA events, visit

Clearlab first to support BCLA ‘No water’ campaign

November 2014

Global contact lens manufacturer, Clearlab, has become the first supplier to put the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) ‘No water’ warning stickers on its contact lens packaging at the point of manufacture.

Launched in 2013, the BCLA ‘No water’ stickers are designed to remind contact lens wearers not to allow water to come into contact with their lenses or case. The symbols on the stickers are a modification of those used to mark lens boxes as right or left eye and include a ‘no water’ graphic designed by contact lens wearer, Irenie Ekkeshis, who contracted acanthamoeba keratitis. They are designed to be placed on contact lens boxes at the point of collection and feature the BCLA logo.

Commenting on the news of Clearlab’s support, Irenie said: “I'm delighted that Clearlab has become the first contact lens manufacturer to supply ‘No water’ stickers with their products. By reinforcing the ‘no water’ message with users, this initiative has the potential to help reduce incidence rates of Acanthamoeba keratitis, which is a truly devastating infection. I look forward to seeing other lens manufacturers following Clearlab’s example.”

Dominique Gastaldi, Clearlab Sales Manager for Europe, said: “Clearlab is thrilled to be the first contact lens supplier to support the BCLA in this new initiative. The best way to develop contact lenses penetration is to educate patients as much as possible on how to optimise their wearing experience. This starts from a proper fit by a qualified practitioner to the aftercare.

“Following the correct hygiene procedures is key to assure safe contact lens wear,” continued Dominique. “It also plays an important role for the comfort of the wearers. If, as a supplier, we can help the eyecare practitioner to communicate this message to their patients, we need to take it. I have no doubt that each of our customers are reminding their patients how to clean and disinfect their contact lenses, and I am sure this new label will help their instructions to be reminded once the patients are home.”

Nicole Carnt, a post-doctoral research optometrist at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and 2015 BCLA Dallos Award recipient, added: “It is wonderful to see that the contact lens industry is on board with this important message. At Moorfields Eye Hospital, we have seen five patients lose their eye to this difficult disease over the past year. A quarter of those affected have disease lasting more than 10 months.

“We believe this simple message will alert contact lens wearers to the risk of water mixing with lenses and help stem the numbers of contact lens wearers affected,” added Nicole.

The BCLA ‘No water’ stickers are available to purchase via the BCLA website, Simply log in and visit the Factsheets section. Alternatively, email for a sample.

BCLA Fellowship makes passage to India

November 2014

British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) members residing in India will be able to sit their BCLA Fellowship examinations in their home country next year, thanks to a new initiative to expand contact lens skills, knowledge and esteem in the region.

Full BCLA members who apply for BCLA Fellowship before 21 December 2014, and who satisfy the criteria, will be able to sit their viva voce examinations during the Masterclass Optometry Knowledge Fest to be held at Le Meridien Hotel in Pune, India, from 2-4 February 2015.

Masterclass Optometry is a unique educational initiative, which works to upgrade the optometry profession in India. As well as hosting the BCLA Fellowship examinations on 3 February, the Knowledge Fest will include a BCLA Faculty Lecture presented by Professor James Wolffsohn, BCLA Academic Committee Chairman, and a ‘BCLA to Go’ contact lens fitting workshop the following day on 4 February.

Professor Wolffsohn said: “We are delighted at the interest shown by eyecare practitioners to develop their contact lens and anterior eye practice, and to demonstrate their esteem in the field by applying for a Fellowship of the BCLA.”

Nilesh Thite, Masterclass Optometry organiser and Director of Educational Programmes for the International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE), said: “This is a really exciting initiative and represents a great milestone for the Indian contact lens fraternity and for the BCLA.”

The BCLA will hold its 2015 UK-based viva voce BCLA Fellowship examinations during its 39th Clinical Conference and Exhibition, to be held from 29-31 May at the ICC Liverpool. All BCLA members who satisfy the entry criteria are invited to apply on, or before, 31 March 2015 to be eligible for viva voce assessment at the 2015 BCLA Clinical Conference.

For further information of how to apply, visit the BCLA Fellowship page in the About Us section of the BCLA website, Those eligible to sit the examinations in India will be notified by 15 January 2015.

* IACLE will host its Third IACLE World Congress on Contact Lens Education in Manchester, UK, from 24 to 28 May 2015.

BCLA Contact

November 2014

Some interesting stories from the latest BCLA Contact, plus all the latest diary dates.

BCLA Contact (October)

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