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Optical News - July/August/September 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.

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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.

Rodenstock strives for customer satisfaction

Dibble double anniversary

Advice on reduced sight test intervals needs to be clearer

Norville Opticians moves south

LOCSU backs calls for blood glucose testing in consulting rooms

Parliamentarians explore impact of NHS reforms on eye care

GOC Chief Exec visits Vision Care for Homeless People

Team GB products launched

Norville Opticians takes on Badminton People Chase Challenge

LOCSU announce funding for leadership skills

Ace prizes in Wimbledon eyewear promotion

BMA provides GPs with patient involvement toolkit

GOC report drop in student retention

GOC staff raise money for eye research

Read for RNIB day

LOC questions early sight tests

SILMO stepping up a gear

Graham Goddard of Norville retires

BCLA President to reveal all

New system for patient feedback from NHS Choices

Josie Barlow shortlisted for AOP awards

Trust teams up with Westfield Health

Optical Confederation responds to Which? findings

BCLA workshops announced

Hutchinson gains Royal Society of Medicine position

Which? finds failing Opticians

Allders Opticians launch new look practice

Major funding boost at Moorfields

Fact sheet from Action for Blind People

Moorfields research seek glaucoma sufferers for gene study

Coalition on fence over Right to Time to Train

GOC appoints new Council member

Optoms cycle for World Sight Day

College launch new patient information leaflets

Countdown to SILMO

Domiciliary Committee take stand on screening requirements

City University announces short courses

New way to assess visual fields

David Howell appointed Chief Exec of GCC

DoH confirms payments

FODO publishes Optics at a Glance

Stock and Pricing Webinar

Direct Debit open to all says OCUCO

NICE denies Novartis DMO drug

BCLA encourages submissions

LOCSU's latest Hot Brief

Mylocaloptician continues to receive high visit levels

Two more sponsors on the site

Bushnell Outdoor Products Announces the Formation of the Bushnell Eyewear Division

Now Ocuco customers can make charitable donations at till

Confederation reflects on first 18 months

ORBIS International's Flying Eye Hospital Brings Sight Saving Skills and Technology to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Students warned of imminent deadline for GOC registration

Silhouette appoint new marketing manager

OCUCO extend webinar lecture series

MACS named BCLA charity of the year

September 2011

New Customer Services Manager at Rodenstock, Katie Watts, is leading the way in improving levels of customer satisfaction.

With more than 14 years experience in customer services, Katie has implemented a restructure at the company’s UK headquarters, placing the focus firmly on the needs of practitioners.

According to Katie, the key is having the resources and experience to efficiently handle queries or orders, and resolve issues in just one phone call.

She explained: “We have doubled the number of people in the team and everyone is undertaking the FMO training programme to enhance their skills. Our aim is to have knowledgeable staff who are able to deal with calls swiftly and accurately, providing levels of customer service not seen before in the optics industry.”

Katie has already received a positive response to the changes. She said: “We have listened to feedback from customers and our own staff, and the restructure is a great start. Now we need to look at improving all our processes and procedures to make sure our customers’ experience reflects the quality of our products.”

September 2011

Dibble Optical, the Kent-based supplier of quality ophthalmic products, proudly celebrates its second anniversary at the end of September 2011. The company started trading in October 2009 distributing the highly respected Breitfeld & Schliekert (B&S) product range and soon afterwards added 3M LEAP optical adhesives to their already extensive portfolio. In 2011 Dibble complemented their portfolio with Miraflex paediatric frames, Progear sports eyewear, Rodenstock instruments and a new and used edging machinery range, cementing the company’s position as a true one-stop-optical-shop.

“Like most other companies in these challenging times we have experienced many highs and lows over the past two years but our strong product range, delivered by friendly and experienced staff, has made a significant impact,” says managing director Barry Dibble. “I am immensly proud of our achievements and I’d like to sincerely thank our loyal customer base for their support,” he added.

Moving into their third year, Dibble Optical remain extremely enthusiastic about the future and are currently planning their move into larger premises. When asked about further product developments Dibble mused, “Our current range is already one of the most comprehensive in the industry and I’m satisfied that we’re able to fulfil our customers needs at an extremely competitive price level. However we remain receptive to all new developments and will review any opportunities as and when they occur”.

September 2011

Last week we sampled a question on reduced interval appointments for GOS eye examinations being made and challenged. There have been some issues with downloading the memo of understanding we published on our site from the DH (although these have now been resolved) and we reprint the key paragraph here:

Measurement of intervals between sight tests
7. Practitioners have to make appointments to accommodate their patients' commitments and this may result in tests conducted slightly earlier than the intervals in the annex. To give some flexibility health authorities should not challenge claims for tests made within one month of these intervals.

John Hearnshaw from the PCC has made the point to us that the key words to be taken on board are: “to make appointments to accommodate their patients' commitments” and our comments made should not be accepted as the optometrist having “carte blanche” to hastening the time of the next sight test.

As John points out,” any contractor who decides to sight test a month early as a routine and at scale, to take advantage of the grace period, is likely to find all his or her sight test claims and the corresponding NHS vouchers and any associated domiciliary fee claims bounced by PCTs to his or her considerable financial disadvantage”

Occasional usage of the relaxed time is only relevant to cater for your patients needs and in these cases should not be bounced by PCTs.

September 2011

Norville Opticians which has practices across South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire has purchased a business to extend its patient area further down the eastern side of Bristol. This acquisition brings the number of practices owned by the company to 13.

They have purchased Roger Spooner Opticians: a privately owned, fully independent optical practice which has been based in Keynsham for the last 26 years. This follows the retirement of its owner Roger Spooner.

Norville Opticians Director Ian Richardson explained: “When we heard the business was available we decided to purchase it in order to extend our field of operation further down around Bristol. Spooner Opticians is a long established business, Roger Spooner is a well known figure and we are keen to extend the Norville Opticians ethos and continue to run it as a family owned concern. Also in line with our usual way of working we have appointed Beth Bracey as our managing Dispensing Optician. Beth has worked there for four years and knows the practice well.

Mr Richardson added: “We welcome the existing staff into our group and wish Beth the very best of luck in her new role. Apart from a change of name above the door I don’t think that existing patients will notice any change.”

LOCSU backs calls for blood glucose testing in consulting rooms

September 2011

Calls for optical practices to conduct blood glucose tests on potentially diabetic eye patients have been backed by the Local Optical Committee Support Unit. Researchers at Durham University last week claimed a simple finger prick test could be an extension to optometrists' current screening of people with known diabetes for eye disease.

September 2011

Commissioners must work closely with eye care clinicians, third sector groups and patients if the NHS reforms are to improve eye care, a leading group of experts from the vision sector told Parliament yesterday.

Against the backdrop of the evolving Health and Social Care Bill and the ‘Nicholson challenge’ to find £20bn of efficiency gains in the NHS in England by 2015, the experts were invited to a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eye health and Visual Impairment to explore how these NHS reforms will affect eye care. Those invited were: Dr Susan Blakeney (Optometric Adviser, College of Optometrists), Dr Waqaar Shah (a GP from London and a Royal College of General Practitioners leader in eyecare), Mr Richard Smith (Consultant Ophthalmologist and Royal College of Ophthalmologists Chair of the Quality and Standards Group), and Mr Steve Winyard (Head of Policy and Campaigns, RNIB).

The experts agreed that the reforms provide a unique opportunity to bring people together and to push for major changes in the way eye care is delivered. To make eye care a priority issue, it is important to make Commissioners aware of where improvements in service design can improve quality of care. Good value care, the experts agreed, relies on Commissioners involving patients, eye care clinicians and charities effectively in the design and delivery of services.
Another initiative that would enhance the patient experience was better IT connections. Electronic patient records, better connectivity between optometry and hospital eye services and electronic GOS forms would all make care more efficient, the experts said.

The APPG raised concerns about how the new NHS Commissioners will be co-ordinated. The experts praised the recent publication of guidance for Commissioners led by the UK Vision Strategy and a supporting joint initiative between the College of Optometrists and Royal College of Ophthalmologists to add further clinical detail.

The NHS reforms are also changing public health services. All experts agreed that there should be an indicator for eye health included in the Public Health Outcomes Framework, which the Government intends to publish in the autumn.

Stuart Holland, who leads public affairs at the College said: “it is great to see optometrists, ophthalmologists, GPs, the third sector and politicians all reaching agreement on how to make sure the NHS reforms benefit patients. The College will keep pushing these messages in our meetings with the people leading these reforms nationally and on the ground”.

