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Optical News - September, August & July 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.

Dian Taylor quits GOC

Survey set to reveal IT use in optics

LOCSU encourages LOCs to attend NOC

Kerataconus group named BCLA charity of the year

PHN announces a series of public campaigns

LOCSU to run a further training session

Somerset ACES in the news again

Big Society message stressed by Visioncare patron

GOC removes students

Orbis touches down in Philippines

Irish Campaign for better understanding of Childrens’ Needs begins

Vision 2020UK in concert with the RNIB, UK Vision Strategy publish “You and Your Vision”

International Stem Cell Corporation Formalizes Stem Cell-Based Eye Care Programs into Cytovis(TM)

Research published reports high levels of diabetic retinopathy amongst older sufferers

Optician's reluctance to provide PDs hits airwaves

Devolution of GOS budget increases scrutiny

FODO announce "Optics at a Glance" for 2008/9

Guide to optical prescriptions

Independents enjoy Hoya /transitions Tour de France trip

GOC responds to OHPA announcement

How a visit to the optician saved a wedding day

Richard Carswell appointed as Acting Head of LOCSU

Members invited to 2010 Presidential Address

Student retention deadline

Profession rejects NHS Information Governance imposition

After 8 years Anderson steps down at Eyecare Trust

Hoya winner is presented with laptop dispensing aid

Kid’s eyewear specialist Zoobug launches new-look website

UltraVision CEO Completes London to Cambridge Cycle Challenge

PCTs to go

PCC provides link to “Beginner's guide to eye care data”

GOC consults providers on future of CET scheme

Confederation targets Head Teachers in National Children’s Eye Campaign

Chair of Camden and Islington LOC asks all LOCs for GOS18 redesign

Cardiff University Optometric Dept., soon to be 75 in the coming academic year

College provides opportunity for member practitioners to compare exam procedures between England and Scotland

College goes on the road in 2010

Norville Opticians issues warning about the danger of the sunlight to children’s’ eyes

Workshops and Award makes for a special year for UltraVision

GOC gets involved in PR for registered personnel

FMO gives its considered view on the budget

BCLA 2011 clinical workshops

Kentoptic to provide free lenses and glazing to charity

Quality in Optometry launch latest upgrade to follow increased requirements

Chief executive departs GOC 'to pursue pastures new'

September 2010

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today announced that after 20 years’ loyal and committed service, Dian Taylor, GOC Chief Executive and Registrar has decided to leave to pursue her career in pastures new.

Interim Chair, Anna Bradley, said: “In her time as CEO and Registrar, Dian has set the GOC on the path to modernisation and ensured a much improved performance as recorded in CHRE reports. The Council wishes to thank her for her service and wishes her well for the future.”

The Council are meeting on the 22 and 23 of September and will be discussing the way forward. It is anticipated that a further announcement about next steps will be made following that meeting.

September 2010

The major IT in Optics annual survey is set to reveal the extent to which independent practices are embracing the benefits of technology for management, marketing and clinical advancement.

Optisoft has conducted surveys for the past three years, and this latest one is set to reveal the rapid pace of innovation, with an enticing prize of an Apple iPad for one of the lucky respondents.

View the results of the last surevy here.

“Three years ago we would not have considered that electronic ordering and the availability of electronic lens catalogues would have become the norm for many opticians. Now the vision of a completely paperless practice is not that remote,” said Keith Sheers, Optisoft Managing Director.

Aimed at all independent practices and small groups, the big picture of optics will question:

*current IT infrastructure and plans for the future
*practice management applications used within the practice
*uptake of electronic GOS forms
*integration of diagnostic technology
*preference for online catalogues
*contact lens supplier links
*remote head office management
*investment in IT during past three years
*future expectations of practice management system functions

The survey will also ask respondents to list their integration of all practice equipment from lens meters to fundus cameras and, for some, OCT.

“Three years ago our survey collated a good profile of how the optical market was using IT, and in that time advances in dedicated optical software have moved on considerably. We are very keen to see how much these advances are being embraced, and what the profession’s expectations are for the future,” added Keith Sheers.

The Optisoft Questionnaire can be accessed from Entries should be completed by Friday 22 October 2010, for a chance to win the Apple iPad.

LOCSU encourages LOCs to attend NOC meeting with chosen dinner partner

September 2010

The NOC is the conference for optometrists, optometric advisers and Local/Regional Optical Committees will take place from November 4th this year at Park Inn Bath Road, Heathrow.

LOC/ROC officers and members are encouraged to attend the two day conference, which will provide an unrivalled opportunity to engage first hand with the LOC Support Unit and to share knowledge and network with colleagues from around the country.

A variety of companies (contact lens and equipment manufacturers, software suppliers etc) will be exhibiting at the conference.

There will be a reception and a formal dinner on Thursday 4th November (dress code lounge suits) at which LOCs have been encouraged to involve their local MP or PCT CEO to attend.

The cost of the dinner in each case will be borne by LOCSU, who will also supply a format letter for LOCs/ROCs to use for the invitations.

A Free place at the NOC is available for LOCs who support LOCSU who are entitled to send one representative free per LOC.

Please NOTE that it is important that you advise Linda Marriott if your MP or PCT chief executive has accepted this invitation! This will ensure that adequate provision is made in the final arrangements.

Keratoconus Group named BCLA Charity of the Year

September 2010

The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) has chosen the Keratoconus Group to be its Charity of the Year for 2010-11.

Keratoconus (KC) literally means ‘conical or cone-shaped cornea’. It is a rare condition affecting around one in 2,000 people and is usually diagnosed during the teens or early 20s. The cause of KC is unknown. However, it may be associated with allergy or possibly have a genetic component.

Although KC does not cause blindness, good vision may be difficult to maintain as the condition progresses and contact lens tolerance varies. The first line of treatment is usually with rigid contact lenses although some people with early KC may be able to wear spectacles or soft contact lenses.

The Keratoconus Group works to raise awareness of KC in the UK, providing support and information to people with the condition through booklets, newsletters and its website. The Group holds a conference every two years, organises regular meetings for members with guest speakers, and supports research into KC.

Among other benefits of being BCLA Charity of the Year, the Keratoconus Group will have a stand at the forthcoming Pioneers Conference in London (23 November) and at the 2011 BCLA Clinical Conference and Exhibition in Manchester (26-29 May). The Group will also receive publicity in mailings to BCLA members and in conference packs.

Anne Klepacz, Chair of Trustees of the Keratoconus Group, commented: “The Keratoconus Group is delighted to be BCLA Charity of the Year and benefit from the publicity this gives us. We are keen to reach more people with the condition and BCLA members are uniquely placed to spread the word about our organisation. We know from our existing members how much it means to them to have a source of information and support and to be able to talk to others with KC on our online forum or at the various meetings and conferences we organise.

