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Opchat Magazine General NewsGeneral News, April to June 2019


IOA announces Finalists for SILMO 2019
Young eye cancer survivor with sights set on pro football opens new Metrocentre optician
Essilor launches cet website
KOMONO x Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp capsule
ABDO College partakes in Decathlon for VCHP
Optometrists set to reduce pressure on hospitals in Northern Ireland
86% found to be overdue an eye test, as free health initiative hits CV Show in Birmingham
New website for ABDO now online
GOS Contract in Scotland – reports significant NHS savings
Dr. Chantal Dysli and Dr. Lydia Sauer receive Heidelberg Engineering Xtreme Research Award 2019
RNIB warns on eye health during Ramadan for observers
Innovative treatment restores sight in MAR patient
Moorfields and UCL plan to build new Centre of Excellence
GOC suspends Orpington based dispensing optician
VARILUX launch new National and Local Marketing Campaign
VR can improve quality of life for people with dementia
Mykita awarded Red Dot Product Design Champion
The WCSM’s annual competition for bronze medals for research launches today
News from across the pond. Glasses, contacts amendment pulled ahead of Senate vote
IOW Festival efforts to raise Spine’s brand profile and pull customers to product Mondottica have teamed up with the Isle Of White Festival 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.

IOA announces Finalists for SILMO 2019

June 2019

The International Opticians Association (IOA), has announced the finalists for the Silmo IOA International Optician of the Year Award. This innovative award, first given at the 2018 Silmo d’OR Ceremony, recognises the importance of the optician in the optical business and their role in the choice of optimum products for their clientele.

The five finalists are:

• Andrew Keirl, FBDO, United Kingdom
• Thierry Caillat, Optician, France
• Thomas Truckenbrod, Optician and Optometrist, Germany
• Steve Stenersen, Dispensing Optician, New Zealand
• Charlie Saccarelli, Master Optician, USA

Fiona Anderson IOA President and Chair of the selection committee said, “We were overwhelmed with the calibre of the nominees this year; the selection committee had a really tough job narrowing down the field to pick our five finalists. We are grateful to our sponsors and colleagues for these nominations and the very difficult task we now have to come in choosing the recipient of the 2019 IOA/Silmo Optician of the Year.”

The winner will be announced on the 28 September 2019 at SILMO Paris. As well as the prestigious award, the winner will also win a trip for 2 to Silmo 2020.
To find out more visit

Young eye cancer survivor with sights set on pro football opens new Metrocentre optician

June 2019

The 11-year-old from Prudhoe is Vision Express guest of honour at new store launch

VE Metrocentre and James MarshallA brave youngster who has battled a rare eye cancer helped Vision Express open its new Metrocentre store - raising awareness of an aggressive condition called retinoblastoma, which led to his eye being removed.

James Marshall, 11, officially cut the ribbon on the Vision Express premises accompanied by mum Julie Weatherly, who describes her son as ‘happy, healthy and positive’. This is despite a diagnosis of retinoblastoma (Rb) at just 20 months old, shortly after which James’ tumour-affected eye was removed to save his life.

Now recovered, James has annual monitoring at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary to check the cancer hasn’t spread. Julie explains: “Ten years on, James doesn’t let having only one functioning eye stop him from fulfilling his dreams of becoming a footballer. He puts all of his time into enjoying the sport, and currently plays for the Heddon Juniors under 12s.”

James took a break from football to join the Vision Express team as an ambassador for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT), which has been a charity partner of the optician since 2010 and supports families affected by the rare condition.

A ribbon cutting led by James celebrated the store’s recent move within the Metrocentre to a new home with state-of-the-art facilities, which will deliver expert eye care to Tyne and Wear residents.

Julie added: “The partnership between Vision Express and CHECT makes everyone more aware of the importance of eye tests, especially with conditions as rare as retinoblastoma. The charity hold members events too and they have given James the chance to meet other children who have had their eyes removed, which is something he would never have experienced otherwise.”

