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Opchat Magazine General NewsGeneral News, October to December 2020

Entries now open for West Midlands healthcare awards
AIO sends a letter to Grant Shapps to promote road safety awareness and vision.
ESSILOR Teams up with Aston Villa to tackle Poor Vision
COVID-19 advice may have reduced exposure to heart attack triggers
Vision Impairment trends over last 30 Years
RSM produces in association with Evening Standard helpful Xmas Video on "Staying safe with Covid"
When Coronavirus Vaccines are ready, Dentists, Optometrists may "Give Shots", across the pond.
ABDO awarded "Best Newcomer" by Youth Employment UK
Breaking News: Tier Regions Decisions released this morning
'Smile' postcards help the elderly stay connected
We hold our breath awaiting news of the Tier1,2,3,Areas but here are the full rules which cover all tiers and distinguish between the tiers
Free flu vaccinations rolled out to over 50s from December
Ophthalmologist seeks pharma support for iodine drops
B+L: Investigational In Vitro Data Indicates Complete Inactivation Of SARS-CoV-2 With Lumify and Besivance Eye Drops
College of Optometrists publishes advice for drivers during this week's Road Safety Week
Specsavers and Brake campaign for safe driving, (but not to Barnard Castle)
Luxottica data breach exposes LensCrafters, EyeMed patient info
Experts worried over Nigeria’s inability to eliminate blindness
rms and UK government agree a package of measures to reduce vaccine disinformation
Antrim Mayor praises local Specsavers team for services to the community
ESSILOR Launch of Virtual Scratch Card Incentive
World first with multiple Covid-19 test machine from Bosch
Warnings of novelty contact lens dangers
Myopia Profile and Essilor Partner to Tackle Childhood Myopia Through Education and Awareness
Ireland's consumers vote Specsavers number two for customer service
Essilor launch roadworthy eyes campaign
DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET: Is Britain really losing its Focus
There are hopes COVID’s ‘cancel culture’ could prompt drop in Halloween horror stories
Gareth Hadley awarded OBE
MP opens new Optical Express Eye Clinic and Laser Treatment Centre in Dartford
New fund to support health and social care teams with implementing innovations and improvements in the West Midlands
Specsavers brings a smile to the nation with new adverts
Chancellor announces UK wide Job Support Scheme to be expanded
RNIB Scotland releases a "Vision for the Future" a 2021 Scottish Parliament Election manifesto
Midlands healthcare innovators recognised in Annual Awards
Amended & Day rolling infection Rate after Government Admission of error October 5th
The story behind "the making of a new lens to benefit the many".
Read Archived General News from July to September 2020

Entries now open for West Midlands healthcare awards

December 2020

Today (14 December 2020) West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN) is proud to announce the return of its prestigious Meridian Celebration of Innovation Awards, with entries now open.

Since its launch in 2015, the awards programme has been celebrating the individuals and organisations that are revolutionising healthcare in the West Midlands with new ideas, technologies, and initiatives.

This year’s awards will shine a particular light on those that have continued to encourage positive change to patient care and the region’s healthcare economy, in spite of the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The fifth rendition of the awards will be making a virtual return with an online ceremony taking place on Tuesday, 30 March 2021.

Any organisation or individual from across the healthcare, enterprise, academia, or not-for-profit sectors can enter, but they must have worked on a project with WMAHSN, or one of its expert networks, to qualify.

This year’s categories include:

• Meridian Innovation and Improvement Champion Award
• Workforce Innovation Award
• MidTECH Award for Best NHS-Developed Innovation
• Mental Health Resilience Innovation Award
• Medicines Optimisation and Management Innovation Award
• Driving Digital Transformation Innovation Award
• Patient Safety and Improvement Award
• Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Management Innovation Award
• ‘Above and Beyond’ Adoption of Innovation Award
• Meridian Award

Entries can be submitted via the Meridian Innovation Exchange website

Deadline for submissions is Friday, 5 February, 2021 at 5pm

The shortlist for each award category will be announced a week later on Friday, 12 February, 2021.

Tammy Holmes, Head of Innovation Exchange at WMAHSN said: “We are excited to once again recognise and celebrate some of the incredible work taking place within the West Midlands’ vibrant healthcare sector.

“For anyone working in the healthcare industry especially, 2020 has been year to remember. We have continued to see the region’s healthcare industry improve, thanks to the passion and dedication shown from the many individuals and organisations we work with.

“We look forward to once again celebrating the successes of those seeking to address challenges and offer tangible solutions to make our industry better and improve patient care.”

Meridian Innovation Exchange is open for any individuals or organisations to find healthcare innovations, share ideas, build groups and grow networks to collaborate and improve healthcare provision across the West Midlands.

The platform helps users showcase their ideas, spread good practice, share ideas and bring about change with collaborators from across sectors.

AIO sends a letter to Grant Shapps to promote road safety awareness and vision.

December 2020

It reads: Dear Minister,

The Road Safety Statement 2019 A lifetime of road safety

We understand that the Department for Transport is reviewing road safety including a review of vision driving standards 2.67 and 2.68 page 31-32 and therefore thought it worthwhile writing to you to inform you about vision standards that the Association of Independent Optometrists (AIO) have been reviewing and including a mandatory “Vision MOT” proposal.

As an AIO council member I was invited to attend a meeting on 13th November at Portcullis House chaired by Jack Dromey who became interested in this issue as I believe one of his constituent’s grandchildren was tragically fatally injured by a motorist who had been told his vision was below standard but nevertheless continued to drive.

As a keen motorist aged 72 it is clear that older drivers should have vision checks more often as conditions affecting vision such as glaucoma, cataract and age-related macular degeneration become more prevalent. However, this might seem somewhat “age discriminatory” as vision loss can occur at all ages. It is rather bizarre that whilst vehicles are required to have annual road worthiness checks, other than a vision check at the time the driving test is taken there is subsequently no further vision roadworthiness check until the age of 70, and even then at this point it is simply a self-reporting procedure.

• The current test standard requiring simply reading a number plate at 20 metres was set in 1937 so no longer fit for purpose as driving conditions have changed somewhat since that time.
• A BRAKE survey suggests that 1.5 million drivers have never had their eyes tested.
• Cyprus, France, the Netherlands, Norway, and the UK are the only European countries with number plate self-test.
• A Vision Express poll found 75% of drivers want a recent eye test to be mandatory when renewing a driving licence.


The main objection to changing driving vision requirements has historically been that there is no evidence linking poor eyesight with accidents. This is simply non-sensical as it clearly self-evident that good vision, including good peripheral vision, is essential in order to safely navigate whether driving, cycling or walking.

The reason there is “no evidence” is simply because there is virtually no possibility of gathering such evidence in the vast majority of accidents; if it is impossible to gather such evidence it is a rather circuitous argument to conclude nothing needs to be done.

We have proposed there are therefore two crucial vision tests in order to drive safely.

1) 20 metre number plate test.

The present requirement to read a number plate at 20 metres is however insufficient. This test provides a useful measure of central vision or acuity, but it precludes any check on peripheral vision.
2) Peripheral vision

Peripheral vision is fundamental to navigating and avoiding collisions. This is particularly true for “small targets” which includes cyclists, motor cyclists and pedestrians.

To quote from a paper published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology “ Crucially, while we do not use the peripheral visual field for exploratory vision, its sharp temporal sensitivity is key to navigating in response to sudden events” (1) Effectively what this is saying is that when we are navigating through any space - whether driving, cycling or walking - we avoid collisions by reacting to events away from our central vision (or "out of the corner of our eye”). This means that the simple central acuity measurement provided by the number plate test is largely irrelevant for reacting to cyclists, pedestrians or any object appearing in our peripheral vision.

A useful representation of how visual field loss can affect vision was sent with this note is shown below and perfectly illustrates why “self-reporting” will not work.

These images were taken from a paper “How does glaucoma look?” (2) by David Crabb et al at the Department of Optometry and Visual Science, City University London.

The authors wanted to understand exactly what people “see” with visual field loss which occurs not only in glaucoma but also in other types of ocular pathology. As you will see from the images, rather than obvious “blind patches”, in the majority of cases of peripheral vision loss the brain “fills in” the blind spot(s), resulting in no awareness of anything being there - so subjects are completely unaware that bits of their vision are missing.

As a result, a driver could genuinely believe they see well, whereas in reality they may not be able to perceive pedestrians, cyclists or other vehicles approaching.

Vision with normal peripheral sight

Unmodified image; as seen by a subject with “normal” peripheral vision

Vision with Peripheral Loss

Modified image; as seen by a patient with typical peripheral vision loss. No obvious blind spots reported by the subject, but critical details missing from the picture.


The AIO would therefore like to present the following proposal:

All drivers must undergo a mandatory assessment of visual function at the time of driving licence renewal. This would be at no cost to the taxpayer and be funded by the driver *

Visual standards:
1. Visual acuity - a minimum of 6/9 binocular vision
This can be easily measured and a minimum standard of 6/9 binocular vision, which is the requirement for HGV drivers, would seem to be an eminently sensible requirement.
2. Binocular Visual field test
Whether motoring, cycling or walking we largely avoid collisions by peripheral awareness and a simple visual fields tests can quickly and easily assess this function. Moorfields state the minimum visual field for safe driving is a field of vision of at least 120 degrees on the horizontal meridian. The binocular Esterman test as currently required for drivers over 70 with any ocular pathology would meet this requirement.
* The DVLA vision assessment fee could be left to the optometrist and could be a commercial decision to be made by each individual practitioner.
Yours sincerely, Michael Killpartrick
(2) Ophthalmology. 2013 Jun;120(6):1120-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2012.11.043. Epub 2013 Feb12

ESSILOR Teams up with Aston Villa to tackle Poor Vision

December 2020

Vision For Life Aston Villa

Essilor Ltd is sponsoring a new eye health initiative, ‘Villa Vision’, run by the Foundation of Premier League football club Aston Villa, and has pledged to provide corrective lenses to all children identified with vision problems.

It has donated and fitted a mobile eye care van with optical equipment to perform full eye examinations and to help spread the message of good eye health.

Essilor and aston vills vsn The Villa Vision van will tour schools and local community venues across Birmingham, reaching out to several hundred children each term, through interactive lessons, educational materials, and vision screening.

The Optometry School at Aston University is partnering the initiative to share its clinical and research expertise. It will be collecting data from the eye screenings to conduct vital research into the evolving problem of myopia to provide evidence-based eye care.

Dr. Andy Hepworth, professional relations manager at Essilor Ltd, said: “When Aston University approached us about the project, we knew instantly that we wanted to help make it a success.

“It’s a natural fit with our Vision for Life social impact fund and helps us strive towards our mission to improve lives, by improving sight.

“For many years Vision for Life has supported global projects that look to correct refractive error, and this is essential even in high income countries like the UK.

“We really do need to take a closer look at the impact uncorrected refractive error has been having, it’s enormous and a simple starting point is for the public to realise the vital importance of regular eye tests. Villa Vision provides an opportunity to start communicating this message.

