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Optical News - October, November, December 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.

NOC 2012 date announced

EyeDream Open Day

Coleman Opticians win Rodenstock award

TD Tom Davies 2012 workshop visit

College seeks Chairman of Trustees

New iPhone app for DOCET

Frequency of warnings on eye health mounts

Vision sector rallies to improve eye health

EU approval given to Femtosecond, a B & L eye surgery system

Is SBS good for GOS services?

RSM event for your diaries

Updated Quality in Optometry Toolkit Available

LOCSU funds PEARS training

GOC publishes fitness to practise guidelines for employers

8th BCLA Pioneers Conference the best ever

LOCSU announces first training date for treasurers

Frank Norville media prize awarded to North London optometrist

GOC cuts registration fee for second year

Cult eyewear with Neil Handley

Norville present BOA museum with polaroid designs

GOC Annual Report

BCLA announce Olympic theme for 2012 Conference

Look Here events provide help to those with Learning Disabilities

Optical Express reminds public of importance of eye checks

US FDA approves new wet AMD drug

BCLA makes statement after Bionic press frenzy

Bionic single pixel lens could be the lens of the future

Bob Hughes has left the AOP

Rodenstock launches advanced ordering software

LOCSU Chairman calls for practitioners to get involved

Optometry Giving Sight wins AOP Charity of Year

Josie Barlow wins supplier of the year at AOP awards

Silhouette International appoint new Director of Sales

Study shows Zeaxanthin improves vision in elderly

BCLA call for conference papers, posters, and photos

Porsche Design customers enjoy pole position at Silverstone

Rodenstock club members celebrate 20 years of benefits

EK Eyewear Opticians of Belfast are the first to benefit from the free marketing provided by Spectrum Thea

Ophthalmic Service Market to grow by 9.9%

West Midlands Police launch eyecare scheme by Specsavers

Bausch & Lomb announce new vision care global president

NEG appoint Business Development Manager

Ultravision announce Kerasoft video training

Lighter touch advised for opening hours at Christmas

Swiss Optician to work exclusively with TD Tom Davies

Opticians call for lighter evenings

PHN broadens strategy on Commissioning Advice to open secure pages and encourage a multi-profession approach

Meibomiam Gland Dysfunction Factsheet

BCLA Pioneers Conference on 23rd November

Report on Royal Society of Medicine Primary Health GP Forum meeting

David Blunkett to lead innovation in sight loss sector

New report from European parliament calls for 10 year tests for drivers

Spectrum Thea announce Dry Eye project agenda

OCUCO extends Webinar presentations

Rodenstock's Sara Lambert joins charity trek

OGS announces new clinic in Mexico

NHS Choices rolls out patient feedback

Confederation offers NHS Choices guidance

Guide dogs allowed to use escalators

GOC agrees new fitness to practise rules

Law Commission Review: GOC preparation gathers pace

Mandie Lavin appointed interim director of regulation at GOC

Diabetes UK wants direct patient feedback

College publishes ambitious new strategic plan

December 2012

Following the success of NOC 2011, the major conference for all Local and Regional Optical Committees, LOCSU and the Optical Confederation are pleased to announce that the NOC 2012 will be held on Thursday 18th October and Friday 19th October 2012 at the Hilton Metropole NEC Birmingham.

More details of the programme will be announced in the New Year.

December 2012

Wilson, Wilson & Hancock, of Hastings held the first ever EyeDream Open Day to promote the newly rebranded No7 Ortho K programme – EyeDream - And what a day it turned out to be!

A simple ‘turnkey’ activity, provided by No7, which is available to all practices interested in driving awareness of OrthoK, increased patient awareness and practice traffic on the day. Four new patients actually signed-up and follow-on interest continues to be high.

Optometrist, Paul MacDonald commented: “EyeDream is a great practice building product that captures patient interest, but the on-going problem has always been low consumer awareness - So we were really keen to bring this campaign together with No7 in an attempt to highlight the product benefits.”

Prior to the event, flyers were leafleted to members of the public and placed in businesses, such as sports venues and office reception areas. WWH staff also sent leaflets with their recall letters. Inside the practice, a designated patient area, displaying point-of-sale materials available from No7; such as consumer friendly video’s, banners, posters and low cost customisable leaflets, grabbed attention of patients awaiting appointments, browsers and many passer-bys.

No7 offer this opportunity to other EyeDream practices, so if you are interested in similar event or want to get involved in EyeDream, why not contact the company’s sales department?

Image features: James Procter, Sales Manager (Top left), Paul MacDonald, OO (Top right), Hans Sunassee , Sales Executive (Bottom, left) and Tony Hodgson (Bottom left) Sales Executive

December 2012

More than 300 Rodenstock Club members attended the prestigious luncheon and awards ceremony at the Savoy, London, with special guest Boris Becker.

Coleman Opticians was named the overall best-performing practice for 2011 and will join Rodenstock in Florence in March, enjoying top hospitality in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
Burnett Hodd & Jenkins, Sidcup, was named runner-up, while Davis Optometrists, Kettering, won third place for Centre of Excellence.

There were 12 other categories for best-performing practices for frames, lenses, complete spectacles and EDI ordering. All winning practices will join Rodenstock in Florence to experience all the city has to offer.

Tennis Grand Slam champion Boris Becker made a surprise appearance and presented the Wimbledon eyewear award to Burnett Hodd & Jenkins.

The full list of winners on the night was:

• Centre of Excellence 1st place – Coleman Opticians, Norwich
• Centre of Excellence 2nd place – Burnett Hodd & Jenkins, Sidcup
• Centre of Excellence 3rd place – Davis Optometrists, Kettering
• Wimbledon eyewear – Burnett Hodd & Jenkins, Sidcup
• dunhill eyewear – David Burghardt Opticians, Nettleham
• Porsche Design eyewear – Roger Pope Opticians, London
• uvex eyewear – Martin Steels Opticians, Pulborough
• Rodenstock eyewear – Martin Steels Opticians, Pulborough
• Complete spectacles – Burnett Hodd & Jenkins, Sidcup
• EDI ordering – Neil Gordon Opticians, London
• Impression lenses – Martin Steels Opticians, Pulborough
• Multigressive MyView lenses – BBR Optometry, Hereford
• Lifestyle lenses – Coleman Opticians, Norwich
• Solitaire Protect / Protect Plus coating – Barraclough & Stiles Opticians, Eastbourne
• ColorMatic lenses – Coleman Opticians, Norwich

Following a three-course lunch, guests were inspired by motivational speaker Chris Moon, a double amputee who was injured clearing land mines in Africa.

Looking back over the last six months, Rodenstock managing director, Dietmar Rathbauer, spoke of recent improvements to UK customer services including training of all customer service employees, the introduction of WinFit Reference ordering software and speeding up the supply chain by 24 hours.

Dietmar also reported 35% sales growth for Porsche Design eyewear and a steady increase of stockists for the dunhill eyewear collection.

Rodenstock’s plans for 2012 include the 40 year anniversary of Porsche Design and the launch of ImpressionIST 3 dispensing system.

Rodenstock Club, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary, was founded in 1991 solely for independent opticians, and has evolved to provide a unique level of service and portfolio of products as well as rewards packages.

December 2012

TD Tom Davies, the award-winning British bespoke spectacle brand, announce the second trip to their Shenzhen bespoke workshops, scheduled for April 2012, in celebration of the company’s 10th Anniversary.

The company has designed a trip tailored especially for Opticians working with the bespoke eyewear label, based on the first Opticians’ visit which took place earlier this year. In 2012, Tom plans to invite 40 opticians in total for the 3-day event, ensuring opportunities for work and travel, given the proximity to Hong Kong and ease of access to the rest of China and the Far East.

Each trip includes two days of workshop-based training, the opportunity for Opticians to design their own Limited Edition “Designer Frames” and a competition allowing Opticians to test out a variety of production techniques including rim wire forming, temple matching and end piece bending.

In a statement CEO Tom Davies said, “ 2012, our 10th Birthday, is an important year for us, and it is going to be so much fun to celebrate with a group of Opticians at our production HQ.
Following the success of our trip this year, which allowed some of my customers to gain an insider’s understanding of how we design and create each TD Tom Davies bespoke frame, I am
delighted to announce that we are arranging this second trip for a larger number of our very best customers. The feedback from those who were able to attend the two-day training and events this year was absolutely brilliant, and hugely rewarding for all. This is an educational, hands-on opportunity for the Optician, as well as an experience of a lifetime.”

The 2012 trip is organised in two groups for the following dates: 27th to 29th April 2012 and 29th April to 1st May 2012.

For further information and enquiries please call +44 (0)20 8392 0555.

December 2011

The College of Optometrists is seeking a new Chairman, following agreement by the College’s Board that the role of Chairman should be separated from that of the Vice President, instead of the current combined role.

The new appointment will allow the Vice President to concentrate on a more outward facing role, representing the College.

The role of Chairman is a voluntary position and the College is keen that this role is filled by an optometrist, who is a full College member. It has also been agreed that the term of office for the Chairman should be 3 years, renewable for a further 3 years, which will allow for more consistent governance in future.

Bryony Pawinska, Chief Executive of the College commented: “I look forward to working with the new Chairman to deliver our key objectives for 2011/14 which include supporting members, increasing engagement with the profession and public and working in partnership with other organisations to positively influence the delivery of eye care”.

December 2011

DOCET (Directorate of Optometric Continuing Education and Training) has launched a new iPhone app to assist optometrists to stay up to date and accumulate CET (continuing education and training) points on the move.

The DOCET OQ app is free and enables optometrists who use an iPhone to listen to the latest editions of the long-running “Optometric Quarterly” (OQ) audio programme tracks, view track information, complete the related multiple choice questions and submit answers to gain their CET points, straight from their iPhone.

Users are also able to submit feedback on the latest edition of OQ, send topic suggestions for future episodes and find more information on DOCET.

Accessing the app is straightforward. iPhone users just need to open iTunes, go to the App Store and enter 'DOCET OQ' in the Search Store box, to be taken to the free download link.

More information and a handy user guide for the app are also available online via the website: where DOCET resources are also now available online.

The latest DOCET video and audio publications with multiple choice questions to gain CET points in the CET Zone is one of a number of useful information to be found, including a library of previous DOCET video, audio and written resources and links to CPD Online and other e-learning resources and training

December 2011

In years gone by when most of us would have considered that only 3rd World Countries had burgeoning eye health issues who would have guessed that by 2050 those suffering loss of sight will have doubled from an acceptable level of even today.

Over half of the 2 million people suffering from a loss of sight could have prevented it by visiting an eye care specialist. It could be just a lack of knowledge on the importance of eyecare in which case the Government and health ministers must do more to educate the public. At Primary Health Net there exists already a vehicle to transmit the message through their public education site ( visited by over a quarter of a million people last year.

But campaigns are expensive and despite optical practices being given novel ways to help support by marketing their specialities on line for only £10 a month support has been sparse. Those that have supported the site have achieved good results and we thank our major companies for supporting us by rewarding their best stockists with marketing support.

There are few other opportunities for opticians to inform the public about what they can do and why an eye examination is so important. The message will only be transmitted if on mass opticians repeat it.

Some say it is the fear of cost and yet most of those affected would pay nothing for a sight test. Others believe that increasing access to practices by better located high footfall premises would encourage more uptake.

This would bring little improvement if indeed cost fear is the reason. Walking past most practices one gets very little hint that much clinical work happens on site. Even when practices are involved in referral schemes such as ACES or PEARS you would never know in most cases.

There are very good reports of where practices work along side GPs or even within the business of general practice. Perhaps now we have come of age to accept that the balance is changing and just maybe the pendulum is swinging towards greater fee base rewards for services not products. This does not mean product prices must change but if we were seeing greater rewards from clinical workd wouldn’t we want to market them and raise the volume to the public who pass our windows everyday.

Perhaps we have lacked confidence in our competencies in the past, but times have changed, why not compete on clinical excellence for a change and sell the clinical benefits to the public.