“We hope, too, that this year will open up opportunities for the Group to work with contact lens manufacturers and practitioners to develop an even wider range of specialist contact lenses for this bespoke condition and so improve the quality of life for all with keratoconus,” added Ms Klepacz.

BCLA Secretary General, Vivien Freeman, commented: “We are delighted to support the Keratoconus Group in this way, and would encourage our members to do what they can to get involved.”

PHN announces a series of campaigns over the next year to help to educate the public about Vision, Eye Care and Eye wear in the UK

September 2010

With a regular readership each month of around 20,000 new members of the public on PHN’s educative site the Optical Knowledge Company has decided to expand its educative role in highlighting prominent issues which affect large groups of people in the UK. The topics will be given a 2 month span of coverage with leader articles announcing their forthcoming publication. It is hoped that industry leaders will support the issues raised with back up information on products and services available to the public related to the campaign topic.

Our past experience of others campaigning in Optics is that very often the campaign has proved too little and too short in publication time and we believe people are becoming resistant to National One week campaigns. “Successful campaigns need to include examples of products and services that actively assist those affected and offer help and assistance in improving vision and lifestyle choices,” said Bob Hutchinson, one of PHN’s Directors.

The company will ask for help and assistance in the form of body copy from the profession, educators and charities as well as industry and will publish a list of campaigns with dates over the next year.

Hutchinson continued “ It is interesting that so many people are accessing information on eye care for the elderly and especially advice on Home Visits both topics leading regularly in our top 10 of over 400 pages written for public consumption. Getting information not only to our senior citizens but also to their children who are often more concerned about their ageing parents will be our key role in our first of 6 campaigns starting in the Autumn.”

LOCs also have a role to play in taking the opportunity to tell their local population what is available in their area and the “Find My Optician” database provides an opportunity for all LOCs to publish service information, domiciliary opportunities and enhanced services made available in their area. The database is visited by over 10,000 new people each month looking for an Optician in their area.

The LOC Support Unit is running a further training session on Monday 18th October 2010 for LOC officers or those who would like an update

September 2010

The sessions will include:
• Introduction to the role and function of an LOC
• Hints and tips on how to make an LOC effective
• Update on LOCSU Developments
• The roles of the Optometric Advisor and other professional bodies
• Bob Hughes – Chief Executive will outline the function of the Optical Confederation/Sali Davis
will update on Optometry Wales
• Communicating effectively with PCTs
• Introduction to Gill Brabner – Training and Development Director

To secure your place on the LOC Training Day please complete and return this form to Debbie Mintern either by email: fax: 020 7261 9661 or by post:

LOC Support Unit, 61 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0HL.

The venue is Oswestry Shropshire

Somerset ACES Scheme attracts further attention from BBC News

September 2010

A previously reported story on the NHS in Somerset that it has brought in funding to pay for eye tests at optometrists to spot early signs of eye problems more quickly once again has made the headlines.

The scheme means that people worried about their sight won't have to wait for a referral from their GPs first.

The Acute Community Eyecare Service in Somerset (ACES) is free to patients registered with a Somerset GP.

Since the ACES scheme was brought in last year, some opticians in Somerset have reported an increase in the number of people coming in with more serious eye conditions. Sarah Farrant an Optometrist involved in the setting up of the scheme said,

"The scheme was designed to deal with more common eye conditions; the typical stuff that people get very often such as red eye and conjunctivitis, bits of metal in the eye, but in setting up the scheme you do see more urgent cases where you are dealing with potentially life-threatening eye problems."

The service, though is not aimed at people experiencing sudden loss of vision, considerable eye pain, serious injuries to the eye, chemical burns or eye surgery - they should instead head straight to their nearest A&E.

September 2010

Patron of Vision Care for Homeless People, Lord Geoffrey Filkin, has called on optics to embrace the “Big Society” and support the charity’s “phenomenally efficient” work in just a small way.

With a background in housing and a specific interest in homelessness, Lord Filkin said that having been short-sighted since birth himself he recognised the importance of the charity –

“I heard about the model and the fantastic work of the volunteer opticians. During the past three years I have been very impressed as to how the charity has addressed the needs of homeless people and how opticians are continuing to develop the support.”

“The way that opticians are happy to give their time and optical companies their services and technology is very much a tangible part of a Big Society: it would be very good to see NHS support for this in the future.”

Lord Filkin said he hoped that in the future there would be practices operating in Manchester and Brighton where homelessness is a particular problem.

September 2010

The General Optical Council (GOC) has removed 386 student optometrists and dispensing opticians from its registers, for failing to renew their registration for 2010-11.

The GOC figures show a total of 146 student optometrists and 240 student dispensing opticians have been removed from the registers. Showing a small rise on those failing to register on last year. The students had until August 31st to register. September 2010

Each September a whole month is devoted to Blindness Prevention in the Philippines and providing strong back up is the appearance in Manila of Orbis, the world’s only eye surgical and training hospital with wings. It will remain there until September 10 to deliver sight-saving surgeries to those suffering from blindness and visual impairments as well as to conduct a high-level skills exchange program and conference with the St. Luke’s Medical International Eye Institute.

ORBIS International is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing and treating blindness by providing quality eye care to transform lives. It provides the tools, training, and technology necessary for local partners to assess their needs and develop workable and lasting solutions to the tragedy of unnecessary blindness. By building their long-term capabilities, ORBIS helps its partner institutions take action to reach a state where they can provide, on their own, quality eye care services that are affordable, accessible, and sustainable.

“What ORBIS does is to facilitate the enhancement of current procedures, techniques, and technology in order to add value to what’s being done around the world in the battle against blindness, and as a result, we have workable and lasting solutions to combat blindness,” said Dato’ Kulasegaran Sabaratnam, head of Orbis International’s board of directors.

Since ORBIS’ inauguration in 1982, it has benefited people in 86 countries, has embarked on imparting skills to more than 195,000 health care personnel around the world, and provided eye care treatment to more than 6.8 million people around the world.

ORBIS targets hands-on and participant level skills exchange in the areas of cornea transplantation, advanced cataract, vitreoretinal diseases, and several diseases affecting children including congenital glaucoma, strabismus, and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). The focus of the skills exchange will not be limited to ophthalmology, but will also include continuing medical education designed for nursing, anesthesiology, and biomedical engineering.

The leading cause of blindness among adults in the Philippines is cataract, accounting for more than half a million (550,000) cases. Additionally, up to one hundred children lose their sight every week in the Philippines, and it has been estimated that almost half of these cases are either treatable or preventable. Poor nutrition, measles, and premature birth are among the leading causes of preventable blindness in children.

1st September 2010

Bright Eyes For Back to School

Optometrists are encouraging parents and teachers across the country to take their children for a special eye screening test as part of its Bright Eyes For Back to School campaign which runs next week (from September 6th to 11th).

