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Optical News - October - December 2012

Primary Health Net publishes news within 48 hours of receiving information. 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. Email your news to

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

College Invites Optoms to Review Guidance

BCLA Seeks Conference Programme Co-ordinator

Vision UK 2013 Conference Announced

FMO Praises Rise in Capital Allowance Relief

Optical Leaders Gather at FMO Event

Debate and CET at 9th Pioneers Conference

PHN Director Backs Shannon's Disquiet on Contact Lens Online Substitution

New Vision Clinic for Homeless Opens in Birmingham

Inspirational Theme for BCLA Clinical Conference 2013

Optrafair Bookings Continue Apace

First Graduates Inspired by SMC Course

Chlorhexidine – An Optical Confederation Statement evaluates risk

GOC Freezes Registration Fee

Spectrum Thea to Sponsor Optician Award

Second Wave Sign up for NHS Choices for Optical Practices

Eye Health Indicator Confirmed and Details Announced

Jai Kudo Offers Free Book on Marketing

Hoya Factory Tours Fully Booked

Royal Warrant Holders Celbrate Jubilee

College and AOP Launch Joint Venture to Help New Optometrists

Record Number of Applicants for Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund Overseas

College Ceremony Recognises Achievements

Customer Satisfaction Put to the Test

mee Healthcare Opens in Cheltenham

GOC Recruiting New Chair

Dibble Optical Awarded Supplier of the Year

RCGP Prioritise Eye Health Amongst the Elderly

Dates for National Eye Health Week

NEHW Announce Re-Election of Chair and Vice-Chair

Poor Driver Eyesight Costs £33m/year

GOC Announces New Directors

Optical Leaders "in the dock" at BCLA

Hoya Announce iPad Winner from ABDO Conference

China Optometric and Optical Association Signs Up for The Eye Show

UK Vision Strategy Refresh Consultation Closing Soon

Mr Singh's Dream for Optometry Giving Sight

OGS Announce New Advert

College Host Successful Public Health Roundtable

The Eye Show Launches Advertising Campaign on PHN

CET Evenings and Exclusive Tour of New Clinic in North London

Norville Opticians Offer Hope from Chernobyl

BCLA Announce New Reduced Levy

College to Host Roundtable on Ophthalmic Public Health

Jenny Wright Returns to Optrafair Team

Optical Confederation Input to ECLF Seminar

GOC Committee Praised for Sound Decisions

What Could Contact Lens Penetration in Europe Be?

Brand Search Available on Public Website

LOCSU Reduces Levy

Ultravision Announce New Appointment

J&J Provide Insight at FMO Meeting

College View of Eye Care LPNs

Shamir Takes Headline Lens Sponsorship of Opchat and Public Forums

Spectrum Thea Launch Nutrof Campaign to Public and Profession

Shamir and Associates Provide Opportunities at Lords

Learn More About ICD 16.5 with Pat Caroline

David Cameron Has Eyes Checked at Party Conference

FMO to Visit J&J Visioncare Institute

National Eye Health Week Chairman Urges Feedback

LOCSU Looks Forward to Stimulating Conference

FMO CEO Honoured by ABDO

BCLA Provide Pre-screening Service

Vision 20/20 Announce November Conference

Iconic Silhouette in the Frame

Waitrose Supports Vision Care for Homeless People

Silmo Review

College invites optometrists to take part in phase three of their guidance review

December 2012

The College of Optometrists is inviting optometrists to take part in the third and final phase of their review of the Code of Ethics and Guidance for Professional Conduct. The review aims to ensure the guidance is relevant, easy to navigate and reflects what optometrists want.

The consultation section of the website has five examples of revised copy in the proposed new format. The examples are in the following categories:

• Dealing with complaints
• Working with colleagues
• Patient records
• Urgency of optometric referrals and referrals/notifications
• Fitting contact lenses

Optometrists are invited to choose any example (or all five) and to compare the proposed copy with the existing version, then answer the three accompanying questions.

In addition, the college proposes to restructure the guidance into four main areas. This will make it easier to navigate and is in line with the General Medical Council guidance. The areas are:

• knowledge, skills and performance - including examining patients, dispensing and research
• safety and quality - including infection control and patient records
• communications, partnership and teamwork - including patient-practitioner communication and professional relationships
• maintaining trust - including indemnity and complaints.