December 2011

Very much in a similar vein to our leader the worries about eye health appears at last to be on the agenda. Half of all sight loss in the UK is preventable and the UK Vision Strategy (whose members include the College of Optometrists and the Optical Confederation) has been arguing hard for the inclusion of an ophthalmic public health indicator to be included in the first Public Health Outcomes Framework for England.

As part of on-going dialogue with the eye health and visual impairment sector Earl Howe, the Health Minister responsible for steering through the health reforms through the House of Lords, addressed the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Visual Impairment (APPG) this week on the government’s NHS reform programme.

The APPG, too, put the case strongly for an ophthalmic public health indicator as well as arguing for systematic engagement of clinical commissioning groups with eye care professionals in both primary and secondary care and effective ophthalmic public health input into Public Health England .

The reasons for this are clear. Ophthalmic public health is a major public health challenge. Without action, the number of people with preventable sight loss will double to 4 million by 2050. There are major inequalities in the eye health of different populations with people in poor socio-economic groups and certain ethnic groups more likely to lose their sight and less likely to access services.
Improving ophthalmic public health could also release significant savings to reinvest elsewhere across health and social care.

In recognition of the need for optics to play an increasing role in meeting these challenges, a coalition of optical bodies from across the UK has just published An optical sector strategy to improve ophthalmic public health. We will be adding this document to our knowledge briefing pages. Click here to view the document.

In summary the strategy, the aims of which were agreed at a meeting this summer called by the College of Optometrists , sets out three areas where the sector will work together to help tackle avoidable sight loss.

Firstly, it will support the training of more ophthalmic public health experts. Secondly, it will work to improve data and evidence on how to make the biggest difference to eye health of the most at risk groups. Thirdly, it will help build better relationships between people working in eye health, public health and commissioners to improve the way services are designed and delivered.

The principles of this strategy are already bearing fruit. The RNIB have launched a new grant scheme to fund 14 places studying ophthalmic public health at Leeds University and LOCSU are developing an online cross-sector network for anyone interested in ophthalmic public health and eye health improvement to link up, share evidence and experiences and build a coalition for eye health improvement across the UK. The College of Optometrists and the Optical Confederation are also coordinating work on data collection.

College of Optometrists President, Dr Cindy Tromans highlighted the challenges in public health: “Without action, it is thought that 4 million people in the UK will lose their sight by 2050. Those in poorer areas and certain ethnic groups will be hardest hit. There is so much more we can do and I am delighted that the vision sector is pulling together under this new ophthalmic public health strategy”.

On behalf of the Optical Confederation, David Hewlett said: “This is very welcome and long overdue. As the government has recognised we are facing a massive public health challenge in eye care in the UK and, recession or not, to have increasing numbers of people losing their sight from preventable conditions should just not be acceptable in the 21st Century. 2012 has been designated the Year of Active Ageing and preserving sight and eye health for all will be a major factor in this”.

December 2011

'VICTUS' platform, which performs both cataract and refractive procedures, set to ship by year-end.

(As reported in the photonic industry’s website)

A new femtosecond laser system that provides a single platform to perform a wide variety of surgical eye procedures has received CE mark approval for sale in the European Union, and will begin to ship before the end of the year.

Developed by eye Bausch + Lomb in collaboration with Technolas Perfect Vision (TPV), the “VICTUS” platform is approved for various elements of cataract, refractive and therapeutic procedures. While the femtosecond laser provides higher precision than conventional approaches, with minimal heating of tissue, the versatility of VICTUS means that eye specialists should be able to incorporate it into their clinics more economically than with multiple systems.

Robert Grant, CEO of Bausch + Lomb’s global surgical business unit, described the latest approval as a major step for femtosecond lasers, by elevating the role that the technology can play in both refractive and cataract surgeries. The system is approved for LASIK flap, astigmatic keratotomy and Intracor (a presbyopia treatment) refractive procedures, as well as capsulotomy and lens fragmentation steps for cataract treatment.

TPV’s CEO Kristian Hohla said in a statement announcing the latest regulatory approval: “Our focus has been to empower ophthalmic surgeons with the latest advances in laser technology in order to provide patients with better outcomes and quality of life.”

December 2011

GPs through LMCs are kicking up about the way NHS SBS has been forced in some areas upon them. The NHS Shared Business Services run jointly by the DH and a private company named Steria has been placed in a number of PCTs and in many has been seen as a backward step by many GPs.

Originally conceived in 2005 by the last Government as a back office function for accounting, only this was extended by them in one London area to take in other services as this particular PCT was in disarray. But now the coalition government sees it as a great money saver and has promoted, some might say bludgeoned SBS into many areas.

The concern for GPs should also make Optometry sit up and listen to the debate as most LMCs are sceptical about the results so far, very concerned about loss of confidentiality and indeed the debate has moved to the House of Commons where the previous health minister, Ben Bradsahw (Exeter) led a full debate on the issue.

The concerns are many and here’s a flavour of some:

The outsourcing PCT back-office functions to a joint venture between the Department of Health and a private company has led to a sharp drop in performance in transferring GP records, figures obtained by former health minister suggest that in the East Midlands, the percentage of patient records transferred within six weeks fell from 91% to 76% after family health services were taken over by NHS Shared Business Services.

And in north-east London, NHS SBS transferred only 35% of records within six weeks according to the statistics, compared with an average of 71% in other parts of the capital.
PCTs across the South West are now planning to award contracts to NHS SBS for back-office functions, despite LMC opposition, with NHS Cornwall the latest PCT to agree, and NHS Devon understood to be close to a deal.

GP leaders and LMC representatives in the South West said it was essential the venture was ‘held to account' if it failed to deliver. However although the current health minister, Paul Burstow informed the house that the venture was still in trial stage with due diligence running alongside any contractual process already the staff for example in Devon are likely to have been TUPE’d across today. Despite the fact that due diligence is not set to end till March next year.

Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, a GPC negotiator and a GP in St Columb Major, Cornwall, said: ‘We have had concern expressed from several areas about different aspects of NHS SBS. One is around accuracy and delays to payments to practices. We need to make sure NHS SBS is being held to account if it is not delivering its contract.'

We understand that the majority of the 14 PCTs in the South West of England are set to enter contract discussions with NHS Shared Business Services. We know that Somerset has decided against such a decision. It may be now that information on poor payments and list stripping plus lack of understanding perhaps created by outsourcing through India that others even at this stage in the South West may reconsider.

As recently as last October in an article in Pulse revealed LMC leaders across the South West were fiercely opposed to the plans, after other areas using NHS SBS had been beset with delays in payments and mistakes in patient records.

However, Dr Philip Fielding, chair of Gloucestershire LMC and a GP in Cheltenham, said he understood that most PCTs in the South West were set to enter talks with NHS SBS.

Dr Fielding said: ‘We are awaiting final confirmation of our local PCT's decision but I sense that the tide has well and truly turned and South West regional LMCs are now braced for NHS SBS coming in most areas.'

‘There has been no evaluation of NHS SBS versus the various existing local services that are cherished, are responsive, and do not leave us with worries over delayed payments and confusion. This has been introduced by stealth and on costing grounds rather than quality of service.'

We also hear from our contacts that Worcestershire LMC is preparing to fight pressure to impose SBS into their area ‘against their will'.

There is a considerable amount of dismay out there, as much about the imposition and pressure to conform by the DH as well as the stripping of important back room functions that known and good PCT officials have had removed. As the GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said after subcontracting of services to Steria its performance had left practices ‘very adversely affected' by delays to payments without knowing who to chase up: ‘GPs are being hit by the way it is being done. They used to be able to call the PCT to address problems, but now they have to phone someone they have no relationship with – bits of it are outsourced abroad.'

A DH spokesperson said a framework awarded to NHS Shared Business Services in 2004 allows the venture to be handed contracts without competitive tendering until the framework expires next March.

We suspect this is why there is such a fierce pressure on PCTs to move towards the joint venture.

So what could it mean to GOS functions and the future of commissioned services? Stripping out the financial element of PCTs or future commissioning groups has a deleterious effect on backroom staff that are needed to liaise with our optical leads and LOCs. There appears to be an element of faceless accountability about the joint venture practice.

After over 10 years of working with the DH in agreeing IT input of GOS forms all now included our only failure was in developing the electronic signature thus requiring us to store GOS forms, and let the PCTs takeover the storage bundles. The SBS system which for optometry is called OWLS (an ophthalmic web located service!) will still require the same storage. More interestingly it can only cope as yet with managing the following GOS claims:

• GOS1: Application for an NHS-funded sight test
• GOS3: NHS optical voucher and patient’s statement
• GOS4: NHS optical repair/replacement voucher application form
• GOS5: Help with cost of a private sight test
• GOS6: Application for a mobile funded sight test

The good news is that the service is free where as using eGOS systems through our current IT services is at a cost through our IT providers. But it’s much more clunky being separate from our databases requiring rekeying and we think that the validation process is not as quick or robust.

In over 100 PCTs that currently are able to process Ophthalmic IT on all forms the validation process takes 20 minutes and the validated claim is added in most cases for immediate payment. It is believed that SBS’s OWLS will be sticking to the same once a month payment system of old.

So what price tag will free OWLS eventually cost, poor cash flow, poor communications via India and a lack of respected and localised advice and information for local contractors. The debate rages amongst those GPs who have already seen the downside to their cost. Some of the more braver or maybe thoughtful regions like Somerset, Worcestershire may well have made a timely entry into the debate. LOCs in the South West have certainly been involved with the helpful support of LOCSU, but we would hope to see much greater intervention from optical leaders through the Confederation than appears to have been the case so far. Maybe this is one issue not to be found fence sitting!

Are you affected or do SBS already handle your GOS payments? Join the debate in our forum topic

December 2011

Since being elected to the GP and Primary care section of the Royal Society of Medicine, Bob Hutchinson (Co Director of PHN and Fellow of the RSM) has been given the opportunity to arrange an afternoon of lectures at the RSM to highlight Optometry and Ophthalmic topics within a week of prestigious lectures given to GPs and hospital Doctors who number around 1200 within the section.
The 4 lectures during the afternoon will include speakers from ophthalmology and optometry on diverse subjects to include AMD, Glaucoma/OHT and NICE guidelines, Chronic eye conditions including dry eye, and finally a lecture on fully inclusive referral scheme, its results and how optometrists can offer a full competency based primary care optical service.

Both GPs and Optometrists will be able to claim CET/CPD points through their respective organisations. “The opportunity to share knowledge and understand the issues that beset both our professions will be much valued. I do hope that as many optometrists as we can muster will make the effort to attend and support the speakers. Being a Council member for only a few months I must thank the Council for giving Optics the chance to show our value to the Annual GP Forum held over a week at the RSM. The date being September 13th 2012 falls on the Thursday which traditionally is followed in the evening by the annual dinner, so I hope I can convince many of you to stay and network with the GPs,” commented Bob Hutchinson.

The afternoon (1 of 8) sessions starting at 2.00pm and continuing till 5.15 will consist of 4 lecture style presentations. Once all the information is to hand and the full lecture program is complete further information will be displayed in all Optical and GP publications.

I am currently looking for sponsors for the afternoon specifically or for the week to help reward our speakers. If you would like PHN to keep in touch with you should you express an interest via email to we will create a separate email listing “RSM GP Forum event” and send relevant news about this event only as it becomes available.
Sponsors should approach Hutchinson directly at

December 2011

Quality in Optometry logoGeneral Ophthalmic Services (GOS) Contractors and Performers are set to benefit from a new updated and revised version of the Quality in Optometry (QiO) Toolkit. Funded by the Local Optical Committee Support Unit, the Toolkit was originally developed by the Optical Confederation and the College of Optometrists to provide a model for clinical governance in England and Wales. The QiO development group has updated the Toolkit to account for the amendments to the NHS Primary Care Commissioning (NHS PCC) Contract Compliance Framework, which now reflects recent variations to the GOS contract.

The Toolkit (available at is widely used by the profession – more than 1400 people already have QiO accounts and it is hoped that more practitioners will be encouraged to use the Toolkit, now that it has been updated.

Additionally a new practitioner checklist allows performers to check that they have the knowledge they need to ensure their contractor meets the requirements of the GOS contract.

