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Opchat Magazine General NewsGeneral News, October to December 2020

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

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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