“It was fantastic to see how the sight testing instruments fitted into the van, along with a frame selection for children and we’re looking forward to dispensing corrective eyewear to people who really need it.”

Essilor and aston vills vsn
Villa Vision will help spread the message of healthy eyes and ensure children are seeing clearly.

Villa Vision project manager and optometrist, Nikhil Sonpal, said: “We believe that every child should be given the visual foundation to succeed.

“Children may not always recognise whether there is something wrong with their vision and it is particularly damaging if vision problems go undetected.

“We understand that particularly in more deprived communities, many children and adults may face a number of significant challenges and barriers when it comes to accessing eyecare services.

“Seeing well improves most aspects of everyday life, from a child’s overall development and in particular their education. There is also that link across to parents too, where good sight may improve work opportunities and general wellbeing.

“Having this support from Essilor really gives the project the opportunity to fulfil its ambition to successfully raise awareness on the importance of eye health and serve the needs of the local community.”

COVID-19 advice may have reduced exposure to heart attack triggers

December 2020

A new study suggests that COVID-19 guidance in Sweden may have reduced people’s risks of having a heart attack.

By using anonymous location data from mobile phones, researchers developed an aggregate picture of the activities of the Swedish population and mapped it against attendances at the country’s 29 emergency cardiac angiography units. Cardiac angiography is used to treat blockages to the heart’s blood vessels.

On those days when the location data revealed people were staying close to home, the proportion of patients going to hospital for emergency heart treatment dropped from an average of 63 patients a day in pre-COVID years to an average of 55 patients a day during the first wave of the pandemic – from 1 March to 5 May 2020. At its lowest point, in the early part of April, the drop in patients was 38 percent.

A downloadable graph shows the relative drop in patients attending the cardiac angiography units. The deline is seen from early March. The Swedish public health authorities advised people aged 70-plus to stay at home from 16 March.

In comparison, when the location data showed people were active at work or were going shopping or being physically active, the proportionate number of attendances at the heart units rose.

Chris Gale, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Leeds, was one of the scientists involved in the study. He said: “This was a statistical analysis so cause-and-effect cannot be directly determined, but it has identified a number of interesting associations.

“Although Sweden was not locked down, people aged 70 or more were urged to stay at home and that could have reduced exposure to some of the events that are known to trigger a heart attack such as stress, intense physical activity, air pollution and exposure to some viruses.”

The study - The effects of movement trends on acute coronary syndrome during the COVID-19 pandemic – published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, is one of the first scientific investigations to use location data from mobile devices to help explain how COVID-19 and the health messages around the virus may have affected people’s health.

Further details here from University of Leeds

Vision Impairment trends over last 30 Years

December 2020

(Extract The Lancet)

Causes of blindness and vision impairment in 2020 and trends over 30 years, and prevalence of avoidable blindness in relation to VISION 2020: the Right to Sight: an analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study
GBD 2019 Blindness and Vision Impairment Collaborators * on behalf of theVision Loss Expert Group of the Global Burden of Disease Study


Many causes of vision impairment can be prevented or treated. With an ageing global population, the demands for eye health services are increasing.

We estimated the prevalence and relative contribution of avoidable causes of blindness and vision impairment globally from 1990 to 2020.

We aimed to compare the results with the World Health Assembly Global Action Plan (WHA GAP) target of a 25% global reduction from 2010 to 2019 in avoidable vision impairment, defined as cataract and undercorrected refractive error.Read the full article here

RSM produces in association with Evening Standard helpful Xmas Video on "Staying safe with Covid"

December 2020

RSM Seasonal Advice to Public on staying safe

Christmas is coming but with Covid here to stay, how can you and your family keep safe and well during the holiday season? Join TV presenter Kate Garraway on Tuesday 8 December as she puts questions from the public to top medical experts Dr Chris van Tulleken, Dr Clare Gerada, Professor Robin Shattock and Dr Sarah Filson.

Together they will explain the science and evidence behind the Covid Christmas bubble guidelines and offer some practical tips to these and other questions:

The broadcast is aimed at public education as well as practitioners who need to provide answers during the pandemic.

If you and your family get together indoors, how can you stop any infection spreading?

How can you travel safely during the holidays?

If someone in your household has Covid symptoms what should they do and how should you care for them?

And with vaccines coming soon, our medical experts will also be looking at the science behind the jabs, how they have been developed and how they might be rolled out in the New Year.

To watch the programme visit this web page at 1pm GMT on Tuesday 8 December. Sign up below two hours prior to the broadcast to receive an email reminder.

Make a note on the calendar and let your friends know about it.

When Coronavirus Vaccines are ready, Dentists, Optometrists may "Give Shots", across the pond.

December 2020

With multiple COVID-19 vaccines rapidly heading toward approval, optometrists and dentists are pushing for the authority to immunize patients during routine eye exams and dental cleanings. These medical professionals say their help will be needed to distribute the vaccines to millions of Americans — and they already have the know-how, according to an NBC News report.

In California, the professional organizations representing dentists and optometrists are in talks with state officials to expand their job descriptions to include administering vaccines.

The dentists and optometrists argue that their help would take some of the pressure off hospitals and doctors' offices. It could also bring some extra money into their practices.

"Everyone in our specialized health care system should also play a preventive role," said Dr. William Sage, a professor of law and medicine at the University of Texas at Austin. "Pandemic or not, being alert to preventive health in any setting is a good thing."

ABDO awarded "Best Newcomer" by Youth Employment UK

December 2020

ABDO has just won the 'Best Newcomer' award for its Careers in Eyecare campaign from Youth Employment UK (YEUK).

The Career in Eyecare campaign promotes careers across the sector, highlighting the range of clinical, fashion, design, technical and retail roles available. It was launched in 2020, and maximises the use of social media to reach out to young people, parents and careers advisers, and those looking to change career.

YEUK made the award at its Annual Impact & Awards Event. There are two awards for employers. Antonia Chitty, ABDO Head of Communications, and Nick Walsh, ABDO Sector Services Development Officer, received the award on behalf of ABDO at a virtual ceremony. The other award from Youth Friendly Employer of the Year 2020 was won by Coca Cola European Partners,

Antonia says, "In a year where very little has gone to plan, we are thrilled that we have been able to launch Careers in Eyecare, an online campaign to highlight the wide and varied range of careers available in this field. Receiving this award is massively positive, and we look forward to continuing the campaign and expanding it in 2021. My thanks go to all the other organisations in the fields of eye care and eye wear who have helped us make such a good start on the careers hub. Wwe will be developing these partnerships and building further links in 2021."

Nick says, "We identified YEUK as a key partner for our campaign because of their existing careers hub and the way they ensure that young people have a voice in shaping their activities. They have a huge ready-made audience which is enabling Careers in Eyecare to reach people who may never have considered a career in our sector. YEUK also has valuable links with government departments. This is an incredibly valuable partnership for ABDO, and it is great that YEUK has recognised ABDO’s commitment to highlighting careers with this award."

The awards were presented by Kirstie Donnelly MBE - CEO, City & Guilds and David Phillips, Managing Director, City & Guilds and ILM.

Find out more about ABDO's Careers in Eyecare campaign here. You can also find the campaign on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Breaking News: Tier Regions Decisions released this morning

November 2020

Tier 1: Medium alert

Rules here

South East
Isle of Wight
South West
Isles of Scilly

Tier 2: High alert

North West

Liverpool City Region
Warrington and Cheshire
North Yorkshire
West Midlands
Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin

East Midlands

East of England
Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough
Essex, Thurrock and Southend on Sea
Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes

all 32 boroughs plus the City of London

South East

East Sussex
West Sussex
Brighton and Hove
Bracknell Forest
Windsor and Maidenhead
West Berkshire
Hampshire (except the Isle of Wight), Portsmouth and Southampton

South West

South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor
Bath and North East Somerset
Wiltshire and Swindon

Tier 3: Very High alert

North East

Tees Valley Combined Authority:
Redcar and Cleveland
North East Combined Authority:
South Tyneside
Newcastle upon Tyne
North Tyneside
County Durham

North West

Greater Manchester
Blackburn with Darwen
Yorkshire and The Humber
The Humber
West Yorkshire
South Yorkshire

West Midlands

Birmingham and Black Country
Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull

East Midlands

Derby and Derbyshire
Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
Leicester and Leicestershire

South East
Slough (remainder of Berkshire is tier 2: High alert)
Kent and Medway
South West
South Gloucestershire
North Somerset

'Smile' postcards help the elderly stay connected

November 2020

With loneliness on the increase, Specsavers has partnered with the Royal Voluntary Service to help older people to stay connected.

New research from Age UK shows that two million elderly people expect to feel lonely during Christmas1. So, to give people something to smile about, Specsavers has sent more than 85,000 uplifting postcards to people who are unable to leave their homes.

Sam Ward, Director of Services and Deputy CEO of Royal Voluntary Service says: ‘At home consultations are set to be the norm for the near future, so services like this are essential. With older people likely to feel more isolated than ever as winter sets in, it’s vital that we do all that we can to help them feel connected.’ 

Lois and Romy HopkinsThe card front was designed by Lois and Romy Hopkins (image right) , eight-year-old twins, from Chesterfield in Derbyshire, who entered a Specsavers’ Facebook competition. Romy says: ‘I had great fun designing the card with my sister. It’s so exciting to know that it’s being sent out to people who may not have been able to see their families and friends as much this year.’

‘We can’t wait to see our postcard come to life,’ says her sister Lois. ‘We’re so pleased we can help spread a few smiles.’

The card also includes useful contact details for Royal Voluntary Service, as well as a reminder that Specsavers home-visiting opticians are available as usual even under the current restrictions.

Mel Roberts director of Specsavers Home Visits says: ‘During the first lockdown when we were unable to operate as usual, we made a point of calling as many of our housebound customers as possible and so are very aware of just how isolating the pandemic is for some people. These postcards are a small way of connecting with our elderly customers and letting them know that support is out there. It's so heart-warming to hear that someone has kept the card next to their phone, or it's on the mantelpiece and they say that they smile whenever they look at it'.

‘We want to reassure people that it is safe to book an at-home eye test. Our visiting colleagues follow stringent measures to keep everyone safe. We encourage anyone with concerns to give our home visit team a call.

Even if a customer is not comfortable with someone coming into their home we can offer care and advice remotely.’

We hold our breath awaiting news of the Tier1,2,3,Areas but here are the full rules which cover all tiers and distinguish between the tiers

November 2020

As the Health Secretary will today set out in Parliament the tier which each local authority in England will fall under, in line with the measures set out in the COVID-19 Winter Plan published on Monday, we will bring you news as soon as confirmed on the tier structure but here are the extensive new rules set out yesterday.

As announced earlier this week, the tiers have been toughened and many more areas will be placed into the higher tiers in order to safeguard the gains made during the period of national restrictions.

The first review point for the current tier allocations will take place by Wednesday 16 December.