Summary of changes

• Level 1, including the record audit in both the spreadsheets and the online version, now fully reflect the changes to the framework
• A new practitioner checklist has been introduced that:

o allows performers to work through items that are drawn from the contractor list, but that performers ought to know
o enables practitioners to create a checklist for each practice they work in, which can be personalised to policies specific to each practice, and
o can be printed out to demonstrate to contractors that the performer has the required knowledge

Trevor Warburton, Chairman of the QiO development group which was responsible for the update, said, “QiO is an invaluable resource for contractors seeking to ensure that they comply with their GOS contracts. The new addition of a practitioner checklist provides useful information to individual practitioners as well as enabling them to demonstrate their knowledge to their employers.”

December 2011

Local and Regional Optical Committees negotiating a Primary Eyecare Assessment and Referral Service (PEARS) with NHS commissioners now have access to a training module launched by the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU).

The distance learning programme developed for LOCSU by the Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC) is based on training already provided for optometrists in Wales and is available free of charge to Local and Regional Optical Committees who are members of LOCSU. The package comprises seven lectures and associated questions on CD Rom and is worth a total of 14 CET points. The modules concentrate on the common eye conditions that present to optometrists providing PEARS. The modules use a symptoms, signs and management approach to each eye condition. Once candidates have completed each lecture they simply upload their answers to the WOPEC web page ( for verification.

LOCSU and WOPEC will work with Local and Regional Optical Committees who have negotiated the commissioning of a PEARS enhanced service, sometimes known as General Referral Refinement, to set up the practical skills assessments that optometrists are required to undertake for accreditation following the successful completion of the distance learning.

Katrina Venerus, Director of Operations and Commissioning at LOCSU said:

“Commissioning a greater number of PEARS or general referral refinement services across England and Wales is essential if the NHS wants to increase patient access and choice and provide value for money eyecare. This course will give Commissioners confidence in the ability of optometrists to provide this type of enhanced service safely and successfully.”

Dr Nik Sheen, Co-Director, Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre said:

“This PEARS course will give optometrists the confidence to utilise their existing skills and ensure local PEARS pathways are successfully implemented.”

To obtain access to the training, LOCs should contact Jacque Hudson, LOCSU Office Manager

December 2011

The General Optical Council (GOC) is today launching guidance targeted at optical employers, to explain what they should do if they have concerns about a GOC registrant’s fitness to practise.

The guidance outlines what is expected of those employing registered optometrists, dispensing opticians and students. It explains the sorts of complaints the GOC can and can’t deal with, what happens if a fitness to practise complaint is made against a registered employee, and what information the GOC can share with the employer about the allegation. The investigation process is also set out in full, to ensure employers are informed about each step of the process.

Samantha Peters, GOC Chief Executive and Registrar explained the importance of clear guidance for optical employers: “This guidance is designed to equip businesses and individuals with the tools they need to take appropriate action if they have concerns about a registrant’s fitness to practise. It’s our job to provide registrants and employers with relevant information and advice, so they know exactly what is expected of them.

She continued: “We appreciate that it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between a disciplinary issue in an employment context, and a potential fitness to practise investigation - so the guidance has been designed to help employers make those decisions.”

Anyone employing a GOC registrant must act quickly to protect patients if they have information which could potentially mean the registrant lacks the skills, knowledge, character or health to practise safely and effectively, or be trusted to act legally. The GOC recommends that employers should firstly try to address any concerns at a practice or business level. If this approach is not successful, NHS employers should report their concern to their local primary care organisation. However, employers are urged to contact the GOC straight away if:

• taking action at a local level would not be practical
• action at a local level has failed
• the problem is so serious that the GOC clearly needs to be involved
• you are afraid of victimisation or a cover up

Registrants themselves also have an obligation to let the GOC know if there are any issues that may have an impact on their fitness to practise. For example, if they have been convicted of a criminal offence, or are barred from working with children and/ or vulnerable adults.

PHN has decided for your future reference to retain a copy of the guidance also available to download in full from the GOC’s website, within our clinical briefing area.

December 2011

A total of 250 members of British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) earned up to four contact lens CET points each at the Association’s 8th Pioneers Conference, held at the Royal Society of Medicine in London on 23 November.

A free half-day CET event for BCLA members only, who may bring one guest each to the evening Pioneers Lecture, this year’s Pioneers Conference featured a special commemorative presentation to mark the 50th anniversary of the invention of soft contact lenses. Other sessions focused on keratoconus management and practice matters, while the 8th Pioneers Lecture, entitled, ‘Beyond the corneal borders’, was delivered by renowned contact lens educator and researcher, Dr Eef van der Worp.

Nigel Burnett-HoddNigel Burnett Hodd, Honorary Pioneers Conference Organiser, commented: “This year's Pioneers Conference felt like the best ever. With Eef's help, and some great speakers, we had the perfect balance of topics pertaining to everyday practice yet of interest to all BCLA disciplines.

“The day would not be possible as a free membership benefit if it was not for the generosity and enthusiasm of our eight educational sponsors – the BCLA, CIBA Vision, CooperVision, David Thomas Contact Lenses, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, No7 Contact Lenses, Sauflon and Topcon – and time donated by the speakers,” continued Mr Burnett Hodd. “The sponsors willingly turned out on the day to run their stands and were rewarded with 250 enthusiastic Pioneers delegates. As organiser, I was thrilled with the turnout and the enthusiastic response from an eager audience. I hope to do just as well in 2012 and would appreciate any topic suggestions from BCLA members.”

Kicking off the conference were Tim Bowden and Andrew Gasson with their talk, ‘Soft contact lenses: the first 50 years’. From where it all began – on Christmas Eve 1961 when Professor Otto Wichterle built a machine using a meccano set, a bicycle dynamo and a bell transformer to create the world’s first contact lens on Christmas Day – the speakers compared packaging, patient instructions, lenses, care solutions and clinical problems from the 1960s and 70s with their modern equivalents. Although lenses from the 1970s improved comfort, explained Tim, they created new clinical problems – such as giant pupillary conjunctivitis and microbial keratitis. One of the main things we had learnt over the past 50 years was that there is no one lens for everyone, they concluded.

The first speaker in a session entitled, ‘Focus on keratoconus et al’ was Dr Bruce Allan, Consultant Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, who outlined the latest approaches to managing keratoconus – which he said affected one in every 2,000 people worldwide. The aim was to stop people from travelling down the clinical pathway, through shape stabilisation and visual rehabilitation. No intervention was risk free and the redefinition of pathways for treating keratoconus remained incomplete, said Dr Allan. Funding was an issue for corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL), despite evidence that it worked.

Next, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, David O’Brart, spoke in more depth about CXL and other treatments. He cited his recent study with colleagues at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, which concluded that CXL appeared to be an effective and safe modality to halt the progression of keratoconus. The future, predicted Mr O’Brart, would see accelerated CXL with higher doses of UV but for a shorter period, CXL without UVA, and bullous keratopathy and corneal melts to treat keratoconus. “CXL is safe, effective and should be considered for any patient – and it should be on the NHS now,” concluded Mr O’Brart.

Dr Sheraz Daya, Director and Consultant at Queen Victoria Hospital and Founder and Medical Director of Centre for Sight, London, followed this up by looking at when to operate and with what procedure. Dr Daya gave an overview of new procedures to treat keratoconus, such as Intacs and Ferrar rings. Corneal grafts could be delayed and avoided if we could identify and treat keratoconus earlier, concluded Dr Daya.

Dr Erf van der WorpThe final speaker in this session was 8th Pioneers Lecturer, Dr Eef van der Worp, who focused on contact lens options for the irregular cornea. He explained that 10-25 per cent of patients would eventually need surgery, but that contact lenses would always be required before or after. “Surgery can be prevented by using our lens arsenal,” he said. This included soft lenses, piggyback and hybrid lenses, and RGPs, which were the best option. Scleral lenses were the future of fitting the keratoconic eye, concluded Dr van der Worp. A discussion followed during which the issues of treatment funding, and routine optometric screening of younger patients for keratoconus, were raised.

Many take-home pearls were relayed during the conference’s Practice Matters session, with speakers Craig Wilcox, Dr Katharine Evans, Ian Cameron, Keith Cavaye and Sarah Morgan touching on patient communication, empowering support staff, rules and regulations, practice profitability and predicting successful contact lens wearers.
In her talk, Dr Evans advised delegates to promote compliance not just in terms of infection risk, but in terms of comfort, and to consider the implications of a healthy tear film and lipid layer on contact lens wear success.

The audience heard from BCLA Council member, Keith Cavaye, that practitioners were obliged to inform patients of the risks of microbial keratitis with extended wear lenses, and that aftercare appointments should be carried out every 12 months. In terms of verifying patient specifications with internet suppliers, Mr Cavaye told delegates that a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would suffice. A lively debate followed, including whether optical assistants should be delegated tasks such as teaching lens insertion and removal, as advocated by staff development consultant, Sarah Morgan.

The evening session began with a Pioneers Update by Tim Bowden, after which Dr Eef van der Worp shared his expert knowledge on scleral lenses in his Pioneers Lecture, ‘Beyond the corneal borders’. Dr van der Worp explained the findings of the Pacific University Scleral Shape Study, which found that the shape of the limbus and the anterior sclera was frequently tangential rather than curved – and that most eyes were non-rotationally symmetrical in nature beyond the corneal borders. This may call for non-rotationally symmetrical lenses, such as toric and quadrant specific lenses, he told delegates.

“There is a bright future for scleral lenses if we become confident about fitting them or referring our patients to someone who can,” concluded Dr van der Worp.

December 2011

LOCSU announced yesterday in response to LOC feedback, the first training day for Treasurers of Local and Regional Optical Committees is to be held on Monday, 30th January 2012 (10.00am-4.00pm) at the LOCSU Offices, now at 2 Woodbridge Street, London EC1R 0DG

LOCSU says the Treasurers’ Training Day aims to be a hands-on practical day to help Treasurers, whether new in post or more experienced, iron out any difficulties or confusion in the management of the accounts for their Local or Regional Optical Committees. The day will cover a wide range of financial issues and will include:

• How to set a budget for your Local/Regional Optical Committee
• developing a basic set of accounts
• Introduction to the LOCSU Company Model
• finance clinic – bring along your accounts and get advice on the day from the experts

The day will be led by Alan Tinger, Executive Chairman of LOCSU and Alan Lester, LOCSU Company Director and AOP Finance Director.

To book your place, click

LOCSU anticipates this day to be the first of similar events around the country.

November 2011

The 2010 Frank Norville Media Prize awarded for the most interesting new contributor to optical journal articles was presented to David Baker an independent optometrist from North London recently. The award was given to David for his fascinating Optician miscellany of connected optical topics his latest being Malvern water.

Those closely studying the accompanying photograph noting the presentation book title Johan Zoffany’s life story by Penelope Treadwell may wonder at Frank’s particular choice. Could this be a case of”watch this future optical topic!”

November 2011

The General Optical Council (GOC) has announced that it is cutting registration fees for the second year running. This means that the regulator’s fees have decreased in real terms by 32 per cent since 2010.

The annual retention fee for optometrists, dispensing opticians and business registrants has been reduced by £10 to £260. The fee for low income earners is now £160, and the fee for students remains at £20.

The GOC’s Chief Executive and Registrar, Samantha Peters was positive about the regulator’s ability to continue a ‘downward pressure’ on the fee in future years: “The reduction in fees for next year is a sign of our ongoing commitment to increasing our efficiency as a regulator, whilst ensuring public protection.
She continued: “Through cost cutting and making savings across the organisation, in an extremely tough financial climate we are able to reduce fees, whilst absorbing additional costs – rather than passing them onto our registrants.”

The £10 reduction to 2012-13 registration fees coincides with the anticipated introduction of a financial levy, applicable to all UK healthcare regulators, to fund the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE). The GOC will absorb the impact of this levy, in addition to inflation and associated cost increases.
The new fee level will apply to all registrants renewing or joining the registers for the first time, for the retention year 2012-13. Retention reminders will be sent out to all registrants in December, and the deadline for renewing GOC registration is 15 March 2012. Registrants can renew and pay their fee online, by logging into the MyGOC section of from 3 January 2012.