GOC CEO has a day out with the homeless to emphasise their needs

September 2011

Visiting the practice situated in London’s Crisis Centre in Whitechapel, Samantha Peters (pictured) learnt about the charity which has tested the sight of 783 homeless people in the last 12 months.

Ms Peters commented: “The day I spent with the staff and patients at the clinic was fascinating. Vision Care for Homeless People is a truly special charity, which offers a ’visual lifeline’ for the homeless. Sight is a precious gift, the sense people most worry about losing, so it was a real pleasure to see the optical professions at the forefront. This is a fantastic opportunity for optometrists and dispensing opticians to offer their skills and expertise, and to really make a difference to people’s lives.”

September 2011

London 2012 launches largest ever range of Team GB and ParalympicsGB products.

With just under a year to go until the London 2012 Games, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games has today launched its new range of Team GB and ParalympicsGB products.

This is the first time in Olympic and Paralympic history supporters of the home nation will be able to get behind their team with such a huge range of licensed products.

The product range includes clothing such as T-shirts and sweatshirts, home wares such as cushions and bed sheet sets, children’s colouring-in books, soft toys, collectable jewellery and even scooters and bicycles.

This brand new range features a new addition to the team: Pride the Lion. Pride is Team GB’s mascot and will be available as a soft toy, on books, games, clothing, homewares and many more gifts and collectables.

The 2012 Team GB and ParalympicsGB teams will be the largest ever to represent Great Britain in any sporting event for over 100 years. The United Kingdom will have over 900 ambitious athletes at the peak of their performance, competing in more sports and disciplines than ever before.

Team GB 2012 Ambassador Jonathan Edwards commented: “Having seen firsthand at the 2000 Sydney Olympic games the impact that visible home support can have on an athlete, this new range is a great way for fans to show their support for Team GB.”

LOCOG Chief Executive Paul Deighton commented: “The Team GB and ParalympicsGB range is not only a great way to show your support but it also helps fund the staging of the Games. Our Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls have made the ultimate commitment to their sport, their team and their nation and now it’s our turn.”

Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said: “It is fantastic that fans will have a range of items to choose from to get behind Team GB – a brand that stands for commitment, dedication and excellence. There will be something for everyone so that every person will have the opportunity to feel included and give British athletes the unique advantage of visible home nation support.”

By Games time, an estimated 10,000 London 2012 merchandise items will be on sale in the UK. It is anticipated that the London 2012 merchandise programme will generate more than £1billion worth of sales, contributing more than £80m to the staging of the Games.

Read about Zoobugs Team GB products on our products page.

September 2011

Norville Opticians which has practices across South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire has entered two teams in the 2011 Badminton People Chase.

Organised by the Rotary Club of the South Cotswolds the fundraising Horseless Team Event takes place over the same course as the world famous three day equestrian event on the 11th Duke of Beaufort’s estate at Badminton in Gloucestershire.

The Norville Butters and the Norville Nags will be competing against other teams on Sunday 2 October and will be raising money for the Gloucestershire County Association for the Blind with whom the company has had a long association.

Anyone wishing to sponsor the teams can do so by going to

September 2011

It will be the first ever specialist leadership skills course for the optical sector. Designed by the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) with the Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC) at Cardiff University, the course earns 20 credits towards a post-graduate qualification.

The course includes:

• successful negotiation with individuals and groups
• how to lead development of eye care in your region
• assessing own leadership strengths against the LOCSU Leadership Competency Framework

LOCSU is also announcing that as part of the range of training support provided to Local and Regional Optical Committees, it will fund 11 places for LOC/ROC members. Places will be awarded via a confidential and anonymous short-listing process followed by interview which will involve leading practitioners and academics.

Deadline for funding applications is 7th October 2011.

September 2011

The winners have been announced in a Wimbledon Eyewear promotion to celebrate the 125th Wimbledon Championships.

Throughout the tennis tournament, Rodenstock supplied every 125th Wimbledon sunglasses order free of charge to practices, as well as running a prize draw for patients.

From 125 winners, customer Mick Barnes from Nicklins opticians in Guildford, Surrey, won the top prize of a Nintendo Wii and Wii Motion Plus Tennis Pack.

Second prize was a complete Wimbledon tennis kit from Prince and third prize Wimbledon lifestyle accessories from Links of London. Other winners received official Wimbledon towels and Slazenger giant tennis balls.

Damien Klevge, Frame Product Manager at Rodenstock, said: “Our Wimbledon promotion was a great success with 15 percent of stockists receiving at least one free pair of sunglasses and 125 customers winning official merchandise. Great Britain may not have won the championship, but we were pleased to reward customers with top prizes.”

Image shows Paul Davies from Nicklins opticians presenting winner Mick Barnes with Nintendo Wii

September 2011

The BMA’s Patient Liaison Group (PLG) believes that patient and public involvement (PPI), increasingly referred to as patient and public engagement (PPE), is key in achieving a health care system that is responsive to patient needs and values.

The NHS defines PPI as the active participation of citizens, users and carers and their representatives in the development of health care services and as partners in their own health care.

The Government’s widespread commitment to involving people in their own health care and in the commissioning, planning, designing, delivering and improvement of health care services has become a key element of policy.

This toolkit has been developed to provide guidance to General Practitioners (GPs) and Practice Managers on how to effectively involve patients and the public in healthcare planning and delivery.

BMA states Benefits for Patients are:

• Improved healthcare.
• High quality, patient focused services and care.
• Better informed access to care.
• Clarity of understanding of rights and responsibilities.
• Building strong relationships between patients and healthcare professionals.
• Clear information about care pathways.
• Ability to influence service delivery and future service provision.
• Involved in and an ability to influence commissioning decisions.

From our perspective perhaps of greater importance are the proclaimed Benefits for doctors

• A greater understanding of what their patients want, so they can focus on what matters.
• An opportunity to celebrate success in all aspects of patient experience and involvement.
• Improved reputation through recognition that patients will have a positive experience.
• Being the patient’s choice for care and treatment.
• Understanding of current problems in care delivery and services.
• Informed continuous improvement and re-design of services.
• Delivering the NHS values.
• Enabling public accountability.
• Efficient use of resources.
• Contributions to effective clinical governance.
• Service appropriateness.

September 2011

The General Optical Council (GOC) has removed 217 students from its registers for failing to renew their registration for 2011-12.

The number represents a significant drop in the number of student optometrists and dispensing opticians failing to meet the 31 August late application deadline. At the same time last year, the GOC removed 386 students from the registers.

GOC chief executive and registrar Samantha Peters was pleased with this year’s positive response to this deadline: “We are delighted that so many more students renewed their registration on time this year. However, the impact for those who have been removed from the registers is serious. Unregistered students are now unable to continue their course until they have restored to the registers – at extra cost. They cannot sit exams, nor take part in clinical training, and we will continue to work closely with all training institutions to ensure that only registered students are taking part in their courses.”

This year, 97.5 per cent of students used the GOC’s new online system to complete the renewals process. According to a recent GOC survey, 88 per cent of students using MyGOC found the process ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’, and 92 per cent completed their retention in under ten minutes.

The GOC is now sending lists of those who have been removed to the relevant training providers and examining bodies.

Students who have been removed and intend to continue with their course must apply to have their name restored to the registers before the new term starts. To do this, they must submit a completed restoration form, and pay a total of £40 – double the basic £20 retention fee. This must be done by post, and cannot be completed online. Application forms and further information are available from the GOC website, The registration team can also be contacted on 020 7580 3898 (option 1) or email

This Autumn, the GOC will hold a series of roadshows for first year students enrolled on every GOC-approved course in optometry and dispensing optics. GOC staff will be highlighting the importance of student registration, and explaining the Council’s work.

September 2011

A team of General Optical Council (GOC) staff are hoping to raise thousands of pounds for research into sight-threatening conditions when they embark on Fight for Sight’s 15 mile Carrots Nightwalk on 23 September.

The money raised will contribute towards Fight for Sight’s funding of medical research into sight-threatening conditions. Fight for Sight funding has helped to save the sight of premature babies, establish the UK Corneal Transplant Service enabling over 48,000 transplants, and support the world’s first gene therapy clinical trial for inherited retinal disease.

Chief executive and registrar Samantha Peters said: “For the vast majority of people, sight is the sense they fear losing the most. Not all sight loss is currently preventable, which is why Fight for Sight’s research funding is so important to help find new ways of diagnosing, preventing and treating eye conditions.

“We’re all looking forward to seeing the sights of London at night, but more importantly we’ll be raising money to help people save their sight.”

