Primary Health Net
Visit our Public Information Site
Go to my LOC site
covid Click for information about Grafton snowbird

Optical News - January, February, March 2011

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.

Get your news to us

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.

Ocuco announces educational business programme, to support Independents at Optrafair

BCLA President to serve 2 year term

Voucher Values

College of Optometrists publish disturbing news on increasing blindness by 2020

BCLA fitting course for ophthalmologists

4x4 driving experience to be won at Optrafair

Advanced communication in Scotland

Ocuco provide Free Webinar lecture on Improving Recalls

Salix Consulting wins pitch forNational Eye Health Week

Polaroid donates ready readers for homeless charity

Gasson lectures at RSM camera club

GOC attempts to raise awarenss of optical regulation

BCLA hot topics

Leightons rolls out new web-based IT system

UK Vision Strategy invites 3rd round EPIC applications

Colleges reiterate advice on glaucoma detection to PCTs

PHN announces completion of online practice database

Ivins back on eye scene in Scotland

GOC announce fitness to practise consultation

Andrew Gasson to give photography lecture at RSOM

National Optometric Adviser's Asociation launch new site

OGS donates 5K to vision care charity

Halve your risk of sight loss

Optrafair company pages

PCC warns of possible service disruption

Taunton MP visitis practice to check out ACES scheme

Norville Opticians rewards staff

Vision Care for the Homeless

Nominations for BCLA Council

Independent Support from PHN

New practice directory launches on

Optrafair 2011 - a must for the diary

B&L announce agreement with Ultravision

RNIB send Better Vision for the Elderly information to QTVIs

Optical Express Sports Vision Clinic opens

GOC appoints new Chief Executive

Well known and established Rx house goes into Administration

Harrow Optical Services announces its presence for the first time at Optrafair 2011

GOS Activity in England

Ultravision celebrate “Two decades and beyond...”

Better Vision for the Elderly Campaign Update

Find my Optician database gets overhaul

PHN, Mylocaloptician and social networking

Eyeplan reports healthy financial report

Optrafair year has arrived

Ready, Steady, Drink!

College extends early bird reservations

Lucentis gains approval for diabetic macular oedema

TorFX were named the UK’s 23rd fastest growing private company

Kirk Originals unveil central London flagship store

Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers invites livery and society members to acclaimed musical event of the year

The Optical Confederation and Eye Health Alliance call on Government to implement a more systematic and scientific method of assessing drivers' vision

BCLA announce new patient leaflet titled ‘Wearing contact lenses’

Ocuco announces educational business programme, to support Independents at Optrafair

March 2011

In a move to support the hard-pressed independent opticians sector in these difficult economic times, Ocuco will be running a programme of helpful presentations in a presentation room in the NEC adjacent to the main show. These presentations are open to all independent opticians, or future aspirants to attend. The programme of events will address issues such as ‘Optimising Recall for maximum efficacy’, ‘Using PMS information to inform your business decisions’ and ‘Using PMS information in VAT negotiation with HMRC’. (Provided by Ocuco & Eros Business Consulting).

For complete details on what is going on, pick up a programme of events from the Ocuco stand H-50. Or email to express an interest to attend any of the three rolling lectures on Sunday and Monday.

March 2011

For the first time in the British Contact Lens Association’s (BCLA) 34-year history, its President will serve a two-year term of office.

At a recent meeting in London, BCLA Council members voted in favour of the change, which they viewed as a positive step forward for the Association and its members. It means existing BCLA President, Shelly Bansal, will remain in office until May 2012, before handing over to President Elect, Dr Catharine Chisholm.

Commenting on his election for a second term, Shelly said: “During the last few years the BCLA has undergone some significant changes. These include moving the BCLA office to new, more modern premises, the re-launch of the website with extended online membership benefits, and the introduction of alternate venues for the annual Clinical Conference and Exhibition.

“Since my term of office began last May, there has been a big drive to widen BCLA membership and to encourage new delegates to attend the conference,” Shelly continued. “A free places offer for new delegates, launched in January and generously supported by our major sponsors, is proving a great success. My ambition now is to build on these initiatives for BCLA 2012 in Birmingham. I am therefore truly honoured that the BCLA Council has elected me as President for a second term.”

William Thomas, immediate Past President, said: “No organisation can stand still and that includes the BCLA, which is going through a very important phase of its development. I am delighted that during this critical period of the BCLA’s growth, our existing President has agreed to serve for a second year in order to bring continuity and help implement some of these exciting changes.”

BCLA President Elect, Dr Catharine Chisholm, added: “Shelly’s energy and enthusiasm are a significant asset for the Association and its members. I look forward to working closely with him and the other members of the Council over the next year.”

March 2011

Mr Simon Burns, The Minister of State, Department of Health announced that regulations have been laid before Parliament to increase certain national health service charges in England from 1 April 2011. But these will not affect optical services.

Voucher values continue at the rates effective since 1 April 2009, which are published below this article.

However, there will be an increase in the prescription charge of 20p from £7.20 to £7.40 for each quantity of a drug or appliance dispensed.

The cost of a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) will rise to £29.10 for a three-month certificate. The cost of the annual certificate will remain at £104. PPCs offer savings for those needing four or more items in three months or more than 14 items in one year.

Dental charges also see a raise with regulations laid to increase NHS dental charges from 1 April 2011. The dental charge payable for a band 1 course of treatment will increase by 50p from £16.50 to £17. The dental charge for a band 2 course of treatment will increase by £1.40 from £45.60 to £47. The charge for a band 3 course of treatment will increase by £6 from £198 to £204.

The Minister said that dental charges represent an important contribution to the overall cost of dental services. The exact amount raised will be dependent upon the level and type of primary dental care services commissioned by primary care trusts and the proportion of charge-paying patients who attend dentists and the level of treatment they require.

Existing Voucher Values that will continue:

Optical voucher values from 1 April 2011

Type of optical appliance


A. Glasses with single vision lenses: spherical power of ≤ 6 dioptres, cylindrical power of ≤ 2 dioptres.


B. Glasses with single vision lenses: spherical power of > 6 dioptres but < 10 dioptres, cylindrical power of ≤ 6 dioptres; spherical power of < 10 dioptres, cylindrical power of > 2 dioptres but ≤ 6 dioptres.


C. Glasses with single vision lenses: spherical power of ≥ 10 dioptres but ≤ 14 dioptres, cylindrical power of ≤ 6 dioptres.


D. Glasses with single vision lenses: spherical power of > 14 dioptres with any cylindrical power; cylindrical power of > 6 dioptres with any spherical power.


E. Glasses with bifocal lenses: spherical power of ≤ 6 dioptres, cylindrical power of ≤ 2 dioptres.


F. Glasses with bifocal lenses: spherical power of > 6 dioptres but < 10 dioptres, cylindrical power of < 6 dioptres; spherical power of < 10 dioptres, cylindrical power of > 2 dioptres but ≤ 6 dioptres.


G. Glasses with bifocal lenses: spherical power of ≥ 10 dioptres but ≤ 14 dioptres, cylindrical power of ≤ 6 dioptres.


H. Glasses with prism-controlled bifocal lenses of any power or with bifocal lenses: spherical power of > 14 dioptres with any cylindrical power; cylindrical power of > 6 dioptres with any spherical power.


I. (HES) Glasses not falling within any of paragraphs A to H above for which a prescription is given in consequence of a testing of sight by an NHS Trust.


March 2011

Cases of AMD expected to increase by a quarter in the next 10 years, where currently in the UK 600,000 people suffer from AMD with an estimated 239,000 people predicted to experience vision loss as a result of the disease by the end of 2011 The direct and indirect costs of overall sight loss are expected to rise by over £1 billion in 2013

From a major study which included 4,000 UK adults by the College of Optometrists, the professional, scientific and examining body for optometry in the UK, revealed that half of people have never heard of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) which is the leading cause of blindness in the Western world.

AMD is a condition which attacks the macula of the eye, robbing the individual of the ability to see fine detail, such as recognising people's faces, reading or watching television.

Experts predict that cases of AMD are expected to increase by nearly a quarter by 2020 , largely due to the ageing population. Eye experts are warning that lack of awareness of the symptoms of the disease means that some people may be suffering from sight loss unnecessarily and others may not been accessing support available.