Vision Express Metrocentre store manager Janice Bainbridge added: “It was brilliant to have James and his mum join us to officially declare our new store open. His story of overcoming adversity despite the vision challenges he faces, is nothing short of inspirational.

“We’ve traded from the Metrocentre for 31 years now, with a team that has combined optical experience of over 300 years – which includes our optometrist Steve and lab manager Rod, who are both celebrating 30 years as part of the Vision Express family.

“It’s great to ring the changes in a new location. Our new look has been well received by our customers, and we’re now in a much more convenient, accessible location too.”

Essilor launches cet website

June 2019

Essilor launches a brand new online CET platform for eye care practitioners.

Essilor New CET websiteThe site at hosts a vast range of continued education and training modules targeted at optometrists, dispensing opticians and contact lens opticians.

Professional relations executive, Charlotte Timbury said: “This is a completely new initiative for us and forms part of our ongoing commitment to be the independent’s best business partner by helping the industry with life-long learning to provide the best service to their patients.”

Users can search for CET by target audience or competency and choose from articles, educational papers, videos and clinical case studies on topics of their choice. Upon completion, participants will answer multiple choice questions to gain their CET points.

Current CET topics include: The Challenge of Digital Vision in a Multi-Screen World, Impact of New Digital Technologies on Posture and A Low Vision Magnification Breakthrough.

The training materials will be updated regularly by Essilor’s in-house professional relations team.

The website goes live at the end of June 2019.

KOMONO x Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp capsule

June 2019

KOMONO is proud to introduce its collaboration with the fashion department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp.

An incubator for new talent and innovative design, the Academy has been on the forefront of global fashion since the rise of the Antwerp Six and remains one of its most influential voices.
Out of their mutual interest for experimentation and innovation, KOMONO presents a capsule created by four graduate students.

With its exploration of innovative forms, search for new colour combinations and pursue for the original treatment of materials, the collection reimagines the eyewear of tomorrow.

Grace Kim
26, South-Korea

GraceThe whole collection started with one phrase ‘’it’s cold, I’m just chilling’’.

I was inspired by winter and combined this with the idea of sitting at home on the sofa. The overall atmosphere transmits a certain coldness and conveys my feelings of being lonely and longing for family as an international student in a foreign country.

Nick Haemels
25, Belgium

NicksI started putting together the collection after watching ‘’Ex Machina’’, this really polished movie about artificial intelligence.

The whole aesthetic is based on laboratories and has this very clean feel to it.
The idea of playing with a mask for this project appealed to me a lot. I started to do research into the negative space of these objects in order to create a new kind of shape.

Linus Leornardsson

22, Sweden

Linus“See you in the fog” references adolescence and depicts a teenager’s concerns of not fitting into a grown-up world, as well as his or her attempts to do so. Set in a forest rave in Stockholm, it connects contemporary rave culture with new ways of preserving nature and craftsmanship. Technical materials are linked with contrasting natural inputs and traditional techniques. The unisex sunglasses reference trees which are tinted blue, yellow and green by artificial strobe lights.


Quinton Mestdagh

23, Belgium

QuintonMy main goal was to create the effect of make-up in eyewear. As make-up is always applied onto the skin, I was interested in transforming it into an object or accessory that you can easily put on and off.

The glasses consist of one colored lens that covers the face which is then enhanced with gradient prints and embellished with rhinestones.

ABDO College partakes in Decathlon for VCHP

June 2019

ABDO College Decathlon Day
ABDO College students and staff came together last week for a fun and energetic Decathlon, which has raised £2,846 for Vision Care for Homeless People, enough to fund a clinic for 5 months.

Students enthusiastically created three teams, ‘Friends of Facial Furniture’, ‘The Protect Plus Blue Team’, ‘The 515 Crew’ and College staff made the fourth team. Races diverged from the usual decathlon to include welly wanging, egg and spoon, tug of war and a wet sponge relay.

The event was won by a narrow margin by ‘Friends of Facial Furniture’ with only a few points between the other three teams.