November 2011

Neil Handley Curator of The British Optical Museum housed at The College of Optometrists premises in Craven Street, London is a relative newcomer to the field of ophthalmic products but he has certainly earned his optical establishment place following the publication of his new book titled Cult Eyewear. The book offers a serious historical analysis of the process by which spectacles transitioned from a barely tolerated medical appliance, to a must-have fashion accessory.

Cult Eyewear places developments within the industry since the 1950s within their wider historical context and documents the emergence of “lifestyle dispensing” plus features on personalities and films associated with particular companies and designs.

Available £19.92 with free delivery from here: Cult Eyewear: The World's Enduring Classics

November 2011

Norville Eyewear have presented the British Optical Association Museum Curator Neil Handley with a complete set of Polaroid BUTS their Best Under The Sun 75th Anniversary sunspec range, creations of 20 models representing the best selling Polaroid designs over the last seven decades. Frank Norville commented “it is really important that all optical frame supply companies consider presenting examples of their best sellers to the College as it doesn’t take that long before today’s frames become the antiques of tomorrow.”

It is hoped that other frame companies or practices can be as generous and help the Museum build up a representative collection of early 21st designs to compare against those previous centuries they already have on display.” Contact Neil Handley Curator, British Optical Association Museum at the College of Optometrists.

November 2011

The General Optical Council (GOC) has now published its 2010-11 Annual Report.

The report reviews the GOC’s work and achievements over a year of modernisation from April 2010 to March 2011. This includes work the Council has done to enhance its registration systems allowing fully-qualified and student registrants to apply for retention online, and developing an enhanced CET system to take effect from January 2013.

GOC chief executive and registrar Samantha Peters said: “The report reviews our achievements over a year of change at the GOC. Our online retention system received extremely positive feedback from both fully-qualified and student registrants, we have made numerous savings which have now helped us to cut our retention fee two years running, and set out the principles for our enhanced CET scheme.

We believe enhanced CET will help to improve standards across the profession. We consulted widely with the public and the profession and have used the feedback we received, as well as our staff and Council’s strong knowledge of the optical sector, to design a fair, effective and proportionate scheme.”
The report focuses on the regulator’s four core functions: setting standards, approving qualifications, maintaining the Opticians Registers and investigating complaints. For the third successive year, the report has been published online to help keep costs down.

The Annual Report website allows you to build and print your own customised report – whether you’d like the complete document or just the sections which interest you.

It is available online from

BCLA announces Olympics theme for 2012 conference

November 2011

“Contact lens practitioners are the Olympic athletes of the eyecare world”, says BCLA President Shelly Bansal – as the Association unveils an Olympics-inspired theme for its 2012 Clinical Conference and Exhibition.

The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) has chosen an Olympics inspired theme for its 36th Clinical Conference and Exhibition – ‘Competing for Excellence’.

To be held at the ICC Birmingham from 24 to 27 May 2012, the BCLA Clinical Conference and Exhibition will once again feature the very best CET in the field of contact lenses and the anterior eye, plus practical CET workshops and clinical and manufacturer presentations.

Space for the accompanying three-day (25-27 May) exhibition is already 85 per cent sold – and back by popular demand will be the event’s unique Exhibitors’ Pavilion.

The Olympics theme will be brought in via the event’s first ever session on contact lenses and sport in conjunction with the UK Sports Vision Association. Within this session, Dr Martin Cardall of Birmingham and Midlands Eye Centre at City Hospital will present the Irving Fatt Memorial Lecture, entitled: ‘The effect of exercise on the cornea and contact lens wear’.

BCLA President, Shelly Bansal, commented: “Delegates at this year’s conference will be inspired to achieve their personal best in every area of contact lens practice through some of the best CET on offer anywhere in the world. I believe that contact lens practitioners are the Olympic athletes of the eyecare world, and what the annual Clinical Conference does is provide the best coaches, mentors and training to ensure delegates are performing at the top of their game and delivering the very best eyecare to their patients.”

November 2011

SeeAbility recently ran two successful Look Here events to give people with a learning disability the opportunity to learn about looking after their eyes. People with a learning disability are 10 times more likely to have serious eye problems than the rest of the population, and the Charity is on a mission to raise awareness of this and to enable more people to access the right support

The events took place in York and London with a total of 85 self advocates and 20 supporters attending from across the country. The Charity is keen to work with more self advocacy groups to hold events across the UK.

Scott Watkin, Mencap’s Learning Disability Consultant and SeeAbility’s eye 2 eye Ambassador chaired both events. Attendees got the chance to learn about SeeAbility’s eye 2 eye Campaign, a community-based initiative improving eye care and vision for people with a learning disability, as well as Scott’s own experience of eye care.

Laura Christie from SeeAbility, talked about the eye care journey and demystifying the sometimes scary experience of accessing eye care for people with learning disabilities, in particular what happens at an eye test. A staggering 6 out of 10 people with a learning disability will need to wear glasses.

People at the events took part in discussions on ‘What makes it hard for people with learning disabilities who are blind to use rehabilitation services?’; The problems with attending an eye hospital; Accessing good eye tests and ‘Why do some people find it hard to wear their glasses?’ and considered what could make each experience easier.

Attendees also got the chance to take part in a Big Brother ‘Diary Room’ where people were filmed answering some questions about eye care: these clips will be edited into a film to show to MPs.

Scott Watkin closed both events by saying, ‘If we can get eye care right for people who have learning disabilities we can get it right for everybody else’.

November 2011

Following the October 2011 publication of WHO figures revealing the high levels of avoidable visual impairment, one of the UK's leading eye care experts is driving home the message about how important it is to get regular eye check-ups, reminding the UK public that in many cases, these check-ups are completely free.

In the wake of World Health Organisation estimates that more than 285 million people in the world are visually impaired, and that of those people, 39 million are blind, eye care expert Optical Express has reminded the UK public that it provides free eye examinations in Scotland and free examinations with a purchase in the rest of the UK and Ireland.

This means, as the professional eye care company points out, that there is no reason not to come for a regular check. Eye care checks may lead to eyesight being saved as a result of undiagnosed eye problems being picked up, and they also provide a valuable insight into people's overall health.
An incredible 80% of the world’s blindness is avoidable, and can either be treated or prevented by cost-effective means.

Optical Express is dedicated to promoting the importance of going for regular eye examinations, which can not only check eye health, but can also identify the early signs of eye disease and conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, cataracts, or tumours.

A spokesman for the company commented:

"As a society, we go to the doctor when we're feeling out of sorts, so it makes perfect sense to book appointment with eye experts when your eyesight starts to give you trouble."

He added: "Almost half of all cases of blindness, around 18 million, are as a result of cataracts. The majority of these cases are age related and cannot be prevented; however, cataracts can be treated through a procedure called Natural Lens Replacement, now a very common treatment."

Optical Express is the only UK-wide provider to offer Lentis®MPlus - advanced technology premium lens for the treatment of long/short sightedness, presbyopia, astigmatism (corneal irregularity) and cataracts.

With Optical Express having performed more than one million corrective procedures globally and invested £1million plus in advanced technology in every one of its 100 clinics throughout the UK and Ireland, their customers can be confident that they are in the best possible hands.

Laser surgery and Natural Lens Replacement are both painless, simple and fast processes that have literally changed the lives of millions of people worldwide since being introduced.

The treatment for Natural Lens Replacement involves one of Optical Express’s team of highly qualified surgeons, who are all fully registered with the General Medical Council, replacing the impaired lens with Lentis®MPlus, providing perfect vision.

The procedure takes just 20 minutes under local anaesthetic, enabling the patient to walk out of the surgery and return to work a couple of days later.
Results depend on the individual and the overall health of their eyes, with many people noticing an immediate enhancement of their vision. This improvement continues during the first few weeks following treatment, and all patients receive a fully comprehensive aftercare programme.

Natural Lens Replacement is ideal for people over 40 who find their eyesight isn’t as sharp as it used to be, or for those who suffer from long or short-sightedness (hyperopia and myopia), astigmatism (corneal irregularity), or presbyopia, the need for reading glasses.

Those patients who have not been diagnosed suitable for laser eye surgery may also benefit from this revolutionary treatment.

November 2011

Perhaps a measure of how fast drug technology is moving in vision and how much faster the FDA appear to accept new innovation compared to our NICE, news from the States has been released on a new drug called Eylea.

The Eylea drug has been cleared for use late last week for AMD sufferers. After a 3 year trial the drug a VEGF called Trap Eye in its trial was manufactured by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

Dr Alexander Eaton Director of Retinal Health Centers stated that this was another step forward after Lucentis and Avastin and would no doubt be some years before any further improvements would be achieved.

BCLA makes statement after Bionic press frenzy

November 2011

This early trial has excited many journals and newspapers around the world from its publication in the Journal of Micromechanics and Micro-engineering, and has provoked a number of questions to the BCLA who have provided the following response:

“As an educational and scientific membership organisation, the BCLA’s mission is to promote excellence in research, manufacture and clinical practice of contact lenses and related areas. The Association welcomes all research and technological advancement in the field of contact lens technology for medical/corrective purposes.

“The Association is aware of ongoing research in the field of computerised contact lens technology and other applications outside the realms of everyday contact lens practice. It keeps its members informed of such developments thought internal communications and at continuing education and training events.

“At its 2012 Clinical Conference and Exhibition, to be held at the ICC Birmingham, UK, from 24-27 May, Professor Lyndon Jones of the University of Waterloo, Canada, and Professor Eric Papas of the Brien Holden Vision Institute, Australia, will deliver a special session on the futuristic application of contact lenses, such as biosensing, drug device delivery and nanotechnology.

“While the Association grants annual awards to support work in the area of contact lenses and the anterior eye, it currently does not fund research into non-medical applications of contact lens technology. The BCLA Ophthalmic Research Ethics Committee reviews protocols for contact lenses and related research, and provides independent advice on the extent to which proposed studies comply with recognised ethical standards.”

A consumer guide to contact lens wear and care, and information about the regulations governing the sale and supply of contact lenses in the UK, can be found on the BCLA website.

November 2011

Its been called the Terminator Lens by some newspapers but a wireless embedded transmitter on a contact lens has finally been achieved.

Keep up to date with information, news, alerts or be guided by a sat nav through images projected on your contact lens. Yes it could be possible with an extension of the number of pixels over the “one pixel trial”.

US and Finnish bioengineers have embedded an antenna, radio receiver, control circuitry, and LED into a wearable contact lens. The team, led by Babak Praviz, has successfully displayed a single, remotely-controlled pixel onto a contact lens worn by a rabbit. Power from an external battery is transmitted via RF to an antenna that runs around the edge of the contact lens. With no obstruction of vision or discomfort to the wearer, an integrated circuit provides the energy, and then powers an LED.

Problems will need to be overcome in providing a power source as the single-pixel contact lens display and its tiny antenna, has to have a power source within 10cm... Increasing the pixel numbers across the Fresnel lens could provide a true bionic lens, maybe allowing us to zoom in on objects seen in the distance.

November 2011

PHN has learnt that Bob Hughes has left the AOP. Richard Carswell, Deputy Chief Executive and until recently, acting Head of LOCSU, will head up the AOP while a successor is recruited. Bob has left to pusue new career opportunities and said:

"I am proud to leave th AOP with increased capabilities to promote optometry, with friends in all political parties and in the NHS administration, and a first class defence team able to stand alongside individual optometrists when they come under attack".

David Shannon, AOP Chairman paid tribute to Bob's achievements saying:

"Bob has contributed to the success of the AOP over nearly seven years.. During his time as CEO Bob has raised our profile and that of optometry significantly in parliament and with the public. He has been central to the development of much closer working relationships with the other optical bodies and especially FODO; a move which resulted in the creation of the Optical Confederation.

The AOP now has a substantial new property that will enable us to increase our services to members within an attractive working environment, and will also help us contain runnin costs well into the future.