Smoking is a major risk factor for increasing the chances of developing AMD, however, only a third of smokers (36 per cent) were aware that smoking can cause eye disease. Similarly, only half of people were aware that diet may play a part in helping to reduce the risks of developing eye disease like AMD. This lack of awareness is contributing to preventable sight loss, which is costing the UK around £2.14 billion, and the direct and indirect costs of overall sight loss, of which AMD is the largest cause, are expected to rise by a further £1 billion in 2013.

Dr Susan Blakeney, optometric adviser to the College of Optometrists said: "Age Related Macular Degeneration is the biggest single cause of sight loss in the UK so it is concerning that so few people are aware of it and its symptoms. There are two forms of AMD, wet and dry. There is currently no cure for either forms but early diagnosis and treatment of wet AMD - which is acute - is crucial in order to prevent vision loss. Dry AMD is which more common but develops gradually, is not treatable but there are services available to support people with this condition. By making people more aware of AMD and the impact that it can have, we hope to increase detection and people seeking access to support services.”

It is not known what causes AMD, but a family history, obesity, diet, smoking and age are all thought to be contributing factors.

Dr Blakeney continued: “While AMD is a condition associated with older age, there are steps you can take earlier in life to minimise your risk. Research suggests that a diet rich in leafy green vegetables, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables and oily fish may help prevent AMD. Smoking also doubles your chances of developing the condition so quitting can also reduce your risk. I would also recommend that you regularly check the vision of each eye separately so that you can spot early changes".

How to check yourself:

You can easily check yourself at home for the early warning signs of wet AMD by looking with each eye separately and checking for any of the following:

• Distorted vision - straight lines become wavy or objects appear to be the wrong size (check by looking at straight objects like door frames or venetian blinds)
• blurry or blank patches in your central vision
• difficulty reading, recognising people's faces, driving, looking at small objects and watching television

There is currently no treatment for dry AMD but if it is causing you problems in your daily life your optometrist can advise you on special magnifiers to help, or organisations like RNIB or the local social services can provide you with equipment that can help you manage your day-to-day tasks.

Wet AMD develops much more quickly than dry AMD and can often be treated if it is caught early. It tends to start in one eye and you may not notice it affecting your vision since your other eye can still see clearly, and therefore compensates for the affected eye.

If you experience any of these symptoms it is critical that you see your optometrist or a doctor immediately and without delay.

BCLA to host contact lens fitting course for ophthalmologists

March 2011

A specially designed Training Day for Medics is among the highlights of the 35th British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Clinical Conference and Exhibition, to be held in Manchester from 26-29 May 2011.

Running on the Friday morning of the conference (27 May), the course will feature three ophthalmologists experienced in contact lenses teaching, promoting the latest developments in medical contact lens practice. The day comprises a morning of lectures and a hands-on workshop, followed by a choice of lectures from the main conference programme in the afternoon.

Dr Ursula Vogt of Imperial College NHS Health Care Trust, and the BCLA Council’s medical representative, will begin the morning session with, ‘A mini guide to contact lenses’ looking at medical contact lens treatments. BCLA Past President, Dr Sarah Janikoun of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals, will then discuss contact lens care products, followed by a presentation on ‘How to fit the irregular cornea’.

During the workshop that follows, delegates will handle contact lenses and learn which lens types to use, when and for whom. Andrena McElvanney, consultant at Epsom and St Helier University NHS Trust and Past President of the Medical Contact Lens and Ocular Surface Association, will then discuss ‘Therapeutic contact lenses’. The morning session will conclude with an examination of ‘The use of coloured contact lenses in medical cases’.

In the afternoon delegates are invited to visit the BCLA exhibition to learn more about the latest developments in contact lenses, and to join the main body of the conference.

Dr Janikoun commented: “The aim of this course is to give ophthalmologists training on the basic uses of all types of contact lenses for pathological cases. It is presented by experienced ophthalmologists under the aegis of the BCLA and is the opportunity to gain hands-on manipulation of various lens types and take part in an open, friendly discussion about contact lens management.

“We do hope that our ophthalmologist colleagues will come along and join us for what promises to be a fascinating and useful day,” concluded Dr Janikoun.

Registration for the day costs £165 for BCLA members and £220 for non-members. Delegates on this course are also welcome to attend Saturday night’s Gala Dinner, which will have a Bollywood theme. Tickets at £75 may be purchased online at together with conference registration.

CET points have been applied for, for both the training day and the conference.

March 2011

An exciting 4x4 off-road driving experience for two people will be won at Optrafair (9-11 April) by one lucky visitor to the leading national optical show.
The winner and their guest will each have a chance to put the 4x4 through its paces in the challenging terrain of The Great Tew Estate Driving Centre, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. The four hour prize includes a demonstration by an experienced instructor, practice on mild terrain, followed by the most challenging course.

Those interested in winning the experience should make sure they fill out the brief show questionnaire, which will be available on each of the three days of the show.

March 2011

The course centres around managing challenging patient interactions and is available free to Scottish Opticians.

Could you identify Charles Bonnet Syndrome? Do you know how to adapt your consultation for patients with dementia or learning difficulties? The latest Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) Annual Report highlights ‘failure to recognise the patient’s ability to understand’ as one of the six top reasons for complaints about optical practitioners.

Do you know how to manage complaints in a way that increases the likelihood of a positive outcome?
If you find situations like these daunting, then the multimedia online programme Advanced Communication can help you.

Multimedia presentations from Consultant Psychiatrist Joanne Watkins' MRCPsych, MB ChB and panel discussions with experienced optometrists in practice will help you manage and contain challenging situations, maximise the interaction with patients whose ability to communicate is impaired.

The learning programme is funded by the Scottish Government Health Department (SGHD). The training will run until the end of March 2011.

The course is available online and combines distance learning and practical, self-managed exercises enabling optometrists to analyse and develop their communication skills without leaving their practice.

Includes the following topics:

• Making the most of history and symptoms
• Maximising effectiveness of referrals
• Working with patients with cognitive/communication problems
• Building knowledge of conditions which affect patients’communication
• Resolving complaints more effectively

If it's the psychological and behavioural aspects of complaints and difficult behaviour that you find most daunting, then the presentations by Joanne Watkins' MRCPsych, MB ChB will help you manage and contain challenging situations in practice.

To view short video excerpts from this innovative e-learning programme visit

The programme is available to optometrists who practise in Scotland. There is no charge to participate.

Ocuco provide Free Webinar lecture on Improving Recalls

Please click on this link to select and register to join one of two free Webinar events provided by Ocuco

Salix Consulting wins competitive pitch for National Eye Health Week

March 2011

Salix Consulting has won the brief to handle the sponsorship and PR for National Eye Health Week 2011. The campaign will take place from Monday 13 – Sunday 19 June this year and aims to drive awareness of the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests. Work will begin immediately to promote the campaign and to look for corporate partners.

The campaign is managed by a Steering Group consisting of representatives from optical bodies, charities and providers. Giles Butler, Project Manager for National Eye Health Week, said: “Salix impressed us with their creative thinking and their attention to detail. Their proposal included some exciting strategic ideas coupled with an excellent understanding of the health sector. We anticipate an incredibly successful National Eye Health Week.”

National Eye Health Week aims to unite the whole sector behind this important cause. The campaign will be structured to ensure maximum involvement for all areas and levels of optics and the wider community. This is the second annual national campaign which will build on the success of the first.

Sarah Wrixon, managing director of Salix, said: “We are delighted to have been given the chance to be involved in such an important campaign. Deteriorating eye health can have such a drastic impact on people’s lives but in many cases the condition could be treated if detected early enough. National Eye Health Week is a fantastic concept and I am sure that Salix can help to make a real difference in the future.”

Salix will work closely with the organisers of National Eye Health Week to highlight the importance of eye health and appropriate eye care. It is essential that people are aware that a sight test does not only test vision; it is a vital eye health check.

March 2011

Polaroid Eyewear’s donation of more than 1,000 pairs of ready readers to Vision Care for Homeless People has already resulted in life changing experiences for some of the capital’s dispossessed who are now able to engage more with society.

With powers from +1.0 to +3.50d, the ready readers, along with the generous donation of lenses and glazing by Kent Optic, the charity is helping more and more who need this help.

As Rebecca Harwood Lincoln, Polaroid Eyewear Sales Manager UK and Ireland explained:
“This is a wonderful cause and one that affords practical help to people in real need. We are so pleased to be able to help in this simple way but that makes such a massive difference for the people concerned.