The campaign by the Association of Optometrists (AOI) includes a special eye screening test that its members are offering for young children to help detect any sight problems early, which enables the best treatment options. Proper levels of eye care can help prevent vision problems which can affect a child throughout their life. (The Irish system does not provide for free eye testing by optometrists for children unlike the UK)

AOI Optometric Advisor, Lynda McGivney Nolan, said that children with undetected vision problems can lead to learning difficulties. Over 80% of what a child learns is based on vision and vision plays a vital role in playing and interacting with their peers. If a child has vision problems which are not detected and therefore untreated, that child will not be able to achieve his or her full potential. This can in turn lead to behavioral difficulties.

"Ideally all children should have their vision assessed by the age of three and then again at five, but many children in Ireland are not being seen until much later, if at all through the National School Screening system.

Not only does this screening happen too late, it is also inadequate and can miss certain vision problems and give a high false positive rate. This results in children being referred to the community ophthalmologist for further testing, but it can take up to two years depending on where you live to get an appointment. This delay can have huge consequences for a child's visual development. “

The AOI point out that a child is only entitled to two screenings during the whole time they are in school and a child's eyesight can change very quickly and within a 6 month period, may go from having normal vision to developing a vision problem. This means that children of school going age should have access to regular vision assessments designed to detect such changes early on when they happen.

"The Association of Optometrists has developed a simple 6 point vision assessment which can be done at any local Independent Opticians Practice. It is more detailed and thorough than the screening on offer through schools and is specifically designed to identify the problems that can often be missed in young children's eyesight," she said.

Studies show that early access to properly designed screening systems for children is essential in providing proper levels of eyecare. If children are not seen until they are six or seven, the visual system has developed and the reversal of vision loss is far more difficult if not impossible in some cases.

The AOI said children's eye examinations with an optometrist are not covered by the HSE and that parents must pay privately, or else risk having their child on long waiting lists to be seen at HSE clinics. The problem with these long waiting lists is that at one end, the child may be seen too late to reverse vision problems which are fully treatable, or at the very least the child has to continue struggling to cope with vision problems while trying to develop normally and keep up with his or her peers. However, the AOI believes that all school going children are entitled to a HSE covered eye examination through an optometrist as recommended by the Competition Authority report on Optometry in Ireland, in 2006.

"This would shorten waiting lists, provide more immediate access to eye care and would be far more cost effective, as the cost of an eye examination with an optometrist is significantly less than with a community ophthalmologist," she said.

The AOI pointed out that this way, the Community Ophthalmologists can concentrate on seeing those children who need rapid access to their expertise.

Independent Optometrists participating in this campaign will have the Bright Eyes For Back to School posters on display, and as well as offering this screening will have information leaflets for parents. The screening is available to any child of school-going age.

The AOI has encouraged members to make the screening available for as nominal a price as possible. Parents are invited to contact their local participating Independent Optometrist for further details.

The AOI added that if eye problems are diagnosed parents also have the option of having the full eye examination for children carried out by an Optometrist. The Optometrist is fully qualified and can dispense spectacles and advise appropriate management without delays.

PHN Notes the lamentable number of children who take up the opportunity of a free full eye examination within the UK which suggests there is more of an educational problem where parents consider that screening at school is adequate even though many do not go through such a process. A campaign such as the Irish programme would be welcomed by many in the UK.

Vision 2020UK in concert with the RNIB, UK Vision Strategy publish “You and Your Vision”

August 2010

This charter was original launched by David Blunkett at the Vision Uk Conference in June this year and covers all aspects of Eye Care and Sight Loss services in the UK.

It outlines in an understandable and jargon-free way what patients should expect along their eye care journey. The outline of the patient journey reinforces the determination of the health care sector to provide seamless care provision between the health and social care services.

It is an excellent example of “Big Society” thinking in terms of input from users and providers as well as advocates from the third sector.

Starting at the point of the initial sight test through diagnosis and prognosis emphasising the importance of quality information, emotional support and referral to all kinds of specialist support.

Download the charter as a PDF here

August 2010

Reported in Market Watch last week, announced that its stem cell therapeutic programs focused on protective, transparent corneas (CytoCor(TM)) and the light-sensitive retinal tissue (CytoRet(TM)) will be formalized into a new business unit, Cytovis(TM). Together these programs will leverage external and internal development, regulatory and commercial expertise in cellular ophthalmology to form a focused portfolio of complementary product candidates designed to address high unmet medical needs with apparent pharmacoeconomic and quality of life benefits.

CytoCor is the brand name for ISCO's corneal tissue that can be derived from the company's proprietary parthenogenetic stem cells or commonly used embryonic stem cells. Research and development with partners Absorption Systems in the US, Sankara Nethralaya in India and Automation Partnership in the UK continues for the purpose of optimizing the tissue for transplantation in the 10 million people worldwide suffering from corneal vision impairment and as an alternative to the use of live animals and animal eyes in the $500+M market for safety testing of drugs, chemicals and consumer products. ISCO's goal in the coming months is to establish funding and infrastructure in India for accelerated development of CytoCor for the therapeutic application and to advance and implement the chemical testing application with partners in the US and Europe.

CytoRet is the brand name for ISCO's stem cell-derived retinal tissue. ISCO is using its parthenogenetic stem cells to develop individual retinal pigmented epithelial ("RPE") cells and layered retinal structures internally and in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Hans Keirstead, Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of California, Irvine. ISCO recently commenced a new research collaboration with UC Irvine to launch the next phase of its retinal studies with that institution, including preclinical trials. Potential therapeutic applications include retinitis pigmentosa, an untreatable inherited disease affecting about 100,000 Americans, and the dry form of age-related macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness in the elderly of the Western world. ISCO's goal is to establish functional proof of concept for RPE cellular therapy in models of human disease in the next twelve-eighteen months.

Jointly referred to as Cytovis ("cyto" for cellular, "vis" for vision), these two cellular ophthalmology programs share a number of features and benefits. First, with the aging of the population worldwide and the growing number of work-related eye injuries in India, China and other major countries, the market opportunity is growing steadily. Second, there are strong pharmacoeconomic and quality-of-life rationales for full or partial vision restoration or delay of vision impairment diseases. Third, delivery of cells and tissues to the confined anatomy of the eye inherently provides for better safety and efficacy than, for example, the systemic circulation or the central nervous system. This will likely result in lower regulatory barriers and shorter and less costly development paths compared to that of anatomically deeper and more widespread diseases. Fourth, a number of eye diseases cannot be treated with surgery or traditional small molecule or protein therapeutics, yet cell and tissue therapy is proven to work but currently limited by availability of safe and sufficient cells and tissue from human donors. Finally, eye care development programs like CytoCor and CytoRet share a number of regulatory, development and commercial aspects that make it feasible for a relatively small team to produce substantial clinical outcomes and achieve competitive presence in the marketplace alone or in collaboration with dedicated partners.

