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Opchat Magazine General NewsGeneral News, April to June 2019


Ocuco iPad proving an irresistible app for growing practices
Exciting new partnerships in Australia and New Zealand
Seema Kennedy becomes new health minister for eyes
Chloramphenicol Leaflet and Packaging Defect Alert
It's just not cricket!
Plymouth Opsoc praises sponsor for a great night out ay Eyeball 2019
Optometrist works wonders with migraine patient
Hay fever affects 13 million people in the UK but only 1% of optometrists are consulted
AOP highlights 15.5% like-for-like pay gap between male and female optometrists
Aston Eyeball sponsored by Louis Stone
Read the archived General News from 4th Quarter 2018.

Ocuco iPad proving an irresistible app for growing practices

April 2019

iPad in use from Ocuco
Ocuco’s iPad App is the latest technology to come from the software leaders and boasts the key advantage of engaging patients.

The mobile device is conveniently designed to check-in, dispense, take credit card payment and log collections. However, it’s particularly favoured for the level of interaction it provides between practice staff and patients.

The iPad App has been making waves in the industry and Scott Waters, owner of Newbury Opticians explains why it’s become a necessity within his practice.

“The iPad App was attractive to us because of its ability to allow us to strengthen our patient engagements on the shop floor. We believe the secret to repeat business and practice growth is the quality of patient relationships. iPad App allows us to excel at this!”

Ocuco are long time sponsors of your Free Opchat News. They have refreshed pages including information on the iPad app and links to their site here

Exciting new partnerships in Australia and New Zealand

April 2019

The Association of British Dispensing Opticians has announced new opportunities for aspiring dispensing opticians in Australia and New Zealand.

After a successful pilot year, applications are now open for a course in Ophthalmic Dispensing which combines online study with lectures and practical sessions in Australia.

The course is being run by ABDO College, and College Principal Jo Underwood spent a week in Melbourne earlier this year working with students.

She says, “In order to fully support students on the Ophthalmic Dispensing course who are based in Australia and New Zealand we offer two one-week teaching blocks to supplement on-line course materials. In February I ran the first of the face-to-face teaching blocks. I introduced the practical elements required for year one of the course, gave additional theory support, and helped students understand the examination format. The group was hugely enthusiastic, really positive and excited about the programme. I am looking forward to my return visit in May.”

The appetite for further optical education in Australia and New Zealand is significant and growing. Donald Crichton FBDO is President of Association of Dispensing Opticians New Zealand and Vice President of the International Opticians Association.

He says, “The feeling in New Zealand is that DO training is on a positive upward trajectory. There is interest in the course which is being well supported in line with our population.”

Richard Couch is Head of Ophthalmic Lenses and Dispensing Advancement with the Specsavers Product Team in Australia and New Zealand and has been one of the driving forces behind getting the course up and running in Australia. He says, “There is a tremendous desire for dispensing advancement in both Australia and New Zealand and there is no better format for learning than the ABDO format. The fact that local optical dispensers can engage directly with lecturers in Australia will really appeal and should take participation to a new level.”

Alicia Thompson, Director of Professional Examinations for the Association of British Dispensing Opticians says, “Having lectured at the Specsavers Dispensing Conferences in 2017 and 2018 in several locations across Australia and New Zealand, the level of enthusiasm and desire for knowledge from the delegates blew me away. To witness first-hand the self-driven motivation for attending, participation and learning is incredibly refreshing.”

For more information visit or email for Specsavers applicants.

Seema Kennedy becomes new health minister for eyes

April 2019

Seema Kennedy MPThe Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced on 8 April that Seema Kennedy (MP for South Ribble since 2015) would be the new junior minister for Public Health and Primary Care following Steve Brine’s resignation last month.

Seema Kennedy had been PPS to Theresa May since June 2017.

Her new responsibilities include primary care, prevention, early intervention and health protection.

She is also the Minister for Public Health England.

Chloramphenicol Leaflet and Packaging Defect Alert

April 2019

Practitioners should have been alerted by the MHRA, and Martindale Pharmaceuticals have advised of two issues concerninmg all unexpired batches of chloramphenicol 0.5% W/V antibiotic eye drops (PL 00156/0109), legal status ‘P’ that:

• the braille is missing from the carton and

• the packs contain the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) for the product with legal status ‘POM.’

The correct patient information leaflet can be downloaded online.

Further information, affected batches and advice for healthcare professionals can be found on the MHRA website.

It's just not cricket!

April 2019

Counc Graham CampbellExcept it is. A special visually impaired cricket match between a team of Glasgow City Councillors - wearing 'sim-specs' that simulate different sight loss conditions - and members, volunteers and staff from RNIB Scotland, took place in the city's Kelvinhall Sport and Leisure Centre on Wednesday [April 10th].

With visually impaired cricket the ball is larger and filled with ball bearings to provide audible cues. The size allows partially sighted players to see the ball and the contents allow blind players to hear it. The wicket is also larger and has flashing light bails on top that will make a noise when they fall off and hit the ground. The bowler must shout 'Play!' as he/she releases the ball, and totally blind fielders are allowed to take a catch on the bounce.