Funds were raised by entry tickets, which included a raffle ticket, drink and burger or hotdog, along with generous sponsorship of the following races by the optical industry:

• Essilor: The Eyezen Start Sprint (100m)
• Haag Streit Low Vision Relay
• Mac & Pure Eyewear Wheelbarrow Race
• Stepper Sack Race
• Millmead Wellie Wanging
• Topcon 3 Legged Race
• Bondeye Egg and Spoon Race
• Caledonian Optical Target Shoot Out
• Seiko Vision Sponge Relay
• Thomson Tug of War

Decathlon for VCHPVision Care for Homeless People aims to preserve, protect and promote the ocular health of homeless and vulnerable people in the UK who are unwilling or unable to access mainstream services available through the NHS.

The charity include screening of ocular health and the provision of spectacles, to meet the immediate visual needs of our beneficiaries. Elaine Styles, Chair of Vision Care for Homeless People attended the event and presented certificates to the winners of each race. She says, “It was a pleasure to be invited to such a unique, energetic and fun way of raising funds for VCHP. We all appreciate the time, effort and energy, Mark and his team at ABDO devoted to organising this event and want to say a big thank you to our sponsors for their generous the ongoing support."

ABDO College technician Mark Turner organised the event. He says, “It was great to get such support from the industry sponsors, staff and students for such a good cause. Everyone enjoyed the Decathlon, and we found some hidden talents amongst both staff and students!”

The top raffle prize of a visit to Eyecare 2020 was won by student Dilbir Dhariwal, with everyone winning something. Thanks to ABDO College Technician Mark Turner for masterminding the event, ABDO College cook Mel for hotdogs and burgers for the hungry competitors, and to the ABDO College staff and students who donated raffle prizes, held the winning line, and cheered on the teams.

Optometrists set to reduce pressure on hospitals in Northern Ireland

May 2019

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has published an update on its ten-year plan, Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together and reconfirmed its commitment to transform community and hospital care.

The Department notes that hospitals will have to “fundamentally change” as the local health system focuses on improving out of hospital care, adding that optometrists have a key role to play in reducing pressure on hospitals, noting:

“Primary care optometrists are engaged in new initiatives to stem the flow of referrals into hospitals, managing non-sight threatening acute eye problems in the community and carrying out non-complex post-operative cataract reviews, in addition to offering community-based ocular hypertension reviews”.

86% found to be overdue an eye test, as free health initiative hits CV Show in Birmingham

May 2019

Visitors to the Commercial Vehicle Show at NEC urged to take advantage of free eye tests

A healthcare initiative by Vision Express, offering free eye tests from its award-winning Vision Van at the Commercial Vehicle (CV) Show in Birmingham, has revealed:

• 86% were overdue an eye test
• 84% had outdated prescriptions
• 12% had not had an eye test since passing their driving test
• 20% of visitors had never had an eye test

Vision Van at BrumGuests and exhibitors at this year’s CV show were warned of the dangers of not looking after their eye health after a staggering number of visitors to the Vision Van were found to be overdue an eye test. Worryingly, 12% confessed to not having had a vision check since passing their driving test.

The Vision Express Vision Van was stationed at the NEC Birmingham for the 2019 show from Tuesday 30th April to Thursday 2nd May, to raise awareness of eye health by offering free eye tests to industry experts.

It was revealed that a shocking 86% of those who took advantage of the free eye test initiative were overdue a test, with 84% requiring a new prescription after testing.

The CV Show is held every year in Birmingham, attracting professionals from the road and transport industry from across the globe – including regular HGV drivers. Despite this, it was discovered that 20% of those who came to see the Vision Van at the exhibition had never had an eye test.

Vision Express launched its brand-new Vision Van last year, and the high-tech mobile eye testing facility is journeying across the UK to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining regular eye tests, especially for drivers.

Dan McGhee, Director of Professional Services at Vision Express, commented: “It’s a huge concern that 86% of visitors to our Vision Van at The CV Show were found to be overdue an eye test – especially as statistics indicate that around 3,000 road casualties every year are due to people driving with below par vision. The statistics from the event highlight that there is a clear need to educate drivers about the importance of regular eye examinations, which can help detect sight- stealing conditions such as macular disease, as well as other health conditions.”

Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, one of the CV Show's three partner organisations, added: “The CV Show is one of the largest transport industry events of its kind and exactly the right audience for Vision Express to reach out to – professional drivers and motoring enthusiasts, plus hauliers, operators and manufacturers – with the crucial message about the importance of regular eye tests.

“For many visitors driving is an integral part of daily life and for some it’s their livelihood. It’s staggering that Vision Express found that a fifth of visitors to the Vision Van had never had their eyes tested, so we know there’s still a very important job to be done to make the UK’s roads safer.”

New website for ABDO now online

May 2019

The Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) has launched a new website, providing members with additional and improved online resources to support them in practice.

ABDO head of communications, Antonia Chitty says, “We've created a fresh, modern look to improve the experience of our members and other users. Featuring better navigability with clear, concise and easily accessible information, we hope that it is now easier to find what you are looking for, whether it be advice and guidelines, business tips, member benefits, CET events or the latest news."

A highlight of the new site is a stand-alone section, DO Online, providing news and features, with additional content exclusive to ABDO members only, an online jobs vacancies section and advertising opportunities.

Dispensing Optics managing editor Nicky Collinson says, “This is a great opportunity for us to extend what we already offer to members through the print magazine. This new section on the ABDO website will ensure that we can deliver news as it is happening, and extend the range of features to read, all about the world of optics.” There is a new twitter account for DO Online too, ensuring you can stay up to date with optical news online.

There is an extended International section to the new site, outlining what ABDO can offer to members and trainee DOs worldwide. The new website offers members the chance to ‘Live chat’ with ABDO staff during the hours of 9-5pm. The site is also mobile friendly. "A priority for the redesign was ensuring we were fully platform responsive on all devices," Antonia adds. "The site should be just as good whether you view it on a computer, laptop, mobile or tablet. We hope members and the wider profession make the most of all the new site has to offer, ensuring that we continue to deliver the best possible service to all."

The site also includes useful information for members of the public, along with a great deal of members-only material – from the Business Support Hub to the great savings that can be made on a wide range of products and service. The Advice and Guidance section includes information that is vital for members to be aware of in practice. There are further improvements to what the website offers scheduled in the coming year

If you have not already visited the site, go to to discover all the new and improved resources available.

GOS Contract in Scotland – reports significant NHS savings

May 2019

Optometry Scotland has published a new report GOS Works highlighting the benefits of the Scottish GOS model and the substantial savings it has delivered for the NHS in 2016-17.

Optometry Scotland is calling for a realistic appraisal by the Scottish Government based around these savings and for substantial resource allocation and investment to be provided for the ongoing development of General Ophthalmic Services in Scotland.

Dr. Chantal Dysli and Dr. Lydia Sauer receive Heidelberg Engineering Xtreme Research Award 2019

May 2019

Dr. Chantal Dysli (Inselspital University Hospital Bern, Switzerland) and Dr. Lydia Sauer (Moran Eye Center of the University of Utah, USA) are the joint winners of this year’s Xtreme Research Award. The two ophthalmologists have earned this recognition due to their impressive Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Ophthalmoscopy (FLIO) research and impactful peer-reviewed manuscripts. The award ceremony and lecture were held at ARVO’s Annual Meeting in Vancouver (Canada).

Essilor Branding
FLIO is a novel, non-invasive imaging modality able to detect early metabolic change preceding morphological changes in the retina. It provides in-vivo autofluorescence lifetime measurements of natural retinal fluorophores upon laser excitation.

Dr. Dysli and Dr. Sauer have been involved in numerous studies demonstrating that many retinal pathologies display distinct metabolic patterns in FLIO images before any other diagnostic imaging method can identify structural signs of disease. FLIO detects changes related to AMD, albinism, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetic retinopathy, macular telangiectasia type 2, retinitis pigmentosa, and Stargardt’s disease . Some of these changes can be detected in healthy eyes, serving as potential early indicators of retinal disease. Other changes in already affected eyes seem to reveal disease progression. Once the technology becomes widely available, the diagnostic information provided by FLIO images could be used for early diagnosis and therapy monitoring.