This allows for the possibility of areas that continue to make progress in slowing the spread of the disease to be moved down a tier in advance of Christmas.

Decisions on tiers are made by ministers based on public health recommendations informed by the following factors:

case detection rate (in all age groups and, in particular, among the over 60s)

how quickly case rates are rising or falling

positivity in the general population

pressure on the NHS – including current and projected (3 to 4 weeks out) NHS capacity – including admissions, general/acute/ICU bed occupancy, staff absences

local context and exceptional circumstances such as a local but contained outbreak

If these indicators are not improving, an area may be moved up a tier and if the trajectory improves, the area may move to a lower tier.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice made by people up and down the country, we are able to move out of national lockdown and into more targeted local, tiered restrictions.

I know for those of you faced with tier 3 restrictions this will be a particularly difficult time but I want to reassure you that we’ll be supporting your areas with mass community testing and extra funding.

By following the rules together we can get out of these tough measures.

The Contain Outbreak Management Fund will be extended so that it can provide monthly payments to local authorities facing higher restrictions until the end of the financial year, in recognition of the ongoing public health and outbreak management costs of tackling COVID-19. For those authorities in tier 3, this funding will amount to £4 per head of population per month, and for those in tier 2, it will amount to £2 per head of population per month.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) works closely with Public Health England (PHE), the NHS and across government to monitor the number of new infections, positivity rates, and pressures on the NHS.

These factors form their public health advice to the Chief Medical Officer and ministers through the Local Action Committee and the COVID Operations Committee.

Final decisions on tiering are made by the Prime Minister at the COVID Operations Committee.

The government will also publish an analysis of the health, economic and social impacts of the tiered approach.

Local authorities that fall into tier 3 will be offered support from NHS Test and Trace and the armed forces to deliver a 6-week rapid community testing programme.

Community testing will make use of rapid lateral flow tests which give results within an hour, and will focus on locating and suppressing asymptomatic transmission. The more cases identified and self-isolating, the quicker the control of virus transmission which is essential to help areas move down a tier.

With some individuals with coronavirus showing no symptoms, increased community testing will help identify those who are infected and infectious but asymptomatic and unaware that they might be spreading the disease, so that they can isolate and protect others.

Local authorities will be able to decide whether to use lateral flow test kits for targeted testing for high-risk workplaces and industries, or for wider asymptomatic community testing, to find positive cases more quickly and break chains of transmission.

Anyone who tests positive, using either a lateral flow test or an existing swab test, must self-isolate along with their household immediately and their contacts will be traced.

Rapid community testing will expand on existing testing programmes within the NHS, care homes, universities and schools to protect those most at risk, and builds on the pilots of community testing which are taking place in Liverpool and Merthyr Tydfil.
There is separate guidance for households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection and additional advice at each tier will be provided shortly for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus.

There is also separate guidance for support and childcare bubbles, which apply across all tiers.

Support bubbles have been expanded. From 2 December you can form a support bubble with another household if any of the following apply to you:

you are the only adult in your household (any other members of the household having been under 18 on 12 June 2020) or are the only adult who does not have a disability that needs continuous care
you have a child under 1
you live with a child under 5 with a disability that needs continuous care
The government will announce the arrangements that will be in place over the Christmas period shortly.

All tiers

Across all tiers, everyone:

Mmust wear a face covering in most indoor public settings, unless they have an exemption

Should follow the rules on meeting others safely

Should attend school or college as normal, unless they are self-isolating. Schools, universities, colleges and early years settings remain open in all tiers

Should walk or cycle where possible, plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes when travelling

Must follow the gathering limits at their tier except for in specific settings and circumstances. These exemptions are detailed at the end of this guidance

Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, and window visits. Regular testing will be offered to up to 2 family members or friends per resident by Christmas, which – when combined with other infection-control measures such as PPE – will support indoor visits with physical contact. Detailed guidance will be published shortly.

All businesses and venues that are open are expected to follow COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers. In all tiers, the following businesses and venues can remain open:

Essential and non-essential retail, including indoor and outdoor markets and car boot sales

Certain leisure and sporting facilities such as gyms, sports courts and facilities, leisure centres, fitness and dance studios, golf courses, swimming pools, riding centres, outdoor playgrounds – subject to relevant social
contact rules in each tier. Indoor group activities and classes should not take place at tier 3

Personal care and close contact services such as hairdressers and barbers, beauty salons, tattoo parlours, nail salons, spas and beauty services, massage parlours and tanning salons

Public buildings, such as libraries, community centres and halls. They should not host events for private hire, such as birthday parties or most other social activities in tier 3

Allotments, recycling and waste centres, public toilets, car parks

Essential public services such as the NHS and medical services, courts, and jobcentre plus sites

Places of worship – communal worship can now resume, subject to relevant social contact rules in each tier

Everyone who can work from home should do so. Where people cannot do so – including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing – they should continue to travel to their workplace. Public-sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary

Tier 1: Medium alert
In tier 1:

You must not socialise in groups larger than 6 people, indoors or outdoors, other than where a legal exemption applies. This is called the ‘rule of 6’

Businesses and venues can remain open, in a COVID secure manner, other than those which remain closed by law, such as nightclubs

Hospitality businesses selling food or drink for consumption on their premises are required to:

Provide table service only, for premises that serve alcohol

Close between 11pm and 5am (hospitality venues in airports, ports, on transport services and in motorway service areas are exempt)

Stop taking orders after 10pm

Hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through

Early closure (11pm) applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities and bingo halls. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances that start before 10pm

Public attendance at outdoor and indoor events (performances and shows) is permitted, limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or either 4,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors

Public attendance at spectator sport and business events can resume inside and outside, subject to social contact rules and limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or either 4,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors

Places of worship remain open, but you must not attend or socialise in groups of more than 6 people while there, unless a legal exemption applies

Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events

Organised outdoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue

Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue to take place, if the rule of 6 is followed. There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes, and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing

If you live in a tier 1 area and travel to an area in a higher tier you should follow the rules for that area while you are there. Avoid travel to or overnight stays in tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can travel through a tier 3 area as part of a longer journey

For international travel see the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel advice for your destination and the travel corridors list

Tier 2: High alert

This is for areas with a higher or rapidly rising level of infections, where some additional restrictions need to be in place.

In tier 2:

You must not socialise with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place

You must not socialise in a group of more than 6 people outside, including in a garden or a public space – this is called the ‘rule of 6’

Businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those which remain closed by law, such as nightclubs

Pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals

Hospitality businesses selling food or drink for consumption on their premises are required to:

Provide table service only, in premises which sell alcohol

Close between 11pm and 5am (hospitality venues in airports, ports, transport services and motorway service areas are exempt)

Stop taking orders after 10pm

Hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through

Early closure (11pm) applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances that start before 10pm

Public attendance at outdoor and indoor events (performances and shows) is permitted, limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors

Public attendance at spectator sport and business events can resume inside and outside, subject to social contact rules and limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors

Places of worship remain open but you must not socialise with people from outside of your household or support bubble while you are indoors there, unless a legal exemption applies

Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events such as wakes or stonesettings.

Organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue

Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes will only be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with). There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing

You can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible

If you live in a tier 2 area, you must continue to follow tier 2 rules when you travel to a tier 1 area. Avoid travel to or overnight stays in tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities.You can travel through a tier 3 area as a part of a longer journey

For international travel see the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel advice for your destination and the travel corridors list

Tier 3: Very High alert

This is for areas with a very high or very rapidly rising level of infections, where tighter restrictions are in place.

In tier 3:

You must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble, this includes in any private garden or at most outdoor venues

You must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in some other outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility – this is called the ‘rule of 6’

Hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha venues), pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed – they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.

Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses must close. There are several exemptions, such as for those who use these venues as their main residence, and those requiring the venues where it is reasonably necessary for work or education and training

Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close. This includes:

Indoor play centres and areas, including trampolining parks and soft play


Bingo halls

Bowling alleys

Skating rinks

Amusement arcades and adult gaming centres

Laser quests and escape rooms

Cinemas, theatres and concert halls

Snooker halls

indoor attractions at mostly outdoor entertainment venues must also close (indoor shops, through-ways and public toilets at such attractions can remain open). This includes indoor attractions within:

Zoos, safari parks, and wildlife reserves

Aquariums, visitor attractions at farms, and other animal attractions

Model villages

Museums, galleries and sculpture parks

Botanical gardens, biomes or greenhouses

Theme parks, circuses, fairgrounds and funfairs

Visitor attractions at film studios, heritage sites such as castles and stately homes

Landmarks including observation decks and viewing platforms

Leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead. Saunas and steam rooms should close

Tthere should be no public attendance at spectator sport or indoor performances and large business events should not be taking place. Elite sport events may continue to take place without spectators

large outdoor events (performances and shows) should not take place, with the exception of drive-in events

Places of worship remain open, but you must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside of your household or support bubble while you are there, unless a legal exemption applies

Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions are not allowed, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, 15 people can attend linked commemorative events

Organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue, however higher-risk contact activity should not take place

Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes cannot take place indoors. There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s

You can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible

Avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can travel through other areas as part of a longer journey

For international travel see the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel advice for your destination and the travel corridors list

Exemptions from gatherings limits in all tiers

As part of a single household, or a support bubble

For work or providing voluntary or charitable services, including in other people’s homes

For childcare, education or training – meaning education and training provided as part of a formal curriculum

For supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care (before and after-school childcare), groups and activities for under 18s, and children’s playgroups

For formal support groups, and parent and child groups – up to 15 people aged 5 and older

To allow contact between birth parents and children in care, as well as between siblings in care

For arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians

For prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them

For birth partners

To attend a funeral – with no more than 30 people present – or a commemorative event such as a wake for someone who has died – with no more than 15 people present

To see someone who is terminally ill or at the end of life

To attend a wedding or civil partnership – with no more than 15 people present

To provide emergency assistance

To avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm

To fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service

To provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable or to provide respite for a carer

To facilitate moving home


PHN will publish Tier regions as soon as possible here on Opchat News .

Free flu vaccinations rolled out to over 50s from December

November 2020

People aged 50 to 64 will get free flu vaccine from 1 December as part of expanded flu vaccination programme this winter.

Individuals will be able to get free flu jab from their GP or pharmacist

Centrally secured supply of vaccines available to GPs and pharmacies for newly eligible group

Adults over the age of 50 will be able to get their free flu vaccine from 1 December in the next phase of this year’s expanded flu vaccination programme, the government has confirmed.

Individuals aged 50 to 64 will be able to get a vaccine from their GP or pharmacy. This significant new group can now be included in the flu programme, with the initial phase of flu vaccinations well under way.

Flu vaccine uptake is higher in all vulnerable groups except pregnant women compared with this time last year. Provisional data published by Public Health England on Thursday 20 November suggests 72.9% of those aged 65 and over, 45.0% of 2 year olds and 46.8% of 3 year olds have had their vaccine.