We are a more powerful national lobbying force than we have ever been, as well as being able to operate effectively through the LOC Support Unit which Bob pioneered and helped to build. The profession speaks with a much stronger voice now and we are grateful for his work and enthusiasm. We wish him well for the future."

November 2011

Rodenstock has launched WinFit Reference, an advanced ordering system for complete spectacles, lenses and eyewear that allows opticians to place and track orders 24 hours a day.

The sophisticated online software lets opticians input orders directly without relaying information to a third party, reducing the risk for errors and saving time.

When logging orders, all customer-specific parameters are fully validated by the intuitive software, prior to being placed. Opticians can then monitor live production information using the real-time order tracking function.

The 3D online calculation module is an interactive demonstration tool showing exact base curve, shape and substance at any point on the finished lens. It boasts accurate substance and weight calculation values for all types of lenses, including simultaneous comparative data.

Individual parameters, including FFA, CVD and PT, and design optimisation can be simply entered or imported to the system.

The software provides clear handling of different orders such as complete spectacles, promotions, uncuts, remote edging and glazing. This enables opticians to manage all types of orders and requirements, while maintaining an accurate and up-to-date overview of progress.

WinFit Reference provides complete frame shape management, with a personal library and access to the Rodenstock frame library.

Opticians using WinFit Reference can take advantage of the network enabled functionality and use the programme on multiple computers in their practice. The system also links to Rodenstock dispensing software.

Debbie Bathgate, Rodenstock Lens Product Manager, said: “We are already receiving excellent feedback about the new system which is designed to make efficient use of opticians’ time. Everything is recorded and information can be accessed at any time.

“While phone, fax and written orders are still available, we hope that WinFit Reference will be a welcome development and be less time-consuming. Our WinFit Reference team is on hand to offer advice and assistance when needed.”

November 2011

Practitioners have a real opportunity to reap the rewards of the NHS reforms by getting involved with their Local or Regional Optical Committee, according to LOCSU Chairman Alan Tinger. Speaking at the National Optometric Conference which took place last week, he went on to say:

“Leading policymakers at this year’s NOC have underlined the need for Committees to seize the moment – and use the NHS reforms as an opportunity to increase the number of local enhanced services. By doing so, optical professionals also have the chance to reap the business rewards of increasing access to their services as well as the opportunity to develop their own skills. With new enhanced services worth an estimated £3 million over the last year to the optical profession, there is a real opportunity to develop the range of services available across England and Wales.

The announcement by the General Optical Council that Peer Discussion is set to become mandatory CET activity means that Local and Regional Optical Committees (LOCs/ROCs) are also set to become key channels for these sessions which will help the profession to develop.

To help achieve this, Committees need access to the widest pool of talent and skills across the profession; you may be working as an optometrist or a dispensing optician, based in a large well-known chain or an independent practice. But whatever your place of work, if you have the skills and/or enthusiasm to advance the profession - Local or Regional Optical Committees are the right place for you.”

LOCSU has also recently developed a number of areas to support the development of skills at local level including:

• bespoke training for LOCs and ROCs
• new officer training
• Leadership Skills module (provided jointly with the Wales Optometric Postgraduate Education Centre) which offers the optical sector the first leadership skills course specifically tailored to the needs of optometrists and dispensing opticians
• development of Optical Leads to provide strategic advice within regions

November 2011

We're delighted to announce that Optometry Giving Sight has won the AOP's Charity of the Year for 2011.

The global charity's UK operation secured an impressive 53% of all votes in the category of Charity, Company or Practice of the Year for the organisation that has done the most to promote and expand optometry, or which has brought the benefits of optics to a wider audience.

Donna Power, UK Country Manager (pictured on the left with Sales and Marketing Assistant Georgina Woolfrey) accepted the Award at the AOP's black tie event on November 3rd.

"This is fantastic news! We're honoured to be recognised in this way and would like to extend our thanks to all those who took the time to vote for us," she said.

Optometry Giving Sight was first established in the UK in 2003 when the World Council of Optometry (WCO), the International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) came together and to mobilise resources from the optometric community to help eliminate refractive error blindness and low vision in the developing world.

Since then, the UK operation has expanded through the growing support from the country's optical profession and now makes a significant contribution to Optometry Giving Sight's global fundraising efforts.

November 2011

UltraVision is thrilled to announce that, with over 50% of the votes, Josie Barlow, Clinical Services Advisor, has won ‘Supplier of the Year Award’ at the 2011 Association of Optometrists (AOP) Awards.

Josie won against some very tough competition and is obviously over the moon, “I couldn’t believe it; I was stunned, overwhelmed and humbled. It is amazing that people think so much of me. It’s just amazing! A huge thanks to everyone who voted for me.”

Josie’s AOP nomination highlights the high regard in which she is held within the Optical community. Jane Smellie from Jane Smellie Opticians, Shropshire, commented “Josie has been key to the development of my business and the specialist services we provide. In the last 12 years she has supported me through the fitting of many challenging patients. Her constant encouragement, support and incredible knowledge has been invaluable in building my confidence and my reputation as a specialist contact lens fitter.”

The awards were presented by AOP Chief Executive, Bob Hughes, and Chairman, David Shannon, at the recent National Optometry Conference (NOC) gala dinner. The NOC is organised by the AOP, which is the leading professional organisation in the UK for Optometrists, with more than 10,000 members.

November 2011

Silhouette International, the leading eyewear brand based in Linz, Austria and available in over 100 countries, has appointed Gregor Dietachmayr as its new Director of International Sales. Dietachmayr aged 46 was born in Wels Austria and worked for many years at Fischer Ski where he rose to Managing Director. His new task at Silhouette International will be to introduce the brand to new markets whilst reinforcing its position in existing ones.

As Director of International Sales, he will oversee 13 subsidiaries – mainly in Europe and the USA – as well as the Sales Team in Linz. In addition to organising all international sales, he will be responsible for sales control and decisions relating to distribution partnerships. With the support of his Area Sales Managers, he will also serve as a link between the markets and the central offices in Linz. He will be reporting directly in to Silhouette co-owner and chairman Arnold Schmied, who is in overall control of Marketing, Sales and Design.

“For the position of Director of International Sales, it was important for us to find an all-rounder with a background in brands, and who can also interact with all other divisions in order to rapidly recognise the needs of the markets and implement them. With Gregor Dietachmayr, we are happy to have found the all-rounder we are looking for,” said Arnold Schmied, of the new appointment.
For nearly 50 years (the company was founded in 1964), Silhouette has been producing and marketing Silhouette International eyewear under its own brand name, Silhouette and – since 1992 – for adidas eyewear under license. Today, the company exports around 95% of its products, with the exciting new markets of Asia and central and eastern Europe playing an increasingly important role in the company’s international success."

“This new job is a great challenge, further developing a traditional Austrian brand with an excellent international reputation. I have a very clear aim to increase market presence as well as volume,” Dietachmayr commented.

November 2011

In a recently published study in the Journal of Optometry (November 2011) conducted by eye nutrition pioneer Stuart Richer, PhD, OD at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Chicago, results show scientific evidence that dietary Zeaxanthin improved vision in night driving and fine detail, among others.

The ZVF Study followed 60 elderly veterans with early AMD over a 12-month period that consumed 8 mg of dietary Zeaxanthin daily, showed improvement in the ability to drive at night, recognition of fine detail - an average improvement of 1.5 lines or 8.5 letters on an eye chart, and the disappearance of blind spots.

This is particularly exciting for individuals with early AMD, the leading cause of vision loss for people over age 55. Common symptoms of early AMD include difficulty driving at night, reading in low light, blind spots, loss of vivid colours, all of which contribute to daily difficulty and potential loss of independence for seniors. Participants underwent extensive visual measurements including the Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD) exam, while taking 8 mg of Zeaxanthin, 9 mg of Lutein, or a combination of both daily over a 12-month period. The study confirmed that dietary Zeaxanthin supplementation increased MPOD, improved vision, and provided benefits beyond traditional Lutein supplementation.

Located in the back of the eye, the macula contains the protective pigments, Zeaxanthin and Lutein, which are found naturally at a 2.:1 ratio. Zeaxanthin specifically protects the cones, or photoreceptors responsible for central vision, colour perception, and fine detail. While Zeaxanthin and Lutein are found in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables as well as dark green, leafy vegetables, Zeaxanthin is scarce in the average U.S. daily diet, making it difficult to maintain healthy macular pigment levels to protect and enhance vision.

Dennis Gierhart, PhD and CEO of Zea Vision, a pioneer in Zeaxanthin research, commented, "Since the identification of Zeaxanthin and its role in eye health more than 20 years ago, I have seen it as my mission to bring the benefits of Zeaxanthin to a wider audience. I am thrilled with the findings that support the many benefits of Zeaxanthin supplementation."

November 2011

The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) is now inviting submissions of papers and posters for its 2012 Clinical Conference and Exhibition, by the deadline of 13 January 2012. Have you a clinical paper, poster or photo that will inspire your colleagues and future generations of contact lens practitioners?

Scientific abstracts will be considered on any topic related to contact lenses and/or the anterior eye, and authors can choose between ‘poster only’ and ‘poster/oral presentation’ at the point of submission.

Clinical case studies may also be submitted in this category, again with the option of ‘poster only’ or ‘poster/oral presentation’. All subject matter should be topical and include original data.

Also now invited are images for the BCLA photographic competition, which takes place at the Clinical Conference. The winning entries will be published in the Association’s journal, Contact Lens & Anterior Eye. The closing date for electronic entries is 27 April 2012.

The 36th BCLA Clinical Conference and Exhibition takes place at the ICC Birmingham from 24-27 May 2012. Details of the provisional programme and registration will be available from January 2012.

November 2011

Top Porsche Design stockists enjoyed a day at the world-famous Silverstone racing circuit, test-driving Porsches and learning more about the designer eyewear brand, courtesy of Rodenstock.

The opticians visited the Porsche Driving Experience Centre and were given the opportunity to drive the latest 911, Carrera and Cayenne models on dedicated Porsche tracks.

They also tried out the Porsche Human Performance facility, equipped with state-of-the-art technology including a range of physiological testing, which helps provide understanding of driving-specific fitness levels.

During the day, presentations were made by Porsche Design and Rodenstock about the luxury eyewear collection. Damien Klevge, Frame Product Manager at Rodenstock, said: “It’s always a privilege to meet our customers and we pride ourselves on providing the highest levels of hospitality. It’s an excellent opportunity to share developments and hear feedback on the Porsche Design range of eyewear.”

November 2011

Rodenstock Club is celebrating its 20th anniversary by offering opticians even more reasons to join the popular loyalty initiative.

The Club was founded in 1991 solely for independent opticians, and has evolved to provide a unique level of service and portfolio of products as well as rewards package.

There are numerous benefits for being a Rodenstock Club member including contributions to local advertising, branded open days, loyalty bonuses, annual training and early bird promotions.

Members receive full marketing support to promote products and services, increasing sales and attracting new customers. This includes direct marketing, advertising templates, public relations, product imagery and point of sale merchandise.

Members are also eligible for the highly-anticipated annual awards, this year taking place at the recently-refurbished Savoy in London. Winners from the awards will join Rodenstock in Florence, to experience the legendary level of club hospitality.

EK Eyewear Opticians of Belfast are the first to benefit from the free marketing provided by Spectrum Thea

October 2011

25 Opticians in the UK and N Ireland have been awarded a free enhanced entry in the new searchable “Opticians Database” on,.uk The enhancement raises their visibility in internet searches and raises them at the top of the PCT area listing. It also allows them to select products and services they provide and specialisms that are available at the practice.

Spectrum Thea who are leading the way in Dry Eye Clinic training for Opticians selected their 25 most loyal practices. An additional offer made by PHN to these practices provides a mini website with functionality to enhanced entry users paid for by Spectrum Thea, allowing them for an additional £75 per annum a “Featured Entry”. EK Eyewear, Belfast have been the first to do so this week.

Both Shamir and Norville also provide similar benefits to their best customers. These customers will also soon be invited to add their specialties and products to the database researched by over 20,000 members of the public each week. The value of a featured mini website is £190 per year plus vat.