“Dr. Dysli and Dr. Sauer have been a driving force in the clinical development and validation of fluorescence lifetime imaging as a diagnostic aid in the detection and management of various ocular and systemic conditions. Their clinical research paves the way for functional ocular imaging as the means to advance the field towards earlier detection of diseases.” said Ali Tafreshi, Head of Product Management and Clinical Affairs at Heidelberg Engineering.

At the award ceremony, Dr. Dysli stated: “FLIO is a fascinating novel technique opening a new dimension in retinal imaging by providing information about basic pathophysiological mechanisms within the retina. For me, it has been very inspiring to follow the development of FLIO from bench to bedside and to see the progress and future clinical applications of such an innovation”.

Dr. Sauer said: “FLIO is an exciting technology to work with. In-vivo metabolic imaging could become a new clinical milestone in our field, so we are delighted to be part of its development. The FLIO technology is useful in the diagnosis of many retinal diseases and as our research attests, it detects changes in the eye even before damage is visible with conventional imaging techniques. FLIO’s ability to show metabolic change before actual damage manifests could also lead to earlier interventions. I feel honored to be a part of this exciting research.”

RNIB warns on eye health during Ramadan for observers

May 2019

Scottish Muslims are being urged to be aware of their eye-health when fasting during the religious month of Ramadan, which starts this weekend.

Throughout Ramadan Muslims abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours.

Gozie JoeAdigwe of sight loss charity RNIB Scotland said: "People from some ethnic minority communities can be more vulnerable to some eye conditions, so it important that they speak to their GP if there are any concerns over breaking the fasting through taking medicine, and also the local Imam."

In Scotland, RNIB has worked with ethnic minority groups for over 12 years to raise awareness of eye health issues, she said.

“People in these groups can experience additional problems, including cultural and language barriers. More needs to be done to reach those groups where take-up of eye-health services remains low."
The risk of diabetic eye disease, for instance, is around six times greater in people from a South Asian background. So controlling things like dietary intake and blood-sugar is still as vital as ever when your daily routine is changed.”

Some Muslims are also concerned that using eye drops to treat another common sight condition, glaucoma, might invalidate their fast, particularly where the drop reaches the back of the throat, and refrain until after the month ends. But this could lead to deterioration in their sight.

The International Glaucoma Association has worked with the Muslim Council of Britain to advise people to continue to take drops throughout Ramadan, putting them in before dawn and after dusk.

During Ramadan, the Muslim community on Scotland is being invited to support an appeal to help RNIB reach out further.
Jamila Shaikh, who has cone dystrophy which affects her ability to sense colours, works as a community development officer for RNIB Scotland. "I would not be who I am if it hadn’t been for RNIB," she said. "I have become more confident and gained a lot more independence. I now help and support other visually impaired people through the sight loss journey helping them to live a more independent and inclusive life."
Shaukat Sultan of the Muslim Council of Scotland, who has glaucoma, backed the appeal. "Ensuring eye health and managing health conditions is important, and if anyone has concerns over how to manage this over Ramadan they should speak to their doctor, and the local Iman for guidance.

Innovative treatment restores sight in MAR patient

May 2019

An innovative treatment carried out by researchers from the University of Surrey and Royal Surrey Country Hospital, supported by the electrophysiology department of Moorfields Eye Hospital, has improved the vision of a 73-year-old patient suffering from melanoma-associated retinopathy (MAR).

Researchers investigated whether long-acting steroid implants injected into the eye could improve vision and reduce symptoms. After one week of treatment, improvements in the patient’s vision were detected and detailed examinations revealed that previous abnormalities observed in the patient’s eye had partially resolved.

After monitoring the patient for over three years, researchers found that the patient’s vision remained stable with visual acuity of 20/20. This treatment offers a possible solution for patients whose quality of life would be significantly reduced by the symptoms of MAR.

