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Optical News - April - June 2010

Primary Health Net publishes news within 48 hours of receiving information under various pages. Our aim is to provide a broad coverage of all events in Optics UK, including Clinical, Educational, Political, and Business News as well as International stories from around the world.

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Something funny happen in your practice? Want to tell us about your LOC or PCT news? Tell us about your staff successes or personnel changes as well as promotions you are running. We will be delighted to publish stories that will interest others.

Don't forget to visit our Industry News, New Product Briefing, and LOC Briefings for the latest in these areas.

Alcon sponsors Orbis programme

Updated glaucoma and OHT pathways from LOCSU

Birmingham base suffers from lack of volunteers

Ultravision CEO mounts charity cycle ride

BCLA announce dates for 2010

Vetting and Barring: will sense at last prevail?

Lucky I-Pad winner at BCLA from Ocuco

Health Secretary sets out ambitions for patient safety culture

GOC seeks feedback on accessibility of fitness to practise information

ACLM provide latest statisitcs for 2009

Andrew Lansley delays revalidation

Clarification on domiciliary orders

Silhouette update mirror application

Ultravision showcase life-changing lens at BCLA

Asda offers free contact lens assessments

Vision UK 2010 conference

College attempts to improve communications

Secretary of State spells out plans

GOS workforce statistics published

BCLA report

Bausch & Lomb launch eye-app

More appointments at Department of Health

GOC reminder for student retention

Silmo takes on new slot

Optrafair invites group meetings

Urgent call for Midlands volunteers

Spectacle Makers at Play

Former Shadow Health Minister appointed Secretary for Health in new Government

Domiciliary Professionals fall into same legislation as door to door traders

Macular Disease Society presentation

AOP, FODO, and Benevolent Fund AGMs

International Award for best Scratch resistant coating goes to Hoya

Worshipful Company toasts Optical Confederation

Optical Confederation - the voice of UK optics

RNIB announce date of Vision 2020 Conference

Second Queen's Award for Ultravision

Optical product of the year goes to Hoya

PCTs advised to issue new forms without delay

Fall in GOC registrations

PCC gagged

MP highlights importance of quick referral for wet AMD

Publications of performers lists - LOC rights confirmed

20 20 Health announce tracker system to view the policies of the 3 main contenders in the 2010 Election

PHN, your Optical Knowledge Site passes the 19,000 visit rate in March

Breakthrough reported in controlling Myopia in Children

New amendment regulations made relating to ophthalmic services

National Eye Health Week website launched

Sad news on Voucher values

Alcon sponsors 4 week Orbis programme

June 2010

Four-Week Skills Exchange Program to Strengthen Blindness Prevention Initiatives throughout Eastern and Western Java, Indonesia.

Alcon (USA) sponsors a four-week ophthalmic skills exchange and surgical program through ORBIS International's signature Flying Eye Hospital, a state-of-the-art hospital with wings. ORBIS and its global team of volunteer eye care specialists, today begin in June intensive four-week, two city program in Indonesia (June 14-25 in Jakarta; June 28-July 9 in Surabaya) aboard this one-of-a-kind DC10 surgical aircraft. The program offers Indonesian eye care professionals of all disciplines multiple subspecialty training required to address the country's dire eye heath needs.

This ORBIS program provides continuing medical education for Indonesian ophthalmologists, biomedical engineers, anesthesiologists and nurses, while advocating for increased public awareness and key policy changes. In addition, Alcon engineers will volunteer their time to work side-by-side with Indonesian medical technicians on how to properly fix and maintain much needed ophthalmic equipment within their hospitals.

"We believe significant decreases in the number of preventably blind individuals requires the development of local, sustainable eye care services made available through well trained eye care professionals," said Sara Woodward, director of Corporate Giving, Alcon. "Through ORBIS' skills-exchange programs and partnerships with medical facilities worldwide we are able to contribute to the advancement of ophthalmology in the developing world and help eye care professionals of all disciplines receive access to continuing medical education opportunities."
"Like ORBIS, Alcon is dedicated to reducing the incidence of preventable blindness worldwide," said Dr. Hunter Cherwek, medical director, ORBIS International. "Their sponsorship of ORBIS, which has spanned our organization's 28-year existence, strengthens our mission of preventing and treating blindness by providing quality eye care to transform lives."

Updated Glaucoma and OHT Pathways from LOCSU

June 2010

The LOC Support Unit (LOCSU) has launched a revised pathway for Intraocular Pressure (IOP) Refinement which has been amended to incorporate joint advice recently issued by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the College of Optometrists on referrals for patients with raised intraocular pressure. There are specific groups of patients who are considered by NICE as having a low risk of developing risk of developing visual field loss in their lifetime and the joint guidance advises that practitioners may choose to not refer patients in these groups assuming all other aspects of the eye examination are normal.

It is important that the assessment of whether a patient falls into one of the identified low risk groups is made based on accurate IOP measurements, therefore IOP refinement with Goldmann (or Perkins) applanation tonometry is necessary before a decision on the need to refer can be made.

The updated document also contains helpful guidance on training and accreditation for the pathways.

New enhanced services based on the LOCSU pathways have already been commissioned by several PCT areas and there are many more PCTs in advanced stages of discussion with their LOCs regarding local implementation of the pathways.

Trevor Warburton (Chair of LOCSU’s Clinical Advisory Group) said

“Early results from areas that have implemented refinement of pressure readings (Level 1a) show that referrals are reduced by well in excess of 50% so the economic argument for refinement is unassailable!”

Cindy Tromans, College President and Chair of the Joint College of Optometrists/Royal College of Ophthalmologists Joint Glaucoma Guideline Group said:

“The Joint Colleges’ Glaucoma Guideline Group welcomes the publication of the updated LOCSU Referral Refinement Pathway, which reflects the Joint Guidance. We believe that the new pathway will make a significant contribution to the reduction of false positive referrals to the Hospital Eye Service and consequently to maximising the service that community optometrists and the Hospital Eye Service can deliver to the public.”

The document can be found on the LOCSU secure pages by registered LOC members on the PHN LOCSU site. Register here

Birmingham base still suffering from lack of volunteers compared to London

June 2010

Optometrists, dispensing opticians and students in the Midlands are being urged to volunteer for a few hours to keep the Vision Care for Homeless Centre in Birmingham open.

While the London centre is well supported by practice staff, the Birmingham Centre needs help to keep the Monday-only practice open, as Harinder Paul, the charity’s founder explained –

“Our centre in Birmingham is seriously suffering due to a lack of volunteer support from optoms and dispensers/optical assistants. We are on the brink of closing the centre for much of the month due to this shortage, with a direct impact on the homeless community in the Midlands. The work is extremely rewarding and makes a tremendous difference to many homeless people’s lives.”

The VCHP practice is located within the William Booth Centre near to the Centre of Birmingham by Snow Hill railway station, and operates between 10am and 5pm every Monday.

Anyone wishing to find out more about volunteering should contact the charity’s volunteer co-ordinator, Lesley-Ann Murray FBDO on 0752 7860364 or visit

UtraVision CEO mounts charity cycle ride

June 2010

UltraVision CLPL, is supporting the Irregular Cornea Foundation in a charity bike ride on Sunday 25th July 2010. Keith Lomas, Group CEO of UltraVision, and close friend Mark Daniels, publican at The Tharp Arms in Chippenham, Cambridgeshire are taking part in the London to Cambridge cycle event, along with friends, to raise money for three worthy causes.

The organisers of the event are Breakthrough Breast Cancer, a charity who is committed to fighting breast cancer through research, campaigning and education. The cycle ride is 60 miles long and hilly enough to make it a worthy challenge for all involved.

Mark and Keith are raising money for two of their own chosen charitable causes. Keith has chosen the Irregular Cornea Foundation, an organisation established to help raise global awareness of irregular cornea conditions, as UltraVision CLPL works closely with them. Mark’s youngest son has Asperger’s Syndrome, and so he is raising cash for a local charity close to his heart; Asperger's East Anglia which works with families of individuals whose lives are affected by this condition.

All donations can be made via Mark and Keith’s Charity Giving web page and will be split equally between the three charities.

June 2010

The BCLA have announced diary dates for this year that we feature in our events section. They include the BCLA Presidential Address at the Royal Society of Medicine, by the President, Shelly Bansal, entitled: ‘Safety in numbers’. Shelly will look at how clinicians can improve the way they interpret, and act upon, industry statistics on infection, injury and decontamination. He will also cover the various aspects of safety in contact lens practice from different perspectives.
Later in the year is the BCLA Pioneers Lecture given by Professor Lyndon Jones again at the Royal Society of Medicine. This event is free of charge and open only to BCLA members however guests of BCLA members can attend the evening lecture.