October 2011

The report “Ophthalmic Goods & Services Update” covers the ophthalmic goods sector, prescribed spectacles and contact lenses, while the ophthalmic services sector covers both public and private sight testing. Contact-lens products are excluded.

According to the 55 page report, the market for ophthalmic goods and services has been growing steadily in recent years, sustained it says by a strong level of government subsidy on eye care. The value of the market stood at an estimated £3bn at the end of 2010 and has grown by 14.1% since 2006.

In the ophthalmic goods sector, sales are dominated by spectacles, which accounted for 81.9% of all ophthalmic goods sold in 2010. The number of contact lens wearers, however, continues to increase, with an estimated 3.6 million people wearing contact lens in the UK in 2010.

The report forecasts that the UK market for ophthalmic goods and services will grow by 12% between 2011 and 2015, to a total of £3.44bn. The market for ophthalmic goods is expected to grow by 12.3% over the forecast period, to £2.93bn, with growth strongest in the spectacles sector. The ophthalmic services market is projected to grow by 9.9% over the forecast period, reaching £510m in 2015.


October 2011

West Midlands Police Authority will introduce an eyecare scheme, providing its police forces with prescription safety glasses and visual display unit (VDU) glasses.

The scheme will be provided by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare.

Safety spectacles will be provided for police officers, police community safety officers (PCSOs) and special constables.

Prescription spectacle inserts will be provided for pedal-cyclist police officers and PCSOs, and a range of frames with single-vision lenses will be available for all VDU users.

John Woolley, duty of care manager for the cccupational health department at West Midlands Police Authority, said: “The eyecare voucher system offered by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare allows for consistent, transparent and administratively-simple care.”

Leonie Caul, corporate account manager for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: “We work with several police forces. They have such varied needs for eyecare, from officers on duty who need specialist safety eyewear to administration staff who work with various display units and require VDU eyecare.”

October 2011

Rochester-based eye care company Bausch & Lomb Inc. has named Sheila Hopkins global president of the company's vision care business. She will oversee the company's contact lens and lens care product lines.

Hopkins will be based in Rochester, reporting to CEO Brent L. Saunders. Before B & L, she spent 14 years with Colgate-Palmolive Co. in a variety of executive roles.

Meanwhile, two senior executives, Peter Valenti III and Steven Robins, have taken new positions. Valenti will be president of North American vision care, while Robins has been named vice president and chief marketing officer of global vision care. Valenti and Robins both have been with B+L since 2009.

October 2011

Leading buying group for UK independents, the National Eyecare Group, has appointed Sandi Charlesworth as its new Business Development Manager.
Sandi joins the Group with a wealth of experience in the optical field and other industries. She began her career as a computer programmer and analyst, working for companies including Coventry City Council and Massey Ferguson. However, in 2002 Sandi made a dramatic change of direction and joined Specsavers as a dispensing assistant. She went on to qualify as a dispensing optician from Anglia Ruskin University, winning both the Association of British Dispensing Opticians’ final examination prize and the Essilor prize for best mark in the combined final theory and practical examination.

Sandi’s most recent role was with Essilor where she was Training Consultant/Brand Manager. Whilst there, she worked closely with independent practitioners implementing CET accredited training programmes and supporting practices. At NEG, Sandi will be working closely with members, helping them to make the most of their exclusive membership benefits, to implement IT resolutions and improve communication with patients by using the latest animated software.

Sandi said: “I am very excited to be joining the National Eyecare Group in a role where I can work with the members to ensure they are maximising the benefits available to them. It is a great time to be joining because of the new products which the Optinet side of the Group’s business is bringing online. I believe that these products, combined with NEG’s preferential rates, will help independent opticians differentiate themselves from the multiples and secure their success.”

Phil Mullins, NEG Director of Business Development, commented: “We are delighted that Sandi is joining us at this important time for all independent opticians. Sandi’s enthusiasm and knowledge will be a real asset to NEG, working closely with our members to ensure they are kept up-to-date with the many new initiatives we have coming to fruition over the next year and beyond.”

October 2011

A series of online training videos has been launched by UltraVision CLPL for KeraSoft IC, the specialist soft contact lens designed to give patients with keratoconus and other irregular cornea conditions clear, comfortable vision all day long. A step-by-step guide of the whole KeraSoft IC fitting process is provided for the practitioner; from assessment of the cornea, through to making adjustments to the periphery of the lens.

The videos are being extremely well received; eye care professionals’ feedback includes Werner Noeth from South Africa saying, “I feel even more confident now and have fitted around 22 patients with great success” and Fernandez Fernandez-Velazquez, an irregular cornea specialist from Spain, commented "Thumbs up for your new online training, it is a wonderful achievement”. The package is designed as an advanced tool to enable practitioners, even with minimal specialist experience, to fit complex irregular corneas.

The KeraSoft IC training videos are found on the dedicated training web site and each user is provided with unique login details, allowing them the freedom to train at their individual pace.

A range of close-ups of the lens on-eye enables the contact lens fitter to confidently identify an optimal, tight or flat fitting lens in practice. Grouped into Core Fitting modules the videos cover the fitting process for the majority of irregular corneas with minimal adjustment to the lens. The Completion section outlines the requirements for ordering the required lens and the Advanced Fitting modules guide the practitioner through more complex fitting cases. Complimentary fitting tools to use in the consulting room and useful clinical hints and tips from the Troubleshooting section are also available to download from the website.

Presentation Certificates are available for practitioners who successfully complete the course and a short online multiple choice exam.

October 2011

PCC has advised PCT staff who are currently dealing with Christmas and new year holiday opening hours for their medical, dental and pharmacy contractors that optical contractors only sight test patients by prior appointment. They do not provide any sort of emergency service and it is not unusual for optometrists to want to take an extended Christmas and new year break.

"Normal hours" are defined at clause 1 of the GOS mandatory services contract as "those days and hours being the days on which and the times at which services under the Contract will normally be provided by the Contractor". The PCC advises that this is a much looser definition of opening hours than applies in, for example, the primary medical or pharmaceutical services contracts and this is quite deliberate. They state that Optical contractors could with some justification claim that Christmas and new year weeks are not normal and therefore fall outside the definition of "normal hours".

October 2011

Swiss optician Matthias Thoma has chosen to work exclusively with TD Tom Davies in a newly opened state-of-the-art optical store. Located in Thun, Switzerland, the new Zeiss Vision System Store, which is privately owned by optician Thoma, will offer the Full TD Tom Davies Bespoke Service, as well as Tom Davies Couture and Natural Horn, to be introduced at the end of the month. With its own TD design and portfolio room, the shop has been created in complete synergy with the made-to-order bespoke service offered by the British TD Tom Davies label.

To celebrate the launch of TD Tom Davies at Optik Thoma, a party was held on Friday 14th October, 2011, attracting a large crowd of local guests. CEO Tom Davies attended the evening, sketching and designing frames for a large number of the party guests well into the night. Local band ‘Undiscovered Soul’ were invited to play at the event, prior to the start of their UK tour this weekend.

During the evening, CEO Tom Davies said: “This is an exciting new development and we are delighted to be working with Matthias Thoma of Optik Thoma in this way, which is a first for the TD Tom Davies brand. When I heard that Matthias wanted to stock ONLY Tom Davies, I was amazed and delighted. Within just three months of opening, this store is now one of my best customers in the world. It just goes to show that my range of services can reduce an Optician’s stock requirement, making them stand out in their market and generating a significant turnover for them. It’s so exciting!”

Asked to comment on the collaboration, Thoma said: “My idea was that perfect eye and vision analysis using state-of-the-art Zeiss devices and our offering of the best high quality High Definition i.Scription® Zeiss lenses must be matched with a very high level, well designed luxury frame. TD Tom Davies is the perfect choice. I have completely renovated the practice turning it into a modern, beautifully designed, stylish store, which is the ideal environment for the TD Tom Davies brand. The TD Tom Davies design and portfolio room is used exclusively for consultations and presentations of the Bespoke designs, measurements and for discussions on portfolios with clients. We are looking forward to doing lots of Tom Davies design workshops so that our clients are fully involved in the process of designing their dream frame! This is the way forward for eyewear, it’s a truly ground-breaking opportunity.”

October 2011

More than 80% of independent opticians recently surveyed said they support the Lighter Later Campaign to create lighter evenings and reduce the number of road accidents in the hours of darkness.

As the nation prepares to turn the clocks back on October 30, drivers are reminded of their legal obligations to ensure they can see clearly at night, by carrying out checks to their vehicles and their eyesight.

Debbie Bathgate, lens product manager from leading eyewear manufacturer Rodenstock, who conducted the survey, said; “Drivers who wear glasses are even more at risk when driving at night-time, as they suffer glare and dazzle from streetlights and vehicle headlights. They also need to be wary of scratched or smeared lenses which can impede vision.”

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), 40% of road collisions occur in the dark when vision is reduced.

The majority of opticians surveyed said they support the national campaign to create lighter evenings, in which the clocks would be moved forward one hour throughout the entire year. Clocks would still be altered in spring and autumn, but an hour of daylight would be moved from the morning to the evening when more people are awake. Supporters include the AA, RAC Foundation and ROSPA.

According to the survey, the difficulties of night-time driving are routinely discussed at eye appointments but less than half of spectacle wearers choose an anti-reflective coating, which is proven to reduce glare when driving in the dark. In the survey, 99% of practising opticians said they would recommend an anti-reflective coating.

Bathgate said: “Patients clearly understand the risks, yet some still fail to take action to prevent reduced vision when driving at night-time.”
Research from the Eyecare Trust suggests that 10% of drivers would fail a driving test if they re-took it today, due to poor eyesight.

Bathgate said: “It is vital to attend regular eye tests, even for people who don’t wear glasses as vision deteriorates and changes over time. This is particularly important for drivers, who may be posing a danger to themselves as well as other road users.”

Rodenstock welcomed a recent report from the European Parliament, which called for mandatory eye tests for all car and motorcycle drivers every 10 years.
“It is encouraging that the issue of drivers’ eyesight is being taken seriously, but 10 years is still too long,” said Bathgate. “Eye tests should be taken every two years, as they can also indicate other health issues, like glaucoma and diabetes.”

For more information about the Lighter Later Campaign visit

October 2011

PHN announces a new strategy on its own LOC help and briefing pages. Pages are currently being revamped in the light of future commissioning changes and will reflect an emphasis on sharing useful information to all LOCs, LMCs and Clinical Commissioning groups. Selected information that will published to help all professions which will be evident from the new pages. PHN says it will open up pages to all PHN visitors and has started with its new LOC home page.

October 2011

Although the BCLA has printed and circulated to its members a fact sheet summarizing the findings of the International Workshop on Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), reproduced courtesy of the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society (TFOS), you can also read and download the TFOS factsheet from our clinical briefing page.

Click here to read about the background of the factsheet and to open it

Celebrate 50 years of soft contact lenses at 8th BCLA Pioneers Conference on 23rd November

October 2011

British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) members will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the invention of soft contact lenses by Professor Otto Wichterle at the 8th BCLA Pioneers Conference on 23 November. The event is approved for a total of four contact lens CET points.

Honorary Pioneers Conference Organiser, Nigel Burnett Hodd, said: “As we celebrate 50 years of soft lenses, young practitioners will be amazed to learn that when I qualified we only had PMMA to work with. Today we have some of the most imaginative lenses ever, yet so many are based on those original pioneering days.”

To celebrate this, historians Tim Bowden and Andrew Gasson will give an appreciation to soft lenses during the opening session, ‘Soft contact lenses: the first 50 years”.