You can sponsor the GOC team by visiting

September 2011

Book lovers all over the UK, are being encouraged by the RNIB to take part in a fund raising event either by having fun hosting or taking part in a fundraising event for Read for RNIB Day.

Every day 100 people in the UK start losing their sight. When you lose your sight, you lose the ability to read the written word. It's devastating. So on 14th October, please join RNIB in helping people find their lives again through reading. Events will run throughout October.

There are so many ways to get involved - with your school, your workmates, your book group or sports club. Register now and the RNIB will send you a kit with all you need.

September 2011

In the LOC forum a question has arisen from a Secretary of an LOC querying whether the one month leeway to accommodate patients request for a sight test ahead of their next due date still prevails.

We thought it worth replicating the response for all practitioners given its importance which came from Geoff Roberson the Professional Advisor for the AOP, in which he confirmed the ability for practices to book when requested for appointments a time within one month ahead of the next allowable date.

The information is validated by a letter sent by Jerry Read in January 02 (the then Head of General Ophthalmic Services at the DH) to all PCTs. The letter is available by clicking here. We will retain the document for future use in the PHN LOC pages.

September 2011

Galvanising creativity, stimulating the imagination, facilitating visits by professionals, SILMO boasts an action packed programme with a variety of events complementing an impressive roster of exhibitors from the following sectors: sunglasses and optical frames, lenses, contact lenses, technological equipment and store design and layout.


• SILMO ACADEMY (meeting centre hall 5): a major symposium intended for eyewear professionals wishing to enhance their knowledge; topics to be addressed at this year’s event: children’s vision, reading and myopia.

• SILMO MERCHANDISING WORKSHOP (hall 6 - D124): Specialist merchandising support for all opticians wishing to generate more visitors to their store and make optimal use of their sales area.

• SILMO TRENDS VIEW: a trends lookbook presented in the form of an interactive digital magazine which can be viewed on a giant screen and on the exhibition website.

• SILMO D’OR awards (entrance to hall 6): the work of all those competing for the profession’s international awards will be on display before the awards ceremony.

• SILMO TV (hall 6 – D126): all the news from the profession with lively debates and interviews broadcast live by Acuité.

• SILMO LOW VISION (hall 5 – L28): information and awareness raising on sight impairment.

• SILMO OPTIC DATING (hall 6 – D 47): an original approach to hiring new staff based on the speed dating principle.

• SILMO “FRENCH EXCELLENCE” (hall 6 – E 121): promotion of the French optics and eyewear sector, featuring the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOF – Best craftspeople in France) and Alutec (technological eyewear association).

• SILMO STAR FOR A DAY (hall 6 – B 105): win a photoshoot with a fashion photographer (you will be automatically entered when you register for your badge at

Not forgetting, of course, all the events arranged by exhibitors which should be checked on a daily basis throughout the exhibition.

September 2011

Well time stops for no one even for members of Norville’s long serving team retirement time comes around, inevitably some knowledge is un-replaceable especially that accumulated over 45 years. So with Graham Goddard having reached that mark was bid farewell in fitting style!

Norville’s Gloucester Member of Parliament Richard Graham dropped by to mark the occasion. (Frank, Norville's MD in particular thought the “double Graham” link a nice coincidence).

But what is hugely significant is the 45 years Graham has spent with Norville since he left school seemingly to some so far back in September 1966. So much has changed in optics over that time. Graham and many like him of his generation often the “experts” practices rely on for sound Rx advice are one by one retiring across the industry.

Richard Graham Gloucester’s charismatic MP on the right went on record saying he would like it noted he was the one handing over the brown envelope not the other way around!

September 2011

British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) President, Shelly Bansal, will share revelations from the Needs, Symptoms, Incidence, Global Eye Health Trends (NSIGHT) study* at the annual BCLA Presidential Address in London next month.

The evening CET event will be held at the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) on Wednesday 14 September, and is free for BCLA members to attend along with one guest each. For the first time, members are also invited to join the President for dinner afterwards at the RSM, at a cost of £40 per head.

In his lecture, entitled ‘Black holes, revelations and expectations: an NSIGHT’, Shelly will review this recent global study, which surveyed 3,800 vision corrected patients worldwide on a variety of issues, including patient satisfaction with contact lens use and trends in application. He will then look at the reasons for contact lens discontinuation, and how practitioners can better use communication to ensure contact lens success and patient loyalty. The lecture is approved for one general CET point.

Shelly commented: “I hope to see as many members and their guests as possible at this, my second Presidential Address, and look forward to sharing some revealing facts and stats. I am also delighted to this year invite members to join me, and colleagues on the BCLA staff and Council, to continue discussing the issues raised during the evening whilst relaxing over dinner.”

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. Spaces for the dinner afterwards are limited, so please register early.

* The NSIGHT study, commissioned by Bausch + Lomb, was conducted by an independent market research firm, Market Probe: Europe.

September 2011

NHS Choices is launching a system in September to enable opticians to showcase their service and obtain patient feedback. Members of the public will be able to leave feedback on opticians and read other patients' experiences of practices - helping them decide where to access services.

A similar but nationwide service is also available to all the public through the website where patients can rate their optician and his practice on line once a year. Practitioners are also encouraged to market their specialities on line to thousands of eye care aware members of the public each week visiting the site.

September 2011

Bedfordshire based contact lens manufacturer, UltraVision, is delighted to announce Josie Barlow SMC (Tech) FBDO CL has been shortlisted for the AOP Awards 2011 – Supplier of the Year. Online voting is open until 23rd October 2011.

Clinical Services Advisor, Josie, has been with UltraVision CLPL for five years and in that time her dedication has given countless patients the option of wearing contact lenses by instilling confidence so that practitioners are encouraged to tackle more complex prescriptions independently. Josie has enabled many practitioners to make specialist contact lens fitting an integral part of their business, helping them secure their practice in this very competitive market.

To vote for Josie to win the Suppliers Award please visit and click on the link where you can read testimonials from a handful of Josie’s happy customers and also find the link to the voting page. The voting process is very simple and there is no registration required. Further information regarding the AOP Awards can be found be visiting

September 2011

Westfield Health and national sight charity, the Eyecare Trust are to team up for a joint public eye health campaign designed to highlight motorists' legal obligation to ensure their vision is roadworthy and raise awareness of new driving eyesight.


Optical Confederation replies to Which?’s take on findings

August 2011

The Optical Confederation has followed the College in responding to the apparent findings of failing optometrists in providing correct advice in a number of the 40 mystery visits made by its researchers and reviewed by a secret panel.

In essence they explain the education, CPD and regulatory process under the GOC of the Optometrist and go on to point out that even in the Which? report 92% of respondents agreed that their last visit was thorough.

They continue to say "All practicing optometrists are required by law to keep their skills and knowledge up to date to allow them to continue to practise. Optometrists have a statutory duty to carry out whatever tests the optometrist feels are necessary to detect signs of injury, disease or abnormality and, like all clinicians, must rely on their own professional judgement, taking each patient on a case-by-case basis. For this reason, there cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to the sight test. As eye health professionals, optometrists are trained to assess patient needs and refer when necessary to other medical practitioners”.

Regarding the implication of overprescribing that Which? has hinted at the Confederation makes the following point, “Patients who are tested at a particular practice are under no obligation to buy spectacles from that practice and must be issued with their prescription upon request, thus allowing the patient to buy their spectacles anywhere. So, for the practitioner, prescribing spectacles does not necessarily mean a sale. When a patient buys spectacles from a practice, they benefit from the expertise of a dispensing optician who carries out a very specific fitting service.”

August 2011

Workshops have proved to be an ideal opportunity to get some real hands-on experience, advice and guidance from an industry expert. The best part is that they are free for full BCLA members and approved for 4 CL CET points!

Members can offer the opportunity to a friend or colleague who may wish to attend by forwarding this message onto them. Non members may attend at a cost of £70. However, if they decide to take out full BCLA membership within one month of the workshop taking place - they will receive a refund of £70.

Here’s a list for Octobers workshops:

It's not hard to fit RGPs: a basic guide to RGP fitting and design.