Josephine Mullin, Director of Policy and Strategy at the College, commented; “We would like to thank everyone who has taken part in the review so far. Their feedback is helping us to ensure that the guidance is relevant to users. Ultimately, we want our guidance to be easily accessible, concise and provide optometrists and other users with what they need.”

The guidance is used by optometrists to check the standards of practice required of them, and the General Optical Council refers to it in fitness to practice cases.

For more information, and to get involved, please see the College website at and click on ‘Guidance consultation’.

BCLA seeks Conference Programme Coordinator

December 2012

After five years successfully producing the scientific programme of the annual British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Clinical Conference, Chris Kerr is stepping down as Conference Scientific Programme Consultant

Chris Kerr, BCLAChris, who combines teaching and research with private practice in London and was BCLA President from 2006-07, will retain a senior advisory role on the BCLA Conference Committee. He said: “I am honoured to take up a senior role in organising the annual BCLA Clinical Conference.”

The Association is now inviting applications for the role of BCLA Conference Programme Coordinator.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for an experienced contact lens professional to coordinate the educational and scientific content of the Association’s prestigious annual Clinical Conference,” said BCLA Secretary General, Vivien Freeman.

The BCLA CPC will have a key role in planning the four-day Clinical Conference programme around a new theme each year, recruiting keynote speakers and presenters. Candidates will have proven track record in contact lens practice, or within research or academia in the field of contact lenses and the anterior eye.

The post is for up to 40 days per annum, which includes attendance at the Clinical Conference, and will be reimbursed accordingly.

The closing date for applications is 21 January and initial interviews will take place on 4 February. The successful applicant will commence their duties in May 2013.

Applicants should send their CV and a covering letter to Vivien Freeman, Secretary General, British Contact Lens Association, 7/8 Market Place, London W1W 8AG.

Email To discuss this opportunity further, telephone Vivien on 020 7580 6661, or read more at, under News.

Chris Kerr is pictured (right) at the 2012 Clinical Conference in Birmingham with speakers Professor Jan Bergmanson (centre) and Professor William Miller.

Vision UK 2013 conference announced

December 2012

The Vision UK conference will be back for its fifth year in 2013, and will be held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London on Tuesday 11 June.

Vision UK 2013, the leading eye health and sight loss sector conference, will focus on the theme ‘‘Progress through partnership’’ and will feature the launch of the refreshed UK Vision Strategy. The one-day conference will include a series of workshops where delegates will have the opportunity to provide their views on how to implement the Strategy across the UK and hear from experts in the public health and eye care sectors.

The conference is aimed at a wide audience including health and social care professionals, members of health and eye care organisations and representatives from the voluntary sector. The 2012 conference attracted over 400 delegates from the health, social care and voluntary sectors and it is anticipated that the 2013 conference will attract increased numbers from the sector who are interested in driving the refreshed Strategy forward.

Anita Lightstone, Programme Director, UK Vision Strategy and Interim Chief Operations Officer, VISION 2020 UK, said: "Those who attend Vision UK 2013 will find out how they can effectively work together to achieve the aims of the UK Vision Strategy in order to make progress in the prevention of avoidable sight loss, as well as improving services for blind and partially sighted people".

Conference registrations will open in early January and an early bird rate will be offered until 8 April 2013.

FMO praises rise in capital allowance relief

December 2012

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement brought some good cheer for the UK optical industry with news that Capital Allowances are to be raised from £25,000 to £250,000.

The ten-fold increase offers optical businesses 100% tax relief for investment in equipment and machinery up to £250,000, explained The FMO. Taking effect from January 1, 2013, the Annual Investment Allowance is set for two years. The Chancellor, George Osborne, said that the decision was a “huge boost to all those who run a business”. Manufacturers and trade bodies including EEF and The British Chambers of Commerce have long called for such an investment-friendly change but it has been overlooked for years and cut from £100,000 to £25,000 by the Coalition Government in April.

Stuart Burn, Managing Director of Performance Finance, concurred with The FMO -

“Prioritising resources towards measures that boost business investment through increasing the Annual Investment Allowance is a positive announcement from the Chancellor. This is fantastic news for the optical industry and the UK economy as a whole. Even the grandest capital expenditure for labs and practices should become fully tax deductible.”

Our Co Director Bob Hutchinson (Eros Business Consulting) a long time VAT consultant for the retail industry, reminds all branches currently below partial exemption de minimis that it is imperative that all equipment purchases are stretched over 5 years (lease etc) to ensure that the de minimis is not breached in one quarter which has the potential of refunded purchase vat being reclaimed by HMRC either in the quarter the purchase made or worst still across the whole previously claimed year at the time of the annual adjustment. If you are not sure you should take advice.