Brian Lundstrom, ISCO's President, says: "ISCO's proprietary parthenogenetic stem cell technology continues to form the foundation for the company's long term regenerative medicine therapy programs. In the nearer term, CytoCor and CytoRet's unique benefits in the field of cellular ophthalmology offer the potential for partnering and funding at a relatively early stage. Combined with the current and future revenue of Lifeline Cell Technology and the revenue potential of Lifeline Skin Care, scheduled for launch in the 4th quarter, Cytovis adds significantly to ISCO's diversity and value creation potential for its investor base in a cost-efficient fashion."

August 2010

Almost 30 per cent of older adults with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy, and it is sufficient to threaten sight in 4 per cent, says a US research report published in JAMA.

In 2005-08 researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US investigated the prevalence of, and risk factors for, this eye disease.

A representative sample of 1006 US adults aged over 40 years, who had diabetes (defined as a self-reported and excluding gestational diabetes mellitus.

Two fundus photographs of each eye were captured to determine and classify diabetic retinopathy.

Extrapolating results to the diabetic population level indicated that at that time, an estimated 28.5 per cent of people with diabetes had diabetic retinopathy, and 4.4 per cent had sight-threatening retinopathy. Retinopathy was slightly more common in men with diabetes (31.6 per cent) than women (25.7 per cent).

Ethnicity proved to produce a larger difference in the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy: 26.4 per cent of non-Hispanic white people, 38.8 per cent of non-Hispanic black people, and 34.0 per cent of Mexican American people with diabetes had diabetic retinopathy. About 3.2 per cent of non-Hispanic white people, 9.3 per cent of non-Hispanic black people and 7.3 per cent of Mexican American people with diabetes had sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy was also more likely among people with higher HbA1c level, who had had diabetes for longer, who used insulin (47.4 per cent vs. 26.7 per cent), and who had higher systolic blood pressure.

August 2010

A 10 minute feature on the lack of information on PDs handed out by opticians was debated on air yesterday (Monday 16th) on You and Yours.

The criticism was levelled at the profession in making spectacle purchase difficult on line without a PD measurement by Ewan McFarlane a business consultant who decided to start an online spectacle company.

He contends that a PD measurement should be part of the test result and not as 3 major High Street Optical Chains suggested, namely part of the dispense. To us it would seem clear that a PD measurement is not a necessary part of the test but to Ewan and to some customers it is not so obvious. The “Man in the Hot Seat” to counter the arguments was Jon Levett Director of Standards and Deputy Registrar of the GOC. He well explained the statutory role of the GOC and their primary role as a protector of Health and Safety issues and said that if McFarlane could provide evidence that a lack of PD measurement in an RX was a safety issue the GOC would relook at it.

McFarlane did admit when quizzed that he was fighting this cause for the potential benefit of his business.
Additional information as background was also given about sight test charges, the NHS free groups and the average private sight test fee said to be between £20 and £30 although the AOP has suggested that for opticians to break even on a sight test it should be £45.

Eds note: It seems a shame that someone from the industry was not asked to give a robust answer to this issue. Whilst Levett made good points on the position of the GOC it was mainly in the defence of that body not defending Opticians. If we believe in what we do and what should be charged for, why are we absent to defend it. We don’t think this issue will roll over with neglect. What do you think about this issue. Give us your views on our fourm.

Devolution of the optical GOS budget to PCTs puts pressure on them to get value

August 2010

Primary Care Commissioning have circulated a paper to every PCT highlighting the importance of improved scrutiny on claims, greater understanding of the complex GOS contract and to look for a better return on investment from those contracted to provide the service. Whilst the fund remains uncapped that is not true of the further 7% increase in demand for sight tests and voucher payments. Capped with a future declared increase in the GOS fee of 2.2% not funded by central government and one can see what’s driving this new initiative.

PCC will provide additional support particularly to those lacking knowledge pertinent to Opticians with a liaison group, a social enterprise named PCC CIC in order to address as they put it, “that Commissioners are finding that there is much variation in the quality of eye care services, the value for money they provide and the accuracy of the claiming process".

Contract Management i.e. your GOS contract is the key to improvements, all the more reason for the Optical Confederation, and the lead body in this area, LOCSU, to take a prominent role in being there ready for advice to LOCs and contractors. If you would like a glimpse of the information leaflet which you help you understand why you must address Quality in Optometry issues click here.

PHN Support Comment

Having read the Managing optical contracts, Improving claiming and ending waste document you are no doubt like us wondering whether some at the PCC are acting out the last dying act of the rattlesnake for the implication that Optical Contractors are not performing to contract is not in evidence to us and the charge that “Many commissioners are finding out that there is much variation in the quality of services, the value for money they provide and the accuracy of the claiming process for providing these services”, is in our view utter rubbish.

The GOS contract for better or worse came out of extensive discussions with optical bodies an in that sense is a partnership between the profession and the PCTs and includes provision for anti fraud measures. So what more is the contractor supposed to do, given the legislation provides exact regulations for sight testing. If the PCT thinks spending money on courses to improve their knowledge in their closing years of existence is valuable that is an issue for them but let them (PCC) not use an invention and fabrication of the facts that denigrate our service to the public as a spur for a sales training course.

What do you think. Comment in our forums.

FODO announces “Optics at a Glance” providing comparative figures annually for April 2008 to March 2009

August 2010

Whilst FODO’s website is being re-developed the PDF cannot be published on the site but you can download it here. This is the 29th and last survey to be produced by FODO, in future the Optical Confederation will be the publishers. The stats come from a number of divers sources, namely members of FODO, who it is said provide for 2/3rds of the optical market, NHS stats for England, Ales, N. Ireland and Scotland, as well as information from the GOC, The College and the ACLM.

Key points show a 2% uplift in NHS sight tests now at 14.1 million per annum.

The figures are contended to show a shortfall in those requiring and those receiving domiciliary services.

Amongst FODO members key trends which make useful comparatives are:

• 69% of sight tests in the survey resulted in a changed or new prescription (70% in 2007-08).

• 25% of patients required no prescription change or no correction (no change from 2007-08).

• 6% of patients chose contact lenses (7% in 2007-08).

• 4% of patients were referred to a GP or hospital (no change from 2007-08).

• the average charge to patients for a private sight test , excluding discounts and special offers, was £23.05 (£22.90 in 2007-08)

• The average interval between sight tests rose slightly to 26 months (25 months in 2006-07).

• 34% of all spectacle dispensings were paid for in full or in part with an NHS voucher (up from 31% in 2007-08).

• 100% of optical practices stocked a range of spectacles within voucher values for children and adults.

• The proportion of re-glazed spectacles remained at 6%.