“Corporate social responsibility is an integral part of our business at Polaroid and that is why our charities policy focuses efforts on helping organisations with causes close to our own of improving the vision and eye health of people around the world. Our donation to Vision Care for Homeless People is a perfect example of this in action,” she added.

February 2011

Sally Gordon Boyd reports from the RSM that Andrew Gasson provided many Camera Club members including optometrists and dispensing opticians (who came as guests) with a fascinating insight into optical photography.

Andrew Gasson, a specialist in the fitting of contact lenses, is a first class photographer, not only of eyes. He has put this ability to excellent use in his practice and showed photographs of all sorts of conditions and of contact lenses of different types in situ.

He had a patient who he reckons might hold the world record for the length of time she wore contacts; she was fitted in Hungary in the 30s with some very early big glass lenses, and then settled in London and for many years had been with his practice. She had worn contacts absolutely all her life since the age of 13, and died recently at 83. In the last year or so of her life she had too much tremor in her hand to take lenses in and out so he arranged extended wear ones which she came to him to change monthly.

As well as several optometrists who joined in discussion afterwards, the club has some eminent ophthalmologists among its members who also gave support and brought along some colleagues.

Andrew ended up by showing us a picture of a penguin's eye which he had managed to take fairly close up when visiting the Antarctic recently. He apparently waited four hours to get the picture - imagine the cold!

Sally commented, “The RSM Camera Club began as an offshoot of their Retired Fellows Society which is a thriving group. We welcome any RSM members and they can bring guests, so if any of your readers would like to find out more they are welcome to email me, or if they go to the RSM web site and enter Camera Club in the search box it will show the programme -

GOC attempts to Raise awareness of optical regulation

February 2011

The GOC leaflet ‘Check your optician is registered’ is available now for patients and members of the public from information stands in 7,000 GP surgeries and 1,200 pharmacies across the UK.
This is part of a public initiative to raise awareness of the services provided by optometrists and dispensing opticians. According to 2010 research for the College of Optometrists, one in five people have never had a sight test or have not had one in the past five years.

The leaflet discusses why it is important to have regular sight tests, and how the GOC assures the health and protection of those who use the services of optometrists and dispensing opticians. It also explains that we are responsible for regulating all student and fully-qualified optometrists and dispensing opticians, along with optical businesses, in the UK.

A companion leaflet ‘What to expect from your optician’ sets out the professional standards of behaviour, expertise and conduct to which all our registrants adhere. As part of this campaign both leaflets are available for practice managers and other healthcare professionals to order online from Leaflets2You free of charge.

The ‘Check your optician is registered’ project will run until 23 May.

NB All registered optical practices are included in the “Find my Optician” database on

Download the leaflets here:

What to expect from your Optician
Check your Optician is registered

Share your enthusiasm via BCLA Hot Topics

February 2011

Having received a record number of first-rate paper and poster submissions for BCLA 2011 (26-29 May, Manchester), the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) is anticipating a similar response to its current call for Hot Topics.

Launched in 2010 as a new submission category for the Association’s annual Clinical Conference and Exhibition, BCLA Hot Topics proved a popular addition to the scientific programme at last year’s event.

The session, which this year takes place on the Sunday morning, ensures the latest issues concerning the contact lens industry and profession are aired during the conference, and encourages debate and discussion amongst delegates and presenters.

Hot Topics subject matter should be highly topical and could be a new fitting strategy, way of grading, proposed risk factor or revolutionary instrument or technique. Presenters will each have 10 minutes to outline the issue before fielding an open discussion. The deadline for 2011 submissions is 8 April.

Professor Roger Buckley, Chairman of the BCLA’s Academic Committee, said: “With our award winners and keynote speakers, plus the paper and poster presentations that we have selected, we believe we have just the right mix to create another superb Clinical Conference. Your latest ideas could be the icing on the cake, so please do submit them for Hot Topics 2011 so that we can share your enthusiasm.”

For each conference submission (scientific paper, hot topic or workshop) accepted by the Academic Committee, the first author will be entitled to a £100 voucher, redeemable against a full delegate package for BCLA 2011. A list of accepted Hot Topics will also be included in the Association’s journal, Contact Lens & Anterior Eye.

February 2011

Leightons Opticians’ 34-strong group of practices has just rolled out a new clinical and practice management software system, supplied by Optix Software, after extensive evaluation of all the available options.

Optix logoOpen access to the Optix Software user group online forum for six months was “a crucial point” in Leightons Opticians’ decision for the southern counties group, according to Managing Director, Sue Cockayne.

“We spent six months evaluating other practice management systems and feel we did our research very thoroughly. It became clear that Optix is robust and has a fantastic development team which could deliver what we are looking for. We attended the user group meetings and met other Optix users and were very happy with their feedback, particularly on the quality of support,” said Sue.

The web-based system, also used by the Scottish group, Black and Lizars, operates in “real time”, providing live data on each practice’s performance, at any time of the day, for head office.

“This was a very big step for us and the new functionality of the system brings extensive business intelligence, comprehensive stock taking and a suite of flexible marketing tools. Electronic submission of NHS forms, SMS, email and an end to many of those reminder phone calls has been widely welcomed by the team, who have been very excited about the new system,” added Sue.

Longevity of the software was an important consideration for Leightons Opticians and the fact the group’s system is the same as any other Optix user’s, running on Windows 7, XP and Vista was an additional attraction, knowing that new product development would benefit all users and that it was not a bespoke package.

Trevor Rowley, Managing Director of Optix, who is himself an optometrist, is delighted to work with Leightons and added –

“We only have one mission, and that is to have the best system, with no compromise.”
February 2011

The UK Vision Strategy is now inviting applications from across England to take part in the final round of the EPIC Project. Senior Managers from local authority, health and voluntary sector organisations, as well as other senior staff from other organisations with a remit for sensory services should apply. The project is funded by the Department of Health and supports the aims of the UK Vision Strategy, which seeks a major transformation in the UK's eye health, eye care and sight loss services using a cross sector approach. Your PCT should have already developed cross sector partnerships that are committed to developing a plan focusing on local priorities for eye care and sight loss services. The EPIC project board would expect you to have a representative of your local GP commissioning consortium as one of the key partners.

Download Guidance Notes here

Download application form here

February 2011

PCTs have been advised that a change to commissioning guidance for glaucoma detection could cut false positives received by the hospital eye service by well in excess of 50%.
The joint letter, written last December by the College of Optometrists and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, outlines their belief that a service commissioned from community optometrists for repeating pressure measurements using Goldman-style contact applanation tonometry would significantly reduce the number of positive referrals.

Read the letter here

February 2011

10 weeks after the original start date for re-entry of around 7000 addresses of all practices in the UK the job is finally complete. All new directories are now visible and have been trawled by Google and other browsers. “We have to admit it turned out to be a lot bigger task than we expected so we have run a little over time but we hope that all entries are correct bar the odd typo, which we encourage practices to check out over the next few weeks.” Said Charles Greenwood (PHN’s Director) who managed the upgrade. “We have created a simple contact form so that all practices can confirm their entry as being correct in address, practice name and telephone numbers and they can inform us of any changes necessary. Around 1000 members of the public visit the site each day looking for an optician that can provide the service, specialties and brands they are looking for and for the first time in UK practices can market these services.”

Over the next few months PHN will accept confirmations and amendments to the directory and at some point will make a decision as to when to remove unconfirmed entries.

For just over £1 a week practices can gain greater visibility on the page and post their extra services. “Simply pay on line monthly and all new enhanced entries will be given a three month free period to assess the impact.", said Greenwood.

View practice database

View contact form

February 2011

Peter Ivins, the former chief executive of Black and Lizars has invested more than £250,000 in state of the art technology for his own new optometry practice.

Peter Ivins, now 54, has based his practice on the concept of healthcare rather than selling glasses. The move follows a year out teaching other optometrists and completing a postgraduate diploma in ocular therapeutics.

The Bearsden practice features the first Zeiss system in the UK which is capable of scanning the retina and providing extremely detailed digital images.

Ivins hopes the business can reach a £500,000 turnover within two years.

He said: "The big chains are getting bigger in the UK but I believe there is a smaller niche market for a different kind of practice built on service rather than selling products. Optometrists in the US for instance make most of their money on the healthcare side rather than selling a lot of glasses and contact lenses. So I'm trying to take the best of what there is in the UK and merge it with what else is out there in the rest of the world.