The next session, ‘Focus on keratoconus’, will see top corneal surgeons – Dr Bruce Allan, David O’Brart, Dr Sheraz Daya – and this year’s Pioneers Lecturer, Dr Eef van der Worp – discuss respectively:

• ‘New approaches to managing keratoconus’
• ‘Cross-linking and other treatments’
• ‘When to operate and what procedure’
• ‘Contact lens options for the irregular cornea’

The final session, ‘Practice matters’, will feature 15-minute slots on the following:

• ‘How to talk so your patients will listen and listen so they will talk’ – Craig Wilcox
• ‘Predicting successful contact lens wearers’ – Dr Katharine Evans
• ‘Why contact lens practice is both fulfilling and profitable’ – Ian Cameron
• ‘Practice and fitness to practise issues on contact lens practice’ – Keith Cavaye
• ‘Empowering your staff to promote contact lenses’ – Sarah Morgan

This year’s Pioneers Lecturer is renowned contact lens researcher and educator, Dr Eef van der Worp. In ‘Beyond the corneal borders’, Eef will present groundbreaking research findings on the anatomy and shape of the anterior ocular lens surface that will challenge perceptions about scleral lens fitting.

Eef explained: “Indications for scleral lens fitting have been evolving over the last few years, emerging from a lens for severely irregular corneas only, to a much broader spectrum of indications. The need for scleral lenses appears to be ever increasing lately. But what do we know about the anatomy and the shape of the anterior ocular surface area to enable adequate scleral lens fitting?

“This year’s Pioneers Lecture will focus on limbal and anterior scleral shape, primarily based on the exciting results from the Pacific University Scleral Shape Study. If you go beyond the corneal borders, you may be in for a couple of surprises. This lecture will focus on what we know about the shape of the ocular surface beyond the corneal borders, and what clinical applications this has in contact lens practice.”

All delegates will receive a free copy of Eef’s new book, ‘A Guide to Scleral Lens Fitting’, courtesy of Bausch + Lomb.

This year’s sponsors are the BCLA, Bausch + Lomb, CIBA Vision, CooperVision, David Thomas Contact Lenses, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, No7 Contact Lenses, Sauflon and Topcon. Don’t forget to visit the exhibition during the conference.

The conference, which starts at 12.30pm, is approved for three contact lens CET points (all target groups) while the evening programme, beginning at 6.15pm, is approved for one contact lens CET point (CLO and OO).

As councillor of the Royal Society of Medicine section Bob Hutchinson attended lectures and workshops held at Wimpole Street recently. He reports that the most interesting and relevant to Optics were those covering GP Commissioning and Clinical Governance Issues.

Being involved both at the College, FODO and the GOC in the early days of Governance formulation he was particularly heartened to see how well advanced the Optical community is in these matters.

“Our Fitness to Practice procedures whether at the College or GOC provide in my opinion greater confidence among our professionals and an increased likelihood that those who must be referred will be, for the public good. “ Hutchinson continued, “There seemed to me to much reliance on Local Medical Committees and keeping one’s own house in order amongst some GPs rather than reporting back to those whose job it is to Govern”

Being involved with GPs questioning the prospect of GP Commissioning was another eye opener. Whilst some see this as the only way forward many are wary of the way it could affect their patients.

Hutchinson reported back to PHN that the key issue in GPs reticence appears to be in many cases their total lack in population health knowledge, many only receiving around 4 hours of lectures during their education. “The problem being that GPs are taught to deal with the patient in front of them and not the population they encompass. Having to tell a patient they can’t be treated because of priority does not sit well with this ethos.”

Bob Hutchinson also reported that he will be helping arrange the next 2012 forum at the next Forum Committee meeting and he hopes to introduce an Optical flavour into next years proceedings.

October 2011

Action for Blind People, RNIB and SeeAbility have taken a step further towards making their innovative plans for future collaboration a reality, by appointing David Blunkett MP to act as an independent chair for the next stage of their discussions.

Mr Blunkett will work with the three CEOs and nominated trustees from each charity to ensure that improved sustainable services for blind and partially sighted people, including those with additional disabilities, are delivered as a result of this closer collaboration.

Mr Blunkett will also help to shape the future of the three organisations, which would become equal partners in a new corporate structure while retaining their individual identities as part of the collaboration plan. The future strategic direction of the organisations would be provided through the new structure, in which each of the three charities would have equal influence and status.

The appointment of Mr Blunkett begins the initial phase of the discussions, which is anticipated to last until October 2012. The desire of the three organisations to work more closely together actively supports the UK Vision Strategy, which aims to align the objectives of charities and professional groupings working in the sight loss sector.

Mr Blunkett commented: "These organisations have taken an impressive and innovative approach to improving service delivery for blind and partially sighted people, including those with other disabilities by choosing to work together and for this they should be commended. I'm very pleased to take on the role of chairing the transition and giving a little back after years of supporting from the sidelines. Helping to explore more effective use of valuable resources and lifting the profile of the work being undertaken, encourages me to take on the task of getting everyone to work constructively together." Mr Blunkett takes up his new role in October 2011.

Stephen Remington, Chief Executive of Action for Blind People, said:"Combining the resources and expertise of the three organisations will avoid duplication of services. By working together, we hope to give people with sight loss a stronger voice, helping them to access the support and outcomes they need, right across the UK.”

Lesley-Anne Alexander, Chief Executive of RNIB, said: “Blind and partially sighted people are at the heart of everything we do. We strongly believe that the coming together of our three organisations will make us fit for the future and enable us to support the increasing number of people living with serious sight loss in a challenging economic environment.”

David Scott-Ralphs, Chief Executive of SeeAbility, said: “We are all committed to ensuring that the people supported by each of the three charities receive the best possible service to meet their needs. We want to lead by example and promote opportunities for wider collaboration within the sector.”

October 2011

The European Parliament Own Initiative Report calls for concerted action to reduce the 35000 deaths on European roads costing €130 billion annually. The Report sets out a series of steps for national governments, the European Commission, and stakeholders to reduce accidents on our roads.

Vision is one area for action, with a recommendation for all car and motorcycle drivers to have an 'eye test' every ten years, and every five years over the age of 65. The European Commission has stated that it supports many of the proposed actions and will consider the proposals and translate some into 'concrete actions' while noting that Member States and stakeholders should also to play their part in improving road safety.

The Report is timely since the UK Government has yet to implement the updated European visual requirements for drivers, and the Report will draw the Commission's attention to the issue. Mark Nevin for the Optical Confederation said 'We welcome the European Parliament's recognition of the importance of ongoing assessment of all drivers' vision. We have always maintained that vision has received inadequate attention to date as an area with scope to deliver road safety improvements'.

David Wright on behalf of the International Glaucoma Association said 'We will do our part to raise awareness among the public but our efforts can only go so far. Just as with seatbelt wearing, we need a legislative backstop to ensure that all drivers attend for regular checks on their vision, which is key to early detection of conditions such as glaucoma'.

October 2011

The agenda published below promises an interesting and informative day where practices can learn how to advise and treat their patients with Dry Eye problems. Dry eye clinics up and down the country are providing added value for their patients in an optometric setting, providing GPs with opportunities to solve a problem that has remained unsolved by many for many.

Spectrum Thea encourages you to spend a day with a group of like-minded people, to develop your clinical and your commercial skills in an interactive and very enjoyable workshop and leave ready to develop your own profitable practice building Dry Eye Clinic. Please see agenda below.
Spectrum announce two new dates for Autumn 2011 as follows:

Tutors: Caroline Christie, Teifi James and Andy Clark

Venue: Conference Aston Hotel and Event Venues
Aston University
Aston Triangle
B4 7ET

Date: 7th October 2011
Time: 09:45 to 17:00
Total Cost: £150 + VAT

And also:

Colnbrook Bypass
West Drayton

Date: 4th November 2011
Time: 09:45 to 17:00
Total Cost: £150 + VAT

Upon completion of a short test successful attendees will also become recommended dry eye practitioners on the Spectrum Théa Website.

Please could you confirm your attendance to Spectrum Thea by e-mail including your preferred venue. Providing full name, address & contact telephone number for invoice purposes please.

Here is the agenda

The Dry Eye Project” Agenda

09:15 – 09:45 Registration


09:45 – 10:00 Welcome & Introduction

Helen Owens (Spectrum Théa) and Andy Clark

10:00 – 11:00 Lecture 1

“Saying Goodbye to Dry” – Latest Dry Eye Management
Caroline Christie BSc(Hons) FCOptom DipCLP FIACLE

11:00 – 11:15 Break

11:15 – 12:00 Lecture 2

“Management of Lid Margin Disease”
Caroline Christie BSc(Hons) FCOptom DipCLP FIACLE

12:00 – 12:45 Lunch

12:45 – 14:15 Clinical Workshops – “The Patient Journey”
Caroline Christie & Teifi James


Business Workshop – “Your Dry Eye Business”
Andy Clark

14:15 – 14:30 Coffee Break

14:30 – 16:00 Clinical Workshops – “The Patient Journey”
Caroline Christie & Teifi James


Business Workshop – “Your Dry Eye Business”
Andy Clark

16:00 – 16:30 Summary

16:30 – 17:00 MCQs and Close

October 2011

Ocuco is extending its webinar series by offering CET points to opticians and optometrists. Ocuco is again showing its clinical credentials by partnering with Dr John Nolan, Director of Sightrisk Ltd., to present “Age related vision loss risk assessment tool – can this improve your business?”. This webinar, being held on 6th October (9am and 6pm), is accredited by the General Optical Council UK (offering 2 CET points) and the Association of Optometrists Ireland (offering 1 CET point). It will highlight the use of the new AMD risk assessment tool. To attend, register at

Further webinars which are free to all who sign up are planned during October and cover the following topics:

Oct 13th : Introduction to the new features in FOCUS 2.0 - Specifically for current FOCUS users New features to enhance your business.

Oct 20th : Using Direct Debits to improve patient loyalty - Direct debits are a great way to improve patient loyalty and generate a monthly recurring revenue stream. Suitable for all practices

Oct 27th : Marketing for independent opticians in today's digital age - Automated recalls, target marketing campaigns and communications with SMS, email and letter. Suitable for all practices

October 2011

Sara Lambert, Quality Systems Manager at Rodenstock, is getting ready for a fundraising trek in Cambodia to raise money for children’s charity Action Medical Research.

The 53-year-old will join a group of adventurers that includes 80s singers Martin Fry from ABC and Richard Drummie from Go West.

The five-day trek will take Sara through the country’s tropical landscapes, hiking alongside dazzling green paddy fields and passing through small villages. She will climb Phnom Kulen Mountain, considered sacred by the locals, and finish at the famous Temples of Ankor, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Sara said: “This is the third trek I have taken part in for Action Medical Research. I originally trekked the Inca Trail in 2003 as the charity was funding research into osteoporosis in men, which my father suffered from. I now have a grandson and I am keen to support research into children’s illnesses.”

The trek will raise money to help fund medical research into conditions affecting babies and children. Research currently being supported by Action Medical Research includes work around premature birth, cerebral palsy, meningitis and epilepsy, as well as some very rare and distressing conditions that severely affect children.

This will be the fourth trek for Martin Fry and Richard Drummie, who are famous for hits such as ’The Look of Love’ and We Close Our Eyes’. They have previously completed fundraising trips across Venezuela, Costa Rica and the Namibian desert.

Martin Fry said: “We have so many amazing memories and meet so many inspirational people on these trips, and all the while raising money for a fantastic cause. We can’t wait to get to Cambodia.”

To support Sara please visit .

October 2011

The transformation of a former staff break and storage room into a fully functioning optometry clinic at Xochicalco University in Tijuana, Mexico, has been completed and is now ready to accept its first patients.

Funded by Optometry Giving Sight and implemented by the Californian chapter of VOSH, the clinic has five exam rooms where fourth year optometry students will examine the poor of Tijuana under the supervision of a University optometric faculty member and provide low-cost eyeglasses. Three clinic rooms will be dedicated to refraction, one to contact lenses, and one to vision therapy.

"We estimate that the new facility will not only be able to provide 15,000 indigent Mexican patients with high quality optometric care each year, but will also serve as a clinical training facility for optometry students from the University," said Dr. Greg Pearl, President of VOSH International.

Initially, 5 fourth year students will work at the clinic examining patients five days per week. The University currently has 8 fourth year students to fill these rotations so other students can be assigned to other clinical tasks such as optical dispensing and eyeglass fabrication. Students will also engage in community outreach screenings in nearby barrios at the weekends and refer patients to the clinic.