Guide to optical prescriptions: detail and clarification

August 2010

Another spin off from the devolution of the Optical Budget and the lack of continued and tangible knowledge sustained in the remaining staff at PCTs is the lack of understanding of how to read a correctly written statement. In a nutshell many have forgotten or never been taught to transpose a prescription. To this end Richard Booth OA for NHS Western Cheshire has written a simple guide which may prove some use to demonstrating to auxiliary staff how an Rx is transposed. We have been unable to retrieve a copy as it sits in the PCCs restricted document area but some of you may be able to help especially those in Cheshire.

Independents enjoy Hoya /transitions Tour de France trip

August 2010

Hoya and Transitions Optical joined forces to send thirteen lucky independents to France to watch one of two gripping stages of Le Tour de France, the world’s most exciting bicycle race.

The two night break brought the added bonus of local Rhone Valley wine tasting for those on the Valence leg of the event, with golf and spa treatments for those at Bordeaux, as well as the excitement of the race.

The treat of full hospitality, flights to France, transfers and accommodation in a four star hotel was thanks to Hoya, and Transitions Optical which is proud sponsor of Team Garmin-Transitions.

The Hoya/Transitions® lenses promotion featured the Hoya progressive range and for those who were not lucky enough to win the trip to France more than £3000 worth of “Love to Shop” and “Saddle Skedaddle” cycling holiday vouchers for those who are keen to get pedalling, were awarded.

GOC responds to OHPA announcement

August 2010

The Department of Health announced last week in a written statement that it would not pursue further plans to transfer the adjudication of fitness to practise cases for the General Medical Council (GMC) and the General Optical Council (GOC) to the Office of the Health Professions Adjudicator (OHPA).
The transfer of the GOC's hearings was expected to take place in 2012 following the transfer of GMC hearings in April 2011.

How a visit to the optician saved a wedding day

August 2010

A branch of the independent Norville Opticians chain of practices saved the wedding day of one of its patients following problems she was having with her vision just a few days before she was due to get married.

Susie Attwood of Churchill Drive, Cheltenham (or Susie Curtis as she was then) started to feel unwell with painful eyes and a loss of balance. She had to stop wearing her current glasses, give up driving and became housebound. With her wedding day just a couple of months away she was concerned that it would either have to be cancelled or at least postponed.

After paying a visit to the Bishops Cleeve branch of Norville Opticians where she has been a patient for around twelve years and after a number of visits and a series of tests it was determined that there had been a small change in her eyesight which for some reason was upsetting her sense of balance. Some new spectacles were prescribed which eventually resolved the problem just a few days before she was due to get married.

Mrs Attwood said: “The problem started slowly and then worsened. It was very frightening. For a short while we wondered if I had Glaucoma but eventually after several visits to the optician it was determined that a new pair of varifocals should help. It took some time for my eyes to settle down, for me to regain my balance and for me to adjust to my new spectacles. I didn’t start feeling normal again until about a week or ten days before our wedding which as you can imagine was a huge relief. My new husband works with deaf/blind people and I was concerned that he might end up living with one!

She added: “So many people fail to realise what a gift your eyesight is and don’t take proper care of it. I am so grateful for the personal service I have received.”

Richard Carswell appointed as Acting Head of LOCSU

August 2010

As Georgina Gordon recovers from her illness the AOP Deputy Chief Executive Richard Carswell has been appointed on a temporary basis to lead LOCSU
He takes up these responsibilities with immediate effect.

LOCSU Chairman Alan Tinger said “"During Georgina's absence LOCSU Associates and the UK optical bodies have worked extremely hard to ensure LOCSU services to LOCs continued and we have done so successfully. We are grateful for all those efforts, but we now need someone in a senior role to ensure we operate smoothly and strategically. “Richard Carswell is highly respected in the profession, and we are grateful to the AOP for making Richard available for a limited period until Georgina returns."

Members invited to 2010 Presidential Address

August 2010

Focus on safety and statistics

British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) President, Shelly Bansal, is inviting all BCLA members to join him for the annual Presidential Address being held in London on the evening of Wednesday 15 September.

In his lecture, 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. The lecture will also cover the various aspects of safety in contact lens practice.

Commenting on his chosen topic, Shelly said: “Members of the profession generally think of safety in terms of infection, injury and decontamination – and quite often rely on industry statistics to help them make good decisions. Although my presentation will cover these aspects, I will also spend time looking at a pro-active approach that may radically improve the way that clinicians interpret the available statistics.

“It should also be borne in mind that safety and risk factors affect patients, practitioners and the practice business equally. This presentation aims to look at the various aspects of safety in contact lens practice from all three different perspectives,” added Shelly.

Attendance at the BCLA Presidential Address is free of charge to BCLA members who can bring one guest to any one evening meeting during 2010. The lecture is approved for one CL CET point.

The venue is the Royal Society of Medicine at 1 Wimpole Street, London W1G. Drinks will be served from 6.30pm and the lecture runs from 7-8pm. Members can register their place online (under Events) or may simply turn up on the night.

Student retention deadline

August 2010

The 15 July retention deadline has now passed. Students who have not yet renewed their registration must pay an additional £10 late application fee. Students who do not apply by 31 August risk removal from the registers.

Maintaining General Optical Council (GOC) registration is a legal requirement for students of optometry and dispensing optics - students who do not renew their registration may be excluded from exams and clinical training. The GOC may or may not recognise the qualifications of applicants for full registration who were not registered for all or part of their training.

August 2010

NHS Connecting for Health have launched an Information Governance Toolkit for Eye Care Services. This has appeared out of the blue and with no agreement, nor has the cost of compliance been negotiated.

LOCs should advise practices not to implement it and explain to their PCT that this toolkit has not been agreed with the Optical Bodies and cannot be used.
Although at first glance the CfH toolkit looks simple, there are 3 levels which become increasingly complex and the time commitment would be very onerous.

Speaking on behalf of optical bodies Bob Hughes said”"This shows staggering bad faith by Connecting For Health. This has been in discussion for some time, and they were supposed to be re‐organising a meeting that had been delayed by the general election. Instead they try to bounce a completely inappropriate toolkit onto the profession which came as a surprise to us, and to the Department of Health.

He continued “This document has simply been cribbed from the pharmacy and dentistry documents, with no attempt to understand the limits of the GOS contract or the reality that very few practices are connected to NHS Net. The requirements would be very expensive for any contractor to implement and we entirely reject it."

After 8 years Anderson steps down at Eyecare Trust

August 2010

The Eyecare Trust has announced the appointment of a new Chairman and Vice Chairman to its board of trustees. The new Chairman, Dharmesh Patel BSc (Hons) MCOptom has been appointed with James Russell FBDO as his Vice-Chairman.

Iain Anderson has stepped down as Chairman of the Trust after eight years in the role and will remain on the board of trustees

August 2010

Lincoln independent, Jason Rickaby’s visit to the Hoya stand at Independent’s Day paid dividends when his name was first out of the bag to win a laptop, loaded with dispensing software to demonstrate the benefits of Hoya’s premium lenses.