BCLA workshops also continue

Launched in 2009, the BCLA’s popular FREE Specialist Workshops are for groups of up to 12 BCLA members and are hosted at the practices of members experienced in contact lens fitting. They take place from 6-8pm and places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis (CET applied for).

The venues, dates and topics are as follows:

• September 7 (Dorset): Basic RGP fitting with Keith Tempany (six places available)
• September 7 (Edinburgh): Fitting RGPs with Ian Cameron (six places available)
• September 7 (Coventry): Advanced multifocal torics, including lathed silicone hydrogels, with Susan Bowers (12 places available)
• September 14 (London): How to fit SynergEyes or SoClear lenses with Nigel Burnett Hodd (12 places available)

And the following basic workshops will take place in the BCLA’s London office:

• November 1: Multifocal contact lens fitting with Susan Bowers
• November 2: Basic soft toric contact lens fitting with Keith Cavaye
• November 4: Basic gas permeable contact lens fitting with Keith Tempany

Vetting and Barring, will sense at last prevail?

June 2010

Announced in the media today was the government’s review of the vetting & barring scheme. This is to be a review from first principles and is to report in three months. Generally conceded as badly written law Theresa May, Home Secretary, has agreed to relook at the whole issue and has put back the timetable by at least 3 months for newly employed personnel to register.

The Confederation and LOCSU believe the likely outcome is that, in the optical sector, only GOC registered health professionals i.e. optometrists, contact and dispensing opticians, will be required to be registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority, and not optical assistants, secretarial, reception and other retail staff.

The “access to personal data” test is also likely to be abolished as unnecessary which will remove the difficulty about optical assistants, receptionists, etc having access to optical records.

As the registration with the new scheme was due to start on 26 July 2010 the new date will not start at least before 10 November 2010. it is also unlikely that it will now be necessary for optical practices to have to split their records into optical and health care sections.

The optical representative bodies will be responding through the Optical Confederation to this latest review on the professions’ behalf and LOCSU will share their draft response with LOCs/ROCs.

In the meantime there is another consultation in progress on the abolition of “controlled activity” which would have been the category of vetting and barring activity under which optical assistants, secretarial, reception and other retail staff might have been bought within the vetting and barring scheme.

LOCSU suggests that it is important that we keep up the pressure on this and make our views known.

The closing date for consultation is 9 July 2010.

Commenting on behalf of the Optical Confederation, David Hewlett said:

“This is good news and what we have been lobbying for over the past 18 months. The original legislation was rushed through Parliament without proper consideration or consultation. The Singleton Review last year, which recommended abolishing “controlled activity”, the slightly less risky form of activity than “regulated activity”, was an important first step.

This latest review should finally put paid to a lot of unnecessary work and cost and ensure that only those who genuinely have contact with children or vulnerable adults are registered. This is likely to include all health professionals including optometrists and dispensing opticians but not our ancillary retail, reception and secretarial staff.

The Optical Confederation welcomes this important first step in getting some rationality at last into the burdens which have been imposed on optical practices and the professions in recent years.”

Eds Note:

Welcome relief for many but even if some of this red tape is left in tact one still wonders why it is necessary for a heavily regulated healthcare group like optometry when the GOC only this week is discussing sharing information on our future and previous records of “Fitness to practice”. Hopefully they (GOC) will also submit a response on our behalf otherwise it’s just more double regulation.

Lucky I-Pad winner at BCLA from Ocuco

June 2010

Ocuco held a raffle at BCLA for an iPad, the latest Apple gadget which went on sale in the UK the previous day.

The president of the BCLA, Shelley Bansal drew the winning ticket, which belonged to Leona Liebner of Chalmers Opticians.

Nigel Bedford, Sales Manager at Ocuco, presented the prize to Leona at the practice in Cardiff.

June 2010

In his first speech since taking up the post, the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said he would put his heart and soul into the improvement of health outcomes by making patients the driving force of improvements to the NHS. Not just as beneficiaries of care but as participants, with shared decision-making.

Andrew LansleyAs part of his broader plans to align payments with the quality of patient care, the Health Secretary said that hospitals should be responsible for reducing the number of emergency readmissions following treatment, and support treatment at home, as part of a single payment. Making hospitals responsible for a patient’s ongoing care after discharge will create more joined-up working between hospitals and community services. This will improve quality and performance and shift the focus to the outcome for the patient, rather than the volume of activity paid to the hospital.

Speaking to an audience of patients, carers and staff at an event at the Bromley by Bow Centre in London, hosted by the Patients Association and National Voices, the Health Secretary challenged the NHS to:

• make a cultural shift. From a culture responsive mainly to orders from the top-down, to one responsive to patients, in which patient safety is put first.
• devolve power through the unleashing of meaningful information to patients. Comparative data about standards and patient experience will drive up standards, as the data will influence patient choice. A transparent NHS is a safer NHS.
• engage people in their care so that, “no decision is made about me, without me”, and give patients the opportunity to provide feedback in real time, reflecting the experience of their care.
• embrace leadership by setting NHS professionals free from a target-centred and bureaucratic system that compromises patient care, to one focussed on the quality, innovation, productivity and safety required to improve patient outcomes.
• adopt a holistic approach by looking at the entire patient pathway from preventative health and well-being measures, through to hospital and community care.
• align payments in the NHS to drive up the quality of care that patients receive. In the first instance, through introducing payments which encapsulate a more integrated care pathway by giving hospitals responsibility for a patient’s care for 30 days after they are discharged.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

‘My ambition is for health outcomes and health services to be as good as any in the world. The previous government’s bureaucratic approach of perpetual interference, coupled with the imposition of top-down process targets, has failed patients. It has left us lagging behind our European counterparts on outcomes that matter to patients, such as how long they will survive after a cancer diagnosis.

‘We need a cultural shift in the NHS. From a culture responsive mainly to orders from the top-down, to one responsive to patients, in which patient safety is put first. This can only be achieved if patients are put in the driving seat and are informed and engaged in the delivery of their care. That way the NHS will be focussed on what matters to patients – safe, reliable, effective care for each patient, and the best outcomes for all patients.’

Jeremy Taylor, Chief Executive of National Voices said:

‘Culture shift is the key challenge for the NHS. Despite significant improvements in recent years, there has been too much management by fear, too much inertia from professional vested interests, and too little opportunity for patients and families to be heard. National Voices calls for an open, human, responsive and collaborative culture that puts people first. Incentives play an important part in this but we need to understand the whole mix of carrots and sticks, and we look forward to seeing more detail from the government.’

Katherine Murphy, Director of the Patients Association said:

‘We have always campaigned for patient safety to be at the forefront of services and withholding payment to fix poor outcomes and giving patients more information to help them make informed decisions about their care are significant steps towards this. We welcome a much greater emphasis on the patient experience and a focus on patient needs and helping patients play a bigger role in shaping their health service.’

Further proposals to implement the vision for the NHS will be published soon. These will not be top-down reforms – the local NHS will be empowered to work with doctors and nurses to make the changes they need to improve the quality of patient care.

June 2010

The General Optical Council (GOC) has launched a consultation regarding the accessibility of fitness to practise information about registrants. The council is seeking feedback from all stakeholder groups, including registrants, patients and the public, on the information that should be made available on the public registers of opticians, and other areas of its website. The council will decide on any rule changes at its September meeting.

The Council is seeking feedback from all stakeholder groups, including registrants, patients and the public, on the information that should be made available on the public registers of opticians, and other areas of its website. At the moment, only warnings and registration conditions imposed by the GOC’s Fitness to Practise Committee that are currently in force can be viewed against a practitioner’s record on the registers. However, the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) has recommended that expired sanctions are also made available to the public.

CHRE also recommends that the GOC retains the records of registrants who have been suspended or erased from the registers. This means that searching for an erased registrant would bring up a notice that the registrant has been removed from the registers - currently, their records are erased entirely.

GOC chief executive and registrar, Dian Taylor said: “The proposals are intended to enhance public safety by providing patients and the public with more information about their optometrist or dispensing optician. However, it is crucial that any changes we make are fair and proportionate – this input will help us to develop such a policy.”

Read more about the consultation document at this link The General Optical Council (GOC) has today launched a consultation to ask: how accessible should fitness to practise (FTP) information about registrants be?