GPs, trusts and pharmacists can order additional stock to vaccinate this new group from the centrally secured government supply of over 7 million vaccines.

This has been secured amid high global demand for more flu vaccine and now means vaccines can be provided to this group over December and into the New Year.

There is enough flu vaccine supply to vaccinate 30 million people throughout this year’s flu season in England.

Ophthalmologist seeks pharma support for iodine drops

November 2020

Nick Jacobs
The use of providone iodine as a substitute for antibiotics has resurfaced as ophthalmologists look to treat Covid-related eye infections as efficiently as possible.

Nick Jacobs, Consultant Ophthalmologist, believes there is a strong case for prescribing this in preference to antibiotics and is seeking a manufacturing partner.

“Povidone iodine is very topical: There is a significant history of using this to treat eye infections, and it is now being used off-label for Covid conjunctivitis. We are all striving to reduce the use of antibiotics and there is a proven route to use this, plus it would be useful as a prophylaxis. The cost savings are significant and open up opportunities to treat many more patients in third world countries,” he said.

Nick is interested in getting approval to use povidone iodine 1.25% in conjunctivitis of all types not as an antiseptic but an antibiotic.

It has largely been ignored by modern medicine and big-pharma, he believes –

“But the market potential for ophthalmic drops is enormous. It is successful in both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis.*

The added advantage is that people do not develop resistance.

It offers an effective replacement for antibiotics and can be used safely with children.”

• American Journal of Ophthalmology: Randomized, Controlled, Phase 2 Trial of Povidone-Iodine/Dexamethasone Ophthalmic Suspension for Treatment of Adenoviral Conjunctivitis (October 2018)

B+L: Investigational In Vitro Data Indicates Complete Inactivation Of SARS-CoV-2 With Lumify and Besivance Eye Drops

November 2020

Bausch Health Companies and Bausch + Lomb announced the results of new investigational in vitro data showing that two benzalkonium chloride (BAK) preserved eye drops, Lumify (brimonidine tartrate ophthalmic solution 0.025%) redness reliever eye drops and Besivance (besifloxacin ophthalmic suspension) 0.6%, indicated complete inactivation of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19).

These data were presented at the 2020 Ocular Microbiology and Immunology Group 54th Annual Meeting that took place virtually on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020.

“Our team presented investigational data that evaluated the in vitro antiviral activity of Lumify and Besivance against SARS-CoV-2, and the results indicated complete inactivation of the virus,” Joseph C. Papa, chairman and CEO, Bausch Health, said in a company news release. “The clinical relevance of this in vitro data is not known, and our intention is to further review these data to determine next steps, including potential discussions with regulatory agencies around the world.”

In the study, researchers evaluated the in vitro antiviral activity of Lumify and Besivance against SARS-CoV-2 using a Vero E-6 host-cell system. Both Lumify and Besivance contain 0.01% BAK, a quaternary ammonium compound commonly used as a preservative in ophthalmic topical solutions. The activity of BAK against SARS-CoV-2 is not well understood.

Time kill testing of SARS-CoV-2 cultures was conducted by multiple dosing of each formulation at contact times representative of those recommended in the Instructions for Use in both products. All tests were conducted in triplicate and in accordance with ASTM E1052-20, suspension time-kill test for virus standard practices. Following the required contact time, test solutions were neutralized, serially diluted and inoculated onto the Vero E6 host-cell system. Test samples were incubated with the Vero E6 host-cells and after 4-9 days, the presence of residual viable virus was scored.

The results indicated complete inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 virus at all contact times. Log10 reductions for Lumify were ≥1.80, ≥2.14 and ≥2.02 at 8-hour, 24-hour and 72-hour contact times, respectively, and Log10 reductions for Besivance were ≥1.95 and ≥2.56 at the 24-hour and 72-hour contact times, respectively. The clinical relevance of these in vitro findings is not known.

Neither Lumify nor Besivance have been proven to prevent or treat COVID-19 in humans nor have they been approved for those uses by the FDA. Consumers and patients should only use these products in accordance with their directions for use and the directions of their ECP.

College of Optometrists publishes advice for drivers during this week's Road Safety Week

November 2020

Vision plays a vital role in driving, and as a driver it’s important that you ensure you have the best vision possible. To mark Road Safety Week, taking place from 16-22 November, The College of Optometrists has issued advice to drivers encouraging them to ensure their vision is up to standard before getting behind the wheel. The advice comes following research conducted by The College showing that two-thirds (66%) of British adults admit to experiencing blurred vision and a third (35%) believe their vision has markedly deteriorated in the past two years.

If you are a driver, The College of Optometrists has the following advice for you:

• The glare of low-lying sun on icy roads can cause difficulty for drivers, so make sure your windscreen is clean, both inside and out.

• It’s useful to have a pair of sunglasses in the car to help with the glare from the sun. If you are buying sunglasses, make sure you invest in eyewear that complies with the safety standard BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013 or that carry a CE mark. If you need glasses, prescription sunglasses are also available.

• It can be difficult to see when driving during the long, dark nights of winter so it’s easy to understand why more accidents happen at night. Firstly, if your optometrist has recommend you wear glasses to drive, ensure you use them. If they are more than two years old or if you are due a sight test, make sure you go to ensure you have the best possible vision.

• In winter, you may have more difficulty seeing clearly. This is because your pupils are larger in the dark than in the daylight. Your depth of field decreases when pupils are large and this means you notice blurriness more. This has two effects: firstly, you may find that your vision without spectacles is OK during day, but not at night, so you need to wear spectacles at night. Secondly, you will notice if your spectacles are not quite right for you more in the dark than in daylight, as small changes in your vision become more noticeable at night. It is therefore particularly important in winter to make sure that your spectacles are up to date to make sure that things are as clear as they can be.

• If you are having problems with your vision, call your local optometrist to make an appointment.

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOptom, Clinical Adviser for The College of Optometrists says “Having good vision is an important part of responsible driving. We know that two-thirds (66%) of British adults admit to experiencing blurred vision and a third (35%) believe their vision has markedly deteriorated in the past two years and the pandemic may have put people off having their sight tested[1]. Optometrists are still open at the moment, and if you are concerned about your vision, do call your optometrist to make an appointment. We know that poor vision can cause road accidents; research funded by The College[2] looked at contributory factors for just over one million injury-collisions. This found that car drivers aged over 60 were more likely to be involved in a crash where a contributory factor was ‘uncorrected, defective eyesight’, and that this contributory factor increased with age. The research also found that ‘dazzling sun’ was a significant issue for older drivers, so we always advise that you have a pair of sunglasses to hand in your car.”

The College is conducting ongoing research on the impact of vision on accidents that result in injury.

The work is funded by the Department for Transport, under their Road Safety Research Grant Scheme. The College will work with researchers from Warwick University and the team responsible for STATS 19 data, to investigate the factors that contributed to road traffic accidents. The results are expected to be published in February 2021. The findings from the research will add to the evidence base relating to the important role that optometrists play in assessing vision, and may inform future work to review and revise the approach taken to standards for vision and driving.

Specsavers and Brake campaign for safe driving, (but not to Barnard Castle)

November 2020

Five people die every day on the UK’s roads on average and someone is injured every four minutes, with drivers’ eyesight often playing a contributory factor. Research shows that poor vision increases a driver’s risk of crashing as it limits their ability to recognise hazards and impacts reaction time.

That is why this Road Safety Week (November 16-22), road safety charity Brake is partnering with Specsavers to raise awareness of the importance of looking after our sight, particularly when driving. The campaign will appear in national and local newspapers, online and on hundreds of UK local radio stations.

Specsavers clinical services director Giles Edmonds says: ‘Having good eyesight is one of the most basic requirements of safe driving. It means drivers will be able to spot potential dangers, see pedestrians and other vehicles, read road signs and judge speed, distance and movement. Without this, there can be catastrophic consequences on the road.

‘While an eye test plays a part in being granted your driver’s licence in that you must be able to read a number plate from 20 meters away – eyesight can change over time, especially as we get older. This is why it is so important to have regular eye checks, not only to address any changes in short or long-sightedness but also because an optician can spot sight-threatening conditions that you may not be aware of, such as cataracts, macular degeneration or glaucoma.’

Research in London during lockdown found that cyclists and pedestrians faced almost double the risk of being seriously injured on city roads, caused by drivers’ increasing their speed due to a decrease in congestion4 – with the same effects potentially happening in other cities throughout the country.

Brake director of campaigns, Joshua Harris, says: ‘It’s self-evident that one of the fundamental for safe driving is good eyesight and being able to see the road ahead clearly. The earlier a driver can spot a hazard on the road, the quicker they will be able to stop and avoid a crash. When it comes to safe driving, good eyesight and safe speed go hand-in-hand, that’s why we’re delighted to be partnering with Specsavers on Road Safety Week 2020 under the theme “No Need to Speed”.’

Mr Edmonds adds: ‘While we want to encourage all drivers to have an up-to-date eye test to ensure that they can see clearly on the road, we also want to help increase pedestrian visibility, which is why many of our stores have been donating high-visibility vests to schools and local community groups.

‘As is evident from the research, vision is vital to help us judge speed and ensure quick reaction times. However, for those who do wear glasses, it is also important to ensure that their lenses are suitable for driving too.’

Luxottica data breach exposes LensCrafters, EyeMed patient info in USA.

November 2020

A Luxottica data breach has exposed the personal and protected health information for patients of LensCrafters, Target Optical, EyeMed, and other eye care practices.

Luxottica is the world's largest eyewear company with a portfolio of well-known eyeglass brands, including Ray-Ban, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Ferrari, Michael Kors, Bulgari, Armani, Prada, Chanel, and Coach.

In addition to selling eyeglasses, Luxottica also operates the EyeMed vision benefits company and partners with eye care professionals as part of their LensCrafters, Target Optical, EyeMed, and Pearle Vision retail outlets.

These partners get access to a web-based appointment scheduling application that allows patients to schedule appointments online or over the phone.

Data breach in the appointment scheduling system

In a "Security Incident" notification issued this week, Luxottica disclosed that their appointment scheduling application suffered a data breach after being hacked on August 5th, 2020.

Luxottica states that they first learned about this breach on August 9 and, after investigating the attack, determined on August 28 that the attacker gained access to patients' personal information.

"On August 9, 2020, Luxottica learned of the incident, contained it, and immediately began an investigation to determine the extent of the incident. On August 28, 2020, we preliminarily concluded that the attacker may have accessed and acquired patient information," the Luxottica data breach notification states.

The exposed information includes personal data (PII) and protected health information (PHI), including medical conditions and history.

"The personal information involved in this incident may have included: full name, contact information, appointment date and time, health insurance policy number, and doctor or appointment notes that may indicate information related to eye care treatment, such as prescriptions, health conditions or procedures," Luxottica warned.

For some patients, credit card numbers and social security numbers were also exposed.