John Heritage, Hoya’s East Midlands Sales Manager (left) is seen presenting the laptop to Jason at his self-named Lincoln practice.

The software programme assists in the dispensing of lenses bringing to life the characteristics of occupational, reading and progressive lenses and is proven in helping to upgrade the average order value.

“We have already used the software which is very good at demonstrating lens thicknesses to patients. We are a fairly technology-led practice so this fits in very well,” said Jason.

Kid’s eyewear specialist Zoobug launches new-look website

August 2010

Children’s eyewear specialist Zoobug announced the launch of its redesigned website, a resource with information about Zoobug’s extensive sunglass and optical ranges, and special features for consumers and opticians.

For the first time, consumers will be able to select and purchase Zoobug sunglasses direct from the company online.

The website also gives details of Zoobug’s optical ranges. A search facility and map are provided to make it easy for the public to search for local stockists of Zoobug frames. Zoobug’s recommended stockists are fully trained to offer professional advice, eye tests and expert fitting for kids requiring optical frames.

A number of new, fun pages have been added to the re-launched website, including:

Friends – A page where you can subscribe to our Zoobug Newsletter and view the Zoobug Gallery, a space dedicated to kids who love their Zoobug frames.
Parents can download images of their kids wearing our models and they will be featured on the page.

Press & News – They have added a full selection of press releases and news about the company, since it was set up in 2006. You can find news about our awards, new product launches, collaborations and activities.

Events – the latest news about exhibitions and events they will be attending

Zoobug Image Gallery – Zoobug images are now available to opticians for instant download. This area has been designed for customers who want instant imagery for marketing and promotions.

To celebrate the launch they are offering Zoobug’s UV-protective sunglasses for children online at an introductory offer: 10% discount on all first-time online purchases*
(*Offer ends 31st August 2010.)

UltraVision CEO Completes London to Cambridge Cycle Challenge

August 2010

UltraVision’s CEO, J Keith Lomas, successfully completed a 60 mile charity bike ride on Sunday 25th July (despite a damaged knee ligament!) in four hours and eight minutes. Monies are still coming in but so far his team efforts from the event have raised over £2,000 for charity.

Keith completed the London to Cambridge route along with four close friends; Mark Daniels, Mark Delaney, Paul Delaney and Paul Cronin (pictured). The monies raised will be divided equally between three worthy charities; The Irregular Cornea Foundation, Breakthrough for Breast Cancer and Asperger’s East Anglia. In previous years the Breakthrough organised event has raised around £1.7 million; this year Breakthrough are hoping the total will break the £2 million mark.

Around 4,500 people took part and after completing the route Keith commented “I’m feeling surprisingly well, all considered, averaging more than 14mph over 60 rolling miles was much better than we thought we’d do. It was a challenge, a great fun event with lots of camaraderie and raised much needed funds for worthy causes”.

Donations can still be made via Keith’s Charity Giving web page and will be split equally between the three charities.,,

PCTs .......After all the pain they are going

July 2010

Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley this week set out the Government's ambitious plans to reform the NHS during this Parliament and for the long-term.
The White Paper ‘Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS’ published last week, details how power will be devolved from Whitehall to patients and professionals.

Professionals will be free to focus on improving health outcomes so that these are amongst the best in the world. Improving the quality of care will become the main purpose of the NHS.

Patients will get more choice and control, backed by an information revolution, so that services are more responsive to patients and designed around them, rather than patients having to fit around services. The principle will be "no decisions about me without me".

Under the new plans, patients will be able to choose which GP practice they register with, regardless of where they live, and choose between consultant-led teams. More comprehensive and transparent information, such as patients’ own ratings, will help them make these choices together with healthcare professionals.

Groups of GPs will be given freedom and responsibility for commissioning care for their local communities. Providers of services will have new freedoms and they will be more accountable. There will be greater competition in the NHS and greater cooperation. Services will be more joined up, supported by a new role for Local Authorities to support integration across health and social care.

As a result of the changes, the NHS will be streamlined with fewer layers of bureaucracy. Strategic Health Authorities and Primary Care Trusts will be phased out. Management costs will be reduced so that as much resource as possible supports frontline services. The reforms build on changes started under the previous Government.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

'People voted for change and the Coalition Agreement set out a bold and exciting vision for the future of the NHS – a vision based on the principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility. The NHS is our priority. That is why the Coalition Government has committed to increases in NHS resources in real terms each year of this Parliament. The sick must not pay for the debt crisis left by the previous administration. But the NHS is a priority for reform too. Investment has not been matched by reform. So we will reform the NHS to use those resources far more effectively for the benefit of patients. The Government’s ambition is for health outcomes – and quality services – that are among the best in the world. We have in our sights a unique combination of equity and excellence. With patients empowered to share in decisions about their care, with professionals free to tailor services around their patients and with a relentless focus on continuously improving results, I am confident that together we can deliver the efficiency and the improvement in quality that is required to make the NHS a truly world class service.'

PHN Statement

Change always provides an opportunity for the future and the lessons we have learnt at PHN and particularly with Primary Health Support is that one size does not fit all. One of the advantages of the PCT role was that of providing for the needs of each local community. Many never understood this concept and complained of a post code lottery with some services being available in one area and not in a neighbouring one. But this was usually because of greater need for one service or another and is proof that National Frameworks can only be a guide for local implementation.

We know from experience that GPs working together in commissioning groups can be highly effective, but they will need background assistance so that future services are joined up. Many GPs on the other hand either won’t be bothered or at worse will try to cling to their budgets and will not understand a multi disciplinary approach to Primary Care in the Community. These will be interesting times and PHN Support will be on hand to advise where necessary. Rome was not built in a day however and one hopes that all the gains we have seen and been associated with over the past 3 years will remain as examples to the new budget holders.

July 2010

The Information Centre has published a beginner's guide to eye care data in booklet format. This handy booklet includes information on data collection, eye care activity, workforce reports and other sources of data.

July 2010

The GOC is inviting all continuing education and training (CET) providers to discuss improvements to its CET scheme at an event in Birmingham on 30 July.
The council expects an enhanced version of CET to play a large part in its revalidation scheme from January 2013. Over the last year, the GOC has been working with registrants, patients and the optical profession to explore how the scheme may work with revalidation and whether it can be improved.

Confederation targets Head Teachers in National Children’s Eye Campaign

July 2010

The Optical Confederation has highlighted the importance of children's vision in a letter to more than 23,000 primary school head teachers across the UK. The children's campaign run in June targeted teachers and parents with a poster and online video to promote the importance of early sight testing for children.

Chair of Camden and Islington LOC asks all LOCs for GOS18 redesign

July 2010

Nick Taylor Chair of C & I LOC, is performing an audit as part of an MSc thesis at City University in conjunction with Moorfields Eye Hospital on a new referral form developed by Camden and Islington LOC and Moorfields.