The Council is seeking feedback from all stakeholder groups, including registrants, patients and the public, on the information that should be made available on the public registers of opticians, and other areas of its website. The Council will decide on any rule changes at its September Council meeting.

At the moment, only warnings and registration conditions imposed by the GOC’s Fitness to Practise Committee that are currently in force can be viewed against a practitioner’s record on the registers. However, the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) has recommended that expired sanctions are also made available to the public.

Last year’s GOC consultation events on access to the registers have also informed the issues that are now up for debate. Delegates, including registrants, patients and industry representatives, gave their views on what information they felt should be included on the registers. A report of the events is available at

The consultation closes on 27 August. To respond, visit where you can download and respond to the consultation document. Paper copies can be requested from Matthew Tait on 020 7307 3923.

June 2010

The size of the United Kingdom (UK) contact lens market in 2009 was £198.7 million as reported by the Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers (ACLM). This represents an increase of 2% from 2008. Not all members’ figures were included in the final totals, so the actual results are likely to be better than reported.

The market was made up of the sale of over 537 million contact lenses. Market value comprised daily disposables (57%), soft frequent replacement lenses (12%), silicone hydrogels (23%), soft traditional lenses (2%) and rigid lenses (6%).

The number of people using daily disposable lenses has increased by 6% in the last 12 months with these lenses now worn by 1.4 million people. In total there are 3.3 million contact lens wearers in the UK which represents 6.8% of the adult population.

ACLM market report 2009: technical summary

Contact lenses in 2009

The size of the United Kingdom contact lens market in 2009 was £198.7 million as reported by the 14 contributing members of the Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers (ACLM). The market was made up of the sale of over 537 million contact lenses. Market value comprised daily disposables (57%), soft frequent replacement lenses (12%), silicone hydrogels (23%), soft traditional lenses (2%) and rigid lenses (6%). The number of people using daily disposable lenses has increased by 6% in the last 12 months with these lenses now worn by 1.4 million people. In total there are 3.3 million contact lens wearers in the UK which represents 6.8% of the adult population.


Lens type





Market value

Daily disposable

£ 107,749,379

£ 114,398,442




Frequent replacement

£ 26,987,582

£ 23,484,915




Silicone hydrogel

£ 44,846,662

£ 45,320,236





£ 4,875,049

£ 4,406,509





£ 9,926,409

£ 11,044,942





£ 194,385,081

£ 198,655,044



Number of

Daily disposable






Frequent replacement






Silicone hydrogel























Table 1: Market value and the number of wearers.

Contact lens wearers 1992-2009

The number of lens wearers has risen from 1.6 million in 1992 to 3.3 million in 2009.


Market value

Number of wearers


£ 33,373,617



£ 45,467,478



£ 50,681,645



£ 57,820,346



£ 69,581,783



£ 78,716,968



£ 87,682,437



£ 94,123,096



£ 101,949,988



£ 113,188,188



£ 133,260,777



£ 145,125,488



£ 160,942,838



£ 167,011,243



£ 178,667,418



£ 186,055,737



£ 194,385,081



£ 198,655,044


Table 2: Market value and number of contact lens wearers 1992-2009.

Definition of lens categories

For the purposes of the ACLM survey, contact lenses are divided into various lens ‘types’:

Daily disposables: lenses designed to be worn once per day and discarded daily.
Soft frequent replacement: lenses replaced between weekly and monthly, inclusive.
Silicone hydrogels: lenses made from silicone-containing new generation materials
Soft traditional: other soft lenses not included above
Rigid: rigid or hard contact lenses

Andrew Lansley's letter on revalidation

June 2010

Health secretary Andrew Lansley wrote to the GMC this week asking that revalidation pilots be extended by 12 months.

The DH's intervention means that the revalidation system, which was due to be introduced across the UK in 2011 after pilots had been evaluated will not begin until 2012.

Further clarification on Domiciliary orders over £35

June 2010

A further updated advice note has been produced by the representative bodies including the College on domiciliary service requirements by Weights and Measures. Mostly the requirements are as reported by PHN in early May. However, no doubt in response to worries about delayed commencement of work following a dispensing, in case the patient or carer cancel on day 7, it would now appear that the seller can ask for written permission to start the work ahead of the cancelling deadline. Should they then cancel they will be responsible for the costs of any work started before the recipt of the cancellation.

The update also re-emphasises the importance of providing a tear off cancellation slip at the time of the dispensing without which the seller is liable to a fine and the contract would become null and void.

GOS sight tests are not included in the valuation but private tests over £35 are. Click here for a PDF of the new update.

Silhouette updates their Mirror Application to Version 2.0

June 2010

Silhouette, the world renowned in rimless eyewear, appreciates the personal and reflective nature of the process of trying on and selecting new eyewear so the company has created Virtual Mirror 2.0 – an online tool than can accessed from here or via the Silhouette website or via the I-phone app store for free.

Silhouette’s Virtual Mirror allows users to upload a photograph of themselves or select an avatar. Once a user has uploaded a portrait photo, he or she can try on rimless eyewear and sunglasses in realistic, photo-like images. All of Silhouette’s rimless eyewear collections are available in the Virtual Mirror 2.0. Models can be adjusted to meet the colour, size and lens form needs of the individual wearer to underline personality and expression.

The users can then make a selection based on the realistic images created or photos from their potential eyewear model selections can be sent or saved to a personal album and reviewed by other users. Friends and the Community can also consult and comment on their selection via Facebook or Twitter. This turns the worldwide Community into a style consultant providing feedback which can be collected and used for selecting the most appropriate rimless eyewear.

“It’s certainly exciting to see where comments are coming from and who the other users of the new Rimless Aesthetics Consultant are. It’s easy to find – and contact – them, wherever they may be in world.” explains Elisabeth Kneidinger, Head of E-Communication at Silhouette.

Once a user has selected a model, he or she can find and contact a local optician to purchase the rimless eyewear.

Silhouette is the first eyewear brand in the world to focus exclusively on rimless eyewear design. And, Silhouette is the first eyewear maker in the world to offer a revolutionary online consulting tool in combination with Web 2.0.

UltraVision showcase Life-Changing Lens at BCLA

June 2010

UltraVision was delighted with the large number of visitors to their stand at the BCLA this weekend. KeraSoft IC, the new soft contact lens for all irregular corneas generated most interest. Folllowing Dr. Cristina Kenney’s lecture on Friday morning, practitioners wanted to know all about how KeraSoft® IC can provide their irregular and keratoconic patients with a healthy alternative to RGP lenses.

Ultravision at BCLAUltraVision, featured its most popular products; KeraSoft® IC, UltraWave® SiH and their Multifocal range of contact lenses. J Keith Lomas, CEO, was thrilled with the amount of interest shown, “KeraSoft IC was a particular draw to our stand this year. The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, along with the dedication and enthusiasm for a working alternative to GP lenses from the whole UltraVision team, have helped raise the profile of this revolutionary contact lens which has changed many patients’ lives for the better.”

KeraSoft® IC is designed for all irregular corneas, including every level of Keratoconus and is now available in SiH and Hydrogel materials. The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: Innovation, the highest award that can be bestowed upon a UK company, was received by UltraVision specifically for its KeraSoft design in April this year. This is the second Queen’s Award that UltraVision has received, the first being in 2006.

UltraVision’s 15 minute Premium Exhibitor Presentation, led by Irregular Cornea and Keratoconus Consultant Lynn White MSc FCOptom, was extremely well attended. An insight was provided into the rationale behind KeraSoft® IC fittings and the life-changing effect this ground-breaking lens has on patients with Irregular Corneas and Keratoconus, who previously have been struggling with GP lenses.

With the use of video testimonials Lynn was able to demonstrate the full impact that KeraSoft® IC can have on Irregular cornea patients who have had their life turned around, , through the use of KeraSoft® IC lenses. You can view these videos, and full case studies, at

Asda offers free contact lens assessments

June 2010

A free contact lens assessment with no obligation to purchase a lens is being offered by Asda following a contact lens assessment with every eye test in its optical practices.

This promotion, it hopes to be rolled out as a permanent basis according to Asda buying manager Nik Langrish-Dixon. The assessment, which usually costs £15, is available across all of Asda's UK practices with every £15 eye examination and is 'risk free' according to Langrish-Dixon 'with absolutely no obligation to buy any contact lenses'. Subsequent follow up appointments are also free and patients are issued with a specification once the fit is complete.