If a patient had their payment information and SSNs exposed, Luxottica offers a free two-year identity monitoring service through Kroll.

Luxottica is not aware of any misuse of the accessed data but advises all patients to watch out for notices from their health insurers or health care providers and monitor their credit statements and history for fraudulent activity.

"We recommend that all potentially impacted individuals take steps to protect themselves, for example by closely monitoring notices from your health insurer and health care providers for unexpected activity. If your payment card information and/or Social Security number were involved in this incident, this is explicitly stated in your letter," Luxottica advised on a web site created specifically for this data breach.

On October 27th, Luxottica has begun to mail notices to those who are affected. They have also started releasing press releases on websites for local newspapers to alert patients of the data breach.

This data breach comes on the heels of a recent Nefilim ransomware attack on Luxottica that occurred on September 18th, 2020, and caused significant outages, interruptions, and theft of unencrypted files.

Experts worried over Nigeria’s inability to eliminate blindness

November 2020

Ophthalmologists have expressed worry over Nigeria’s inability to achieve the ‘Vision 2020’ initiative, aimed at eliminating the burden of visual impairment and avoidable blindness among the people by the end of the year.

According to them, projections show that global demand for eye care is set to surge in the coming years, due to population growth, aging and changes in lifestyle, adding that the burden weighs more heavily on low – and middle-income countries, specifically rural communities and older people.

An Associate Ophthalmologist, Nonye Ekwu, identified a good diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep as important factors for improved eyesight.

Delivering the 21st annual faculty lecture of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, Faculty of Ophthalmology in Lagos, Professor of Public Health Ophthalmology, Folasade Akinsola, at the weekend, stressed that while Nigeria is on track with the vision 2020 initiative, the country is still far from achieving it, as there are lots of work to do, ranging from educating the public, government involvement, and training of specialists to address the situation.

She said governments at all levels should study the situation to ensure eye healthcare would be improved in the country through adopting Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which is an important part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Ekwu, while speaking during the launch of Winx International, a vision care and eye aesthetics firm in Lagos, said eye care should be an essential health service in Nigeria, which should be part of the Primary Health Care.

She advised the public to visit an ophthalmologist at least once a year, with emphasis on the role of the eye to one’s health.

The expert disclosed that cataract, refractive errors/low vision, glaucoma, and vitamin A deficiency among others, were responsible for 75 per cent of all blindness globally.

Ekwu, who explained that Winx, among other things, is a dry eye clinic, said dry eye is a syndrome prevalent in sub saharan Africa caused by dusty wind in the region.

“Now is the time to make eye and vision care a staple mode of healthcare in Nigeria because the eyes are the windows to one’s health. We envision a place where quality eye care is obtainable and accessible to every individual in the Nigerian community. We want to beautify the vision of people. In line with this, we have embarked on a couple of community outreach and giveaways,” she added.

Platforms and UK government agree a package of measures to reduce vaccine disinformation

November 2020

Social media giants agree package of measures with UK Government to tackle vaccine disinformation

Platforms endorse the principle that no company should be profiting from COVID-19 vaccine mis/disinformation and commit to swifter responses to flagged content
Platforms will step up work with public health bodies to promote factual and reliable messages
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden and Health Secretary Matt Hancock have agreed with social media platforms new measures to limit the spread of vaccine misinformation and disinformation and help people find the information they need about any COVID-19 vaccine.

At a virtual roundtable to address the growth of vaccine disinformation, Facebook, Twitter and Google committed to the principle that no company should profit from or promote COVID-19 anti-vaccine disinformation, to respond to flagged content more swiftly, and to work with authorities to promote scientifically accurate messages.

As the UK moves closer to developing a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, Mr Dowden and Mr Hancock used the roundtable to welcome the progress these companies have made in strengthening their policies towards false coronavirus information and helping publicise the steps people should take to prevent the spread of the virus.

But the ministers raised concerns about the length of time misleading and false information about coronavirus vaccines remains on platforms, and called for swifter action to tackle such content.

Together the platforms have now agreed:

To commit to the principle that no user or company should directly profit profit from COVID-19 vaccine mis/disinformation. This removes an incentive for this type of content to be promoted, produced and be circulated.
To ensure a timely response to mis/disinformation content flagged to them by the government.
To continue to work with public health bodies to ensure that authoritative messages about vaccine safety reach as many people as possible.
To join new policy forums over the coming months to improve responses to mis/disinformation and to prepare for future threats.

The forums will see the government, social media platforms, public health bodies and academia increase their cooperation and ongoing information sharing to deliver a better understanding of the evolving threat caused by false COVID-19 vaccine narratives.

Antrim Mayor praises local Specsavers team for services to the community

November 2020

Antrim Certifiacte for Specsavers work

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Jim Montgomery paid a special visit to Specsavers in Castle Mall shopping centre to present Davin Quinn and the Specsavers team with a unique ‘services to the community’ certificate.

Specsavers was one of several retail outlets recognised for their contribution to the local community in the Antrim and Newtownabbey area in recent months during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Jim Montgomery said: ‘It was a privilege to visit the staff at Antrim Specsavers and present them with a certificate in recognition of their hard work and the essential service they continued to provide to the citizens of our Borough during the pandemic. While many businesses were forced to pull their shutters down for several months, we are grateful that services such as Specsavers were able to remain open and support the people in our community who needed urgent or essential eye care.’

Specsavers stores throughout Northern Ireland are open for all routine testing and services, with new measures in place to keep you safe, including restrictions on the number of customers, social distancing rules and bank card payments only, where possible.

Keeping in line with government recommendations, Specsavers colleagues will use personal protective equipment (PPE) and will practice full sanitisation of testing rooms and equipment.

ESSILOR Launch of Virtual Scratch Card Incentive

November 2020

Scratch Card from Essilor
A new virtual scratch card has been created by Essilor Ltd for independent EPCs to “scratch and win” an array of prizes.

Players are also automatically entered into a special prize draw offering them the chance to win a £3,000 holiday of a lifetime.

Optical staff get a code for every pair of Varilux Comfort Max purchased to scratch and check online, with lucky winners collecting an Amazon voucher to claim a prize worth up to £100.

Tim Precious, managing director at Essilor Ltd said: “We’re extremely excited about the launch of our first ever virtual scratch card.

“Not only will it act as an incentive to get optical staff talking to patients about our newly launched varifocal lens but I’m sure it will bring lots of competitive fun into practices too.”

Varilux Comfort Max launched last month and is the next generation of Essilor’s varifocal lens designed to bring postural flexibility and reduced eye strain to wearers by extending the useful vision zone.

Wearer trials have been positive for first time wearers, with nine out of 10 wanting to continue wearing the new lens.

“Encouraging these conversations will attract a new audience to try varifocal lenses for the first time as new or emerging presbyopes. This will ultimately boost revenue for our ECP business partners,” Tim Precious added.

The scratch card launches on 9 November. Terms and conditions apply.

World first with multiple Covid-19 test machine from Bosch

October 2020

One of our readers has sent in this information to us regarding a multi sample testing machine launched by Bosch.

Bosch Vivalytic test

Bosch has reduced the test time for its Vivalytic machine to 39 minutes with five Covid-19 tests simultaneously in a world first

This and no doubt other machines in the pipeline with a high percentage rate in correct positives provides Optical Practices with an ability to provide for their community fast and efficient testing capability.

With Boots announcing swab testing originally starting in 50 shops and extending to 200 by January 2021 for £120, this is surely the time for Optical professionals to consider the clinical possibilities of some a provision, private or not.

The NHS is missing a trick with optical practitioners not only placed for easy access for all communities but with the important bonus of data collection which could be linked to local track and trace as well as a Covid downloaded app.

But why wait for the NHS to wake up when with pre-flight testing a must your local practice could become a focal point for those travelling or requiring negative Covid certification for jobs and access.

The Bosch new rapid test for its Vivalytic analysis device can detect Covid-19 with five simultaneous tests per cartridge. This helps tackle the major drawback of throughput and cartridge production for DNA test machines and is a world first, says the company.

The 39 minute test
is currently the fastest polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test worldwide and is aimed  at mobile test centres at motorway service stations or in airports to obtain a reliable result while at the testing site. The new machine is CE-approved and available in Europe now.

"One of the keys to fighting the coronavirus pandemic is to rapidly identify sources of infection. That's why we focused on following up on our first coronavirus test with an even faster one," says Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch. "This will now enable us to put people's minds at ease even more quickly."

The development of the new Bosch PCR singleplex test is part of a research and development project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
"1 believe it's important that people have clarity about their state of health as quickly as possible. In this respect, insights from science and research can bring people huge benefits. Over the next few months, we will be confronted with the challenge of having to test more people," said the German minister for education and research Anja Karliczek.

The test has a sensitivity of 98 percent and a specificity of 100 percent.

So why wait for the NHS to stir or for that matter Specsavers!

Warnings of novelty contact lens dangers

October 2020

Specsavers clinical teams are warning people planning on dressing up this Halloween to look after their eyes in order to avoid an unexpected sight-mare.

Giles Edmonds, Specsavers clinical services director, says: ‘Halloween contact lenses have become incredibly popular over the last few years; however, consumers often are not aware of the risks associated with misusing contact lenses.   

‘In particular, if a wearer hasn’t had a proper consultation with an optometrist beforehand, they probably haven’t been taught how to wear or care for their lenses correctly. The results can be nasty and range from mildly irritating complications, such as blurry vision and conjunctivitis, to potentially sight-threatening conditions such as fungal infections like microbial keratitis.’  

The industry body, British Contact Lens Association (BCLA), has also been warning of the dangers saying that novelty lenses have been blamed for a reported rise in the number of eye infections at this time of year. It is also working to drive out the illegal sale of coloured contact lenses across the UK to reduce the associated dangers.

Mr Edmonds continues: ‘If you do start to notice any discomfort, irritation or pain during or after wearing Halloween contact lenses it is important you visit an opticians immediately. Many of our Specsavers stores now offer eye health clinics where you can receive treatment for a range of minor eye conditions without needing to visit your GP or hospital.’ 

It is also important to ensure any Halloween make-up is properly removed before going to bed. Mr Edmonds adds: ‘Leaving your eye makeup on when you go to sleep – particularly eyeliner and mascara – will increase your chances of getting bacterial and oil build up around your eyes or even inflammation. Make sure you always gently remove beauty products to reduce infection and keep your eyes clean.’  

Myopia Profile and Essilor Partner to Tackle Childhood Myopia Through Education and Awareness

October 2020

Myopia educational company Myopia Profile and Essilor International announced their partnership to provide eye care practitioners with clinical knowledge, skills and practice in managing childhood myopia. The partnership will also see a boost to public awareness of the consequences of myopia, also called short-sightednessor near-sightedness, and will encourage more parents to have their children’s vision tested worldwide.