Optical leaders gather at FMO event

December 2012

The FMO’s AGM and Christmas lunch in London drew a larger crowd than ever before, attracting more than 100 members of most major UK suppliers and industry leaders.

Joined by the professional bodies, it was an opportunity to “renew friendships and celebrate the very best of optics”, said FMO Chairman, John Conway at The Hilton Hotel, Paddington.

“It is wonderful that we can sit down together and celebrate with our competitors. Whether it is the table of frame companies, or of lens manufacturers, labs, or equipment companies – we have so much in common and so much to celebrate about the high calibre of UK optics, which is the envy of many parts of the world. The camaraderie that we share within The FMO is unparalleled,” he added.

During the Christmas lunch presentations were made to three “outstanding members of the industry” who have been awarded the very first FMO Roll of Honour Award. The presentations were made by John Conway to Nigel Castle of Lenstec; Roger Mitchell, formerly of Menrad; and Andrew Yorke of Topcon, for their contribution to promoting the good of the industry.

Nine former FMO Chairmen, who have all fulfilled the two year elected role, were present and joined together, as pictured:

Front row: Barry Dibble, John Conway (present Chairman), Chris Eccles
Middle row: Kingsley Sleep, Malcolm Polley, John Street
Back row: Malcolm Polley, Gerry Biggs, Andrew Actman

NB: The next regional FMO meeting will be held on 13 March in the Midlands.


Debate and CET at 9th Pioneers Conference

December 2012

It wasn’t just clinical issues and CET on the agenda at the 9th Pioneers Conference of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA), held in London on 22 November, but professional and regulatory issues too.

In a special panel discussion, the leaders of the Association of Optometrists (AOP), Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO), Optical Confederation, College of Optometrists and BCLA fielded questions from a 200-strong audience of BCLA members about the contact lens market and profession.

David ShannonAsked by one member what could be done about patients substituting their contact lenses online, AOP Chairman David Shannon responded by saying it was “appalling” that legislation allowed this to happen before adding that the AOP was lobbying Brussels on the matter. Kamlesh Chauhan, President of the College of Optometrists, pointed out that the General Optical Council (GOC) would require evidence in order to introduce new legislation.

Another audience member suggested that “the problem would never go away unless we find out why people went online”, suggesting the public didn’t understand the value of a professional consultation and that practitioners still didn’t charge enough for their services.

One BCLA member told the audience how she had come across a shop in a large mall blatantly selling novelty contact lenses illegally. Dr Catharine Chisholm, BCLA President, said the BCLA would look into a reporting mechanism in order to create a register of incidents where patients had experienced adverse ocular events after buying contact lenses online. Jennifer Brower, President of ABDO, noted that the GOC had had some success with dealing with illegal suppliers.

Other issues raised during the discussion were the value of the enhanced CET scheme, whether keratometers were still relevant in practice, how to grow independent prescribing, and whether today’s undergraduate courses offered enough contact lens fitting and business tuition.

Ocular imaging was in focus during the conference with a highly interesting presentation from Dr Michael Pritchard of the Royal Photographic Society looking at the development of optical lens designs and cameras through the ages. Andrew Gasson followed with an overview of ophthalmic imaging techniques, and a whirlwind photographic tour of the eye. Professor James Wolffsohn highlighted the benefits of optical coherence tomography (OCT) with a focus on the anterior eye, charting its growth and breadth.

Next Dr Clare O’Donnell expounded on confocal miscroscopy, which is enhancing the understanding of the cornea in relation to contact lens wear. Delegates also heard from Glenn Carp of the London Vision Clinic about the clinic’s keratoconus screening system, which helps identify ideal refractive surgery candidates.

Prof Fiona Stapleton9th BCLA Pioneers Lecturer, Professor Fiona Stapleton, addressed delegates during the afternoon on patient and practitioner compliance in relation to microbial contamination of contact lens storage cases.
She concluded that storage case contamination was common, that heeding manufacturer instructions could reduce contamination, but that mechanical cleaning was better. Cases should be air-dried face down (on a clean tissue) and be replaced at least three-monthly, she advised, adding that silver impregnated cases offered some additional benefits. “Compliance is not all about the patient,” said Professor Stapleton. “We need consistency in practitioner advice, and it must be evidence based.”