Presenter: Keith Tempany, Location: Broadstone, Dorset. Date: 11 October 2011

Successful keratoconus fittng in general practice

Presenter: Neil Cox, Location: BCLA office, London, Date: 13 October 2011

Workshop on dry eyes

Presenter: Susan Bowers, Location: BCLA office, London Date: 14 October 2011

Basic soft toric contact lens fitting

Presenter: Keith Cavaye, Location: BCLA office, London, Date: 18 October 2011

Anterior segment OCT

Presenter: Nick Rumney, Location: BCLA office, London Date: 19 October 2011

Fitting high DK scleral/limbal RGPs and silicone hybrids

Presenter: Nigel Burnett Hodd , Location: N F Burnett Hodd Optometrists, London Date: 19 October 2011

It's not hard to fit RGPs: a basic guide to RGP fitting and design

Presenter: Keith Tempany, Location: BCLA office, London Date: 20 October 2011

Alive and kicking - fitting gas permeable lenses in 2011

Presenter: David Burghardt, Location: David Burghardt Vision Care, Lincoln Date: 20 October 2011

How to take the perfect photograph

Presenter: Brian Tompkins, Location: Tompkins, Knight & Son Optometrists, Northampton Date: 25 October 2011

August 2011

Bob Hutchinson (one of PHN’s Directors) has been elected to the Council of General Practice with Primary Health Care Section of the Royal Society of Medicine. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine some 3 years ago.

The section has a membership of over 12,000 GPs and other medical specialists and educationalists.

Hutchinson, as many will be aware, has a formidable track record within Optics both commercially and politically with senior offices being held in FODO, The College and the GOC. Along with his PHN colleagues he has also worked closely in partnership with LOCSU and many LOCs.

“I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to be involved with yet another facet of Primary Care and intend to use my position on the Council to highlight the close proximity of our professions in the future development of primary care in the UK. Improving communications between the professions, sharing appropriate CPD and playing a key role in understanding and disseminating information concerning future commissioning discussions will play a major part of my interaction with this Council, the largest within the RSOM. I hope that my colleagues in Optics will make use of the knowledge I aim to gain and share in future years and seize the chance of a closer working relationship with GPs in the future.”

“WHICH” finds some Opticians are failing

August 2011

In a recent August publication WHICH? consumer magazine in an undercover report finds a third of opticians are failing to provide thorough examinations and accurate prescriptions to their customers.

WHICH? sent six researchers, two with complex eye problems, to 40 optometrists from large and small chains as well as some small independents and a panel of 3 experts rated their treatment as poor or very poor.

The results were mixed with all categories large medium and small businesses receiving a range of good to poor comments. Rayner Opticians was the only one visit to receive an “excellent” review.

Around 12% of visits by researchers felt under some pressure to purchase new spectacles which they considered unwarranted.

Watery and Dry Eye conditions WHICH? said were particularly poorly dealt with one optician suggesting it was an age thing and another saying nothing could be done, which WHICH? contends is not true.

The journal asks the question, 'Where does the responsibility for ensuring that consumers get a good service, no matter what branch they go into, lie?
They contend that 'the regulator, the General Optical Council, doesn't have the power to inspect, so it's up to companies to regulate themselves or for consumers to complain and arguably, local primary care trusts should also monitor optical services as they commission them, but one has to wonder how much of a priority that will be in cash-strapped times.'

WHICH? intends to contact the companies to ask them about how they ensure quality and, what action they plan to take as a result of Which?'s investigation.

The College of Optometrists responds:

"All optometrists are highly trained, postgraduate professionals who have to adhere to the clear guidelines for professional conduct that are in place. All practising optometrists are required by law to keep their skills and knowledge up to date to allow them to continue to practise. Optometrists have a statutory duty to carry out whatever tests the optometrist feels are necessary to detect signs of injury, disease or abnormality and, like all clinicians, must rely on their own professional judgement, taking each patient on a case-by-case basis. For this reason, there cannot be a “one size fits all” approach to the eye examination.

We are surprised with the findings of this report, but the issues raised by Which? must be viewed in context: Of some 20 million+ eye tests carried out in the last year, only a small proportion were the subject of complaint to the sector’s regulator, the General Optical Council (0.0007%). The Which? report also highlights that 92% of members thought their optician was thorough on their last visit. The whole sector is committed to high standards and expects all optometrists to keep their knowledge and skills up to date so they can give the best possible care to their patients."

August 2011

Allders Opticians in Letchworth is the group’s first branch to receive a modern makeover based on the successful Rodenstock Concept Shop, proven to boost turnover.

Concept Shops were developed by Rodenstock to provide an optimum environment for consulting and customer service. The entire design, from materials to layout, represents high-quality, confidence and style.

The modernisation of the Letchworth practice offers patients an enhanced and welcoming experience, securing loyalty and increasing spend.

The redesign allows the branch to attractively present Rodenstock frames and lenses, as well as integrate other high-quality brands like Porsche Design and Wimbledon.

The sophisticated, glass-fronted spectacle cabinets with sliding doors and mirrors create intrigue and reflect the premium products on display. Customers are free to try on frames and find a style to suit them in a relaxed atmosphere.

Opticians from the Rodenstock group, who have already implemented the Concept Shop design, report 25% growth within the first year and increased sales from premium ranges.

Allders Opticians managing director, Ron Mulholland, said: “It is important that we continue to offer customers a superior and more personalised experience than they would receive from national chains. Our new look, which combines modern design with timeless elegance, will help us achieve that goal.

“Concept Shops have a proven track record of increasing turnover, and this is a sure investment in the future of our independent practices.”

Allders Opticians, owned by Rodenstock, consists of 14 branches throughout Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. The Bedford practice is next in line for a refit, later in the year.

August 2011

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology have received a major funding boost for eye research from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), which has today announced the allocation of £800 million of government funding to biomedical research centres and units across the UK.

The joint biomedical research centre (BRC) for ophthalmology, based at Moorfields and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, has been awarded £26.5 million over five years, starting on 1 April 2012.

This sum is significantly higher than was anticipated and followed an application to the Department of Health earlier this summer, which was assessed by an international selection panel.

“We are delighted to have been awarded NIHR biomedical research centre designation,” say Moorfields’ director of research and development and director of the BRC Professor Peng Tee Khaw and director of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology Professor Phil Luthert.

“We know from experience that eye research can really change lives and this substantial investment will allow us rapidly to develop and deliver more life-changing treatments for our patients.”

“Research sits at the heart of what Moorfields is all about, and will become ever more important as the population ages and eye disease becomes more prevalent,” adds Moorfields’ chief executive John Pelly. “This generous NIHR support is vital acknowledgement of the difference we can make to people’s lives and will help us to ensure that Moorfields remains where it should be – at the forefront of developments in eye care.”

August 2011

Action for Blind People has produced fact sheet to offer advice on approaching blind people to help them get around. We print the full version here:


Guiding people who are blind or partially sighted

There are an estimated two million people in the UK who are blind or partially sighted. Public or unfamiliar places can sometimes prove challenging for visually impaired people. Although many can and do find their way around on their own, on occasion, some will require assistance. The following guidelines should be used when approaching and guiding blind or partially sighted people.

Offering help
A blind or partially sighted person may well be unaware of you as you approach, so say hello before you touch them in any way. Ask politely if they require assistance - remember, not all blind and partially sighted people need help getting around! If help is needed, ask where they would like to go.

Setting off
Offer your arm for the blind or partially sighted person to hold just above the elbow. Keep your guiding arm at your side. Make sure that you are both facing in the same direction and set off, remembering not to walk too slowly or too fast. The person you are guiding will walk half a step behind you and will be able to detect any body movements of yours that indicate a turn or a step. Some visually impaired people prefer to put their hand on the shoulder of the person guiding them. The best grip is the one that the person being guided is most comfortable with. If you are unsure what grip the person you are guiding prefers, ask them.

Steps and stairs
As you approach a step or a stair, pause and say “step up”, or “step down”. When you reach level ground again take a step forwards, then pause to give the person you are guiding time to complete the last step. If there is a handrail or banister, say so. Some visually impaired people prefer to use their foot to feel where steps begin and end.

Single file
In a busy crowd, or a confined space, you may need to walk in single file. Move your arm around to the middle of your back, keeping it straight. The person you are guiding will move in behind you, extending their own arm to allow enough distance to walk comfortably. When the need to walk in single file is over, move your arm back to its original position and continue to walk half a step ahead.

Parting company
When the journey is over make sure the blind or partially sighted person knows where they are, the direction in which they are facing and where they should go next. When you leave them, remember to say that you are going so that the visually impaired person is not left talking to him or herself.

General points
- Take extra care when guiding through crowds or traffic.
- Use pedestrian crossings wherever possible.
- Keep your eyes open for potential hazards such as parked cars, kerbs, overhanging bushes, or rubbish bins and give the person you are guiding plenty of warning.
- Don’t raise your voice when speaking to a blind or partially sighted person. Loss of sight does not necessarily mean loss of hearing.
- Help a visually impaired person into a car by placing one of their hands on the door and one on the edge of the roof so that they can guide themselves in safely.
- Let the person you are guiding know of any possible aid to mobility, such as guide rails, especially on buses or trains.
- Never distract a working guide dog by stroking, feeding or calling it.
- If you see a guide dog user

August 2011

Do you have glaucoma? Do you also have a brother or sister with glaucoma? If the answer is yes or you know of patients or friends who fit the bill then Moorfields is looking for them.