Essilor International’s new partnership with Myopia Profile will see the development of specific educational content to increase primary eye care practitioners’ knowledge and skills in prescribing spectacle lenses to young children, getting started in myopia management, clinical communication, and understanding the latest research. This content will include research summaries with clinical relevance, clinical case studies, podcasts and resources to use in practice. Content will be housed on and shared across the partnership’s multiple platforms.

“We are thrilled to work with Essilor, the world’s largest manufacturer of ophthalmic spectacle lenses, to increase professional skills and public awareness of childhood myopia. This is the biggest sight issue affecting our children today and will increasingly become an eye health problem for our adults of tomorrow. Essilor intrinsically recognizes the value of education and public awareness as their social responsibility to bring good vision to all, and we share this key value. With various optical and pharmacological interventions to slow down the typical pattern of childhood myopia progression, it is of vital importance we educate practitioners and parents to improve children’s sight now and their eye health for the future” said Dr.Kate Gifford, Director of Myopia Profile.

Ireland's consumers vote Specsavers number two for customer service

October 2020

Specsavers partners in Ireland praised their colleagues this week as collectively they have been cited in the CXi Ireland Customer Experience report.

The CXi survey asked customers to rate brands for the impact their staff have on their experience.

Specsavers teams came second in the top 10 highest scores for 'colleague impact on customer service'.

The CXi Ireland report shows a strong relationship between the impact that our frontline staff have on people, and on how customers view their overall experience.

Kerril Hickey, chairman of Specsavers Ireland says: "This survey of Irish customers recognises the efforts of our key workers who went above and beyond to care for their customers in 2020, doing what mattered most when people really needed it".

Specsavers Ireland also came third overall in the retail sector, rising 2 places year on year.

The CXi report says: "Specsavers continues to invest in cutting edge technology delivering a frictionless online experience right across the full customer journey. They have been ahead of the pack allowing customers book appointments online as well as view latest offers and try on glasses virtually. The little things done extremely well from a trustworthy email confirming appointment, to providing directions, parking options and a store map to avoid getting lost, to managing expectations brilliantly by sharing what to expect on the day. Their follow up call is helpful to new customers."

Essilor launch roadworthy eyes campaign

October 2020

Crizal Drive As the nights draw in, Essilor Ltd has launched a Crizal Drive marketing campaign to promote the importance of roadworthy eyes to the public.

The promotion targets consumers through a mix of paid social media activity and digital display adverts in the national media, urging drivers to book an eye examination at their local optician.

Tim Precious, managing director at Essilor Ltd said: “The initiative aims to raise awareness about good vision on the roads.

“The social media activity will help target younger drivers using the platform. This demographic is a high risk and unfortunately 30 per cent of road accident victims are under the age of 25.

“It’s a sensible time of year for optical staff to recommend Crizal Drive anti-reflective coating to patients who drive. Thanks to the coating’s performance, reflections are up to 90 per cent less when driving at night.”

Point of sale materials are available for extra marketing support and a ready-made social media calendar with digital assets will provide ideas for ECPs to post on night-time driving.

“The marketing campaign will help boost footfall for our ECP business partners and equip them to talk about this established driving solution to help make roads safer,” added Tim Precious.

Through its partnership with Michelin, Essilor is also raising awareness around the importance good vision on the road as well as regular tyre checks and providing accessibility to equipment to ensure drivers and their vehicles are safe.

DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET: Is Britain really losing its Focus

October 2020

The first ever completely blurred film, Focus on Life is launched today to highlight the national issue of our worsening eyesight and its impact on our lives –

• The College of Optometrists has teamed up with BAFTA award-nominated director Mark Nunneley from the Ridley Scott Creative Group to direct a film that people can't actually see - because it has been shot entirely out of focus –

• The College of Optometrists commissioned the film as part of a public awareness campaign, after research1 revealed that 66% of the population admit to having difficulty with blurred vision, with one in ten (11%) choosing to sit closer to the TV rather than having their eyes tested

• The campaign, called Focus on Life is supported by Love Island’s Theo Campbell who was left blind in one eye after he was struck by a champagne cork in a freak accident

Collge Blurs images
A new campaign, Focus on Life has been launched today by the College of Optometrists to address the alarming number of Brits who are living their lives out of focus due to worsening eyesight – with many not even realising they suffer from the problem. According to new research, two-thirds (66%) of British adults admit to experiencing blurred vision and a third (35%) believe their vision has markedly deteriorated in the past two years.

To address the problem, director Mark Nunneley has turned filmmaking on its head by making a film you can't see - because not one single frame has been shot in focus. The film named Focus on Life delves into stories told by four people, but the camera mimics the eyes of a person with worsening eyesight.

The five-minute film created by BAFTA award-nominated director Mark Nunneley, captures idiosyncratic life memories from the perspective of those who struggle with blurred vision to raise awareness of the importance of eye health for The College of Optometrists. The film features the little things that those with good eyesight may take for granted, from a walk along a beach to fishing from a boat.

Mark Nunneley comments on making the very first out of focus film: "Lockdown gave me the opportunity to reflect on how to approach this project, and how to capture this out of focus world. Sight and focus are crucial for me to tell stories as a filmmaker, from the creative to the direction and cinematography. I hope that our simple, life affirming message will connect with the viewer as we invite them to pause and reflect on their own lives and the importance of focus.”

Collge Blurs images

The launch of the short film which is also being supported by reality star Theo Campbell who was left blind in one eye after a freak accident, and Georgia Harrison who feels passionately about the cause, follows research that also reveals that two fifths (35%) of Brits feel their eyesight has deteriorated in the past two years, with a fifth (18%) also admitting to struggling with everyday tasks due to their eyesight. Of those that have had an eye test, one in five (20%) admit their eyesight test results were worse than they expected.

The research by The College of Optometrists also shows that worryingly, over one in ten (11%) UK adults would rather sit closer to the TV than get their eyes tested. Similarly, 17% would rather make the text bigger on their phone when reading messages than get an eye test. One in 10 (10%) of those that have never had a sight test admit they believe their eyes are fine and 6% confess to being too lazy to book one.

Other findings from the research reveal:

- 38% of the UK population feel like their life would be more fulfilling if they could see better
- 39% admit they should get their sight tested more often than they do
- 23% of parents admit they never take their children to get their sight tested
- 26% would rather go to the dentist than get their eyes checked

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOptom, Clinical Adviser for The College of Optometrists said: “It’s shocking that people struggle with their eyesight but do not get their sight tested until they have a big problem. We’re committed to encouraging people to get their sight checked regularly and educate people on the importance of looking after our eye health. The launch of our short out of focus film today is a testament to this and we hope to get people thinking about their vision and booking an appointment with their optometrist as a result.”

For a large number of people, unless they address issues with their eyesight, the future really will look as blurred as depicted in Mark’s film. That impacts not only health, work and safety issues, but our ability to seeing the everyday things we truly love whether it’s our children, nature, sport or simply the latest episode of Love Island. Making an appointment today could be the first step to seeing the future as it should be and living without regret”.

Here are all the College Films

The short film can be viewed on The College of Optometrists YouTube page –

The College has created a series of patient-focused videos related to COVID-19 and eye care:

• What to expect when you visit your optometrist

• How to prevent your glasses from fogging up when wearing a face mask:

How to avoid dry and uncomfortable eyes when wearing a face mask:

Why not take part yourselves in posting blurred images online?

Here's some tips


1. Join us in supporting the @collegeofoptometrists in their campaign to #FocusOnLife. To take part post a blurred picture with the hashtag #FocusOnLife. If you think you need your sight tested, visit to find your local optometrist.

2. Have you seen the out of focus film created by @collegeofoptometrists? We’re supporting the campaign to #FocusOnLife, because for a large number of people, unless they address issues with their eyesight, the future really will look as blurred as depicted in this film. If you think you need your sight tested, visit to find your local optometrist.

3. We are supporting the @collegeofoptometrists campaign to #FocusOnLife. The out of focus film #FocusOnLife depicts what life can be like without good eyesight, take some time to consider your vision today and why not post a blurred image to show your support.

How to blur your photos:

There are various different apps you can use to blur your phone, regardless of your operating system. Snapseed is a good example and below are instructions:

1. Select image for upload
2. Click ‘tools’
3. Click ‘lens blur’
4. Decrease the size of the middle circle by pinching, this will increase the overall blur

How to blur your image on Instagram:

1. Select image for upload.
2. Click 'Edit'.
3. Click ‘Tilt shift’.
4. Click ‘Radial’.
5. Decrease the size of the middle circle by pinching, this will increase the overall blur.

Don't forget the College social media channels

Twitter - @CollegeOptomUK
Instagram - @collegeofoptometrists
Facebook - College of Optometrists
LinkedIn - College of Optometrists

There are hopes the COVID’s ‘cancel culture’ could prompt drop in Halloween horror stories

October 2020

Halloween Warnings for Novelty Contact Lenses

Eye care practitioners are hopeful the cancellation of Halloween fancy dress parties due to COVID-19 could prompt a fall in ghoulish horror stories caused by novelty cosmetic contact lenses.

The lenses have been blamed for a reported rise in the number of serious eye infections at this time of year and eye care practitioners are keen for the controversial accessories to now fall out of fashion, with many Halloween celebrations effectively wiped out by the ongoing pandemic.

Novelty lenses have formed a key part of the costume for thousands of revellers celebrating Halloween in recent years, but the lenses, which alter eye colour, are often shared around amongst friends - increasing the risk of corneal ulcers and infections.

Luke Stevens-Burt, chief executive of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA), said: “By sharing coloured contact lenses young people are playing Russian roulette with their eye health and putting their sight at risk.

“We’ve seen all too often that these lenses might impress your friends for one night on Halloween but losing your vision could be a lifelong horror story.

“It’s a problem that we have seen escalate in recent years but there’s a chance the ongoing pandemic could actually help stem the tide this year. The mass cancelling of parties and organised events may well result in someone’s sight being saved, but we cannot rely on this alone. The risk is reduced and not eliminated.”

The BCLA, which has teamed up with the Association for Independent Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians (AIO) to work closely with the GOC to drive out the illegal sale of contact lenses across the UK, has re-issued an infographic highlighting the dangers of buying cosmetic lenses from unregistered sellers and warning of the potential consequences to eye health.

Cosmetic coloured lenses are a medical device and should be prescribed by an eye care professional. These lenses should only be purchased from a registered practitioner.

BCLA President Indie Grewal added: "Cosmetic lenses found in fashion retail outlets, market stalls and from unregistered online sellers are distributed on a 'one size fits all' basis. To minimise the risks of infection and ongoing eye health issues, it is essential that all lenses are individually prescribed by a fully qualified professional.

“An eye care professional will ensure that contact lenses fit properly and that wearers receive expert advice on how to wear and store them safely.”

Purchasing and fitting contact lenses without the supervision of a registered eye care practitioner could lead to eye infections and even permanent damage to the eye if the lenses that are not stored and washed in sterile solutions.

Gareth Hadley awarded OBE

October 2020

GOC Chair, Gareth Hadley, has been made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of his services to the optical sector.