As always, Tim Bowden paid tribute to those contact lens pioneers who had passed away during 2012. The 12 innovators in the field whose pioneering work Tim recounted included the UK’s Tony Sabell and Ian Mackie.

Beginning her evening lecture, Professor Stapleton asked: “Can we prevent contact lens related infection?” She described her work looking at the causes of microbial keratitis, which had now progressed into genetics. Charting past and current research, she said not much had changed with regards to rates of infection, which was disappointing.

Professor Stapleton summed up by saying that incidence rates were not different with newer contact lens types and materials, but that disease severity could be limited by through identification of the modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors. Attention to storage case hygiene could reduce the disease load by 62 per cent, she suggested.

The key to preventing infection lay in establishing the key compliance steps. There as some mileage in anti-microbial storage cases but there were regulatory hurdles to overcome, concluded Professor Stapleton, and she assured the audience that she would continue her work in the field.

PHN Director backs Shannon’s disquiet on CL online substitution

December 2012

Bob HutchinsonBob Hutchinson who was, at the time of the legislation on contact lens sales and prescription requirements, active on the working group set up by the GOC as the Companies Committee representative, said
“With the backing of FODO and the Companies Committee I distinctly remember requesting that the parameters in the prescription details required brand names and lens material type including water content. This was accepted by the group but I always had the feeling that the GOC thought this too complicated to apply. In my opinion when the legislation was written, its omission was bound to become a licence for interbrand switching with consequential differences in lens type, material and edges.”

Hutchinson urged the Optical Confederation to relook at how the rules were so open to bad contact lens purchase decision making by the public.

New vision clinic for homeless opens in Brum

December 2012

Volunteers, sponsors and homeless people greeted the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, John Lines, as he opened the new eye care centre in Birmingham this week.

Vision Care for HomelessVision Care for Homeless People’s new centre, within the SIFA Fireside facility in Allcock St, provides eye examinations and glasses as a first step for those in the Midlands needing help to reintegrate into society.
Charity Chair, Elaine Styles, an optometrist who works at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said good vision was something that most of us take for granted –

“Sadly many people struggle with poor vision and when you are homeless that is an added, and sometimes, major complication. Charity starts at home and we are delighted to bring this new facility to SIFA Fireside. It is particularly relevant at this time of the year when we are all thinking about giving.”

Vision Care for Homeless People is supported by donations and volunteers. If you wish to make a donation please visit or visit Waitrose Community Matters collection point within the Hall Green store, which is supporting the charity during December.

Picture shows: Lady Mayoress of Birmingham - Kathleen Lines, Lord Mayor of Birmingham - Councillor John Lines, Chair of Birmingham VCHP Sub-committee Jill Lambert, MD of VCHP Harinder Paul

Inspirational theme for 2013 BCLA Clinical Conference

November 2012

‘Inspiring for the future’ is the theme of the 37th British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Clinical Conference and Exhibition, to be held from 6-9 June 2013 at Manchester Central, UK.

BCLA Manchester 2013Exciting new aspects to this prestigious annual meeting include a dedicated business session, and peer discussion groups to help delegates meet the requirements of the enhanced CET scheme.

BCLA President, Dr Catharine Chisholm, said: “For more than 30 years the BCLA has been recognising and celebrating past achievements in the field of contact lenses and the anterior eye – but we must also look to the future and how we can inspire both new and existing members of the contact lens profession and industry.

“From world-class speakers on topics such as innovations in lens materials, contact lens comfort and keratoconus management, to our first-ever business session and peer discussion groups, we hope to inspire all delegates – in contact lens practice, in research and in business.”

An inspiration to many in the profession is the recipient of the 2013 BCLA Medal, Judith Morris (UK), who will present ‘Two steps forward, one step back’. Dr Mitra Tavakoli (UK) will present the Irving Fatt Memorial Lecture, ‘Corneal confocal microscopy: beyond corneal defects. Translational studies in diabetes and neurology’.

Eric Papas BCLA 2013The Clinical Conference will also welcome as keynote speakers: Dr Florence Malet (France), ‘Management of keratoconus’; Associate Professor Eric Papas (Australia), ‘Through my aching eyes: reflections on the perennial problem of contact lens discomfort’; and Professor Brian Tighe (UK), ‘Surface properties and ocular compatibility of silicone hydrogels’.