The clinic will be managed as a school project by the Xochicalco University School of Business which will provide all clinic promotion, public relations, accounting and reporting, making it highly cost effective.

"It's been a long haul but we are delighted that the clinic will be up and running for the new academic year," said Greg.

October 2011

In a similar but not as flexible approach that has taken since last January NHS Choices has expanded the fields of practice profiles and provided patients the ability to rate and comment on individual practices. In response the Optical Confederation has produced guidance on dealing with the effects of good or bad responses received on the site. (See below). The Confederation would also like to see a domiciliary listing added at some later date, another facility that is already open to practices through mylocaloptician.

October 2011

NHS Choices upgrade will bring optics into line with the NHS Choices systems that have already been rolled out for NHS hospitals, GPs, dentists and pharmacists. The system is part of the new world of seeking patient input into the reformed NHS. NHS Choices has the potential to be a helpful way of communicating with patients, customers and potential customers in the future. So says the Confederation and in response they have prepared guidance to practices.

You can read the full text and download the files about NHS Choices and the full Guidance response issued by the Confederation.

The Confederation has met via the auspices of the Optical Fees Review Committee (OFRC) and the Optical Confederation with the Department of Health and NHS Choices Team this month.(September 2011).

Their aims were to ensure that implementation was fair and guaranteed a level playing field for all minimise bureaucracy, ensure Optical Confederation input into the key contents and comments moderation processes (see below) and to clarify the workload implications for optical practices and businesses.

It would appear that the Optical Confederation (linking with their partners in the optical sector e.g. the College of Optometrists) has asked to be consulted on the pre-defined list of services available for inclusion in the profiles. This consultation will also include the drafting of generic service descriptions, which can be attached to the list of services. The patient feedback system will not include comments about product sales (which are private transactions and this will be clear on the feedback pages) but can include comments on clinical and service aspects relevant to NHS patients

Practices will be urged to manage their profiles and will be given profile editing rights by the PCTs, they will need to provide correct email addresses. They will also have the right to make one reply to feedback left by patients on the site.

Click here for the full guidance notice. Both the NHS Choices and the Confederation Guidance will remain as briefing documents within our PHN LOC briefing documents area on this site.

October 2011

The move will give visually impaired and other disabled people with trained assistance dogs much greater access to the network.

Dogs were banned by law from using escalators because of the danger of getting their paws caught where the escalator steps disappear at the grills top and bottom. They had to be carried - totally impractical for those handlers with disabilities.

Escalator design has now changed, along with the legislation. Research carried out by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA) and Transport for London (TfL) proved that dogs can be trained to use a moving escalator. Guide dog owners are also being given special training.

Oliver Barton, GDBA client services manager, said: "Our aim is to help guide dog owners live independently and this change is another step towards helping blind and partially sighted people enojoy the same freedom as everyone else."

Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the London Assembly Lib-Dem group and the transport committee, has campaigned for the change in law.

She said: "The ban on blind people being able to take a guide dog on to moving escalators on London Underground is outdated and wrong.
"There is clear evidence that trained guide dogs can safely use moving escalators."

The change only applies to trained guide dogs, police and other assistance dogs - other dogs or animals must still be carried.

October 2011

At the September meeting of Council, members approved new rules that will underpin the GOC’s Fitness to Practise (FTP) proceedings. Back in February 2011, we published proposed changes to the rules for public consultation. The proposed changes were designed to make the FTP process faster, fairer and more transparent. They were also designed to reflect legal developments and any changes to best practice since the previous revision in 2005.

Council agreed four changes to the rules:

• Two individual case examiners will decide whether to refer a complaint for an FTP hearing. Moving to a case examiner model will allow the GOC to speed up the investigation process, and introduce efficiencies.

• The decision not to refer a complaint to the Fitness to Practise Committee can be reviewed by the case examiners at any time within five years, or within a longer period where it is considered that the circumstances are exceptional.

• The Fitness to Practise Committee can order the prosecution or defence to pay part or all of their costs (in both a substantive and review hearing). The intention is that the GOC would only request this if it considers that the defence’s conduct of the case had led to unnecessary expense - for example failing to comply with directions issues by the Fitness to Practise Committee. This change will not apply to interim order hearings.

• Case examiners will have the power to re-open a case if a decision has been made to close it without referral to the Fitness to Practise Committee.

Other changes include: the power for the GOC to screen out anonymous complaints; the ability to fast-track allegations involving serious criminal convictions; and the ability to notify a registrant’s current employer of the outcome of a hearing. Respondents to the February consultation were overwhelmingly in favour of the proposed changes. The approved Rules will now be sent to the Department of Health, and laid before the Privy Council for approval.

Full details of FTP rules are available to download in the related Council paper,

Further details of the consultation process are available from the consultations section of the GOC website.

October 2011

Council members considered the Law Commission’s review of the legal framework for UK healthcare regulators. The review, commissioned by the Government in the command paper Enabling Excellence (February 2011), intends to introduce a single piece of legislation allowing each of the healthcare regulators – including the GOC - to decide for themselves how they deliver their core functions. Their powers are currently outlined in the Opticians Act. Currently, if certain changes to our ways of working are needed - for example in the registration process – Council have to seek changes to the Opticians Act, through Parliament. This can be a lengthy and complex process.

We understand that the Law Commission will publish a full, public consultation from February-June 2012. They are asking the GOC and other regulators to suggest issues that should be addressed in the review. The Council has already indicated that it will review student registration, body corporate registration (optical businesses) and the statutory basis of its advisory committees (such as Registration and Companies Committees). Members also discussed raising the following issues:

• The GOC’s general power
• The functions of Council
• Council’s powers of delegation
• The powers of the registrar
• The appeals process
• Preserving flexibility to implement future rule changes

Changes to the legislative framework could give the GOC much greater flexibility, and enable them to be more responsive, efficient and effective in their role. It is anticipated that the new legislation will be in place towards the end of the current Parliament, 2015.

October 2011

The General Optical Council (GOC) has announced that Mandie Lavin has been appointed as its interim director of regulation Mandie, a qualified barrister, has significant experience of working in regulation. She is a former director of the Bar Standards Board and was director of fitness to practise and legal affairs at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

She chairs the General Medical Council’s Investigating Committee and the Association of Accounting Technicians’ disciplinary tribunal. Mandie is also on the Doctors and Dentists Appeal Panel Chairs list for NHS Employers.

GOC chief executive and registrar Samantha Peters said: “Mandie brings an enormous wealth of legal, regulatory and healthcare experience to the GOC. She has the knowledge and expertise to ensure that we continue to deliver high standards of public protection, and the wherewithal to modernise our work for future."

Mandie said: “This is an exciting time to be joining the GOC. I’m looking forward to overseeing projects that will have a real impact for both registrants and patients, such as the implementation of new Fitness to Practise Rules, online retention for business registrants and working towards the launch of an enhanced CET scheme.”

Mandie will join the GOC on 10 October, and will remain in post while the regulator recruits a permanent replacement for David Howell, who becomes General Chiropractic Council (GCC) chief executive on 1 November. The GOC will appoint a permanent director of regulation in the coming months.

October 2011

Diabetes UK would like to find out your pxs opinions and experiences of managing their own insulin during a stay in hospital, to help them shape some new guidelines for healthcare professionals on self-management in hospital.

They are holding an event in London on Wednesday October 19th from 11am-1pm to find out your opinions.

Interested? Contact the User Involvement Team:

Call: 0207 424 1008 0207 424 1008


October 2011

The College of Optometrists has published a new strategic plan for 2011 to 2014.

The plan sets out what the College wants to achieve over the next three years during a time of rapid and important change in health care.

The strategic plan, developed in partnership with Council members, highlights key external factors that will affect the College over the next three years and sets a series of ambitious objectives that aim to increase support to College members and shape the future of the profession. The strategy is built on the results of the College’s recent member survey and the priorities that Council members from across the UK developed at a two-day strategic planning meeting.

The strategy focuses on four key themes:

• Supporting members and engaging with all optometrists.
• Engaging with patients and the public.
• Working in partnership with others to influence the delivery of eye care.
• Providing an evidence-base for good practice.

Key to the strategy is ensuring that optometry plays a significant role in the new health service. This means that the College must offer members the support they need to keep up-to-date and provide high quality patient care so that Government and other health care professionals have confidence in the profession.

Commenting on the publication, Dr Cindy Tromans, President of the College of Optometrists said: “The new strategic plan places members at the heart of the College’s work. The plan is outward looking so that the College can secure the confidence and support of Government, other health professionals, patients and the public for the practice of optometry.”

Click here for the full report

Diabetes UK wants direct patient feedback, can you direct your Pxs

Mandie Lavin appointed as interim GOC director of regulation

Law Commission review: GOC preparation gathers pace

GOC agrees new Fitness to Practise Rules

Guide dogs for the blind are to be allowed to use Tube escalators from Wednesday

Confederation offers Guidance on dealing with NHS Choices

NHS Choices rolls out patient feedback and limited specialities with Px ratings

OGS announces new clinic to accept first patients in Mexico

Rodenstock’s Sara Lambert joins 80s pop stars for Fund-raising trek in Cambodia

Ocuco extends Webinar Presentations into Clinical matters with added CET points

Spectrum Thea announce Dry Eye Project Agenda

New report calls for 10 yearly eye tests for all drivers

David Blunkett to lead innovation in sight loss sector

Opticians call for lighter evenings in bid to reduce road accidents

Swiss optician chooses to work exclusively with TD Tom Davies for new state-of-the-art store

Lighter touch should be given to optical contractors over holiday times over Christmas

UltraVision announces “KeraSoft® IC Step-byStep Video Training”

NEG appoints Business Development Manager

Bausch & Lomb announce new vision care Global President

West Midland Police Authority launches eyecare scheme by Specsavers

Ophthalmic services market to grow by 9.9% to 2015 says new report

Rodenstock club members celebrate 20 years of benefits

Porsche Design Customers Enjoy Pole Position at Silverstone

BCLA calls for conference papers, posters and photos

Silhouette International Appoints New Director of Sales

Josie wins AOP Supplier of the Year 2011

LOCSU Chairman calls for practitioners to get involved at a local level

Rodenstock launches advanced ordering software

Bionic single pixel lens could be the lens of the future

U.S. FDA approves new Wet AMD drug

Optical Express Reminds Public of Importance of Eye Checks

Look Here events provide help to those with learning disabilities

GOC Annual Report 2010-11 reviews year of modernisation

Norville presents College Museum with Polaroid designs going back 70 years

Interesting Bedtime reading with Neil Handley (College Curator)

GOC cuts registration fee for second consecutive year

Frank Norville media prize awarded to N London optometrist

LOCSU announces first training date for treasurers

GOC publishes fitness to practise guidance for employers

LOCSU to fund PEARS training

Quality in Optometry Toolkit available

The GP and Primary Care section of the RSM has a date for optometrists to keep next year

Pressure from Government and DH could make NHS SBS a done deal but is it good for GOS services?

EU approval given to Femtosecond, a B & L eye surgery system

Vision sector rallies to improve the nation’s eye health with Ministerial meetings and a strategy to improve ophthalmic public health

The frequency of warnings is mounting about the poor eye health that exists today in the UK

New iPhone app launched to assist optometrists with CET

College seeks new Chairman of the Board of Trustees

TD Tom Davies announces Shenzhen workshop visit 2012 to mark 10th anniversary

Coleman Opticians is winnder at Rodenstock awards

WW&H in Hastings create a dream day

LOCSU announces Dates for your Diary for 2012

College publishes ambitious new strategic plan

Hutchinson attends week long GP and Primary Health Section GP Forum

October 2011

Opportunity to read MGD factsheet in PHNs open Clinical Briefing Page

PHN broadens strategy on Commissioning Advice to open secure pages and encourage a multi-profession approach

Study Shows Zeaxanthin Improves Vision in Elderly

Optometry Giving Sight wins AOP Charity of the Year!

Bob Hughes has left the AOP

8th BCLA Pioneers Conference is “the best ever”

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