A research team at Moorfields Eye Hospital is recruiting siblings who both have glaucoma to look into the genetics of the disease. If you would both like to participate or can put others in touch so they can attend a one off study visit and donating a blood sample, please contact Dr Lascaratos on 0207 566 2117.

August 2011

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has recently published its decision in the Right to Train, after a review which received 147 interested stakeholders, of whom the Optical Confederation was one.

In the light of views received the Government has decided to defer any extension to the Right to Train legislation beyond that which has affected companies with 250+ employees since April 2010. The previous Government had planned to include all employees as from April 2011.

The Confederation expressed strong views that the Right should not be extended and indeed should either be rescinded for 250+ employee companies or should become non active for those companies who could demonstrate a good training record, as is true with all employers within Optics.

Their argument expressed in their reply document said, ”We would argue that the right to time off for training is a crude mechanism to attempt to improve the skills base of the economy, which provides negligible benefit in our sector (or we would argue across similar industries). In addition, we feel that the market mechanism encourages employers (of all sizes) to train their staff, or risk losing good people to other organisations.”

As you would imagine arguments from both sides were highly polarized and BIS had to balance the need for a better skilled workforce whilst wishing in these austere times to reduce the burdens on industry.

They have thus decided to retain the status quo for 250+ employed industries but to ring fence any further legislation whilst aiming to look a more evidence based information in the future which would demonstrate the level of investment already shown by employers. The Confederation will be disappointed that the scheme has not been modified to take into account its members good training record but will be pleased that its smaller participants will not have to suffer the same burdens.

Mark Nevin speaking on behalf of the Optical Confederation said ‘The competitive nature of optics encourages companies of all sizes to train their staff, or risk losing good people to other organisations. We expressed our view that extending the ‘time out for training’ legislation to smaller firms would have imposed an additional and unnecessary burden on optical businesses that are already under pressure in the current economic climate. We are delighted that the Government has taken these views on board, and delayed the extension of this legislation to the SME sector.’

August 2011

The General Optical Council (GOC) has appointed Selina Ullah as its new lay member of Council.

Selina has significant senior experience of working with stakeholders on community cohesion, diversity and counter-terrorism. She has worked in a variety of settings including national and local government; think tanks; charitable foundations; NGOs, law enforcement; ethnically and religious diverse communities; and women and children.

GOC Chair Anna Bradley welcomed the announcement: “We are delighted that Selina will be joining the Council. She brings to the GOC extensive experience of working with a wide range of stakeholders in her previous roles. She will be a valuable asset for the Council and we look forward to working together.”
Selina commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity for me, and an incredibly interesting time for healthcare regulation as a whole. I hope to contribute a new perspective to policy formation, championing the voices of those who are directly affected by GOC decisions.”

Selina is currently working as a consultant and community advisor. Until July 2011, she was Assistant Director – Safer and Stronger Communities, at Bradford Metropolitan District Council. Her voluntary posts include being a founder member of the Bradford Muslim Women’s Council. She is a founding member and director of an international organisation which focuses on developing inter-cultural leaders and dialogue. Selina is also a Council member at the University of Bradford, and Chair of the Keighley Association for Women and Children.

Selina was appointed by the Appointments Commission to fill the vacancy on the GOC’s 12-member Council.

August 2011

A group of optometry students are set to complete a World Sight Day Challenge fundraising first by cycling from Glasgow to Cardiff. The ‘Optoms Cycling for Sight’ sponsored bike ride will link UK optometry departments across 10 days, starting at Glasgow Caledonian University on 13th September before making stops at Bradford, Manchester, Aston, Anglia, City and finishing at Cardiff University on 23rd September. The initiative has being initiated by Bradford University students Jessica MacIsaac, Fares Hatoum and Abubakr Patel. Jessica, Optometry Today Student Representative, comments: “Optoms Cycling for Sight aims to get all optometry students as a united force behind the World Sight Day Challenge, as we can play a critical role in helping to provide access to eye care in the developing world”. Jessica Explains

“Hopefully the success of this will lead to annual event where we can continue to make a difference to the 670 million people who are blind or vision impaired simply because they do not have access to an eye examination and a pair of spectacles.”

The World Sight Day Challenge is a global fundraising campaign coordinated by Optometry Giving Sight and jointly implemented with Vision Aid Overseas in the UK. It is designed to raise funds for projects that provide vision care, local training and infrastructure support for people who are blind or vision impaired due to uncorrected refractive error – simply the need for an eye exam and a pair of glasses.

There are so far three confirmed cyclists who will be riding between all 7 mainland UK Optometry Departments and others who will join them along the way. The event is not exclusive to optometry students, and keen cyclists and novices alike are being encouraged to take part and help raise sponsorship.

Each university’s student optics society will be hosting a World Sight Day Challenge event on the day cyclists are scheduled to arrive at the respective campus, and Jessica, Fares and Abubakr are encouraging all optometry students to get involved with fundraising. They are hoping to secure industry sponsors, and already have support from Louis Stone Optical and Yorkshire Optical.

To sponsor the 10-day Challenge visit

For more information, visit the event's Facebook page on:

August 2011

As part of the College’s ongoing work to raise the profile of eye health and ensure that the public see optometrists as their first port of call if they have a problem with their eyes, the College are piloting a new series of patient information leaflets.

The leaflets are designed to support College members by helping them to provide practical advice and guidance to their patients. The leaflets will complement the information provided to patients during consultation and will also be available to be read/downloaded online.

Following member feedback, the initial leaflets are available covering flashes and floaters, cataract, Age Related Macular Degeneration and blepharitis/eye lid conditions, as these were the most requested topics. All four leaflets have been approved by the Plain English Campaign. Members can download and order printed copies of the leaflets online here:
There is an ability to have these leaflets branded with your own logo and business name.

Members of the public can also view the leaflets on the College’s consumer website

August 2011

Only seven weeks to go to this years Silmo exhibition starting Thursday 29th September at the Paris Parc des Expositions at Paris Nord Villepinte. The four day event was highly acclaimed last year by all who exhibited. Exhibitors are invited to send information about their products and services to . UK professionals are encouraged to experience a professionally run exhibition with companies (even some from UK) who do not show at Optrafair.

August 2011

The AOP on Silks advice has forced a stand down from a legal threat from 7 PCTs on the insistence of the use of electronic VFS equipment. (This followed an AOP survey of its members. Results recently published in Optometry Today (not released to PHN), showed that only a minority of domiciliary practitioner respondents had access to a portable threshold controlled electronic visual field analyser (eVFA) and that less than 1% of these regularly made use of one.)

From this, it was clear that it is not currently peer practice to possess or use a portable eVFA in a domiciliary setting and that this should not be a requirement for holding an NHS domiciliary sight testing contract.

On this evidence and the withdrawal of PCT eVFA requirements, the Joint Domiciliary committee, one of a number under the Optical Confederation banner has produced new advice.

It was first considered necessary to investigate and collect the evidence of the need for electronic or manual VFS equipment during every domiciliary examination. However this has been shelved by the Domiciliary committee following the capitulation by the litigious PCTs concerned and the evidence provided by the AOP survey.

The DEC however still considers there is a need for evidence on patients’ ability to comply with the different forms of Visual Fields Screeners.

In a statement now published by the DEC it offers the following advice:

In light of the developments outlined above, the view of the DEC remains that a means of testing visual fields, which produces recordable results (for example the Damato Campimeter) in addition to confrontation targets, should be routinely available for all patients, although this may be manual or electronic.

The DEC will keep this issue under review and will update its position should new evidence be published or should there be an alteration to peer practice.

Full DEC text can be downloaded here

August 2011

City University London has announced that it will be introducing new one-day short courses for optometrists in order to meet the increasing demand for enhanced service delivery in specific areas related to referral management, acute red eye management, paediatric optometry and low vision services.
The first round of courses will run later in the year with further dates to be announced for 2012.

Professor Chris Hull, Head of Optometry at City University London said: "The introduction of the courses corresponds with national initiatives that are placing increased focus on optometrists improving their skills in specific areas of service delivery. In particular, there is growing demand for optometrists to improve their proficiency in the areas of referral refinement, acute red eye management, paediatric optometry and low vision services."