June 2010

‘Sharing the challenge, making it happen’

Registration for the Vision UK 2010 conference closes on 4 June however delegates can still register in person on the day of the event. The conference will be held at Birmingham’s ICC.

Delegates will have the opportunity to learn more about innovative approaches to eye care and sight loss, listen to speakers including the Rt Hon David Blunkett MP and network with experts and peers.

The VISION 2020 UK annual Vision Strategy conference is hosted by RNIB and sponsored by Guide Dogs.

Visit to book your place or telephone 0207 391 2157.

June 2010

Coming this June the College will launch an updated, improved version of its website. The new site will offer easier access to College Guidance, a new knowledge centre containing documents of interest to members, a new member directory and an improved search facility.

June 2010

“The NHS must make sure that patient outcomes and clinical evidence are at the heart of any changes to health services", Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said today.

In future, all service changes must be led by clinicians and patients, not be driven from the top down.

Lansley (The Health Secretary) continued: "Today I am fulfilling the pledge I made before the election to put an end to the imposition of top-down reconfigurations in the NHS.'We are committed to devolving power to local communities – to the people, patients, GPs and councils who are best placed to determine the nature of their local NHS services."

'Local decision-making is essential to improve outcomes for patients and drive up quality.”

Mr. Lansley outlined new, strengthened criteria that he expects decisions on NHS service changes to meet. They must

• focus on improving patient outcomes;
• consider patient choice;
• have support from GP commissioners; and
• be based on sound clinical evidence.

Local NHS organisations, which have already started to look at changing services, will need to make sure that that their plans meet these criteria before continuing.

This change will provide an opportunity for GPs to work with community leaders and their local authorities to take the reins and steer their local services to improve quality standards and outcomes.

Mr. Lansley added: "As part of this, I want NHS London to lead the way in working with GP commissioners in their reconfiguration of NHS services. A top-down, one-size fits all approach will be replaced with the devolution of responsibility to clinicians and the public, with an improved focus on quality."

"It will be centred on a sound evidence base, support from GP commissioners and strengthened arrangements for public and patient engagement, including local authorities."

It was announced by the DH that the Chief Executive of the NHS, Sir David Nicholson, will be writing to all NHS organisations setting out the need for service reconfiguration plans to meet these criteria.

The new style of working will be applied to all future reconfigurations and those that are ongoing. Apparently we are advised that more detailed guidance will be issued in the summer.

June 2010

This being the second year since the beginning of the new contract system there are interesting statistics PCT by PCT for the first time.

This GOS publication shows the number of ophthalmic practitioners (Optometrists and Ophthalmic Medical Practitioners) who are authorised by Primary Care Trusts in England and Local Health Boards in Wales to carry out NHS funded sight tests as at 31 December from 1999 to 2009.

Key facts

• There were 10,023 ophthalmic practitioners. This is an increase of 483 (5.1 per cent) since 2008, the first year under the new regulations.
• There were 19.5 practitioners per 100,000 population, an increase from last year (18.5).

• There were 711 ophthalmic practitioners, a decrease of 23 (3.1 per cent) on the previous year.
• There were 23.8 practitioners per 100,000 population, a small decrease from the previous year (24.5).

For a full statistical report on ophthalmic practitioner coverage click here

Reports of BCLA conference show another small increase for the second year running

June 2010

Over 1,000 delegates converged on Birmingham last weekend for the 34th British Contact Lens Association Clinical Conference and Exhibition, including those who only attended the exhibition, there were an estimated 1,500 visitors in total.

Jane BramhillThe conference and exhibition was, held in the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel, NEC, from 27 to 30 May. Organisers were relived that despite the threatened disruption from airline strikes and ash clouds from Icelandic volcanoes in the run-up to the conference; this was the fourth successive year that the event attracted in excess of 1,000 delegates. There were slightly more UK delegates this year, compared to 2009.

More than 45 of the industry’s leading manufacturers supported the event at the accompanying free exhibition, showcasing a multitude of contact lens, care product, instrument and related products. This year’s lecture programme offered more than 50 CET points − including more therapeutics CET points than ever before for additional supply, supplementary and independent prescribers.

For the first time, this year’s conference saw the crew from OT.TV, the web TV service of the Association of Optometrists, filming discussions with speakers, exhibitors and delegates.

The BCLA Conference is well established as the premier event for contact lens professionals in the UK and worldwide. This year saw a slight increase in the numbers of UK delegates attending (50 per cent compared with 46 per cent in 2009). Half of those registered were from overseas (2009: 54 per cent) with delegates coming from 48 different countries. The largest overseas delegations were from the USA, followed by Germany, Switzerland and France. There are also a growing number of delegates attending from Eastern Europe.

Shelly BansalAt the Gala Dinner on May 29, outgoing President William Thomas handed his chain of office to Shelly Bansal, who told delegates that his focus for the coming year would be to connect with everyone who is involved in the contact lens arena – from support staff right through to researchers and educators. “My objective is to share my passion for the profession as widely as possible, and to encourage others to become as passionate about it as I am,” he said.

“Another of my aims is to see a better representation of eye care professionals, from the ophthalmic, dispensing, medical, independent and corporate sectors, within the BCLA membership and also at our annual conference.

As a young, newly qualified practitioner, my enthusiasm for contact lenses really began after I started attending BCLA presentations. I hope that during my year as President, I can encourage young professionals to become excited about the contact lens industry and to get involved with the BCLA to help to shape the future of this great organisation.”

(The BCLA President Elect is Dr Catharine Chisholm, lecturer at Bradford School of Optometry and Vision Sciences.)

21 new BCLA Fellowships, a mark of esteem in the field of contact lenses, which allows recipients to use the letters FBCLA after their names were awarded at the Gala Dinner where much fun and dancing occurred..

The BCLA remind all those interested that the 2010 BCLA Pioneers Conference takes place in London on November 23, when Professor Lyndon Jones will deliver the 7th Pioneers Lecture.

A date for your diary next year is in Manchester from 26-29 May 2011. Keynote speakers will be Professors William Ayliffe (UK) and Joe Bonanno (USA), and Drs Kathy Dumbleton (Canada) and Lisa Keay (Australia). Professor Mark Wilcox (Australia) will be the 2011 BCLA Medal Speaker and Dr Jacinto Santodomingo (Spain) will deliver the Irving Fatt Memorial Lecture.

All images taken by Elliot Franks.

Dance at BCLA

Bausch & Lomb Launches Innovative New Toric Eye-App Calculator for the iPhone, iPod Touch and Online

May 2010

Bausch & Lomb are launching a new Toric Eye-App calculator, designed to help eye care practitioners across Europe fit toric lenses efficiently and effectively, resulting in less chair time for the patient. Available as an application for the iPhone, iPod Touch and as an online tool through the Academy of Vision Care™, the calculator offers support to eye care practitioners in calculating which toric contact lens to fit when correcting specific astigmatic prescriptions.

The highly interactive tool calculates which initial trial lens should be used with a given spectacle prescription. Additionally, if the lens when fitted to the patient rotates off axis, the new axis direction for lens trial/order is also calculated. The user is able to calculate the adjusted axis by simply rotating the lens on the interactive device to simulate any lens rotation on the eye. It also features a Back Vertex Distance Calculator to assist when calculating the lens for prescriptions over +/-5.00.

The new Eye-App calculator is a free download through the Bausch & Lomb Academy of Vision Care web site at and through the iPhone App store.

Dr Philip Morgan, director of Eurolens Research, senior lecturer in optometry at The University of Manchester, and co-developer of the calculator, welcomes its availability. “This convenient, easyâ¬to-use tool will simplify the initial lens selection and allow eye care practitioners to rapidly identify a starting point for the toric lens selection and to calculate quickly and easily the new lens that compensates for any axis rotation.”

The tool involves three simple steps. The first is to set the spectacle refraction, which results in recommendation for trial lenses. The next step is to adjust any lens rotation seen during the trial on the tool, and finally, if required, the back vertex distance. The tool will instantly provide a list of recommended lenses as well as the calculated theoretical power at the corneal plane.

Bausch + Lomb’s multilingual Academy of Vision Care ( provides eye care professionals with free, generic accredited continuous education and professional development in the field of contact lenses and vision care to ultimately enhance patient care. Developed in collaboration with eminent industry experts, the Academy of Vision Care initiative helps eye care professionals stay at the forefront of today’s technological and scientific breakthroughs and provides them with support to address day-to-day practice and business challenges. The content is currently available in English, Flemish, German, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish.