The referral form in his opinion can be improved further and it is hoped that after the audit it may be used nationally as an alternative to the present GOS18 referral form. The main difference between the new form and the GOS18 is a section which includes options relating to Choose and Book.

The referral form can be easily viewed and completed from the Camden and Islington LOC web site: and then click on ‘New Referral Form’. The form can be completed online and/or printed off and completed by hand, and forwarded by post, fax or emailed from a secure account.

Nick is contacting as many LOCs as he can as part of a process to make Optometrists aware of this form and to invite them to view and use it.

Those who use the form are requested to then follow this process up by completing a short (approx 15 minutes) anonymous online link accessed questionnaire at: available for completion by any interested Optometrist who has used the form.

It is hoped that the results of this survey will help to identify any improvements that can be made to the current form for the benefit of all stakeholders.

We have been made aware that Sheffield has just finished a similar design, which can be found at, perhaps readers would like to report back to PHN in our forums what they require in the GOS 18 form especially as we understand that there is a DH working group looking at this very issue.

Cardiff University Optometric Dept., soon to be 75 in the coming academic year

July 2010

This coming academic year will be the 75th year for optics/optometry teaching at Cardiff University.

To commemorate, there will be an Anniversary Gala Dinner for Alumni and staff on SATURDAY 16th OCTOBER 2010 – to include a dinner, live band, comedic entertainment and charity auction. The department will also be organising brunch and a tour and talk (with CET) at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences on Sunday 17th October 2010.

Dr Christine Purslow encourages all alumni to save the date in their diaries and pass this information on to any alumni that they aware of or in contact with. Formal invitation will follow in the post shortly.

College provides opportunity for member practitioners to compare exam procedures between England and Scotland

July 2010

Members of The College of Optometrists are invited to participate in a UK-wide project being undertaken by Optometry Scotland and Glasgow Caledonian University.

The General Ophthalmic Services Evaluation is an online questionnaire designed to collect information on patient examination findings and outcomes. The primary objective of the evaluation is to determine whether or not the different NHS Scotland and NHS England examination procedures impact the number of eye conditions detected, investigated and managed.

This project is funded by the College of Optometrists' Innovation in Practice-based Research for Optometrists (iPRO) scheme.

Optometrists wishing to participate in the study are asked to complete a short online registration questionnaire, the data from which will be used to ensure that practices from similar economic areas are selected from each country.

Once selected, each participant will be sent a link to an online evaluation questionnaire. Participants are asked to provide data (20 multiple choice questions) from the record cards of the first 100 NHS patients examined following April 1st, 2009. All data submitted through the survey will be encrypted during transmission ensuring data security is not compromised.

The confidentiality of all participants will be guaranteed and each will be entitled to a £100 fee for taking part.

To register your interest in participation, you will need to complete the registration questionnaire by Wednesday 4 August 2010. The questionnaire can be accessed at:

College goes on the road in 2010

July 2010

In September the College of Optometrists and the General Optical Council will team up to deliver a series of student road shows, visiting each of the eight UK universities offering a degree course in Optometry. Through the road shows they aim to introduce new optometry students to the College and the profession, raising awareness of the optical bodies and our role in supporting optometrists throughout their careers.

As part of the visit, students receive a Fresher Pack containing a College newsletter, book discounts and other useful items.

Norville Opticians issues warning about the danger of the sunlight to childrens’ eyes

July 2010

Norville a leading firm of opticians in the South West has warned parents about the dangers of strong sunlight to children’s unprotected eyes.

Norville Opticians which has practices across South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire, issued the warning as it presented sunglasses to members of the Hatherley & Reddings Under 15s Cricket team in Cheltenham.

Norville Opticians Managing Director Adrian Street said: “With the current spell of hot sunny weather many parents have become used to applying sun screen to their children but forget about the danger from the sun’s radiation to their children’s eyes. It is probably because you can’t see it or the damage it causes but it is a fact that young eyes can receive up to 70% more UV than adults’ eyes and are far more susceptible. “

He continued by explaining that Ultra Violet (UV) radiation which causes sunburn and is linked with skin cancer is also linked with damage to eyes. Studies have shown that exposure to UV can cause considerable discomfort and over the long term can damage the central part of the retina and contribute to the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Children’s eyes are more vulnerable to this radiation because they still have clear corneas, lenses and fluids thereby allowing more radiation to enter and pass through to the retina. According to the Eyecare Trust, by the time a child is 18 years old they could have absorbed as much as 80% of a lifetime’s exposure to UV.

He added that ordinary sunglasses with darkened lenses and which do not have UV protection are probably more dangerous than nothing at all. He said: “All they do is cause the pupils to become larger so that even more UV light enters the eye. Then there are the children who are already wearing spectacles. Ideally they should be wearing prescription sunglasses. Parents need to look for the European Standard CE mark or the British BSEN1836:2005 if they are to remain safe. We have a large stock of suitable glasses in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and can ensure that they are fitted to provide maximum protection. “

Workshops and Award makes for a special year for UltraVision

July 2010

2010 has been a special year for UltraVision; in April the Leighton Buzzard based contact lens manufacturer received The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: Innovation, specifically for KeraSoft® as well as launching a series of KeraSoft® IC Workshops, being held at their Leighton Buzzard head office.

The popular one day workshops are led by UltraVision’s in-house Clinical Services Advisor, Josie Barlow SMC (Tech) FBDO CL. Added support is provided by experienced Keratoconus and Irregular Cornea Consultant, Lynn White MSc FCOptom.

Open to Practitioners in the UK and abroad the KeraSoft® Workshop provides guidance to delegates, enabling them to confidently assess the Keratoconic and irregular cornea patients’ eyes. In-depth discussion about the lens design, along with the chance to fit real patients, provides the Practitioner with the ability to quickly achieve the best fitting lenses, and thereby provide life-changing benefits to the wearer.

Historically, rigid lenses have been used to correct irregular corneas. However, some patients experience reduced wearing time due to lack of comfort or ocular health issues. This can have an adverse impact on their quality of life. Patients suffering with all types of Irregular Cornea can now choose a soft contact lens that is comfortable from the offset and provides comparable vision to that of a rigid lens, providing up to 18 hours of wear every day.

July 2010

The General Optical Council (GOC) has launched an on line registration toolkit designed to help fully-registered optometrists, dispensing opticians and optical businesses promote their registered status to patients and the public.
The GOC states that in response to feedback from registrants and patients, the toolkit comprises:

• A GOC-registered logo that registrants can download from the password protected Registrants area of the GOC website, When downloaded, the logo automatically includes registrants’ unique GOC registration number to guard against misuse. The logo is available in a variety of sizes and formats, so that it can be used on websites, practice stationery such as letterheads, appointment cards and other materials.
• An online best practice guide to promoting GOC registration also published on the Registrants area. This advises practitioners on how to use the logo, why it is available, and offers other ways in which registrants can highlight their registered status.