City University London has worked closely with Essex Primary Eyecare (service provider to Essex Local Optical Committee) and other key stakeholders to ensure that the courses meet the requirements of current models of care. The courses will also be aligned to the new Higher Qualifications Framework developed by the College of Optometrists.

Taught by specialist optometrists, orthoptists and ophthalmologists, the courses will combine a traditional educational approach of lectures, small-group case-based discussions and hands-on practical sessions, which will be augmented by online learning materials.

The courses will initially be used to accredit optometrists for enhanced services on behalf of Essex LOC.

Professor Chris Hull said: "City University London has a long-standing reputation for running high quality and highly relevant modular postgraduate programmes in clinical optometry and was the first University in the UK to provide training in therapeutic prescribing. The introduction of these courses continues the tradition of the University providing courses that meet the changing demands of the Optometry profession."

Anyone interested in attending these courses visit

August 2011

A new fast, practice based VEP can overcome problems with traditional Visual Field Testing is reported in PR news this week.

A new visual evoked potential method has been developed to objectively assess visual field defects in patients with ocular and/or neurological conditions. The research team of Kenneth Ciuffreda, OD, PhD, Diana Ludlam and Naveen Yadav at the SUNY State College of Optometry, Department of Vision Sciences (New York, NY) presented a scientific paper called "Effect of Different Stimulus Configurations on the Visually Evoked Potential (VEP)" at the 2011 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting.

The purpose of the study was to assess the effect of different stimuli on VEP results, with the future goal of using the method as an objective form of visual field testing.

Traditionally, visual field tests consist of a patient looking into the center of a concave dome and pressing a button when they see a flash of light. This is meant to help map the patient's peripheral and central vision. However, the visual field test is a subjective exam because it requires the patient to understand the test instructions and fully cooperate to obtain accurate results. The process may be difficult and time consuming for some patients, often leading to poor repeatability and reliability. It is especially difficult for special patient populations such as those with cognitive impairments or attention deficits like Alzheimer's, ADHD, and acquired brain injury (ABI). Dr. Ciuffreda, a Distinguished Teaching Professor at SUNY and an optometrist says, "I rarely rely on the first visual field test I give a patient. I need to see the results repeated at least once to make sure that the patient fully understood what they were supposed to do, and that they were paying attention during the entire duration of the test."

The new VEP method overcomes many of the downfalls of traditional visual field testing. The device, called the Diopsys® NOVA VEP Vision Testing System, is an objective, rapid, repeatable and non-invasive method to quantify the integrity and functionality of the retina and visual pathway. Patients simply watch a monitor that uses a black and white pattern that appears to "flip" back and forth to stimulate the vision system. Patients do not have to verbally respond nor press any buttons, which helps the doctor to be more confident in the results. Testing may take as little as five minutes, and results may be used to correlate with other conventional vision tests.

"This VEP technique also shows promise for assessing and documenting the visual status of troops pre- and post deployment. Bomb blasts from IED's frequently cause injuries to the brain resulting in mild to severe cognitive impairment. These impairments often preclude the use of other testing methods as poor patient response renders certain tests ineffectual," says Dr. Ciuffreda.

VEP vision testing covers a wide range of visual and neurological conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, and visual problems associated with stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The results of this study will be used to develop specific protocols for objectively assessing residual visual field functionality in ocular and neurological conditions, as well as the disorders already mentioned.

August 2011

David Howell has been appointed chief executive and registrar of the General Chiropractic Council (GCC). He will leave his post as General Optical Council (GOC) director of regulatory services on 1 November 2011.

He joined the GOC as director of fitness to practice and then became the first director of the new Regulatory Services department. GOC chief executive and registrar Samantha Peters said: “We congratulate David on his appointment and wish him well for the future. His achievements at the GOC are significant and will stand us in great stead for years to come.

“He oversaw the successful launch of the MyGOC online retention system and the development of new rules to speed up the fitness to practice process. He also led his team in pursuing breaches of the Opticians Act. “We will be extremely sad to see him leave and will miss him both personally and professionally. I’m sure he will make a tremendous impact at the GCC.”

David Howell said: “I am sad to be leaving the GOC but feel extremely confident about its direction of travel and future success. The thing I have most enjoyed is working with such an outstanding group of people, who I will long remember.” Howell will remain in post until 1 November. The GOC will announce its plans to recruit a replacement soon.

August 2011

In a letter to all PCTs the DH states that following consultations with representatives of the professions, the Secretary of State has agreed that payments should be made in respect of continuing education and training undertaken by optometrists and ophthalmic medical practitioners without another medical appointment (i.e. who do no other remunerative work but the testing of sight).

The payment for 2010 is £491. Payments will be made retrospectively in respect of claims made by optometrists and ophthalmic medical practitioners relating to CET training undertaken during the year from 1 January to 31 December 2010.

This year the period during which optometrists and ophthalmic medical practitioners may make their claims will be 1 August – 30 November 2011.
Payments this year should be made in accordance with The General Ophthalmic Services Contracts (Continuing Education and Training Allowance) Payment Directions 2011 and the attached guidance can be downloaded here.

The full contents of the letter can be viewed at: we also have the payment instructions here to download below:

Pre-registration supervisors grant

From 1 April 2011 the allowance paid to supervisors of pre-registration trainees has increased to £3,166. Claims from trainers taking on pre-registration trainees on or after 1 April 2011 should be paid at this new rate.

Payment instructions click here

Claim form download click here

The claim window is from August 1st to 30th November 2011.

August 2011

The OAG publication has been the key source of information about optometry, opticians, the UK optical market and services, for 30 years.

This year it includes data on sight tests and spectacles provided by members of the Federation of Ophthalmic & Dispensing Opticians (FODO) and data on contact lenses provided by members of the Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers (ACLM). The year end for FODO members being 31st March 2010.

The information received is merged with GOS and NHS statistical data which shows that 68% of adults aged 16 and over wear spectacles or contact lenses. (Men:65% Women:71%).

By extrapolating figures of private sight tests against NHS tests provided by FODO members estimates for 2010 show an overall increase of 4.3% over previous year’s figures. The major increase of 5.1% surprisingly being found within the private sector.

In this survey of FODO members the average charge to patients for a private sight test, excluding ‘no-charge’, discounts and special offers, was £21.30 (from within a range of £15 – £50). FODO insists that the average is less than half the actual cost of providing a sight test. They assert that this reflects the market reality of spectacle sales subsidising the cost of both private and NHS sight tests, except in Scotland.

All these sight tests culminated in 63% with changed Rx, 6% in contact lenses and 5% were referred for further investigation.

The average interval between sight tests remained the same as 2009 at 26 months, with an estimated average interval for working age adults remaining at 29 months.

In the survey, the proportion of re-glazed spectacles remained at 6%. Reflecting the continuing
competitiveness of the price of new spectacles.

For those being supplied with vouchers towards the cost of specs 92% of practices stocked spectacles for children and 84% for adults, within the NHS voucher value (£36.20 to £200.10). But many patients exercise their right to use a voucher as part payment towards higher value products.

Patients, who are eligible for a NHS sight test, but who are unable to leave their own home or residential home unaccompanied because of physical or mental illness or disability, are entitled to a free NHS eyecare service at home. PHN has highlighted this before and has a special Domiciliary register for practices to announce their services to the public at which is searchable by region by the public.

In England, during 2009-10, 1.46 million adults received care services in their own home provided by Councils following a community care assessment. A further 225,600 adults were living in residential or nursing care homes – a decrease of 2% from 2008-09.The majority of these would be eligible for a free NHS domiciliary sight test.

Overall in the UK in 2009-10 a total of 450,824 domiciliary sight tests were carried out, suggesting that many vulnerable people are still missing out on vital eye care services.

Out of the groups that are eligible for a NHS paid for sight tests OAG provides an insight as to how they split down in England for 2009-10

Aged 60 or over: 44.0%
Children under 16: 20.8%
Under 19 in full time education: 4.5%
Adults receiving Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Tax Credit or Income-related ESA 17.7%
Low income certificate holders (HC2): 0.9%
Diabetes or glaucoma sufferer: 6.0%
Relatives aged 40 and over of glaucoma sufferers (parent, brother, sister, son or daughter) 5.5 %
Registered blind or partially sighted: 0.2%
Need complex lenses: 0.5%
Prisoner on leave: 0.0%

Download the reportAugust 2011

The latest in the series of webinars sponsored by Ocuco, and which are open to all opticians to attend, was on Stock and Pricing Optimisation. This talk, given by Bob Hutchinson, looked at the critical success factors that make for a successful optical business and aimed to rekindle the interest of practices in their stock holding and pricing decisions, often overlooked areas of Optics.