May 2010

Following our recent news story on the appointment of Andrew Lansley as secretary of state for health, the Department of Health's ministerial team has now been approved.

They include Paul Burstow MP and Simon Burns MP as Ministers of State, as well as Anne Milton MP and Earl Howe who are confirmed as parliamentary under secretaries of state.

May 2010

The General Optical Council (GOC) has begun its window of registration closing on the 15 July, the student retention deadline. Retention forms for 2010/11 have been sent to all optometry and dispensing optics students. Students who do not apply for retention by the 15 July deadline will face a £10 late application penalty.

May 2010

From 23rd to 26th September, the MONDIAL de L’OPTIQUE exhibition invites you to discover an optimised trade show, that will mix business and leisure and it’s only 30 minutes from the heart of Paris.

Silmo logoSILMO 2010 takes advantage of its new configuration in contemporary, comfortable and bright pavilions with strengthened services, to renew its communication plan, and events such as:

  • The Merchandising workshop
  • The Innovation and tendencies forum
  • The Silmo TV show
  • The Optical World Technological Symposium
  • The Silmo Academy Colloquium

To access the SILMO show, the organisers guarantee comfort with a lot of easy, rapid and direct means of transport. By train, by plane, or by shuttle: all the choices provided allow easy access to the exhibition centre located between Paris city centre and Charles-de-Gaulle airport.

OPTRAFAIR invites group meetings

May 2010

Optrafair 2011, the definitive meeting place for the UK optical industry, is opening its doors to all optical groups and organisations that would like to hold regional meetings alongside the show, which runs from 9-11 April 2011 at Birmingham’s NEC.

Optrfair Crowds“In the current economic climate consolidation must be a top priority. In good times no one questions how meetings and events are commissioned but now companies are rethinking their strategy,” said Malcolm Polley, Chief Executive of Optrafair owners, The FMO.

The ideal opportunity to reduce the time and cost of meetings, Optrafair is well positioned in Birmingham for most national groups. The addition of a second, smaller, lecture theatre and the choice of private function rooms will ensure that Optrafair can provide a venue for any size of audience – large or small.
“Taking advantage of Optrafair, the largest national gathering of the optical community, makes much sense. The facilities at the NEC are excellent and the area is well supported by a range of hotels,” added Malcolm.

Supporting the needs of practitioners into the next decade, Optrafair will address the tough economic and global conditions facing the profession and industry. All of the latest technology for surfacing and lens production, IT, business and financial support, as well as new frames, sunglasses, accessories and contact lenses will be exhibited.

Urgent call for Midlands Volunteers

May 2010

Optometrists, dispensing opticians and students in the Midlands are being urged to volunteer for a few hours to keep the Vision Care for Homeless Centre in Birmingham open.

Vision Care PracticeWhile the London centre is well supported by practice staff, the Birmingham Centre needs help to keep the Monday-only practice open, as Harinder Paul, the charity’s founder explained –

“Our centre in Birmingham is seriously suffering due to a lack of volunteer support from optoms and dispensers/optical assistants. We are on the brink of closing the centre for much of the month due to this shortage, with a direct impact on the homeless community in the Midlands. The work is extremely rewarding and makes a tremendous difference to many homeless people’s lives.”

The VCHP practice is located within the William Booth Centre near to the Centre of Birmingham by Snow Hill railway station, and operates between 10am and 5pm every Monday. It provides an environment where homeless people – who come from all walks of life – feel at ease. Research by the charity has shown that many who live on the streets and refuges are uncomfortable about visiting a conventional High Street practice, and as a result their eye sight suffers.

Anyone wishing to find out more about volunteering should contact the charity’s volunteer co-ordinator, Lesley-Ann Murray FBDO on 0752 7860364 or visit

May 2010

The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers and its Social arm, The Spectacle Makers Society has been very busy over the Spring with three very different but exciting events.

Firstly a large number of members with spouses and friends visited Charterhouse, the site on which Sutton’s Hospital in Charterhouse now stands. It first came to public notice as a burial ground for victims of the Black Death. From 1371, however it housed a Carthusian Priory which was suppressed in 1538, but not before the Prior and some of the most outspoken of his flock had been hanged, drawn and quartered for refusing to accept the Act of Supremacy.

The land was granted to Lord North, who built a Tudor mansion on it. This was subsequently sold to the fourth Duke of Norfolk whose son then sold it on to Thomas Sutton in 1611. Sutton used his wealth to endow a charitable foundation, Sutton’s Hospital in Charterhouse, to educate boys and care for elderly gentlemen. In 1872, the school was moved to a new site at Godalming in Surrey.

Enlivening the architectural tour guests were serenaded by a musical tour at specific points around the building the tour lasting just over two hours. The music ranged from Carthusian chant, through Tudor-era compositions to pieces by Henry Purcell, Mendelssohn and Ralph Vaughan Williams, the latter being a former pupil of Charterhouse School.

The next visit involved the annual Four Liveries Dinner held this year at the Glaziers Hall by London Bridge where the Lightmongers provided an illuminating lecture on the Discovery of Electricity and its effect on lighting given by Dr Bryson Gore and Dr Frank James about the work of the Royal Institution from the time of Faraday. They painted a picture of the scientific fervour leading up to practical electric lighting that so transformed and characterised the early 20th century. Their talk included artefacts and demonstrations from the Royal Institution’s marvellous collection.

And finally last weekend 18 intrepid Society members and friends went on an Isle of Wight walking holiday based in Ventnor. Martin Keys and Helen Short (Society) hosted a terrific weekend based in the Royal Hotel but requiring a number of well researched walks across the many hills of the IOW. Not least on the second day, a 10 mile walk split by the standard refreshment break at a local pub. There was a wonderful air of friendship amongst all the like minded walkers and each night was finished off with a top rate meal washed down by wine keeping even the weary up and in good spirits. To show their true grit the organisers demonstrated the outside pool, while most of the rest enjoyed some fizz in a glass and watching them.

This is just a few of a regular number of events laid on by the Society which provides a reason for meeting up with many Company and Society members not by any means all in Optics but all with the same desire to have a good time. If you have never considered being part of the Spectacle Makers and feel it is something for the elderly or retired think again. Images show the gang having reached the highest point on the island, our hosts doing a spot of bathing and Peter Mills, a Past Master reading the nature notes, not checking for the next bus time!

Andrew LansleyMay 2010

Andrew Lansley was today confirmed as the health secretary for the new Conservative administration. Mr. Lansley has served as the shadow health secretary since 2003 in opposition.

May 2010

In advice provided by the UK Domiciliary Eyecare Committee in response to the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer's Home or Place of Work etc. Regulations 2008 which came into operation on 1 October 2008 and which require all traders who accept an order for goods or services worth more than £35 during a visit by the trader to a consumer's home to issue a notice of the right to cancel the order, domiciliary professionals (traders) must provide documentation allowing the cancellation of an order within 7 days.

A fine of £5000 can be made if the written notification is not left with either the patient or nominated carer and this will be enforced by weights and measures.

Whether the transaction includes a voucher or not and is private or NHS makes no difference and as most purchases exceed £35 they will be captured by the regulation.

The written notice can be filled in by either the patient, close relative or nominated carer and the 7 day cancellation period is from the date of posting even if its receipt is delayed.

Unused vouchers following a cancellation should be returned to the PCT.

Further information can be obtained by downloading the joint body’s communiqué as a PDF below

The September 2009 Code of Practice for Domiciliary Eyecare is also available as a PDF

Cathy Yelf speaks to AGM audience at Edinburgh

May 2010

Cathy Yelf is the Head of External Relations at the Macular Disease Society (MDS) and presented at the Edinburgh AGM meeting to a large and interested audience.

She provided a thought provoking and practical speech on the strategy of the MDS, its campaigns and how it actively can help people with severe vision loss.

There is much of interest for the optometrist to access and to increase their knowledge of the often disturbing and depressing symptoms suffered by those with vision loss.

We have published the whole presentation on our clinical briefing section

A report on three AGMs held consecutively in Edinburgh

May 2010

Following on from our report about the launch of the Optical Confederation we were at the George Hotel in Edinburgh to witness the AGM of FODO and AOP, as well as the annual report of the Benevolent Fund and an informative lecture from the Macular Disease Society.

Don Grocott who happens to be President of both groupings welcomed the large gathering of AOP councillors, some FODO councillors and a sprinkling of representatives from the College, ACLM and BCLA. These were for him exciting times in Optics UK with the launch of the Confederation, a milestone with a long road or roads to travel down for the benefit of the whole sector.