GOC chief executive and registrar, Dian Taylor said: “This initiative is a real win-win situation for the public and patients, and registered optometrists and dispensing opticians. Practitioners have consistently asked the GOC to provide practical tools to help them promote their GOC registration, so that members of the public understand that they are highly-skilled and competent professionals."

“Equally, patients have frequently told us that they would appreciate greater visibility of registered titles, and information about who is registered. There are clear public protection benefits if there is increased awareness of the importance of checking GOC registration: patients will have increased reassurance and confidence in their eye care professional, and in turn, registrants will benefit from that trust.”

In September, the GOC will be targeting patient information organisations and support services, healthcare charities and PCTs amongst others, to raise awareness of what patients should expect when they see the new GOC-registered logo, what it means to be registered, and how to check the online registers.

Registrants can access the toolkit by logging into the Registrants area of the GOC website,

July 2010

The impact of last June’s Budget is “not as bad as it could be” for FMO members believes the industry’s trade association.

The rise in VAT to 20% “may do little to improve the flow of consumers visiting opticians’ practices, but having lived through a cut of 2.5% recently we have to ask how much this affected business,” says the organisation.

“The fact that consumers have six months to accept the rise before the new level is introduced in January 2011 may reduce the negative impact,” added Malcolm Polley, FMO Chief Executive.

Also increasing in January is the insurance premium tax from 5% to 6% which will affect optical businesses, but alongside this, the reduction in Corporation Tax is “encouraging news to entrepreneurs”, adds the FMO.

“Facing one of the largest Budget deficits in Europe we were never going to be celebrating great news from the Chancellor this week. Let us all hope that some within our industry will be able to make the most of the regional incentives on offer outside of the south-east,” added Malcolm Polley.

The rise in Capital Gains Tax by 10%, up to a new level of 28% for higher rate tax payers, has been seen as a relief by many with investment properties that they were considering selling, as a higher rise to 40% has been feared.

The Chancellor, George Osborne’s strategy to simplify the corporate tax system and to bring down the headline rate of corporation tax in the medium term has won praise from business leader, the CBI –

Will Morris, Chair of the CBI Taxation Committee, said:

"The coalition’s plan for corporate tax sets a very positive course for the future direction of tax policy. This policy framework, combined with a strong process for business input, will reassure companies in the tough times ahead."

On the tax policy-making process, he added:

"It is clear that, despite the talented people involved, the tax policy-making process is simply not working as it should, from formation through to final legislation. We welcome the Government's decision to consult on this in order to produce a better system for every stage of that process."

NB: The next regional FMO meeting, with relevant industry speakers, will be held on 14 October at a sporting venue. To reserve a place call Sandie Fisher on 020 7298 5123

BCLA 2011 Clinical Workshops do you possess the skills to educate?

July 2010

The BCLA are asking who possesses the types of clinical skills that others would find invaluable to learn? Do you have a hands-on, practical approach to clinical practice that you’d like to demonstrate at the world’s leading conference on contact lenses and the anterior eye?

The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) is inviting proposals for Clinical Workshops for presentation at its 2011 Clinical Conference, to be held at Manchester Central from 26-29 May. Presenters will receive a voucher (to the value of £100) towards the cost of attending the conference for each workshop session presented.

The BCLA announce that any topic related to contact lenses or the anterior eye will be considered. Submissions should state the purpose of the workshop, the clinical content, the workshop format and four course objectives. Workshops must have a hands-on practical approach and allow delegates the opportunity to learn new clinical skills. The time allocated for a workshop is 90 minutes.

One auxiliary workshop tutor must be provided in order to conform to the General Optical Council requirements of one presenter for each six delegates. The BCLA will provide additional tutors as required. All presenters and tutors will be entitled to 10 points towards BCLA Fellowship.

Proposals should be submitted online by 24 September 2010 for consideration by the BCLA Conference Committee. Presenters of accepted workshops will then be required to submit a 1,000-word outline of the workshop by 1 April 2011.

Visit the new-look BCLA website at for more details and to submit a proposal, or contact the BCLA on 0207 580 6661.

Kentopic to provide free lenses and glazing to charity

July 2010

Kentoptic, the independent lab which specialises in glazing and bespoke surfacing, has signed a three year contract to provide the lab needs of Vision Care for Homeless People’s London centres.

The charity has two centres in the capital – one in Victoria and another within the Crisis Centre near to Liverpool Street station and already a number of spectacles have been made up for the homeless by Kentoptic.

As Preston Everard, Kentoptic Executive Manager explained:

“This charity fits in well with our company ethos. My directors have given a lot of support to our staff, and to myself in recent times, and I have been delighted with the response of our team in taking on this extra work. As a company we have always looked to giving a little back and so when the opportunity arose to work with such an inspirational charity we were delighted to accept. I have to say, we have been very surprised by the powers needed. You can’t function properly when you can’t see and many of the prescriptions coming through have been high: up to +5.00D.”

The ISO 9001:2008 Quality Accredited lab, which is housed in an elegant, large windowed, Victorian cricket ball factory in Tonbridge, boasts more than 400 years of glazing and surfacing experience between its team – some who joined recently from local lab, Gilco – and the latest in computer and glazing technology.

Elaine Styles, Chair of the charity is delighted that Kentoptic has taken up the work –

“With the recession we are seeing a lot more homeless people – particularly men, but the charity work is extremely rewarding. The best part is the dispensing. Helping people to see again properly – often after many years – is amazing. For many this brings a confidence boost and the ability to start filling out job application forms,” she said.

Quality in Optometry launches latest upgrade to follow increased requirements

July 2010

The Quality in Optometry (QiO) interactive toolkit for GOS contract compliance and clinical governance in optometry has been revised still further to cover funded clinical governance, enhanced services and infection control, among others Find out more at are available from the QiO website at

GOC gets involved in PR for registered personnel

PCC provides link to “Beginner's guide to eye care data”

International Stem Cell Corporation Formalizes Stem Cell-Based Eye Care Programs into Cytovis(TM)

An alarming number of 386 students have been removed this month by the GOC from the registers

Big Society message stressed by Visioncare charity’s patron

FMO gives its considered view on the budget

GOC consults providers on future of CET scheme

Hoya winner is presented with laptop dispensing aid

Profession rejects NHS Information Governance imposition

Research published in J.A.M.A.(The Journal of the American Medical Association) reports high levels of diabetic retinopathy amongst older sufferers

Orbis touches down in the Philippines during National Blindness Prevention month

Survey set to reveal IT use in optics

Opticians' reluctance to provide PD measurements hits airways

Irish Campaign for better understanding of Childrens’ Needs begins

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