Moorfields and UCL plan to build new Centre of Excellence

May 2019

Moorfields Eye Hospital, in a joint venture with University College London (UCL) and Moorfields Eye Charity, has put forward a proposal to create a new, purpose-built centre of excellence for eye care, research and education in Central London.

If approved, the so-called Oriel project proposal will relocate all services from Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology (UCIoO) to a new, integrated centre on the old St Pancras Hospital site just north of King’s Cross Station. The public consultation on the proposal runs until August 2019. Find more information here.

GOC suspends Orpington based dispensing optician

May 2019

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to suspend Olukolajo Kayode, a dispensing optician based in Orpington, from its register for six months.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by reason of misconduct relating to his caution for common assault and failure to declare this to the GOC.
In making the decision, the Committee, chaired by Graham White said:

“The Committee had no hesitation in concluding that a violent assault during business hours amounted to misconduct. In relation to the failure to disclose a caution on retention applications, the Committee also concluded that this was a sufficiently serious matter as to amount to misconduct.

“The Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired on the basis that his insight into the significance of the issues raised by the assault and caution is not yet complete and that the public interest requires a finding of impairment to be made in respect of those matters in any event.

“However, the Committee was satisfied that the Registrant’s insight was developing and further development would mitigate the risk of repeating behaviour. It was determined that a period of suspension of 6 months would be sufficient to mark the gravity of the misconduct and to declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour so as to maintain confidence in the profession and its regulation.”

Mr Kayode has until 14 May 2019 to appeal his suspension.

VARILUX launch new National and Local Marketing Campaign

May 2019

Essilor new brandingEssilor has launched a new national marketing campaign for its Varilux brand which can be personalised by independents to drive local footfall in-store.

The ‘See More Do More’ campaign will reach a total of 48.1 million people and will run until the end of 2019.

The brand has become sponsor of Chanel 4’s All4 Escapism series of TV shows and features 500 hours of programming to promote the consumer message.

Essilor Branding

To localise the campaign, all Essilor customers will be allocated a consultant to work with them to create a personalised local campaign with co-branded marketing support materials. Following an initial discussion, a consultant will put together a plan and help implement it.

Head of marketing, Jason William said, “We have carefully combined a national and local element into this campaign to ensure high impact consumer messaging.

Essilor Branding

“We always strive to be the independent’s best business partner and our commitment includes helping businesses expand their sales and driving independent footfall through these campaigns.”

The advertising campaign will also use addressable TV to profile and target ‘spectacle wearers’ when viewing TV through catch up services. Other online campaign elements include search engine optimisation, pay per click and digital display advertising.

Free comprehensive point of sale pack is also available for independents.


VR can improve quality of life for people with dementia

May 2019

Virtual reality (VR) technology could vastly improve the quality of life for people with dementia by helping to recall past memories, reduce aggression and improve interactions with caregivers, new research by the University of Kent has discovered.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University’s School of Engineering and Digital Arts (EDA) including Dr Jim Ang and PhD candidate Luma Tabbaa, took place at mental healthcare provider St Andrew's Healthcare in Northampton.

Eight patients aged between 41 and 88 who are living with dementia including Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease took part in the study. Each patient used a VR headset to ‘visit’ one of five virtual environments (VEs) of a cathedral, a forest, a sandy beach, a rocky beach, and a countryside scene. Sixteen sessions were monitored with feedback gathered from patients and their caregivers.

One key finding was that VR helped patients recall old memories by providing new stimuli difficult to achieve, due to ill-health, or inaccessible within a secure environment. For example, one patient recalled a holiday when they saw a bridge in the VE because it reminded them of that trip while another remembered a holiday where they visited a market.

These memories not only provided positive mental stimulation for the patients but helped their caregivers learn more about their lives before care, thereby improving their social interaction.

Furthermore, at an arts session some weeks later, one of the patients who had taken part commented that it had been ‘brilliant’. He appeared to enjoy reminiscing about the experience and was inspired to draw a seaside picture, suggesting that his VR experience had had a positive effect on his mood and motivation to engage with the art session.