Ivins added, "This is about looking after individuals and spending a lot of time with them to make sure we look after their vision."

February 2011

The General Optical Council (GOC) is seeking feedback from the profession and the public on potential changes to its Fitness to Practise (FTP) rules. The Council has launched a consultation, closing on 29 April, to invite opinions on the proposed new regulations.

The potential changes are designed to speed up the FTP process, make it fairer and more transparent, and ensure the rules reflect recent legal developments and current best practice.

One of the biggest proposed changes is that two individual case examiners would decide whether to refer allegations for an FTP hearing. Currently, decisions are made by the nine-member Investigation Committee.

Other proposals include allowing the GOC to screen out anonymous complaints, fast-track allegations involving serious criminal convictions and notify a registrant’s current employer of the outcome of a hearing.

David Howell, GOC Director of Regulatory Services said: “Our current rules came into effect in June 2005 so it is now time to make sure they still reflect good practice and are fair and effective for both registrants and the public. We want everyone whom the changes may affect to have the chance to influence them, so we are encouraging all interested parties to reply to the consultation.”

The consultation document is available to download from

February 2011

The Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street W1G 0AE, has a thriving Retired Fellows Society which runs an informal Camera Club mainly concerned with digital photography. They meet during the day but membership is open to any RSM Fellow and they may bring guests. Their Chairman, Sally Gordon Boyd, has brought to our attention a meeting next week entitled Photography in Optometry, the speaker is Andrew Gasson. Places are limited but some are still available; as she points out retired people have a habit of going on holiday at this time of year. Anyone interested in attending should contact her by email and she will confirm availability of a place. It is at 11am, with coffee first from 10.45, on Thursday 24 February, and is held in their Lower Atrium Theatre.'

National Optometric Advisors Association launch new website

February 2011

The NOAA formally constituted in 2010 as a successor to the Optometric Advisers Group and as a response to the policies proposed in Liberating the NHS, this week announced its new website which can be viewed at

February 2011

Optometry Giving Sight has set its eye closer to home with a £5,000 donation to the charity which provides eye care and glasses to some of the UK’s neediest homeless people.

The valuable donation to Vision Care for Homeless People will fund the running costs of the Whitechapel centre, which is housed within the London Crisis centre, and will cover the cost of hundreds of eye examinations.
Donna Power explained, “Optometry Giving Sight is committed to funding projects that give sight, and hope, to people who are blind or vision impaired. This is a very strong project which we are delighted to support as we recognise that there are serious issues within our home market besides the needs of less developed countries.”
Harinder Paul added, “We are extremely grateful to Optometry Giving Sight for this generous donation to help the sadly growing number of homeless people here, on our doorstep, as well as the developing countries that Optometry Giving Sight already serves.

“We are seeing an increased demand for our service since it was launched seven years ago, and are currently seeing around 400 people a year at this one clinic. We would desperately like to expand the service which we offer, and extend the days on which the clinic is currently open – this donation will certainly help us to do this.”

February 2011

Yes, its fact that smoking doubles the risk of sight loss in later life but giving up this year immediately starts to decrease this risk. It is estimated that still 20% of the adult population continue to smoke, whilst around 60% want to quit. Use No Smoking Day as a great launch pad to either stop yourself or help others.

The organisers of No Smoking Day are asking opticians to support the campaign to help raise awareness of the impact smoking can have on the eyes.

February 2011

If you are showing at Optrafair why not send us up to 150 words profiling your company’s goods and services along with one jpeg (max 300 pixels in any direction) and your stand number. The service is free, it will be shown on the company profile page and the complete text will be published. Send to

PCC warns of possible disruption of services after Optoms are removed from List

February 2011

The General Optical Council (GOC) requires all its registrants to complete a retention process in order to keep their names included in the Opticians' Register. After 2009 at the April 1st renewal date many were removed and considerable disruption to service occurred as PCTs refused to pay deregistered optometrists for sight tests already claimed for.

PCC is providing guidance to its PCT members on the best way to reduce the inevitable problems.

Optoms have the easiest remedy; just make sure you reapply on line.
February 2011

Taunton Deane MP, Jeremy Browne, took time to visit Earlam and Christopher Optometrists in Taunton on 29th January to see the benefits of the Acute Community Eyecare Service, known as ACES and meet local Optometrists Sarah Farrant, Edward Farrant and Don Heys.

ACES is a county wide acute service for patients experiencing a recent eye problem such as reduced vision, red or painful eyes, flashes and floaters, double vision or watering of the eye. Patients need to be registered with a Somerset GP and will be seen within 24 hours. They can be referred by their GP or simply go directly to an optical practice providing the service.

The service has been running since July 2009 and sees approximately 400 patients per month. 29 practices in the Somerset area participate in the scheme. A recent analysis of the scheme up to the end of November 2010 shows the following breakdown of symptoms of patients seen on the scheme.

1. Sudden or recent reduction in vision - 582
2. Red eye/s - 1332
3. Pain and/or discomfort - 1317
4. Flashes and/or Floaters - 1243
5. Mild Trauma - 93
6. Suspected foreign body - 263
7. Recent onset of double vision - 54
8. Significant recent discharge - 126
9. Other - 222

In the same period, 75% of patients were managed by the optometrist with only 9% of patients requiring a follow-up appointment with the optometrist.

Several patients were present at the MPs visit. One of them, Wendy Head, commented:

“The ACES services was so quick and reassuring”, said Wendy. “Your sight is precious and as an artist I depend upon my sight for my work. I was so pleased to know I could have my eyes checked for free and delighted when I found out it was nothing serious.”

Jeremy Browne also heard about the many other services that Optometrists could potentially provide in the community in the future. He also was informed of developments which the Local Optical Committee, Somerset Primary Care Trust and, the local, and well established, GP Practice Based Commissioning Consortium are currently looking at such as cataract referral refinement, and Ocular Hypertension monitoring in the community.

February 2011

Norville Opticians treated staff and their partners from some of its best performing practices to an evening out when it supported the Gloucestershire County Association for the Blind’s inaugural ball and auction in Gloucester on Saturday 5 February.

Featured in the image are:

From left to right are: Daniel Read - Manager at Bishop's Cleeve, Maria Kellet - Manager at Stonehouse (and married to Daniel), Sean O'Neill and his wife Jo - Manager at Cirencester, Debra Waterhouse - Support Staff at Bishops Cleeve, Tara Wood - Support Staff at Bishop's Cleeve and finally Bernie Lahiffe - Manager at Sixways, Charlton Kings with her partner Mark ‘Max’ Boyce.

February 2011

Many homeless people struggle to function with poor vision, but volunteer opticians are easing the problem with weekly clinics in London and Birmingham. Do you have a few hours to help, or can you donate equipment, frames or cases?

Creating an approachable environment for homeless people, and raising funds to meet running costs, are the objectives of this eight year old UK charity (No: 1118076)

Vision Care for Homeless People has helped thousands to regain their self respect, and some to get back to work. Find out about how you can help.
Final call for BCLA Council nominations

February 2011

The Association is issuing its final call to members for nominations for two optometric representatives, one medical representative and one technical representative. Successful candidates will join the BCLA Council at the Association’s Annual General Meeting, to be held during BCLA 2011 in Manchester on 27 May.

BCLA President, Shelly Bansal, said: “The BCLA Council is responsible for setting and monitoring the direction, strategy, policy and objectives for the Association – educationally, professionally and technically. Working alongside the BCLA office staff, our valued Council members are fundamental in driving the Association forwards for the long-term benefit of members. I look forward to welcoming all our new, and returning, Council members at BCLA 2011 in May.”

Candidates for election to membership should be willing to commit to attend five Council meetings a year, including one off-site meeting. Council members are also required to attend BCLA evening meetings, sit on their relevant BCLA committee and represent the Association at external events.

For technical section representative, Andy Yorke, being a BCLA Council member is an opportunity to give something back without any commercial obligations. He said: “Working as part of a team alongside other professionals from different sectors has provided me with a unique insight into the contact lens world. I would recommend it to anyone.”

Current optometric representatives, Susan Bowers and Brian Tompkins, and technical representative, Michael Wilkinson, are eligible to stand for re-election.