The President encouraged the audience to not feel inhibited as they apparently had been last year when both FODO and more unusually the AOPs AGMs were greeted by an eerie silence from the hall.


David Hewlett, FODO CEO then introduced Jayne Rawlinson, the current Chair of FODO, who likewise praised the fruition of the Confederation, in a new decade and a new phase in Optics. These were different times and indeed this was the first FODO AGM held North of the Border.

FODO AGM tableShe continued to say that AGMs held in the same arena were becoming a natural process after only 1 anniversary. The year for FODO members had been tough economically and required much effort in defending against over regulation. The GOS new contracts had proved in parts a bureaucratic burden for their members and there was change all around including new domiciliary rules in N Ireland as well as the up and coming future tax hikes that were inevitable given the current fiscal climate. The work load has become so high that working together with other Bodies has now become a necessity.

This has worked particularly well when trying to influence NICE on guidelines and in the success of LOCSU for which the AOP did much of the work on pathways. She also welcomed the inclusion of the manufacturing sector to provide advice especially the ACLM who have shown how backward we are in making suggestions to the public about contact lens wear as opposed to the USA.

Amongst the increased work load was the realisation that many complaints should never reach either the Courts or the GOC and extra work had been required to improve and bolster a first stop service for complaints and this hands on has a cost reflected in the increased subs up 20% for members.

In her view as an ex nurse she thinks that it is time for Optics to be more joined up like Nursing or Doctors to provide a united voice and to stand together. She finished by paying tribute to Michael Charlton, (outgoing AOP chairman) for his efforts in getting the joint working groups together as well as his predecessor Trevor Warburton. She also reminded everybody about the up and coming National Eye Health Week.

The AGM continued with a financial report from Hal Rollasson who announced a surplus for the year of £2,500 but as in the past subs had been bolstered by a two year extra levy it was now necessary to increase subs for this year by 20%. The next 6 month’s call for subs was agreed at the meeting at £72.50 per FTE. This had been necessary because of the sheer weight of projects which mainly included legal and professional help that is not cheap. They do however run a tight ship with a slim level of staff although they had recently taken on a new member for policy administration.

The rest of the meeting passed without comment from the floor and Graham Ackers was elected for the first time to Council, and Richard Peat, Barry Smith and Adrian Street were re-elected. Jayne Rawlinson was elected for a second term as Chair and the treasurer also remained in situ.

The meeting was followed by a very informative lecture from Cathy Yelf from the Macular Disease Society. (This will be reported separately)

The next AGM... for the Benevolent Fund

Benevolent fund AGM tableThis is a jointly run venture by the College and the AOP and so was introduced by Richard Broughton, the Chairman of the Managing Trustees. He ran through how the Ben Trust fund works being made up of 3 AOP and 6 College trustees with who it holds quarterly meetings.

Currently the fund looks after 31 beneficiaries, 10 who are of working age. This is an increasing case load with 4 contacting the fund since last October. The funding had increased over the last two years from £48K to £57K reflecting the fiscal difficulties of life. Each fundee is visited at least once a year and is always visited after the initial approach. Help is available in many ways to former College and AOP members as well as their dependents and respite care for their carers. Other costs provided for are Nursing Home Costs, income support, rehabilitation, utility bills, one off payments, Xmas Grants and help to alleviate the costs of membership of the professional bodies. Broughton reported that the fund was strong with a value of £905K at 30/09/2009. They had also taken on new investment managers to oversee the fund.

They get their funds from subs from the College and the AOP as well as legacies and it was important to raise the Ben fund profile, to look out for needy colleagues and for extra legacies and this would be helped by the new Ben Fund Website at

AOP - The Final AGM

Once again opening the occasion was Don Grocott who re-emphasised his plea for audience participation. He noted that Chris Hunt, injured in a recent freak accident was unable to attend but announced that in his absence had been appointed to the post of Senior Vice President of the AOP.

AOP AGM tableFollowing the reading of the roll of deceased members the meeting proce eded with the Chair Michael Charlton, thanking Jayne for the cordial and mutual rel
ationship within the working groups and the new Confederation.

He reflected on the year and the important bits that had made a difference such as:

  • The AOP increased membership, a reflection on the unrivalled package of benefits that are provided.
  • The forging of new links with key groupings in and out of Optics
  • The defence of members which was of utmost importance.

He announced that the PI indemnity limit had been raised to £5million per member and that other changes to the system had been made although these were not explained. The future move to the Clerkenwell site was also alluded to as although it would not become available till at least late 2010 and possibly later a contract had been signed and a possible mortgage had been agreed. This was reflected in the balance sheet as a virtual purchase and a virtual liability. The AOP was hoping to improve its infrastructure of administration to help mesh in the new methods of working within the confederation, so much so that he had actually used Skype for a recent meeting!

Like FODO he also praised the work of LOCSU and the work by the AOP on the new Quality in Optometry published at the NOC.

There were no relevant questions from the floor.

It was announced that David Shannon is to take over as Chair from Charlton for the next year.

The finance officer announced a small surplus and responding to questions on the move explained how the delay would cause no problems with financing. It would give them time to research the market for better finance and they had always budgeted for an overlap between relinquishing their current lease and moving into Clerkenwell.

There being no other questions Michael Charlton was asked to provide a special “Advancement in Optometry Award to SECO the Southern Council of Optometrists from Atlanta who working in alliance with the AOP had provided ever improving CET at the Optrafair shows in the NEC.

The previous winners have been Ted Arbuthnot for his early work on the Welsh PEARS, Tim Hunter for work on the Pre registration year, The Walsh Assembly for the creation of PEARS and likewise the Scottish Executive for their work on the Scottish Optometry Contract, so SECO has some illustrious bed fellows. Charlton handed to Sam Galloway and Kirk Smick a magnificently crafted award.

In reply the SECO CEO thanked the AOP for their friendship and spoke about how he had loved staying in Edinburgh. This award he said, “was special and so is the partnership with the AOP. Together they would advance the profession of Optometry learning from you (the UK) and you learning from us. Our success is not the finish point but the starting line.”

At the very end Certificates of merit were awarded for long service on retirement to Ian Shaw and Charles Wass.

See also AGM sketch

May 2010

Hoya’s Hi-Vision LongLife AR coating, brings the highest scratch resistance of all according to the rigorous Bayer testing, has just scooped an international award.

IF Material Award goes to HoyaRaising the barrier in coatings, the super anti-reflective, water and dirt repellent, and anti static properties have been recognised with the iF Material Award of 2010. The award is an important international trend barometer of material technology, which each year attracts submissions from a broad spectrum of industries.

“The outstanding durability and performance of Hoya Hi-Vision LongLife has been recognised not just by this latest accolade but also by the toughest testing conducted by Colts Laboratories. This awarded the highest marks for scratch resistance, and in trials of reflection, water and dirt resistance, anti static and extreme temperatures,” said Martin Batho, Managing Director of Hoya Lens UK.

Confident of the longevity of the coating, Hoya provides a three year warranty on manufacturing defects, knowing the importance that such an assurance of confidence can provide for the practitioner to pass onto patients.

According to the iF Award judges –“In material technology it is not about making something new, but about making something better. The importance is to find the right balance between design and material.”

Hoya’s own rigorous testing of the coating includes four minutes of direct grit abrasion, wire wool and razor blade cutting for the premium coating.

“Patients who have been dismissive of coatings in the past are likely to have a very different experience with this unrivalled but proven, technology,” added Martin Batho.

Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers toasts the new Optical Fledgling

April 2010

In a long awaited christening party held at the prestigious Inter Continental Hotel in Park Lane the Optical Confederation, as it has be christened was toasted after a short speech by John Fried SMCs Deputy Master.

John Fried at Optical ConfederationIts parentage being from the five Optical Organisations who have been much involved in its long gestation are ABDO, ACLM, AOP, FMO and FODO. Back one generation according to Fried was the parent of all five bodies, that of the SMC, the f irst optical regulator in the UK and one of the first in the world. So the SMC was appropriately chosen to preside over such an auspicious occasion.

Fried said,” The five bodies all stand for excellence in different parts of our optics family. They all want their members to make the best of their talents and provide the very best care for patients - the people who rely on each part of the optics process to ensure they receive eye care, optical correction and many avoid preventable blindness. That won't happen without excellent diagnostic equipment; well made frames; high quality lenses; technically advanced contact lenses; excellent distribution; thorough examinations by optometrists; expert contact lens fitting; and skilful and personal dispensing. These are the ingredients of a journey of care, quality and excellence, in which we all play an essential and professional part.”