The patients also demonstrated their own choices during the experiment, with some keen to explore different VEs within a session, while others explored the same environment repeatedly.

Dr Ang from EDA said a larger study was needed to validate the results, but the early indications showed VR had huge potential in this area: ‘VR can clearly have positive benefits for patients with dementia, their families and caregivers. It provides a richer and more satisfying quality of life than is otherwise available, with many positive outcomes. With further research it will be possible to further evaluate the elements of VEs that benefit patients and use VR even more effectively.’

The researchers added that as it becomes easier to produce 360-degree VR videos it could allow VEs specifically designed for individual patients, such as their home or a favourite location, to be created.

The paper, Bring the Outside In: Providing Accessible Experiences Through VR for People with Dementia in Locked Psychiatric Hospitals, has been presented at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems taking place in Glasgow 4-9 May. The findings have also been published in Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Mykita awarded Red Dot Product Design Champion

April 2018

Red Dot Design ChampionThe acetate rings concept of the MYKITA LITE collection has convinced the members of the Red Dot Jury – optical model ELGARD collects a 2019 Red Dot Award in Product Design.

“ELGARD combines the advantages of an acetate and a metal frame. These well-proportioned glasses offer a high level of comfort,” reads the offcial statment of the jury.

About the design:

This well-proportioned navigator melds an acetate front into a light, resilient stainless steel construction. An optical model with a laidback look that belies the complexity of the engineering process needed to make it. Noticeable only on closer look, the steel ‘skeleton’ of the mixed material construction adds resilience to the delicate acetate front. Understated colourways, such as Shiny Graphite/Santiago Gradient accentuate the refined aesthetic.

The WCSM’s annual competition for bronze medals for research launches today

April 2019

Since receiving its Royal Charter in 1629, the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers has encouraged research into the prevention and treatment of vision impairment.

Annually the WCSM awards two medals to differing sectors within the optical community to those who in their way help to achieve the main tenet of its role as a Livery Company.

The Company is now calling for entrants for both of these medals.

The Ruskell Medal

Each year, the Company awards a bronze medal to recognise research in ophthalmology and/or vision science which contributes significantly to the advancement of our understanding of vision and the prevention of unnecessary blindness. The 2019 Medal Award process launches today.

The 2019 Ruskell Medal and the accompanying purse of £750 will be awarded to the first-named author of the best paper in the fields of ophthalmology or visual science for studies undertaken within the United Kingdom and published during the qualifying period (1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019). Submissions are welcomed from entrants at any stage of their research career.

Entrants for the Medal should forward one copy of their full paper (not an abstract) by email to by 5pm on Monday 8 July 2019, together with a covering letter giving full details of the entrant, certifying that the entrant is the first named author and stating where and when the research paper has been, or will be, published. The Clerk, Mrs Helen Perkins, will acknowledge all entries received and is the first point of contact for any queries about the competition.

The Masters Medal

2019 Master’s Medal, which is awarded each year, by competition. The Medal is intended to encourage those taking higher degrees to publish their work. The Medal is accompanied by a purse of £750.

Applications are invited from any individual working for a doctorate or higher degree in any aspect of vision eg optometrists, ophthalmologists, orthoptists and scientists working in the field of optics and vision science, whose first research paper has been accepted for publication in a refereed scientific journal, or presented publicly at a national or international meeting during the qualifying period (1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019).

The entrant should be the sole or first named author. Entries can be accepted from candidates who have attained a doctorate or higher degree within the last 12 months whose paper was generated during the course of their studies. Papers submitted should explain the basis on which research has been conducted, the findings to date and potential applications. Basic audits of results and reviews will not qualify.

Entrants for the 2019 Medal must submit a copy of their published paper, or a preprint or manuscript based on their paper, reporting the original work: abstracts, reviews and editorials will not be considered.

One copy of the paper should be forwarded by email to by Monday 8 July 2019, together with a covering letter giving full details of the entrant, certifying that the paper submitted is, or will be, his/her first publication and stating where and when it has been, or will be, published or presented. The Clerk, Mrs Helen Perkins, will acknowledge all entries received and is the first point of contact for any queries about the competition.