Members can obtain a nomination form by telephoning the BCLA


Independent Support from PHN

1st February 2011

The Optician magazine titled us as the Practice Support Company, and we agree and are proud to accept that title, for the last 5 years we have striven to provide knowledge and information that keeps optometrists, dispensing opticians and industrialists up to speed with what is happening in Optics UK.

More so, we have made sure that we involve ourselves with optical politics, third sector organisations and have taken part in key discussions on subjects that concern the profession, industry and the improved performance of service provision in the UK community practice. From LOC advice, hosting websites for LOCS, providing secure LOCSU webhosting as well as industry news and business briefings we have given a rare opportunity for all practices to grow Optics UK.

Our Better Vision for the elderly campaign has gathered momentum to the point where around 1000 new members of the public read our information each day on At PHN we have a level playing field where marketing appears as strong within searchable PCT areas whether you have one practice or own 500 and we have always hoped to encourage businesses large or small to join with us in making UK optics a success, everyone will profit from being on our sites but most of all Independents have the most to gain, so we have created an independents page where we will encourage companies who specifically target independent practice to tell us what they can provide especially for independents.

There are many industry companies that see their successful continuance linked to successful and profitable independent practice and we want to hear from them to send their message to the Independent practitioner. This page will be developed to provide this information and link to their advertising to promote deals for small practices.

PHN needs the help of Independents to support our role in providing such a service and a small contribution from you that will provide practice growth for you will keep us active for you. Read about how we have designed a unique website to build your practice by reaching the public each day.

Click here to read about our new page

Powerful new searchable Practice Directory is released for England and Domiciliary Provision in UK. Scotland, Wales and Ireland to follow shortly

January 2011

The upgraded practice directory, on, which contains every registered address in the UK is now searchable by specialities provided as well as brands of products stocked. For the first time in the UK patients will now be able to answer a survey on their visit to a practice which will provide a star rating for each practice.

Practices can now select from a menu of specialities on line on their professional site ( ) as well as choosing to display any brands that companies advertise on either site and also flag up their acceptance of the £10 mylocaloptician voucher following a full sight test and dispense.

A featured entry showing specialities and brands (as enhanced do as well):

Patients can search for a practice near them selecting speciality, brand or leaving blank for all to be displayed. Each page listing will be shown in three sections, starting from the top will be “featured entries” with a practice web page presence linked from the entry, “enhanced entries” follow after and finally the standard entry will be displayed.

Only featured and enhanced entries will display specialities and brands. Opticians in England should verify their standard entry to ensure the correct information is given and can amend and upgrade their entry with specialities on line for as little as £8.33 per month, the first three months currently being given free.

A further enhancement of the public site is the ability for the public to complete a survey on their chosen practice following a visit once a year.

An overall star rating is visible on every practice entry.

Domiciliary registered providers are also given for the first time their own directory and the public can now select home testing and search for practices providing services in their area.

“The re-entry of every practice name, address and telephone has been a mammoth task for the staff at mylocaloptician, but coupled with the upgraded software specially developed to provide practitioners a greater ability to provide the public with more information has made for a very exciting period in our development,” said Bob Hutchinson, Director of PHN which owns the public site."

“With around a 1000 or more people a day using the public site, the opportunity is in the hands of opticians, particularly independents to take advantage of reaching new customers. We have made it very easy for opticians to relay the information to us on line using their professional site and despite the huge development costs of the site we have kept the marketing costs down to less than the cost of one average dispensing a year,” provides practice support through shared knowledge and briefings as well as support to many LOCs and the hosting of the secure pages of LOCSU. The two web sites provide a unique and combined opportunity for practices to improve knowledge and service, gain vital information on products and services that industry has to offer and provide a platform allowing the marketing of these to become known by the public.

View the new directory here

Optrafair 2011 - a must for any optician’s diary

January 2011

New diagnostic technology – OCT, fundus imaging, field screeners; latest sunglasses; new frames and best support for contact lens patients; new glazing provision; not to mention the IT system on which the practice could run so much more efficiently……Optrafair 2011says it has all of the answers!

Already The FMO report that the Optrafair show owners, have opened up more floor space to accommodate a larger number of suppliers who wish to reach out to you, the profession.

Practice support staff, optical technicians, contact lens fitters, practice managers, dispensing opticians and optometrists will all find inspiration at the show and it is a once in two year opportunity not to be missed!

Royal Warrant holder, Roger Pope, FBDO, and a regular visitor to Optrafair explained his view –

“If we want to remain independent we should see what is happening in the optical world. You can’t moan about the multiples taking over and dominating the market if you are not keeping your own practice looking a bit individual."

“We should all support our home optical industry. Normally the suppliers come to our premises but it is an opportunity to visit them on their territory and when they can welcome you. It is good to see what is available, particularly with instrumentation, all under one roof.”

Keen to attend is Matt Walmsley, FBDO, Manager of Houghtons Opticians in the Wirral –

“I have been to every Optrafair for the past twelve years. It is great to see everything under one roof and meet the suppliers I wouldn’t normally see. The central location is great for us. This year we are looking for new frames, new instrumentation, particularly field screeners and retinal cameras. At the last show we bought a new digital focimeter from Essilor and a Nidek edger. There are often some worthwhile offers on purchasing too.”

Including all of the practice staff in a trip to The NEC is Claire Thomas-Carter, optometrist owner of her eponymously named Urmston practice –

“The location of the show is superb and means that all of the practice staff get to see the bigger picture of optics and what a thriving industry it is. They are excited about this year’s show, as we will spend two days there."

“I have been to every Optrafair since qualifying 20 years ago and enjoy looking for new products that I have not heard about. Being able to test the equipment is great, and this year I will be looking at visual field screeners. Last year we found a new supplier of bespoke cases and a couple of new frame suppliers providing European rimless styles.”

January 2011

In Las Vegas, Bausch + Lomb announced two days ago a global licensing agreement with U.K.-based UltraVision CLPL to market and sell KeraSoft® soft contact lenses throughout the world, through the network of Bausch + Lomb lab channel partners. KeraSoft patented technology allows for custom-made contact lenses for irregular corneas and keratoconus. As part of the agreement, Bausch + Lomb acquired the KeraSoft trademark. The announcement was made at the Global Specialty Lens Symposium in Las Vegas. The global roll-out of KeraSoft lenses will begin later this year and will be executed around the world in phases.

“This technology has totally transformed my view of contact lens management of keratoconus and irregular cornea patients. The visual results and enhancement of life are true advances,” said Joseph Barr, O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O., vice president, Global Clinical & Medical Affairs and Professional Services, Vision Care, Bausch + Lomb.

Each KeraSoft contact lens is custom made for the patient’s exact needs, making it an ideal fit for manufacture and distribution through the Bausch + Lomb custom lab channel network. By utilizing Bausch + Lomb distribution channels throughout the world, Bausch + Lomb and UltraVision plan to significantly increase the number of patients who are able to benefit from customized KeraSoft contact lenses.

"Demonstrating our commitment to our laboratory partners, we are pleased to offer KeraSoft contact lens technology for those keratoconus patients looking for a soft lens alternative," said Jerry Warner, vice president, Marketing and general manager, Bausch + Lomb, Global Contact Lens. "Extending the KeraSoft technology allows the labs to expand the ability of practitioners to offer life-changing vision correction to a wider range of patients who have a variety of irregular cornea conditions resulting from keratoconus and pellucid marginal degeneration.”

Irregular corneas can be caused by a number of reasons including disease, trauma, corneal transplants and complicated laser surgery. Such patients can have considerably reduced vision that is not adequately addressed by standard contact lenses. Traditionally, patients with irregular corneas have been limited to hard or rigid gas permeable lenses which resulted in reduced wear time for some patients. KeraSoft lenses can increase wearing time for some of these patients.

KeraSoft lenses, which are recognized with the U.K.’s Queen’s Award for Enterprise and Innovation, are a patented combination of the latest technologies in soft and silicone hydrogel materials using geometries from complex mathematics to offer comfortable wear and excellent vision.

“We are delighted that Bausch + Lomb will be making KeraSoft contact lenses available around the world, through its lab channel partners,” said J. Keith Lomas, Group President and CEO, UltraVision CLPL. “As more people are introduced to KeraSoft lenses by Bausch + Lomb, UltraVision CLPL will continue to serve its existing customers and maintain its core focus on research, development and licensing of advanced contact lens designs and technologies.”