Gareth Hadley OBE

Following a high profile career in the railway industry and HM prison service, Gareth has been an equally powerful driver for improvement at the GOC. Read more about Gareth in our profile interview with him made last year.

He instigated the development of the Standards for Optical Business, has overseen the commissioning of the Optical Consumer Complaints Service, and the launch and progress of the Education Strategic Review and review of Continuing Education and Training as well as significant improvements in the GOC’s fitness to practise system.

As reported previously Hadley is stepping down from his GOC role in February 2021 and a search for his replacement is ongoing.

Congratulations to Gareth, well deserved.

MP opens new Optical Express Eye Clinic and Laser Treatment Centre in Dartford

October 2020

Opening Of Optical Express Clinic in Dartford
Local MP Gareth Johnson has official opened a new state-of-the-art ophthalmology clinic including laser eye, Intraocular Lens (IOL) and cataract surgery has opened in Dartford. Eye care experts Optical Express have launched the new clinic in Dartford Crossways, bringing the latest diagnostic and treatment technologies in eye care to the area. The new clinic and treatment centre will help to alleviate demand on local NHS services at a time when they are under increased pressure, to include those relating to cataract surgery.
(L-R) Aaron Moffat, Clinic Manager; Gareth Johnson MP; Louise Chadwick, Clinic Team Member; Bilal Ahmad, Regional Director

Clinicians and patients alike at the clinic will have access to the latest generation of corneal, lens and retinal diagnostics equipment, state-of-the-art operating microscopes and advanced lasers to correct vision. The new facilities represent a £3 million investment in the area. The clinic is also creating new specialist jobs in Dartford, with Optical Express recruiting new Optometrists and Ophthalmic Surgeons to join the clinic team. Modern day surgical procedures provide extremely safe, effective and environmentally friendly vision correction solutions.

Data from independent, peer review, scientific studies, shows that a traditional form of vision correction, namely contact lenses, carry a significant risk of infection 1,2 while bifocal and multifocal glasses are a major contributor to serious trips and falls, many of which result in hospital admission. 3,4,5,6 These incidences are having a significant impact on patients and NHS resources, particularly at NHS Eye Hospitals. Greater availability and uptake of refractive surgery would address both these issues and reduce the number of patients requiring medical assistance, helping to protect the NHS. Unfortunately as NHS waiting lists continue to spiral upwards, many patients across the UK today have to wait years before they can be offered a cataract procedure under the NHS. This unnecessary delay increases the risks of trips and falls, as cataracts develop to a point that they affect vision more.

The new 10,000 square feet treatment centre in Dartford is a relocation and expansion of a smaller Optical Express clinic within Bluewater Shopping Centre. The new treatment centre means patients can now receive a wider variety of treatments such as lens replacement / cataract surgery in Dartford, rather than having to travel into central London for surgery. It is close to Stone Crossing Train Station and has 48 parking spaces on site, making it extra convenient for patients.

Providing a range of vision correction services, the new clinic will offer every patient a complimentary consultation for laser or lens surgery, which carries a private professional fee value of £100. The detailed consultation includes a comprehensive eye health check, utilising the latest technologies, which allows for a determination of each patient’s candidacy for laser or lens surgery. For those patients found to be suitable candidates, information on the life changing benefits, including the potential results after treatment, will be outlined.

Opening Of Optical Express Clinic in DartfordGareth Johnson, Member of Parliament for Dartford cutting the ribbon (pictured with Aaran Moffat Dartford Clinical Director), said:

“The opening of this new clinic is fantastic news for Dartford. Our town is a great place to do business, and this investment in new jobs and state of the art technology by Optical Express proves just that. It was a pleasure to meet the friendly, professional team who gave me a tour of the new facilities. I was also reassured to see the rigorous Covid-secure measures in place in the clinic. Businesses across Dartford are playing their part in helping to limit the spread of infection.”

Stephen Hannan, Clinical Services Director at Optical Express, said:

“Offering a first-class experience to our patients is always our main objective, so it’s fantastic to be working in state-of-the-art facilities at the new clinic. The clinic’s Ophthalmic Surgeons and Optometrists are amongst the most experienced in the country at delivering clinical care and carrying out life changing treatments. Access to clinical care, advanced equipment and the experience of our team are just some of the reasons why we’re the number one complete eye care provider in the UK. We encourage anyone who has an interest in improving their vision to come for a consultation. The outcomes, as determined by our clinicians and patients alike, from our private laser and Intraocular lens eye procedures, are truly life enhancing.”

David Moulsdale, Optical Express, Chairman and CEO, said: “This £3 million investment in Dartford will hugely benefit our patients and the local economy. We are determined that our response to coronavirus will be to continue to expand and invest in our excellent clinics. We’re aiming to retain and attract the very best local talent, and are recruiting for a variety of roles, including optometrists and managers, across the country.”

New fund to support health and social care teams with implementing innovations and improvements in the West Midlands

October 2020

The West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN) has launched the Safety Innovation & Improvement Fund, giving individuals and teams working in health and social care the chance to apply for funding of up to £10,000 to support the spread or adoption of an innovation or improvement resulting in improvements for patients and service users.

The Fund will provide a limited number of successful applicants with support to implement their projects over a six-month period. The WMAHSN will also support teams to use Quality Improvement (QI) methods, which will help them to make measurable improvements to the care of patients and service users.

Kate Hall, Director of Implementation and Adoption at WMAHSN, said: “We are very pleased to launch the new West Midlands Safety Innovation and Improvement Fund. This is a fantastic opportunity for health and social care staff to access funds and support which will assist them in making improvements for their patients and service users"

Both health and social care teams will be able to apply for the funding to support a wide range of projects, including: the adoption of an innovation or improvement intervention (new or incremental changes to improve existing processes), the spread of an innovation or improvement intervention to one or more sites, and the testing and refining of an innovation or intervention in partnership with one or more sites.

This year, WMAHSN is keen to support projects that primarily focus on managing patient or service user deterioration or projects from care homes. Applications will also be considered in other areas, including workforce, maternity and neonatal, mental health, medicines safety, COPD, tracheostomy care and cardiovascular disease.

Applications are open from Friday 9th October 2020 and all applications must be submitted by Sunday 8th November 2020; any applications submitted after this date will not be considered. Any individual or team working in health and social care within the West Midlands and AHSN area is able to apply.

To apply, please click here

Specsavers brings a smile to the nation with new adverts

October 2020

On October 12th Specsavers launched a new campaign that celebrates the positivity and joy that a smile can bring, even in these challenging times.

Specsavers Smile CampaignThe TV ad Something To Smile About was first shown last night on UK TV (12th October) in the 7.45pm break during Coronation Street on ITV [and 11 Oct in Ireland] with a 30-second film with a series of people’s smiling eyes, to the soundtrack of ‘When You’re Smiling’.

Many of the people who appear in the ad are Specsavers customers and the campaign will expand on the real-life stories of how Specsavers colleagues have cared for their customers, putting a smile on their faces.

This storytelling approach started in March during the first lockdown and has been highly successful, as 50% of people surveyed who do not use Specsavers (brand rejectors) and who saw the customer stories said they were likely to try Specsavers in the future.

The TV ad is supported with a wider roll-out in October with high impact billboards, newspaper and magazine ads, digital and radio advertising. There will also be more online ‘Smile’ activity that unpicks the science behind a smile.

The Specsavers in-house agency faced the challenge of devising a new campaign that acknowledged the pandemic but also engages audiences in the witty tone of voice that is synonymous with the brand. The team said their inspiration came from the fact that life might be difficult right now but that the nation can rely on Specsavers colleagues to be empathetic as well as make a positive difference to our lives with quality glasses and contact lenses.

Specsavers Smile Campaign Billboard
Specsavers Global Chief Marketing Officer Katherine Whitton explains: ‘Our in-house team has beautifully captured our brand promise of making a positive impact on how people feel with a simple yet effective idea. A smile is how Specsavers measures the impact we have on our customers. Their smile can come from relief of having their eye health checked, from feeling good after getting stylish new glasses at a great price. A real, genuine smile that shines through the eyes shows we’ve exceeded a customer’s expectation.
And smiling customers mean smiling colleagues - nothing makes our store teams feel more positive than a happy customer.’

Nicola Wardell, Agency MD at Specsavers says: ‘We’ve been making people smile for years with our Should’ve Gone To Specsavers ads. People relate to the phrase in everyday life because it taps into the mishaps we all make when our eyesight or hearing are not quite up to scratch. People love it, they have taken it as their own and it really does make them smile.

(Image: Billboard near Victoria Station right)

‘Something To Smile About brings a fresh new approach while tapping into the Should’ve brand power. We’ve been empathetic to the current mood of the nation, to people seeking a little positivity in difficult times as well as not wanting to sacrifice on quality if their finances become challenged. The creative idea allows us to really showcase the quality of our glasses and hearing aids in their full glory.’

The campaign was created by Specsavers’ in-house creative agency Deputy Creative Directors Richard James and Marco Bezerra. The TV commercial was directed by Novemba at Academy Films.

Why Wait? See the TV Ad for yourself HERE (with subtitles)

Chancellor announces UK wide Job Support Scheme to be expanded

October 2020

The Chancellor announced today that the government’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be expanded to protect jobs and support UK businesses required to close their doors because of coronavirus restrictions.

The government will pay two thirds of eligible employees’ salaries (or 67%), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month. Under the scheme, employers will not be required to contribute towards wages and only asked to cover NICS and pension contributions.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said “The expansion of the JSS will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.”

The JSS will begin on 1 November and will be available for six months, with a review point in January. The HMRC is to issue more detailed guidance shortly and we will update members when this becomes available.

RNIB Scotland releases a "Vision for the Future" a 2021 Scottish Parliament Election manifesto

October 2020

National sight loss charity RNIB Scotland is calling on all political parties to build on the greater social cohesiveness that the coronavirus crisis has engendered.

Launching its manifesto for next year's Scottish Parliament elections, the charity's director James Adams said: "The next Scottish Parliament will convene in a changed world. A world forced to re-evaluate things previously taken for granted, in which everyone has been made more aware of how dependent we are on each other.

"'A Vision for the 2020s' sets out simple but far-reaching steps that can create a more inclusive Scotland for blind and partially sighted people. Let's seize this opportunity."

The manifesto is calling on the next Scottish Government to launch a new campaign to emphasise the importance of regular eye examinations in preventing sight loss. Over 178,000 people in Scotland currently live with significant sight loss but this could potentially double if steps aren't taken to contain it.

The manifesto also wants Ministers to report annually on the attainment figures for blind and partially sighted school pupils and train more specialist teachers as a matter of urgency. It highlights that only one in four blind and partially sighted adults are currently in paid employment.

'Shared spaces' schemes - where pedestrians and vehicles occupy the same level area - should be scrapped, the manifesto says, and a nationwide ban on pavement parking and advertising boards implemented.