Such a coming together has of course not been without some birth pains, its tensions and its setbacks but Joint committees have been in operation for 18 months with positive results despite an odd hiccough or two. As was said, the future is far better than the old days of each body deciding on its view without consultation, acting unilaterally and then fighting it out against all-comers.

Fried added, “It doesn't change the realities or dynamics of any of the organisations who retain their autonomy and leadership roles. What it does is to provide new opportunities for the profession, for businesses and industry and above all for patients. So this is one of those rare but truly historic moments for eye health and eye care in the UK”

A new name and a new identity, confirmed, the attendees were asked to raise a glass and drink a toast to OPTICAL CONFEDERATION - The Voice of UK Optics.”

We will watch the young pups early years with great interest and as always with a lot of good hope for the future of Optics UK.

See also:

Interview with David Hewlett

Sketch: Optical Confederation: A re-grouping of groups


April 2010

The new confederation launched as a strong united voice for excellence in UK optics:

A new optical confederation has been launched to bring together the voices of the five representative bodies within the optical profession to speak with a united voice for patients, professionals and the sector. Launched on 29 April 2010, the OPTICAL CONFEDERATION – The Voice of UK Optics is committed to greater cohesion for the five optical bodies: the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO); The Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers (ACLM); the Association of Optometrists (AOP); the Federation of Manufacturing Opticians (FMO) and the Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians (FODO).

In a historic naming ceremony at the InterContinental Hotel in London, John Fried, Deputy Master of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, unveiled the Confederation’s plans for the future.

Mr Fried said: “The five bodies, ABDO, ACLM, AOP, FMO and FODO all stand for excellence in different parts of our optics family. They all want their members to make the best of their talents and provide the very best care for patients - the people who rely on each part of the optics process to ensure they receive eye care, optical correction and many avoid preventable blindness. It is the most productive way of ensuring that we protect patients’ interests, grow the sector, improve scope of practice and ensure that we are listened to.”

RNIB announce date for Vision 2020 conference

April 2010

The Vision 2020 UK annual conference, hosted by RNIB, will take place on Tuesday 15 June at the ICC, Birmingham. To find out more, or to register to attend, please see Vision 2020 website.

The conference coincides with the launch of the inaugural National Eye Health Week as reported previously.

April 2010

UltraVision CLPL, the largest independent manufacturer, supplier and licensor of contact lenses in the UK, has scored a double with a second Queen’s Award for Enterprise – Innovation.

The group formed by two former school friends, J Keith Lomas, Group CEO, and John Clamp, Group COO, both aged 39, is expanding throughout the world with sales into more than 60 countries.

Ultravision lens“To receive the Queen’s Award once is a serious achievement, but twice is out of this world” said Lomas. “We were improving people’s vision but now our team is taking our technologies to new levels and dramatically changing lives for the better for thousands more people every month”.

The Queen’s Award is the highest honour that can be bestowed on a UK company and was awarded specifically for KeraSoft®, patented soft and silicone hydrogel contact lenses for irregular corneas and keratoconus.

Patients can have irregular corneas for a number of reasons including disease, trauma, corneal transplants or failed laser surgery such as Lasik and other prescription changing operations. Standard contact lenses or spectacles do not successfully address such complexities so patients can have considerably reduced vision. The traditional approach was with hard or rigid gas permeable lenses, but the rigid surfaces on thinning tissue was often extremely uncomfortable and resulted in short wearing times or patients not even able to wear the rigid lenses at all; so minimal sight.

KeraSoft® lenses are a combination of the latest in soft and silicone hydrogel materials using geometries from complex mathematics to offer comfortable wear and excellent vision for all waking hours, engineered and developed by John Clamp. Optometrist Lynn White, Keratoconus Consultant, helped refine the design for a wide range of irregular cornea conditions through her close work with her patients.

“I had to persevere with rigid lenses for years as there used to be no alternative” said Gareth Beynon, a keratoconic patient from Rugby, Warwickshire. “I was limited to a maximum of six to eight hours of comfortable wear a day, five days a week so I had to choose when I could see; at home or at work. My life revolved around whether I could wear my lenses or not and had no spontaneity at all. I had to rely on others being present most of the time in case I had a problem with the lenses which was very frustrating. With the KeraSoft® lens, it’s like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders. I can now see throughout all my waking hours, have resurrected my motor racing hobby and have got my life back. This is genuinely transformational for me and others. The more people who hear about this the better”.

KeraSoft® lenses are fitted and dispensed by optometrists and opticians in hospital departments, private and high street practices. Ophthalmologists are using the lenses both pre and post-operatively, following cross-linking surgery and as a safer and longer term solution than corneal transplants.

UltraVision CLPL states that KeraSoft® sales are growing by double digit percentages month on month. As well as launching directly in India with new dedicated operations in Trivandrum, Kerala, UltraVision CLPL is currently in licensing discussions with third parties to help accelerate the roll out of KeraSoft® around the world.

J Keith Lomas added “We’ve got game-changing technology here so need to maximise the positive impact on people’s lives wherever we can”.

Her Majesty The Queen will host a reception at Buckingham Palace later this year for the winners of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise – 2010.

Optical Product of the Year awarded to Hoya

April 2010

Hoya’s premium individualised freeform lens has beaten off competition from other international optical products to win The OPTICIAN’s highly coveted OPTICAL PRODUCT OF THE YEAR.
The Hoyalux iD MyStyle, praised by opticians who choose to wear the lens, was singled out for its distortion-free vision at all zones, high levels of personalisation in lifestyle and fit, its wide field of vision, and virtually non-existent “swim effect”.

“The fact that so many opticians are opting to wear this lens themselves says it all. Practitioners are finding that even those patients with complex prescriptions, new varifocal wearers or those who have not been satisfied with varifocals before, are enjoying the benefits that this front and back surface freeform technology brings,” said Paul Bullock, Hoya’s Professional Services Manager.
“Hoyalux iD MyStyle is all about quality: quality of the lens, quality of the training that we provide in dispensing the lens, the quality of support for the optician and most importantly, the quality of the visual experience and level of satisfaction for the customer,” he added.

The lens is available in a choice of indices, with Super HiVision AR Coating and a photochromic option, the lens was launched in January 2009 and is supported by the dispensing tool; MyStyle iDentifier and video measuring which links directly into Hoyalog, for seamless ordering.

Martin Batho, Hoya Lens UK MD (left) is pictured receiving the coveted award with Paul Bullock, Hoya Lens UK Professional Services Manager.

April 2010

PCC has revised the Section B declarations which form part of the model application forms for a new GOS contract. The revisions take account of changes introduced by the National Health Service (Miscellaneous Amendments Relating to Ophthalmic Services) Regulations which came into force on 1 April 2010 but they also make other relevant additions and amendments. The revised model forms have been produced in four variants for Individual or partnership application or for Body Corporate applications either for mandatory services or additional services.

You can view the forms here

April 2010

210 opticians have been removed from the GOC’s registers for failing to apply for 2010/11 retention. The total comprises: 86 optometrists and 123 dispensing opticians. In addition, 49 business registrants were also removed.

Despite the additional on line capability to view the process there was only a 1% fall in removal numbers when compared to last year.

Perhaps more disturbing is the additional number removed (191 registrants) for failing to meet the minimum continuing education and training (CET) requirements by the end of the 2007-9 cycle. Here at least the numbers represent some form of improvement over the numbers failing at the end of the first cycle which ended in 2006 when an additional 126 were removed. As those failing diminish in numbers each cycle it should be expected that the end of the next cycle should show further reductions. How this trend continues post revalidation is an issue you may wish to discuss on our forum.

April 2010

The news publication of the PCC has been forced into a slimming down of its normal production due to restrictions on pre-election announcements imposed upon it by Government protocol.

April 2010

In a letter to the Chairs of PCTs Ann Keen, an Under Secretary of State for Health, highlights the importance of those suspected of suffering from wet AMD of being referred quickly in Secondary Care.

NICE estimate that there are about 26,000 new cases of wet AMD each year contributing to a total of 50% of all registered blind in the UK. The letter points out that detection techniques have improved as well as treatment and control but early referral is essential. In the Royal College of Ophthalmologists guidelines (2009 “Age Related Macular Degeneration- Guidelines for management) they state that “treatment must be taken without delay and preferably within 2 weeks of initial development of symptoms or detection of a treatable lesion.”