January 2011

A QTVI is a Qualified Teacher of the Visually Impaired. They are responsible for the educational-development and support of visually impaired children and young people and support children in both mainstream education and specialist schools settings. They are employed by Local Authorities, but work predominantly "front line". Mylocaloptician has ent a briefing document to all QTVI’s to assist them in using the campaign message and schools campaign to promote the uptake of eye care in the elderly.

January 2011

A revolutionary Sports Enhancement Clinic Launches in Glasgow.

Optical Express opened their flagship Sports Vision clinic in Renfield Street, Glasgow City Centre giving everyone the chance to improve their sporting skills and increase awareness of sports specific eye care .

Olympic Gold Medalist 1980 and 1984 and 4-time world record holder, decathlete Daley Thompson CBE: "As an athlete I am very aware of the importance of looking after your eyes and having regular eye checks. Perfect vision is a key tool of our profession and I can't overemphasise the importance for all age groups to look after their eyes."

Sports Vision has been an important aspect in the training and development of top athletic and sporting professionals for a number of years and has been designed to maximise their performance, enhance their comfort and ensure their sporting activity is both safe and enjoyable.

Separate to elite athletes, over 5.2 million UK adults have membership of a private gym and it is for them, sporting teams and clubs that Optical Express has opened the Sports Vision Clinic.

The Optical Express Sports Vision Clinic offers informed advice and appropriate eye care correction options based on an individual's requirements - the most comprehensive Sports Vision service currently available in the UK. The clinic, run by specially trained Sports Vision optometrists, will have a Sports Vision Trainer (SVT) and Bassin Anticipation Timer (BAT) machines that everyone can use to measure and improve their coordination and awareness.

Colin Moulson, a qualified Sports Vision optometrist at Optical Express, explained: "Many people don't realise there is a separate eye examination available that is specific to sports, nor that following a simple eye training programme can help improve their coordination and visual awareness. Sport is serious business these days, not only for seasoned professionals aiming to reach the top of their game, but for the growing population that are choosing to improve their health and well being through a more active lifestyle. Sport is a leading cause of eye injury, so it is essential to keep our eyes protected."

Frank Dick, British Athletics Team Coach through its Golden Years and now Chair of Scottish Athletics, continues to guide and influence athletes and coaches internationally at the elite end of sports. He comments: "Your first responsibility is for your personal performance excellence. That means being the best that you are capable of becoming: And not just once in a while, but persistently! Your second responsibility is for taking ownership of your preparation and development to make that performance happen. To achieve and maintain the competitive edge that this demands means taking nothing for granted when looking at every aspect of your health, fitness and general well being. Nothing can be overlooked and especially not something so fundamental as good eye health care. That kind of oversight can be costly, whatever your arenas in life. So I bring in the best expertise to deal with that. I mean, if you want to be the best, you must have the best people working to make you so. In my world, that means the very best! I am delighted, then, at this Optical Express initiative. The Sports Vision Clinic concept is absolutely on the button and ground breaking in designing and delivering a dedicated eye care service for the sport community. I believe it will give the competitive edge to those who want it enough. Sports enthusiasts at all levels need to understand the importance of regular eye checks to ensure their best possible performance."

Optical Express will offer a full range of Sports Vision services; assessment, correction, enhancement and protection. All sports eyewear meets exacting standards for fit and protection to maintain healthy eyes and provide piece of mind while competing or participating in sporting activity.

As well as a specialist Sports Vision Clinic, Optical Express has a broad optical retail offering and customers at the Glasgow City Centre clinic can also receive free laser eye surgery suitability consultations.

Scottish rugby star Graeme Morrison has been training with Optical Express and comments: "The key to my success on the field is the ability to react fast to win and retain possession of the ball. Rugby is about as physically demanding as it gets, and requires excellent conditioning, quick reactions, and strong hand/eye coordination to be able to break through opposition lines and pass the ball accurately. As an athlete it is important to stay on top of your game and Sports Vision training at Optical Express is an innovative way to maintain a competitive edge over your rival by focusing on one muscle that is ignored during traditional training methods."

Retief Goosen is a two time Major golf champion and one of the best golfers of his generation: "I played for years with contact lenses and while they were sufficient, they weren't always ideal. If it was a windy day or a piece of dust got in the way, advantage would swing towards my opponent. As a sportsman, great vision is one of the best competitive advantages you can have. Laser eye surgery has given me back that edge where I can gauge the slope of the green and measure distance better than ever, a real boost to my game."

January 2011

The General Optical Council has announced the appointment of Samantha Peters as its new Chief Executive and Registrar. She is expected to take up the position from effective 28 March 2011, and will replace Satjit Singh, the interim Chief Executive and Registrar.

The GOC states that Samantha is an experienced chief executive, with an MBA from Cass Business School. She has worked in the health sector for 11 years, leading the British Society of Rheumatology, and British Health Professionals in Rheumatology. In these roles and as Chief Executive of the British Youth Council, she has worked closely with an extended network of professionals and wider stakeholders, and has built robust policy, advisory and communications functions.

In addition to her full-time employed roles, Samantha has held a number of public interest posts focusing on delivering services and support for patients and the wider general public. In particular, she has been a trustee of Arthritis Care and of the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance.

Announcing the appointment, Anna Bradley, Chair of the GOC said: “I am really looking forward to Samantha's arrival. We have a challenging organisational agenda and live in interesting times in the health sector. Samantha will give us the clear and personable leadership we need to take the GOC forward."

Samantha Peters said: "I am delighted to be joining the GOC, and look forward to helping it deliver its invaluable role in promoting high standards of optical care. I welcome the chance to work with the GOC’s Council, staff and registrants to build on its strong reputation for protecting the public, and delivering excellent service."

Well known and established Rx house goes into Administration

January 2011

We have been informed by customers that Five Towns Optical went into administration this week; it is believed that they had around 10 staff. As yet we have not been able to speak to the owner, Nick Warrilow.

Five Towns was a family run, independent glazing laboratory, and have been producing quality prescription spectacles since 1959, providing an experienced workforce they claim which used to produce consistently excellent prescription glazing and uncut lenses.

PHN understand that this is a disturbing trend in there now being less and less independent labs in the UK. Many either being bought by lens companies, (Essilor having bought Horizon, Sinclair, Leicester Optical) and with large lens companies joining forces or being bought out it would appear there is far less choice for Independent opticians to work with a like minded lab.

For the remaining small and medium labs to survive they will need independent opticians to thrive and prosper. We asked Adam Sear for his take on the current market place and he replied, “ Giving a personal and dedicated service to independent practice has seen our company (Harrow Optical Services) thrive and has shown that our customers can benefit in growth from our actions, and that is why we do so much to try and help them. We need to support each other or we will all suffer as large companies merge reducing choice for us all in the end”

Do you have a view for our forum?

January 2011

Among only two independent labs known to us displaying at this year’s show is Harrow Optical Services, a lab that isn’t part or wholly owned by a lens company and dedicated to providing a gold standard service to its independent practitioners.

“It is important to us and our customers that we perform for them to provide top quality frames and lenses from all the leading lens designers for the benefit of our customers and we will not compromise ourselves by dealing direct with the public or owning part shares in practices. Our famous specialist rimless glazing house as well as our standard labs takes work from all over the UK and the fast delivery service afforded to opticians provides the opportunity for new practices to join with us straight away, “said Adam Sear.

You can find out more about Harrow Optical the Independent Lab for an Independent Optician by clicking here. You can access The Rimless Glazing Company's latest brochure and offer for a first free order here.

January 2011

Just released and here to download as an excel spreadsheet are the Activity Statistics for England and here is an overview of its contents. Download here.

General Ophthalmic Services: Activity Statistics for England, six-month period ending 30 September 2010.

  • NHS sight tests, by practitioner, in England
  • NHS domiciliary sight tests by type, in England
  • NHS vouchers, by voucher type, in England
  • Items for repair or replacement - one lens, by voucher type, in England
  • Items for repair or replacement - both lenses, by voucher type, in England
  • Items for repair or replacement - frames, by voucher type, in England

All information is presented by PCT and by SHA

January 2011

The past 20 years have seen many changes in the contact lens industry; the introduction of monthly and daily disposable lenses, advancement in materials such as silicone hydrogel and more recently, a fully lathe-able SiH material. Another change over the last 20 years is the relationship between contact lens manufacturer UltraVision CLPL and the German distributor Bach Optic, as it’s grown solidly from a start-up relationship to a major one.