Profs Coffey and Lyndon da CruzThe 2018 Ruskell Medal was awarded jointly to Professor Pete Coffey of UCL/Institute of Ophthalmology and Professor Lyndon da Cruz of Moorfields (right) for their paper on the Phase 1 clinical study of an embryonic stem cell–derived retinal pigment epithelium patch in age-related macular degeneration. Recipients of previous medals have presented research carried out in nine different departments across the United Kingdom.

The winners will be invited to attend a Company Dinner at Apothecaries’ Hall on the evening of Wednesday 2 October 2019 to receive the medal and purse from the Master Spectacle Maker and meet leading figures in the world of optics and the City of London. Further publicity for the individual and sponsoring institution can be expected as the Medal award is usually well reported in professional optical journals.

Submissions are assessed by the Company’s Professorial Committee, a small group of eminent scientists and academics drawn from various UK universities and colleges. The Committee will make its final decision by 6 September 2019.

News from across the pond. Glasses, contacts amendment pulled ahead of Senate vote

April 2019

An attempt to require Floridians to have a "face to face" examination with an optometrist before ordering specs or contact lenses online was withdrawn by Clearwater Sen. Ed Hooper. (as reported in Florida Politics)

Amendments that would have forced consumers to get an in-person eye exam before refilling their lens prescriptions was withdrawn Friday.

Clearwater Republican Sen. Ed Hooper filed the amendments for both the House and Senate telehealth bills on Thursday.

If included, they would have blocked Floridians from ordering prescription contact lenses and glasses online unless they got “a contemporaneous eye health examination,” meaning the purchase could be made but only after an in-person appointment with an optometrist.

Current law allows patients to have their vision tested online so long as they have had a comprehensive eye exam within the past four years.

The optometrist lobby supported the change, but Americans for Vision Care Innovation cried foul, as did major lens retailer 1-800-Contacts via its lobbyist Rhett O’Doski.

According to St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes lawmakers weren’t keen on the proposal either, telling Florida politics that “a bunch of members came up to Hooper and expressed concerns,” which led the first-term Senator to pull the amendments.

Americans for Vision Care Innovation said Thursday that more than a million online eye exams had been conducted in Florida and not “a single adverse event, medical malpractice claim, or consumer initiated medical board complaint” has been reported.

Opponents said all it would do is cost consumers money. A comprehensive eye exam sets patients back about $185 dollars in the office. Online, the high-end is about $40.

Americans for Vision Care Innovation is a pressure group that has come together to help ensure that America’s glasses and contact lens wearers have access to these safe and effective online vision care services. Their goal is to encourage more states to adopt pro-consumer legislation that promotes access for these services and to end bans on such services where they exist. Click here for further information on the group

IOW Festival efforts to raise Spine’s brand profile and pull customers to product Mondottica have teamed up with the Isle Of White Festival 2019.

April 2019

So how will that work with Spine Eyewear?

- They have 250 pairs of Spine Eyewear earmarked for the artist at the event to gain unprecedented brand exposure
- They are retailing their Sunglasses during the event from the VIP & public area’s to build brand followers
- They’ll have banners, posters & other types of branding set up during the 4 day event
- They have set in play a social media ‘VIP ticket give away’ completion for brand consumers*

Spine at IOW FestivalSo how does this help sales in store?

*Spine Eyewear is giving away 10x Pairs of VIP glamping tickets for the 4 day Isle Of White Festival duration (or less if preferred).

This will include exclusive tickets, glamping pitch in VIP area, opportunity to MEET some of the ARTISTS & along with some food & during the event.

Anyone can enter although this has been designed to help you sell Spine Eyewear.

How do clients enter?

They simple go onto their social media and post a picture of them wearing Spine Eyewear with the following hashtag.

#SpineFest with their ‘opticians name’ and their ‘town’ added in the text! (it could not be easier!).

You can find out more information on the Spine Eyewear Facebook & @Spine_Optics Instagram or Twitter.

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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