In a specific reference to Direct Referral by Optometrists to Ophthalmologists allowed since 2005 and now part of the GOS contracts regs, Ms. Keen urges PCTs and local commissioners to create local pathways for this condition. MP urges PCTs about the need for rapid Referral pathway for wet age-related macular degeneration

April 2010

In a recent publication, PCC urges PCTs to publish its registration lists and allow LOCs access. Apparently it has been made aware that some PCTs may be refusing to allow their local optical committees (LOCs) a copy of their ophthalmic performers' list. Regulation 3 of the National Health Service (Performers Lists) Regulations 2004 requires the PCT to prepare and publish medical, dental and ophthalmic performers' lists and it also says explicitly that these lists should be available for public inspection.

The advice to all PCTs is that the DoH expects all PCTs to publish details of all their primary care contractors, medical, dental, pharmacy and optical on the NHS Choices website. LOCs require these details for LOC electoral purposes in order to comply with their constitutions but, regardless of the legitimacy of their need, enquirers should be given access to performers' lists if they are not already publicly available on the PCT's website.

20 20 Health announce tracker system to view the policies of the 3 main contenders in the 2010 Election

April 2010

Click here to review the health policy differences. They report that Health issues are in the top 3 of voter concerns.

PHN, your Optical Knowledge Site passes the 19,000 visit rate in March

April 2010

Its looking to be an exciting year for your knowledge site which not only broke its visit record by over 1000 but it also, for the first time, was visited by over 7000 individual professionals in one month, a figure higher than the subscription rate of one of the major optical journals. This broad church of regular visitors has created the impetus for leading Recruitment Agencies to start using the site as a major resource. With almost 200 individual job vacancies already posted it has exposed how many positions are available that go unadvertised in traditional media.. For the job searcher, now life’s a lot simpler you can browse for free and select the job type and region you are interested in as well as opting for full, part-time, locum or franchise appointments. Click here for our recruitment section.

For those offering work the advantages of using the site comes with the full job descriptions for every job and the simple contact information that will get a quick response and the system is also available to individual companies looking for staff whether practices or industry, education or PCTs looking for Optical Advisors. A simple one off payment by card from as little as £35 for a two week advert gives you the same exposure as larger companies. Click here for our recruitment section.

Our increased readership has encouraged more web page advertisers on board which will appear in our suppliers guide very shortly.

April 2010

Reported this week in Newswise, Scientists from the Vision Cooperative Research Centre (Vision CRC) in Australia today announced that myopia, or short-sightedness, can be controlled with new technology. This ground breaking discovery was based on research conducted by Vision CRC partners – the University of Houston College of Optometry and the Brien Holden, known to many of us and now at the Vision Institute, located at the University of New South Wales.

Myopia affects over 1.6 billion people globally, with two thirds of those affected living in the Asia region. If unchecked, the number is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2020. There are 128 million people affected in the United States, which equates to 42% of the population.

Successful basic research on the nature and cause of myopia has led to the discovery that the peripheral retinal image plays a major part in stimulating eye growth and myopia. Large scale clinical trials testing both spectacles and contact lenses designed to control the position of the peripheral image and involving over 500 children in China and Australia, have produced promising results.

myopia, instead of a distant image being focused on the retina, as it needs to be for clear vision, it is focused in front of the retina. Myopia often occurs when children commence school (ages six to seven), and if left undetected the condition progresses and can adversely impact the child’s education and social development. Professor Brien Holden, CEO of the Vision CRC, explained further, “For hundreds of years focusing defects of the eye have been corrected by simply moving the visual image backwards and forwards with spectacle lenses.

Professor Earl Smith from the University of Houston College of Optometry, has demonstrated that if we move the central image onto the retina but leave the peripheral image behind the retina, the peripheral image can drive the eye to elongate, causing myopia to increase.”

Using this Knowledge Holden announces new licensed technology

Scientists from the Vision Cooperative Research Centre (Vision CRC) in Australia recently announced that myopia, or short-sightedness, can be controlled with new technology.

“The beauty of this new technology is that it addresses this problem by bringing the peripheral image forward, onto or even in front of the retina, and at the same time independently positioning the central image on the retina giving clear vision.The commercialisation of this technology is a most important outcome for the CRC program because of the potential vision and eye health benefits,” Professor Holden said.

Professor Holden announced that the breakthrough technology has been licensed to Carl Zeiss Vision (CZV) and developed into the first spectacle lens of its kind through a joint project with CZV lens designers. This new spectacle lens will be launched under the ZEISS brand name throughout Asia from April of this year.
The Vision CRC has also licensed its myopia control technology to CIBA VISION for contact lens applications.

Professor Holden added, “Myopia can be a serious eye condition. High myopia significantly increases the risk of cataract, glaucoma, and retinal detachment, all potentially blinding conditions and the public health risk is significant.”

Dr Padmaja Sankaridurg, Head of the Myopia Program at Vision CRC, emphasised the nature of the new technology’s appeal. “Our unique lens designs act to curve or shift the peripheral image forward, thereby removing the stimulus to axial elongation and myopia progression,” she said.

“We are continuing testing in Chinese and Australian children and young adults. So far, the trials have found that the first spectacle lens prototypes based on this new technology slow the rate of progress of myopia by 30% in children six to 12 years of age, where the child has a history of parental myopia,” she said.

Professor Smith, from the University of Houston, commented, “Evidence shows that the number of individuals with myopia will dramatically escalate with increasing urbanisation and less outdoor activity”.

“As urbanisation has increased in China, the prevalence and average amount of myopia has also increased. Recent evidence indicates that similar trends are occurring in the US and Australia. This ongoing epidemic of vision loss is associated with spiralling health and social costs, especially in many developing countries where over 80% of children have no correcting spectacles or contact lenses,” he said.

“This new technology is not just for children either. Over 25% of myopes in the Western world are adult-onset myopes, which often begins at University. We believe that this technology has potential benefits for all myopes,” Professor Smith said.

April 2010

Regulationswill come into force on 1 April 2010. The regulations make minor updates and corrections to the National Health Service (Optical Charges and Payments) Regulations 1997, the Primary Ophthalmic Services Regulations 2008 and the General Ophthalmic Services Contracts Regulations 2008.

Readers will be pleased to read that they do not introduce any significant changes in policy or practice apart from a new requirement to notify patients of their right to express a preference of practitioner where more than one performer is available.

A DoH letter provides further details about the possible ways in which patients might be notified of this new right.

A model contract variation notice will be published shortly and PCTs should wait for this before seeking to amend their GOS contracts.

April 2010

The official website for National Eye Health Week 2010 is now live.

Registration on the site will allow access to free poster templates and other publicity materials. The organisers can also provide you with a range of additional help and support to promote your events and awareness-raising activities both locally and nationally.

April 2010

There will be no change in voucher values in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2010-11. They will remain at 2009-10 rates. Notification from Scotland is still awaited. Meanwhile we confirm that the imposed increase on sight test fees reported 2 last month is the final yearly agreed increase of a 3 year deal.

New amendment regulations made relating to ophthalmic services

Breakthrough reported in controlling Myopia in Children

GOC reminder of Student retention announced

More appointments at the DH

College attempts to improve its IT communications with new Website

Vision UK 2010 Conference - 15th June

GOC seeks feedback on accessibility of fitness to practise information

BCLA announce diary dates for 2010

As new sight test fee (previously announced here) comes into force, there’s sad news on Voucher values

National Eye Health Week website launched

MP urges PCTs about the need for rapid Referral pathway for wet age-related macular degeneration

GOC publishes figures on registrants failing retention process

PCTs are advised to issue new forms without delay

A Second Queen’s Award for Ultravision for Contact Lens Innovation

International Award for best Scratch resistant coating goes to Hoya

Former Shadow Health Minister appointed Secretary for Health in new Government

Spectacle Makers at Play

Silmo takes on a new slot and could be the perfect tax deductible weekend in early Autumn in Paris

New Secretary of State spells it out

ACLM provide their latest Statistics for 2009

Health Secretary sets out ambition for a culture of patient safety in the NHS

Publication of ophthalmic performers' lists and lists of optical contractors - LOC Rights Confirmed

PCC gagged by pre -election restrictions

Domiciliary Professionals fall into same legislation as door to door traders

General Ophthalmic Services: Workforce Statistics for England and Wales 31 December 2009

Printer Inks
Primary Health Net