Councillor Saqib Ahmed organised the event in partnership with Cricket Scotland's participation team.

"This match gave everyone involved an insight to a world without sight, " he said. "I used to play cricket for a club, which I really enjoyed. Following a discussion about cricket with James Adams, the director of RNIB Scotland, we agreed to hold a cricket match with people who are visually impaired playing.

"I hope it highlighted the difficulties which are faced by people who are visually impaired on a daily basis. We want to raise awareness that people with sight loss can still play sports and that Glasgow as a city wants to encourage this."

Taking part in the match, RNIB Scotland worker Jamila Shaikh has cone dystrophy which affects her ability to sense colours. "I am delighted that this cricket match has been organized, as many visually impaired people find it difficult to get access to play sports," she said. "I am hoping that this match will highlight that, with the right accessibility, many more visually impaired people will take up the opportunity to play sports."

Madison Garland, disability cricket development officer for Cricket Scotland, said: "We jumped at the opportunity to set up this exhibition match to help raise the awareness of not only VI cricket but of disability sport, and the lack of opportunity that those with a visual impairment or disability have.

"We hope that this will create conversation with the councillors, who will experience first-hand what it is like to have a visual impairment, and push them towards assisting in creating more opportunities for people with a visual impairment within their communities.

"We are all extremely excited about the match and look forward to creating future events in partnership with RNIB Scotland and Glasgow City Council. "

As well as Cllr Ahmed, other Glasgow City councillors taking part are Hanif Raja, Frank McAveety, Rashid Hussain, Martin McElroy, Maureen Burke, Graham Campbell, Jim Kavanagh, Matt Kerr and Robert Mooney.

Image shows Cllr Graham Campbell and RNIB Scotland member Daryl Stewart.

Plymouth Opsoc praises sponsor for a great night out ay Eyeball 2019

April 2019

Luke McRoy-Jones and Arash Bagheri-Valami
'On behalf of Plymouth Optometry Society, I would like to thank you for sponsoring our Eyeball 2019 event. The event had 190 attendees and as such, was Plymouth’s biggest ever Eyeball. The raffle, which had over £4,000 worth of raffle prizes, raised over £950 for the society’s chosen charity, Fight for Sight. Combined with cake sales and a pub quiz, this takes the total charity fundraising for 2018-2019 to just under £1,200.

Events like this rely on our amazing industry sponsors, like Louis Stone! Our students are very grateful for your support.' - Luke McRoy Jones, OpSoc President 2018-2019/Student of Optometry, University of Plymouth.

Plymouth’s biggest ever Eyeball (end of year ball) took place on Friday 15th March at the New Continental Hotel, Plymouth. The annual event, which celebrates the achievements of students and staff alike, was made up of students, academic staff, support staff and guests.

The Plymouth OpSoc society represents approximately 200 students studying optometry at University of Plymouth. It organises many professional and social events to support its students through their studies, enhancing their student life.

Plymouth OpSoc President, Luke McRoy-Jones, spoke about the growth of the society and the importance of industry sponsors.
'The society has developed and grown immensely over the past couple of years, in line with the increasing student numbers on the optometry course at University of Plymouth. Working with the rest of the committee, it’s been my pleasure to oversee the organisation of Plymouth’s biggest ever Eyeball.'

The winner of the Louis Stone raffle prize was Arash Bagheri-Valami. He said, 'I personally love the quality of Louis Stone products and always recommend them to my fellow students. I would like to thank Louis Stone for their generosity in providing us with amazing prizes, annually. I will definitely enjoy using my brand new, shiny flippers!'

Optometrist works wonders with migraine patient

April 2019

Elliot Bateman with PatientSouth Wales optometrist, Elliot Bateman, is being praised by a patient for “turning her life around” after dispensing Vista Mesh lenses for persistent migraines.

Blackwood Valley lady, Sarah Ashwell, was taking strong painkillers on a daily basis to combat the debilitating problems of headaches and migraines.

For years the 44 year old had been struggling at her office job in Caerphilly, with many hours at a computer screen. Her visit to Bateman Opticians in Blackwood resulted in more than she could have imagined -

“I went for a routine eye test and mentioned that I had been having daily headaches which had become a lot worse in the past year. It was in a vicious cycle of having to take medication all the time, and working on a computer with harsh overhead lighting.

“Mr Bateman checked my eyesight and said my vision had not changed, but suggested I tried a lens called Vista Mesh. The glasses were made up to my prescription and it instantly felt as if the back of my eyes were relaxing. After two weeks my migraines and headaches had dramatically improved, and the other symptoms had calmed down. The glasses have made a huge difference to my life - it has been wonderful.

" Apart from making work easier, the glasses have also helped at home reducing some of the glare when I watch TV. I am sure our eyes were not designed for modern life of TV and staring at computers.”

Elliot Bateman, great, great, grandson of George Bateman, founder of the GC Bateman Group, explained, “The beauty of Vista Mesh glasses is that they don’t look any different to any other glasses, but the very fine mesh within the lens has a tremendous ability to ease visual stress for many people. Working almost like a pinhole camera they focus the light for more relaxed vision. Many people are finding they are beneficial not just for migraine and headaches, but also for glare at night when driving. Pleasingly they are made just across the estuary in Gloucester, by a respected optical laboratory, with or without the patient’s prescription, including progressive lenses.”