Bach Optic started distributing UltraVision contact lenses 20 years ago and with UltraVision continuing to innovate and introduce more products a strong partnership developed and a diversity of products is now available to German eye practices.

Bach’s CEO, Jürgen Schofeld and Karin Pintore, Specialist Lens Sales Advisor, visited UltraVision’s head office last week where J Keith Lomas, UltraVision’s CEO, presented them with a trophy to commemorate the 20 year partnership.

J Keith Lomas said, “It is fantastic that our distributors are so loyal to the company and our products that year on year they support our business and welcome new contact lens designs our R&D team bring to the market. It is with this support that we are able to constantly move forward with R&D, benefitting our customers and, importantly, their patients.”

Jürgen commented, “The team at Bach Optic and myself send many thanks for the 20 year trophy. We are all delighted and look forward to the next 20 years and to a powerful common business”.


Better Vision for the Elderly Campaign

January 2011

PHN report that over 100 National and Local Newspapers plus broadcast media have been contacted with information on the reason and need for the campaign plus the interventionist method of getting the public to encourage relatives and friends to book.

Whilst we hope that the profession will help itself in printing our A4 poster for window display and repeating the message in recall letters we have no way of gauging their commitment but we do know that January stats are climbing on the over the December figures by around 40%. There are normally 7500 individual visitors to your PHN professional site each month so there should be a large enough core of people to take the message (and the poster!) to their practices. Those we are encouraging to visit your practice often have not been examined for years and are most likely to need a new dispensing, so purely from a business angle it must be worthwhile to spread the word.

Print the poster and diplay it
• Encourage those you recall by letter to ask themselves if they know of elderly friends or relations who need an eye examination with a link to within your recall letters?
• Maybe offer a promotion
• If you have kids or grandkids at school, print the school survey and get them to show their teacher

You have another 6 weeks left of our efforts on the campaign, but we will be collecting stats from schools during March, so the message needn’t stop til March.

We thank the RNIB in their advice and assistance in raising the message and look forward to seeing positive backing from other professional bodies.

January 2011

The on line database has received a total rewrite and upgrade by our software experts during December and early January, which has necessitated PHN staff to work long hours in re-entering thousands of practice addresses within the new database.

Why did we bother? Simple, each address is now a unique posting in part of a unique interactive database and is allotted its own unique URL. address which activates on featured listings. This means that Google and other browsers will find your practice address on our database faster and higher up the ranking. All URLs are now more specific to their area so finding a practice in a certain town will be faster and easier. We are also introducing a search facility making the database even more user friendly.

Our team spent the first efforts in entering practices that are registered to provide home testing services in each PCT in our new separate domiciliary practice listing. If you haven’t contacted us by now do so by clicking here.

We are almost ready to launch the standard listing in England of all practices, just another 2000 to go, so you won’t be able to check your listing yet, but we will contact you with a single email when it is launched if we have your email as an Opchat free registrant. If not click here to provide us with a contact. Failing that keep watching for the new listing, it will be apparent to you when live as it has a completely different look with the ability for those with webpage entries or enhanced entries to publicise their specialities and product and service information of brands currently advertised on either of our two sites. The public will be able to search for opticians in chosen areas providing particular professional services or stocked brands.

Once launched we will let you know how to take advantage of this unique and powerful marketing tool.

In November over 13,000 people looked for optical addresses in their areas and we know from our visit rate this is likely to be up by 50%. Our object is to drive patients to registered practices and with your help in 2011 we will grow the market. The mylocaloptician site is the number 1 ranked eyecare and eyewear public awareness site in the UK and we aim on your behalf to use our muscle in knowledge and PR to help improve the UK vision and awareness of opportunities in the UK that has not been evident for many years.

January 2011

Follow Mylocaloptician tweets

Follow Primary Health Net tweets

The social networking will prove invaluable in our first 2 month public awareness campaign, “Better Vision for the Elderly” launched 4th January in response to the appalling figure in the UK that almost 1 million elderly people suffer from sight loss that could be improved from visiting or being visited by an optician.

Eyeplan reports healthy financial results collecting over £1 million per month

January 2011

Eyeplan Ltd, the leading provider of monthly payment eye care schemes in the UK, has reported strong financial results in the year 2009/2010 and is now collecting in excess of £1 million in eye care fees per month.

The company works with independent optical practices in the UK and enables opticians to offer more value to their patients. In exchange for a small monthly fee, patients are eligible for a range of eye care benefits including free examinations, lower prices on spectacles and accidental damage cover.

Eyeplan’s growth has been twofold, with an increase in the number of practices adopting the Eyeplan Business Model and more patients choosing to join the scheme and receive greater value from their eye care.

“Our healthy growth shows that despite challenging economic times, many patients are still placing importance on receiving great value from their eye care provider,” said Chris Clemence, Commercial Director at Eyeplan Ltd. “We are delighted that our commitment to care, quality and value in optics has translated into strong growth and a successful year.”

January 2011

Optrafair 2011 promises to be the best yet with more exhibitors and seminar content than ever before, making the visitor experience even more enjoyable and informative. The highlights of 2011 include:

Optra Awards Frame Competition

This promises to be a spectacular display of the winners and runners up of the new frames available to you from the exhibitors, with the judging expertise from the Royal College of Art.

RCA Gallery

Students from the Royal College of Art have used their design skills yet again to give us an insight into their frames of the future and will be showcasing their ideas at the show. As a New element to 2011 one winner will have their design made up into a wearable frame.

CET Credits

By visiting Optrafair, you can be accredited with up to 6 CET points on completion of 3 dedicated poster trails. Each of the 3 trails contains 12 posters relevant to Optometry, Dispensing and Contact Lenses. Carrying 2 CET points per trail. Each of the posters will help you see new products or technology in situ. This accreditation proves how valuable Optrafair is in keeping the profession abreast of new developments in technology, diagnostics and optical products.

OT Live & OT Satellite

In order to deliver even more content to your Optrafair visit, 2 seminar areas are now available at the show. You will be able to collect CET points at the various seminars taking place within OT Live and there will be further seminars taking place in the smaller satellite area.

Contact Lens Pavilion

New to 2011 the Contact Lens Pavilion is designed to showcase the latest contact lens products and services all in one easy to reach area.
Fashion Quarter

The Fashion Quarter will once again be filled with designer frames, fashion, sport and children’s eyewear. The Fashion Quarter is also equipped with its own bar for a well earned refreshment break.

January 2011

Dr Cindy Tromans explained on BBC3 documentary “Ready Steady Drink” how dangerous to the eye, especially the cornea the extraordinary practice of vodka eyeballing could be. Apparently this new cult involves surrounding the eye and adnexa with vodka using a shot glass as a way of getting the alcoholic effects directly into the blood stream via the eye. As Dr Tromans pointed out, alcoholic scrubs which a vodka shot is, are used in surgery to remove surface body fluids and defence mechanisms before operations, but these are vital to the well being of the eye in day to day life.

Find out more from this link:

January 2011

This year’s conference is to be held at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool on the 20-21 March 2011.

The conference early bird deadline has been extended until Friday 28 January. All College members will receive an updated brochure through the post in the next week. The brochure gives you an overview of each conference session and learning objectives.

As well as practical workshops, there are also a series of seminars on offer covering specialist topics in a smaller, more informal session. Seminars include independent prescribing, an update on the management of difficult glaucoma cases, the diagnosis and management of uveitis, understanding presbyopia and CPD sessions on communications and promoting your practice. The full conference programme can be found at

January 2011

It has been reported by Novartis AG that they have recently received European approval for Lucentis to treat patients with certain forms of diabetic macular oedema. Lucentis led to an improvement in vision and vision related quality of life in patients with visual impairment due to this oedema. Lucentis is currently also marketed for the treatment of wet AMD.

The current standard of care for this condition is laser therapy, which can stabilize vision but not improve it. Lucentis showed faster, better and sustained gain in visual activity compared to dummy therapy or laser therapy as demonstrated by pivotal data from RESTORE and RESOLVE trials. Patients treated with Lucentis recovered their vision by the eighth day, on an average, after the first injection. The vision improvement was maintained at one year with some patients regaining the ability to carry out daily activities such as driving.