If you missed the webinar, not to worry, as the recording can be viewed anytime at

The following are some of the areas and topics that were covered:

• Why a good PMS system required for proper audit and traceability
• Why frames are key elements of stock
• Key system requirements for proper input of stock information such as input date, pricing information, material, gender and colour of frames, stock for sale vs. stock for display only, stock purchased or consignment, promotion tag field, company origin and reorder/not to reorder
• Performing your first stock take
• Comparing by graph, stock holding and historical stock sales
• How to adjust your stock mix
• Frame security
• Changing the composition and mark up of your existing frame stock
• How to use your frame PMS formula to decide whether a frame provides value
• The importance of stock takes

Upcoming webinars hosted by Ocuco include ‘Direct Debits’ on August 11th and ‘Age related vision loss risk assessment – Can this improve your business?’ on September 15th. These webinars are open to all opticians to attend. To register go to

July 2011

Ocuco has partnered with a third party direct debit collection company to enable practices without an Originators Identification Number (OIN) to collect direct debit payments. This is especially relevant to the many medium to smaller sized practices who previously found it difficult to get banks to grant them such a facility. These practices can now consider starting an eyecare plan and enjoy recurring monthly revenue streams and improved patient loyalty.

Ocuco has also introduced a new Direct Debit module for their Acuitas and Focus customers who want help in managing patients’ monthly payments and product supply. The new module offers improved functionality to automate the Direct Debit process, from ordering goods to cash collection. It will also help with aggregating supplier orders, and assigning dispatch notes to individual orders. Payments are processed and letters are generated automatically, cutting down on administration in the practice.

NICE, the UK Regulator denies Novartis Eye DMO Drug yet again

July 2011

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, NICE, have stated that compared to the standard laser therapy, Novartis drug therapy for patients suffering from diabetic macular oedema "substantially" exceeds the range" which the cost regulator deems reasonable.

"Although it has been shown in clinical trials to be an effective treatment, the appraisal committee was unable to recommend the drug as a cost-effective use of resources compared to laser [therapy] for this condition," said NICE chief executive Andrew Dillon.

The Swiss drug maker reacted with disappointment and said it would appeal the UK decision, which is provisional at present.

NICE, which is reimbursing Lucentis for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, said Novartis underestimated the costs, especially for patients who need to treat both eyes.
Lucentis, which is administered via an injection into the eye, where it blocks the production of a protein that can lead to vision loss, can cost up to £1000 per injection.
Its high price has also been under pressure in the U.S. from doctors and regulators.

Novartis claimed that Lucentis has shown to provide superior and sustained vision gains compared to laser therapy.

The Swiss drug maker said it has "an excellent track record of working with health authorities and reimbursement agencies across the world to secure access to medicines for patients" and would appeal the verdict.

Chief executive Joe Jimenez has repeatedly said that Novartis was looking for fair solutions with regulators. As part of its efforts to win reimbursement for the drug in the U.K., Novartis is offering to pay for the injections in patients, who need more than 12 injections.

BCLA encourages submissions for a Clinical Workshop and/or CET Session online for the BCLA Clinical Conference 2012

July 2011

The BCLA are providing an opportunity to make your mark and share your knowledge with like-minded professional’s at the most prestigious contact lens educational event of the year. The BCLA invites you to submit a clinical workshop and/or a CET session for the Conference next year which will be held at the International Conference Centre in Birmingham from 24 - 27 May 2012.
Clinical Workshops

Here are a few guidelines:

• Purpose of the workshop
• Clinical content
• Workshop format
• Four course objectives

The workshops must have a hands-on practical approach, allowing delegates to learn new skills. More information can be found on the BCLA website.

Clinical Spotlight/CET Sessions

Clinical Spotlight submissions should take the form of a series of educational presentations with a unifying theme, in the field of contact lenses/anterior eye. Eye care practitioners are the target audience.

Details describing the proposed session must be submitted online to be considered by the BLCA Conference committee. Closing date for submissions is Friday 23 September 2011.

LOCSU publishes new Hot Brief

July 2011

LOCSU has announced a new “Hot Brief” useful or those active on Local Optical Committees. We are unable to widely publish this information here as it can from time to time include sensitive information only for viewing by those vetted under LOCSU rules and registered on this site to pass through our “secret gates”. If you are an active LOC member and would like access to the Hot Briefs and Pathways click here to register free. Although we now cover over 50 LOCs there are still some not represented and others under represented.

Mylocaloptician continues receiving visits of around one thousand members of the public each day

July 2011

The public eye care and eyewear site run by Primary Health Net as a social enterprise business has become an important tool for many optical industry players who enjoy the opportunity to showcase their products and services to an interested public who have taken the time to browse for information on the internet. The sites page 1 ranking also has helped companies gain greater visibility on the internet with their own sites with a lifting of page position in Google within weeks.

One of our new supporters Spectrum Thea, when Googled, gains a top place on page 1 followed on the same page by the Mylocaloptician and the Primaryhealthnet links.

All sponsoring companies provide brand names that can be highlighted in each practice’s listing in the UK Opticians database on the site. So given that practices have chosen to use the three months free trial to enhance their entry on the site, the public can search for practices selling the advertised products and providing the published services like a “Dry Eye Spectrum Clinic”.

It takes minutes to upgrade on line your practices entry and select some of the advertised products that you offer to local people searching in your area. Click here now or save this link to try the free three month trial.

Two more companies become sponsors of your site

July 2011

Shamir the leading lens company will be providing information both to the public and the profession on both sites demonstrating their products and the benefits they can provide to spectacle wearers. Orasis a young company providing IT solutions for Independents and small groups also has taken a page on the professional site.

July 2011

Bushnell Outdoor Products, an industry-leader in high performance sports optics, outdoor accessories and premium eyewear, has announced the creation of the Bushnell Eyewear Division, a new segment of the company that will oversee the Bollé, Bollé Safety, Cébé and Serengeti eyewear brands.

Bushnell Eyewear was created to establish a division that is dedicated entirely to the company’s premium eyewear brands. With a highly skilled team in place and a complete focus on eyewear, the company is well positioned to continue the success of its established global eyewear brands and the geographic expansion of its Cébé and Bollé Safety brands.

Bushnell Eyewear will be led by Olivier Ciaravino, the new president of the division. Ciaravino will office in the division’s new headquarters in Suresnes, France, and oversee a team that will be located in several of the company’s global offices, including the company’s Overland Park, Kan., corporate headquarters.

“The creation of the Bushnell Eyewear Division represents a wholesale commitment throughout the organization to our growing eyewear business,” said Olivier Ciaravino, Bushnell Eyewear President. “It’s an honor to be chosen to lead this talented, global team, and I’m excited about the possibilities that lie ahead for this business unit.”

The new division will include regional business units in North America, Europe/MEA and Asia Pacific. Several employees are relocating to the new division headquarters in Suresnes, France, but no jobs will be affected by this reorganization – in fact, the company plans to add positions globally as part of its expanded investment in the eyewear division.

“Creating this division within our existing corporate structure is an essential and logical evolutionary step for our organization,” said Blake Lipham, Bushnell Outdoor Products CEO. “Our eyewear brands represent an important, growing segment for our company and deserve the undivided attention of this team,” added Lipham.

Now Ocuco customers can make charitable donations at till

July 2011

Ocuco has partnered with the charity Vision Care for Homeless People (VCHP) in an effort to bring vision care to homeless people throughout the UK. To help VCHP attract the funding they require to expand their services nationwide, Ocuco has enabled their Acuitas and Focus Practice Management Systems to process charitable donations from patients at the till. Donations can be collected for any charity of choice. Details on configuring this feature can be found on their website

(Pictured left: Harinder Paul, CEO of VCHP. right: Arran Walsh, Marketing Director, Ocuco.

July 2011

The Optical Confederation Leaders Group has met to review progress and consider the future direction of the Confederation. Meeting at the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Confederation
leaders agreed that they had made good progress in their first eighteen months and had achieved some significant successes for the sector.

The Optical Confederation was formally launched in April 2010 and is a coalition of the five representative optical bodies; the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, the Association of
Contact Lens Manufacturers, the Association of Optometrists, the Federation of Manufacturing Opticians and the Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians.

It therefore considers it represents the interests of 12,000 optometrists, 6,000 dispensing opticians and 7,000 optical businesses in the UK who provide high quality and accessible eye care services to the whole population, as well as the manufacturing and supply businesses.