People with sight loss claiming the new disability benefits devolved to Scotland should not have to undergo periodic reassessed if there is no realistic prospect of their condition improving. Any benefits awarded should cover the, often significant, additional costs of living with a visual impairment.

The manifesto is also calling for all public information to be available in accessible formats such as braille, large-print and audio, and for alternative voting methods to ensure people can cast their ballot independently and in secret.

Mr Adams said: "We want a health service that prevents avoidable sight loss and helps people come to terms with it when it isn't. Education that helps every child reach their full potential, and employers who better understand what people with sight loss are capable of. Information that's always available in alternative formats and public transport that's always accessible. And we want our streets and thoroughfares to allow pedestrians to walk safely and without obstacles.

"Today's coronavirus crisis has exacerbated many of the problems blind and partially sighted people face. But it's brought to the fore, too, some of the best instincts of our society. That generosity of spirit can be the spur for a new deal for people with sight loss and other disabilities.

"Let's make that one lasting legacy of the parliamentary term ahead."

Midlands healthcare innovators recognised in Annual Awards

October 2020

PRCA Liquid Winner
West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN) can reveal that the Transfer of Care Around Medicines (TCAM) – Extension to Pharmacy Teams Supporting Care Homes project has been announced as the winner of the Care Homes category at the annual PrescQIPP Awards.

The award recognises the collaborative work by Shropshire Community Trust, Shropshire CCG and Pinnacle Health (the provider of PharmOutcomes) for their project which was managed by Emma Suggett, Medicines Optimisation Lead for West Midlands AHSN.

The team in Shropshire led the way in implementing direct referral of residents that had been discharged from hospital, to pharmacy teams already providing services to their care homes, whether the service is part of a CCG or GP practice, or they are PCN or MOCH pharmacists.

The team worked with Pinnacle Health to develop a new platform to create referrals to the appropriate clinical pharmacy services for each care home resident. It is hoped that this service will provide evidence-based outcomes such as reduced readmission rates and shorter hospital stays as a result of improved medicines optimisation.

Emma says: “I feel enormously privileged to have received this award on behalf of the team at the West Midlands AHSN, Shropshire Community Healthcare Trust, Shropshire CCG and Pinnacle Health.
“We are delighted to win the Care Home category in this year’s Annual PrescQIPP Awards as it has given us the opportunity to share a project which we believe will have considerable impact on medicines optimisation in care homes through recovery and at reset.”

The PrescQIPP Annual Awards aim to give industry recognition, highlight best practice for patient care and provide opportunities for entrants to review and define the impact of their work. The winners of each category were announced at today’s ceremony.

Amended & Day rolling infection Rate after Government Admission of error October 5th

October 2020

Essilor Avatar

Government identifies some form of IT glitach that underetimated the number of positive cases from 26th September onward on October 4th

We have made the following adjustments and sho the rectified graph above

Notes IT Error

An issue was identified overnight on Friday 2 October in the automated process that transfers positive cases data to PHE. It has now been resolved.

The cases by publish date for 3 and 4 October include 15,841 additional cases with specimen dates between 25 September and 2 October — they are therefore artificially high for England and the UK.

From press reports the error mainly occurred during the latter part of the week . We have therefore adjusted the figures accordingly although with no guarantee the daily figure is correcet on every individual day
Some of these were already added to the Saturday 3rd .


Likeley overshoot on 3rd Oct 5522 still to share 10319
Ave miscount per day 26th Onwards 26th to 2nd Oct 1760 /day undercount
Giving the same number of +ves /week we have amended the following figues
3rd Oct remove likely overload 5522 and add 1760
4th Oct remove likely overload 10319 and add 1760

Giving the same number of +ves /week we have amended the following figures 
3rd Oct remove likely overload  5522 and add  1760
4th Oct remove likely overload 10319 and add  1760
Date  ave 7 daily inf orig amended  ave 7 day  inc/dec 
26.9.20 5812 6042 7802 5812 483
27.9.20 6319 5693 7453 6319 508
28.9.20 6524 4044 5804 6524 205
29.9.20 7093 7143 8903 7093 568
30.09.20 7477 7108 8868 7477 384
01.10.20 7768 6914 8674 7768 291
02.10.20 8033 6968 8728 8033 265 8220 12872 9110 8220 187
04.10.20 9213 22961 14402 9213 993

We have amended all the figures accordingly from 26th September through to 4th October Marked "*"

Review the amended figures on PHN Covid Hub Here

The story behind "the making of a new lens to benefit the many".

September 2020

Since 1959 the Varilux PAL lens has been an icon in the field of presbyopia and is now the #1 varifocal lens brand worldwide [10].

Essilor has continued to innovate technologically and registered more than 70 patents linked to this cutting-edge varifocal lens technology [11].

This is a story of how the best can be bettered and the continuing quest for the perfect PAL for the perfect groupset of customers.

Over the last 61 years it has been progressively developed as well as the extended range of specialist lenses for a variety of users. Now with the benefit of LiveOptics using avatars and specialist unique algorithms it is possible to design and predict the performance of a lens before practical live trials with wearers.

Essilor has been at the forefront of lens technology and design for many years and the production of the New Varilux Comfort Max is an example of never assuming core designs remain unchanging. Let alone the existance of avatars, we live in a fast-changing world where we have to adjust to changes in our own work life balance.

Used to our office environment we have been ousted into a new home office environment, following the pandemic, often not well adapted to the pressures of office life.

Just one example why the market for those with many flexible posture requirements in an unfamiliar workspace environment as well as those who need to enter the PAL market and are wary of doing so will welcome the new Varilux Comfort Max.

So, too will eye care specialists welcome the new lens having a greater confidence in convincing early presbyopes to move into the PAL range as well as upgrading those currently wearing older style lenses.

The latest generation of Varilux lenses is directly inspired by postural flexibility, explains Andy Hepworth, professional relations manager at Essilor Ltd.

The prolonged use of screens is known to be linked to discomfort [1] when people adopt a rigid posture.

In the same way that it is important to stretch our legs during a long flight, we need to spare the eyes from excessive and prolonged strain. Those discomforts are particularly true for presbyopes who wear progressive addition lenses (PAL).

Ultimately, increased postural flexibility allows you to see naturally without having to struggle to find the right gaze direction. This has been made possible with new Flex Optim technology.

Flex Optim technology

Essilor Avatar
Flex Optim technology starts from a patients' vision profile and tailors the design to everyone’s prescription.

Supported by the innovative Flex Optim technology, Varilux Comfort Max lenses improve postural flexibility for existing and new PAL users by expanding the useful vision zone in the lens and offering wearers a broader range of head movements for an increased visual comfort throughout the day.

The useful vision zone is stretched by up to 46 per cent across vision distances [2]. This zone is unique to every patient, maximising the range of gaze directions.

Patients can adopt up to 258 more postures to see sharply [3], compared to the previous generation of Varilux Comfort. With Varilux Comfort Max lenses, patients can make up to 495 different body postures when looking at a computer or desktop screen.

Research & development

Essilor’s research and development team has again used its LiveOptics process to investigate postural flexibility for the first time.

Since Varilux Comfort lens was launched in 1993, all Varilux lenses have been tested using Essilor R&D’s LiveOptics process, which combines the latest optical research with real-life wearer testing.

As today’s lifestyles and needs have evolved, our LiveOptics process has too. The new advanced avatar simulation can mathematically model the conditions of an infinite number of real-life vision tasks to refine the design before live testing.

Previously, the only way to evaluate the performance of a lens while considering wearer posture was in the live testing stage. Now, the new avatar model's unique algorithm considers the wearer's prescription, optical equipment, focal point and calculates postural flexibility while taking into account visual acuity as well as gaze and postural effort.

Among reasons for not joining the PAL wearer group, is the fear of discomfort and nonadaptation remains high. Comfort is essential for all PAL wearers, especially in today’s digital environment.

Essilor therefore developed a new varifocal lens that provides increased sharpness and comfortable vision throughout the day. They are confident that the new lens could also convince people who never tried a varifocal lens beforehand to take the leap. Take a look at the research results:

Wearer tests

To measure how Varilux Comfort Max’s performance reach consumer expectations in their daily life, several wearer tests were conducted.

A first PAL discovery journey was reproduced in real-life and lab situations for first-time PAL wearers, and Varilux Comfort Max lens received very positive feedback from them:

Essilor Varilux Comfort max
• Nine out of 10 new PAL wearers wanted to continue wearing Varilux Comfort Max [4,5}
• 83 per cent got used to it without even thinking about it [4,6]
• 89 per cent instantaneously experienced sharp vision, all day long [4,7]

People who were already wearing PALs participated in another study, in which Varilux Comfort Max lenses also received positive evaluations:

• Overall performance rating of 8.7/10
• Intermediate Vision rating of 8.3/10
• Distance Vision and Near Vision ratings respectively of 8.8/10 and 8.5/10.
• Eight out of 10 wearers experienced easy adaptation [8,9]



(1) Koo SJ (2016). Effect of duration of smartphone use on muscle fatigue and pain caused by forward head posture in adults. J Phys Ther Sci.; 28(6):1669-72.

(2) vs. Varilux® Comfort New Edition. Average percentage gain in area considering three prescriptions (-4 Add 2, 0 Add 2 & +4 Add 2), five target distances (40 cm, 60 cm, 1 m, 2 m and 5 m) and maximum visual acuity loss of 0.15 logMAR.

(3) Essilor R&D avatar simulations 2019. Increase in the total number of head positions vs Varilux® Comfort New Edition lens considering a Plano Add 2 prescription, two target objects (at 65 cm and 76 cm) and maximum binocular visual acuity loss of 0.15 logMAR. A head position is defined as a one-degree variation in the vertical or horizontal head angle

(4) Varilux® Comfort Max – Among new varifocal lens wearers – Eurosyn – FR – 2019 – N=53

(5) Wearers who answered 'yes' – yes/no to ‘want to continue wearing Varilux Comfort Max lens‘ – n=49/53 new PAL wearers

(6) Wearers who answered ‘somewhat agree’ or ‘completely agree’ – four-point scale on ‘got used to without even thinking about it’ from ‘completely disagree’ to ‘completely agree’ – n=44/53 new PAL wearers

(7) Wearers who answered ‘somewhat agree’ or ‘completely agree’ – four-point scale to ‘instantaneously sharp vision all day long’ from ‘completely disagree’ to ‘completely agree’ – n=47/53 new PAL wearers

(8) Varilux® Comfort Max in-Life Consumer Study – independent third party – UK – 2019 (n=67).

(9) Rated by wearers on a 10-point scale from ‘very difficult’ to ‘very easy’; easy adaptation being defined as ranging from 7 to 10

(10) Euromonitor, 2018 data; Retail value amongst spectacle lenses category, brands representing varifocal lenses.

(11) Seventy inventions led to patent filings in multiple countries since 1953 (the status of the applications varies over time and by country).

Read about the lens launch here

Read on the substantial promotional assistnce that backs up the new lens here



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