Data from the RESTORE study showed that at twelve months, patients treated with Lucentis gained an average of 6.8 letters in visual acuity compared to baseline. Similarly, patients treated with Lucentis plus laser therapy gained an average of 6.4 letters in visual acuity. On the contrary, laser-treated patients gained an average of 0.9 letters as measured on a standard ETDRS eye chart.

The RESOLVE study showed similar results at twelve months where Lucentis-treated patients gained an average of 10.3 letters in visual acuity compared to baseline. However, patients treated with dummy therapy, some of whom also received laser treatment, lost an average of 1.4 letters.

Further, an independent US study examining Lucentis for the treatment of diabetic oedema compared to laser therapy showed that at 12 months patients treated with Lucentis plus laser gained an average of 9 letters in visual acuity compared to baseline. However, patients treated with laser therapy gained an average of 3-4 letters.

Novartis had received a positive recommendation from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) for this indication in October 2010.

January 2011

TorFX one of our supporters on both PHN sites has repeated its earlier success of last year’s voting as the best foreign exchange company 2010 by being named the fastest growing company in the financial sector of the “Sunday Times Fast Track 100” and reaching the dizzy heights of 23rd in the full listing.

TorFX provide through both our sites the ability to transfer money in or out of the UK in a one off or regular payment basis, both for commercial and private transactions at a far better exchange rate and commission charge than high street banking... more information here

January 2011

Leading global eyewear brand Kirk Originals celebrates the official launch of the central London flagship store this coming January 27th. The new store located at 6 Conduit Street, on one of London’s finest shopping destinations, will provide a fun, fashion-focussed experience stemming from over 20 years of passionate eyewear design.

The flagship features a devoted ground floor of glasses and sunglasses with full eye examinations and fittings available in the basement. Breaking away from traditional style opticians, the store ambiance is stylish and contemporary taking inspiration from the latest KINETIC collections with huge in-store projections, and a front window display with a stunning showcase of blinking ‘lenticular’ eyes that change as shoppers move around.

The team of knowledgeable Kirk Originals staff offer a truly unique service to help clients find the perfect pair of glasses, including a dedicated in-store optician for eye examinations and prescription fittings by appointment.

The only place in the world where consumers can find the full Kirk Originals collection, each frame is displayed as a work of art enticing consumers to try on at their leisure. The store also stocks a selection of exciting independent eyewear brands entirely exclusive to the UK; including The Leisure Society, a brand new collection by Californian designer Shane Baum and Undostrial, a superbly colourful metallic range from Paris.

Jason Kirk, MD of Kirk Originals comments “We are extremely proud and excited about the new Kirk Originals flagship store. We wanted to create a fashion store that excites the shopper, provides a unique experience and ensures they leave with a pair of Kirk Originals glasses that makes them look and feel fabulous.“

Among the Celebrity fans who follow include Elton John, Oasis, U2, Samuel L. Jackson, Julia Roberts, Vic Reeves to name a few.

Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers invites livery and society members to acclaimed musical event of the year

January 2011

The 8th February sees the launch of the Musicians Benevolent Fund's 90th year celebrations

The year marks the musician’s Benevolent Fund's 90th Birthday and to celebrate they are holding a very special fundraising event on the 8 February at the Swiss Church, Covent Garden.

Featuring some of today's finest artists, A Date to Remember promises to be a unique evening of music, song, champagne and canapés, remembering the life of tenor Gervase Elwes whose unexpected death in 1921 caused his friends to set up the Musicians Benevolent Fund.

Guests will be treated to a performance of Gervase Elwes' signature song-cycle, Vaughan Williams' On Wenlock Edge, by John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Simon Lepper (piano) and the Badke Quartet. The audience will also hear Elwes' interpretation recorded in 1917 and reproduced on a 1928 EMG handmade gramophone.

Radio 3's In Tune presenter Sean Rafferty will host the evening

Contact SMC as early as possible 

The Optical Confederation and Eye Health Alliance call on Government to implement a more systematic and scientific method of assessing drivers' vision

January 2011

The combined forces of the two organisations are being mustered to inform and pressure the Coalition into reviewing the current laws on vision checks and requirements. The Driving and Vision Campaign calls for the current system of vision screening for professional drivers to be extended to all drivers and for the number plate test to be replaced.

The UK Government has until January 2011 to indicate how it will implement the European Directives on Driving Licences 2006/126/EC as amended by 2009/113/EC, and until January 2013 to comply with the Directives. A public consultation on the proposals is expected early in 2011.

The campaign also seeks to raise awareness among all drivers of the need to look after their eyesight and ensure they have good vision when driving. Another facet of the campaign is to provide practitioners with information and education on driving and vision based on published research and to prepare practitioners for growing interest in driving and vision from patients and the media.

They claim that practitioners will need to be prepared for increased interest and activity in this area as the campaign gathers momentum.

PHN looks forward to receiving more campaign messages that it will highlight on its educational site, helping to raise awareness of issues involved in drivers' vision and the Confederation's current campaign to around a thousand members of the public each day.

January 2011

The eight-page leaflet presents a series of common questions and answers to help patients decide if contact lenses are right for them, and which types to choose. Questions include:

• What are the benefits of contact lenses?
• Can anyone wear them?
• Are contact lenses easy to use?
• What type of lens is best for me?
• Which contact lenses are best for my lifestyle?
• When can children start wearing contact lenses?

‘Wearing contact lenses’ is the third in a series of useful BCLA leaflets for patients, aimed at encouraging healthy and safe contact lens wear and care.

‘Looking after contact lenses’ features common questions and answers on lens handling and hygiene, and the Dos and Don’ts of contact lens wear. ‘Buying contact lenses’ explains the law relating to contact lens sale and supply and provides advice on precautions wearers should take when buying lenses.

BCLA President, Shelly Bansal, said: “All BCLA patient leaflets are designed to supplement and reinforce advice given by contact lens practitioners. Our latest leaflet will be invaluable in promoting successful contact lens wear, and helping new wearers to make the right decisions about lens wear and care along with professional guidance from their contact lens practitioner.”

Kirk Originals unveil central London flagship store

TorFX were named the UK’s 23rd fastest growing private company in ‘The Sunday Times Fast Track 100’ in December and the fastest in the finance sector

Lucentis Gains EU Approval for diabetic macular oedema

College extends deadline for early bird reservations to Annual Conference & AGM

The Optrafair year has finally arrived and 2011 is set to be the most exciting expo year yet held

PHN and Mylocaloptician join the new social networking

“Find my Optician” gets a total upgrade

Ultravision celebrate “Two decades and beyond...”

Harrow Optical Services announces its presence for the first time at Optrafair 2011

Optical Express Sports Vision Clinic Opens on the High Street

RNIB sends information to QTVI’s about Better Vision for the Elderly Campaign

Bausch + Lomb Announces Global licensing agreement with UltraVision CLPL to Market KeraSoft® Contact Lenses

BCLA offers a chance to get involved in the future of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) – by putting your name forward for election to the BCLA Council before the closing date of 1 March

Vision Care for homeless people

Optometry Giving Sight donates £5k to vision care charity

Andrew Gasson to give Photography lecture at RSoM

GOC announces consultation document on fitness to practise rule changes

Ivins back on the eye scene in Scotland

UK Vision Strategy invites 3rd round EPIC applications

Leightons Opticians rolls out new web-based IT system

Polaroid donates ready readers for homeless charity

A new learning programme entitled “Advanced Communication” has been commissioned by NHS Education for Scotland (NES)

4x4 driving experience to be won at Optrafair

College of Optometrists publish disturbing news on increasing blindness by 2020

National Health Service Charges: no change on voucher values set in 2009

The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) launch leaflet entitled: ‘Wearing contact lenses’

One in the eye more dangerous than one down the hatch

The NHS Information centre has just released its latest figures on GOS activity in England

GOC announces new Chief Executive

Taunton MP Visits Practice to Check Out ACES

Halve your risk of sight loss by giving up on “No Smoking Day” 9th March 2011

PHN announces completion of marathon practice address re-entry

Colleges reiterate advice on Glaucoma detection to PCTs

Gasson lectures at Royal Society of Medicine Camera Club

BCLA President to serve a two-year term

An evening out on the company rewards Norville Opticians

Companies requested to send a company profile to PHN for Optrafair

Internet Inks
Primary Health Net