The meeting considered the results of a wide‐ranging fact and opinion survey gathered from a large number of internal and external stakeholders across the sector by external consultants
Zenon Consulting. The results confirmed that, in its first year of existence, the Optical Confederation has been successful an its core areas of activity, notably in speaking with a united
voice, particularly in response to government and EU proposals, campaigning jointly on behalf of members and gaining more influence on behalf of the sector collectively.

After consideration of the report provided by Zenon Consulting, the Optical Confederation agreed a renewed mandate to continue building the scope of confederated working, and to enhance its capacity to be seen, with appropriate partners, as the one strong voice for all parts of the optical sector.

Don Grocott, Optical Confederation convenor said, "This work has re‐confirmed that we are making progress in our ability to take forward the interests of the professions and industry. At this conference, the leaders of the Optical Confederation resolved to work even more closely together to further advance the interests of our members, and to enhance our ability to improve eye health and vision correction provision across the UK. We are now embarked on a programme of work to ensure that our scope and influence grows. We will work increasingly as one to advance our objectives and will seek to raise awareness further amongst our members and in public perceptions.”

ORBIS International's Flying Eye Hospital Brings Sight Saving Skills and Technology to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

July 2011

ORBIS and its global team of volunteer eye care specialists completed an intensive three-week program in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, since mid-June, aboard ORBIS International's signature Flying Eye Hospital – a state-of-the-art hospital with wings. The mission was supported by Alcon Inc., the global leader in eye care, and included a three-week ophthalmic skills exchange and surgical program through the one-of-a-kind DC-10 aircraft.

This ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital (FEH) Program marks its sixth mission in Mongolia. Local eye care professionals of all disciplines attended an ORBIS skills transfer training course designed to address the country's eye health needs.

Blindness in Mongolia

According to the World Health Organization, North-East Asia has a relatively high prevalence of blindness, estimated at 1.4%. Together, adult cataract and glaucoma account for more than two-thirds of the country's blindness, while cornea conditions account for 7.2% of adult blindness.

The program provided training for ophthalmologists, biomedical engineers, anesthesiologists and nurses, while advocating for increased public awareness of eye care issues in Mongolia.

Students warned of imminent deadline for GOC registration

July 2011

Only 8 days to go before the deadline is exceeded for registration of students on courses regulated by the GOC and there’s over 2000 students still unregistered!
Students must do so by 15 July if they wish to continue their studies next year.

Late applications will mean extra expense as an additional £10 late application fee on top of the standard £20 fee will be charged.

Silhouette Appoints New Marketing Manager

July 2011

Lanaway - SilhouetteSilhouette, the world’s leading rimless eyewear specialist, has appointed Jeremy Lanaway as UK Marketing Manager. Lanaway is a highly experienced marketer who has over ten years’ experience marketing premium brands for leading companies including Philips Consumer Electronics and, most recently, Vogel’s Products. Whilst new to the ophthalmic industry, Jeremy’s wealth of trade and product marketing experience, including the development of value added partnerships and VIP partner programmes will ensure he brings excellent market insight and perspective to his new role.

Of his appointment he comments, “I am delighted to be joining Silhouette at this time and look forward to understanding and satisfying the needs of consumers and practitioners alike. It is my belief that providing a professional and courteous eye care treatment followed by the dispensing of frames assembled out of the finest quality materials, delicately hand made in Austria, means we truly offer a valued purchase and delight our customers.”

Lanaway will report into Chris Cox, Managing Director of Silhouette UK who says, “We are pleased to welcome Jeremy to Silhouette and the skills and experience he brings that will greatly benefit our industry.”

Ocuco extend free webinar lecture series, providing help to all optical businesses

July 2011

Ocuco continue their Webinar educational series provided for on line viewing by all optical practices at no charge. The webinars are simple to use requiring a free software download ahead of the presentation. They are provided on Thursdays at the regular time of 9.00am and repeated at 6.00pm on the same day. This week’s webinar presentation is entitled “Analyse your Practice Data to Improve Management Effectiveness” It is given by Maurice Lynch MD of Nathean Technologies.

There have been 3 webinars so far presented on: “Recalls, Best Practice”; “VAT and the dispensing service”; “Paperless practice, so much more then electronic records.” Missed out? Not to worry, you can click on the lower link to see them again.

And there’s more to come as after this week’s presentations the topics of: Electronic GOS Claims; Stock & Pricing Optimization; and Direct Debits will all receive attention.

Click below to book your place for a webinar presentation at home or in your place of work or to relook at past webinars.

July 2011

The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) has chosen the Micro and Anophthalmic Children’s Society (MACS) to be its Charity of the Year for 2011-12.

MACS was formed in 1993 by a group of parents, all of whom had children with microphthalmia (small formed eyes), anophthalmia (no eyes) and coloboma (cleft of the eye). The Society offers support and information to parents and professionals in the UK and overseas who have children or patients suffering from these and related conditions.

At present, no single cause has been identified for the group of eye conditions that children supported by MACS are affected by. However, the possible link with the environment and genetic causes are being investigated. MACS supports these research projects through volunteering (all Trustees and committee members are volunteers) and fundraising. However, its main focus is to provide family support and a range of related services.

Among other benefits of being BCLA Charity of the Year, MACS will have a stand at the 8th Pioneers Conference in London (23 November) and at the 2012 BCLA Clinical Conference and Exhibition in Birmingham (24-27 May). The society will also receive publicity in mailings to BCLA members and in conference packs.

Chairman and Trustee of MACS, Barry Stickings, commented: “MACS is delighted to be the BCLA’s new Charity of the Year. This will enable us to raise awareness of the MACS conditions to BCLA members and the families they deal with on a regular basis. Our main aim has always been to make more people aware of the conditions we support. With this valuable collaboration between MACS and the BCLA, we will reach far more people who may never have realised that such a support group exists.

“On a personal note I would like to thank the BCLA for giving MACS this wonderful opportunity to work together, and I look forward to the coming year,” added Barry.

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

Ways that BCLA members and others can help include:

• Making a donation
• Organising or joining in a fundraising event or activity
• Directing patients to the charity for information and support
• Ordering charity merchandise for use in the practice or business
• Visiting the charity’s stand at BCLA events

MACS is currently offering places for the 2012 Virgin London Marathon on 22 April, and tickets for its Magical Autumn Ball in London on 22 October. Also, to be in with a chance to win a trip with flights and accommodation, provided by MACS and Virgin Atlantic, to California and New Mexico plus a visit to the Virgin Galactic Spaceport, visit to purchase tickets at £2 each.


Confederation reflects on first 18 months

Informative Stock and Pricing Optimisation webinar held this week

FODO publishes the latest version of “Optics at a Glance” from 2010 stats

David Howell appointed chief executive and registrar of GCC

City University London announces new one-day short courses for optometrists

Domiciliary Committee takes stand on screening requirements

College launches new patient information leaflets

GOC appoints new Council member

UK Research at Moorfields looks for Glaucoma sufferers in families to investigate gene coding

How to help Blind People get around when you’re not sure of your approach

Major funding boost for eye research at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology

Allders Opticians launches new-look practice

Hutchinson given Council position of RSOM General Practice with Primary Care Section

BCLA Workshops return and non-members can attend as well

Trust teams up with Westfield to drive campaign

Josie Barlow Shortlisted for AOP Awards 2011

New system for patient feedback launched by NHS Choices

BCLA President to reveal all…

All good things have to end especially following 45 years service

LOC questions bounced GOS sight test payments for tests given less than 1 month before due date

Read for RNIB Day

GOC reports significant drop in student retention removals

BMA provides GPs with a Patient involvement a toolkit

Ace prizes in Wimbledon eyewear promotion

LOCSU announces funding for leadership skills

Norville Opticians take on a challenge and run the course

Parliamentarians explore impact of NHS reforms on eye care

Norville Opticians expands south

Advice on reduced intervals between sight tests needs to be clearer

A Dibble double anniversary

Rodenstock strives for customer satisfaction

MACS named BCLA Charity of the Year 2011-12

Bushnell Outdoor Products Announces the Formation of the Bushnell Eyewear Division

Direct Debit Collection now open to all says Ocuco

Dept of Health confirms the payments story PHN led with at the end of July

A New, Objective Way to Assess Visual Fields: Visual Evoked Potentials

Countdown to Silmo 2011 starts here

Optoms Cycle for sight for 10 days to raise 10k!

Coalition sits on fence over Right to Time to Train within SMEs

SILMO 2011 is stepping up a gear!

GOC staff raise money for eye research

Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games launches Team GB products

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