Vista Mesh Lenses are made at the Norville Labs in Gloucester.

(image Elliot Bateman with patient)

Hay fever affects 13 million people in the UK but only 1% of optometrists are consulted

April 2019

A quarter of people turn to GPs, walk-in centres and A&E rather than opticians

Over a quarter (26%) believe hay fever only affects children and teens

New research into hay fever awareness from the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) has found that just under a quarter (24%) of people would turn to GPs, walk-in centres or even A&E to seek help for hay fever. Only 1% would go to an optician, despite opticians offering diagnosis and treatment for Hayfever related eye problems.

ABDO is calling for greater awareness of the services available at opticians around the UK, in order to help reduce the strain on already stretched NHS services.

The UK has some of the highest prevalence rates of allergies in the world, with hay fever being one of the most common allergic disorders affecting around 13 million Brits.

Hay fever is caused by an allergy to pollen, a fine powder released by different plants and trees. In recent years, a significant spike in cases of hay fever has occurred, primarily due to high temperatures and high pollen count. In the summer of 2018, cases rocketed almost 300% in a week, with identified cases jumping from 11,708 to 45,355 between June 4th and June 10th.

With temperatures this summer set to soar higher than last year, it is expected that demand for hay fever treatment will be at an all-time high.

With more people suffering from hay fever than ever before, it is important to raise awareness of the advantages of optical services. While GPs require appointments, which have an average wait time of 15 days according to NHS statistics, opticians offer walk-in assistance and same-day appointments with in-house practitioners.

As well as looking into how people generally seek treatment for hay fever, the research by ABDO also asked questions about the myths and misconceptions surrounding hay fever.

The study revealed the lengths to which people are willing to go to avoid symptoms, with over half (52%) of people saying they would avoid going outside altogether on days with high pollen counts.

There were also misconceptions revealed surrounding who hay fever affects – while half (50%) of respondents knew that anyone is susceptible, the other half believed only certain people, for example those with a family history of hay fever, children up to their teenage years, and those born with it were at risk.

More than 1 in 10 (13%) did not know who was at risk.

Clive Marchant, president of ABDO, comments: “Your optician should be your first port of call if you have an itchy, red or irritated eye. They are the specialists in eye problems and with Minor Eye Condition schemes springing up across the UK more and more people can access care on the NHS for this and other eye problems too.”

The lack of knowledge and understanding around what services are appropriate for certain health issues is a major issue to address, especially in terms of utilizing optical services across the country.

AOP highlights 15.5% like-for-like pay gap between male and female optometrists

April 2019

To coincide with nationwide gender pay gap reporting, the Association of Optometrists (AOP) is highlighting recent research which shows that on average women optometrists earn 15.5% less than men.

The findings have come from the Association’s 2018 Optometrists’ Futures survey, conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES). Analysis of the survey data shows that when factors such as experience, time in the job and extra responsibilities were controlled for there was still a statistically significant gap in pay between men and women in the sector.

Since last year, all businesses employing over 250 staff have to publish the median salaries they pay to men and to women each April. Called gender pay gap reporting, this often reveals big gaps between men's and women's salaries.

Tony Stafford, AOP Policy Director, said that while pay gap reporting had an important role, the AOP’s research sought to give a more in-depth picture. The results will shape the Association’s support for members, both employees and employers.

Mr Stafford said: “The Government’s gender pay gap figures are very useful for showing the extent of inequality right across workplaces, where senior positions are often held by men. But they don't tell us if men and women are being paid differently for doing similar jobs.

“The AOP's survey has looked at that question. We compared optometrists working more than 30 hours a week and found that on average, and after accounting for influencing factors as far as we could, women still earn 15.5% less than men.”

Commenting on how this information would be used to support members, Mr Stafford said: “Over the next few months the AOP will develop advice and resources for members who employ optometrists, to help them confirm and demonstrate that their approach to pay is fair. Differences in pay don’t in themselves amount to discrimination, but employers need to ensure that they have good reasons if they treat staff differently.

“Ensuring fairness can also help with recruitment. Our survey showed many employers find it difficult to fill optometrist vacancies, and also that optometrists rate the culture and values of an employer highly when deciding where to work. It is in employers' interests to be able to show their staff that they are being fair.”

Aston Eyeball sponsored by Louis Stone

April 2019

Sara Butterworth Louis Stone recently sponsored the Aston Eyeball, held at The Marigold on the 14th February.

Sara Butterworth (pictured), a second year student, was the winner of Louis Stone's flippers in the raffle on the night.

She said, ‘Thank you so much to Louis Stone for the flippers! They're great and I can't wait to start using them in practical classes and clinics. The Aston Eyeball was fantastic and everyone had a great time! Thank you for sponsoring it!’

'We had an attendance of about 200 students at the ball, including some Optometry staff members. Our upcoming plans for the Optics society are to sell hoodies to our students, and also maybe hold an event to raise some money for a charity.’ - Farzana Khatun, Aston Optics Society.




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