For the very first time, the BCLA will offer a tailor-made Business Session looking at topics such as: the contact lens market and its importance to business; the factors, processes and metrics that define success in contact lens practice; and how to apply these in practice. Delegates will hear from experts both in and outside of optics.

Once again there will be a Practical Contact Lenses session exploring the more hands-on elements of everyday contact lens practice, such as crisis management and managing contact lenses in your pre-registration year.

New for 2013 will be Peer Discussion Groups using generic contact lens records, in groups of eight with a facilitator. Delegates must pre-register for these sessions, from January 2013 onwards, which will provide three CET points.

Clinical Spotlight sessions will cover anterior eye record keeping and introducing specialist services into routine practice. There will be eight CET workshops on offer covering topics from digital imaging to orthokeratology.

A fantastic social programme has been organised once again, with the usual Thursday welcome drinks, Friday Patron’s party (sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care) and Saturday Gala Dinner, which is themed ‘Year of the Contact Lens Chinese Banquet’. Accompanying person activities will showcase the very best of Manchester.

The BCLA Exhibition (7-9 June) is already more than 90 per cent sold out so delegates can expect to see all the latest industry innovations. The Exhibitors’ Pavilion will be back operating during coffee breaks and lunchtimes only to allow maximum participation.

Conference registration will open in January 2013. An early bird discount will apply to those who book before 8 March 2013, with greater discounts available for BCLA members of two years’ standing or more.

There will once again be 100 free weekend packages available on a first come, first served basis to BCLA members only from January 2013 (terms and conditions will apply).

2013 BCLA Clinical Conference sponsors:

• Patron: Alcon, CooperVision and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care
• Platinum: Bausch + Lomb
• Gold: David Thomas Contact Lenses/Menicon, Sauflon and Topcon

Premium Exhibitor: UltraVision CLPL

Optrafair bookings continue apace

November 2012

Optrafair 2013 exhibitors continue to secure their space for next April’s show, with a strong presence from frame companies, recognising the enormous potential for sales during the three day event.

“The countdown has begun! Optrafair may be four months away but our preparations are well underway. A plethora of new styles are on order to make their debut at the show and the stand has been designed. Go to our special Optrafair page to read about the new frame designs and aspirations of the companies involved.

First graduates inspired by new SMC course

November 2012

The first cohort to graduate from the new SMC Level 2 Optical Customer Service Course has praised the benefits of the new technical knowledge gained and the boost to confidence at work.

Seen by many as an introduction to optics, the course attracts a significant fees reduction for FMO members and many have made use of the membership discount on the £500 course and examination cost.

Debbie GiggDebbie Gigg, Director of Training for The WCSM Education Trust, explained that the course provides “a great insight into the optical industry and an understanding of how the whole process of practice and dispensing works”.

She added, “The extra technical knowledge means that those who have completed it can offer a better service straight away as it covers customer service, lenses, frames and, if applicable, contact lenses. The graduates of the Level 2 course will now be able to deal with many queries that they face rather than having to pass them onto another.”

Maui Jim’s Customer Service Manager, Helen Wood, has completed the course and is now commencing training for the Level 3 Optical Practice Support examination. “This goes into greater detail and thankfully my employers are supporting me in this as they see the benefit of me being able to converse easily with dispensing opticians and to understand the terminology of optics,” she said.

Keith Sheers, Managing Director of Optisoft practice managements systems, was amongst the first to graduate, despite working in optics for many years. “When I heard about the course, I thought it might be useful for my staff and to fill in a few gaps in my own optical knowledge. I enrolled not knowing what to expect, but I found the course to be very interesting and enjoyed my time studying: about an hour a week. The training manual provided was comprehensive, well organised and had sections that would be relevant to any business in the optical market. I feel a lot more confident about my optical knowledge and there have been many occasions where it has proven useful to the company. It was well worth the investment in both time and money. Like any other business, we are always looking for ways to improve our customer service and I think this course provides a very affordable and practical solution to the problem. Next year, we are enrolling three candidates.”

Michael Stevenson , Norville Customer Services Administrator, had worked in optics for just a few months when he started the course, and it has inspired him to progress. “The course gave me a really handy overview of the whole of optics, from practice through design and then production. I think this would make a really good Industry minimum as it gave a nice, although not too in depth, coverage of every aspect of the trade. It has really inspired me to go a bit further and I am now working in the technical team at Norville and studying for my Level 4 SMC Tech.”

Also graduating were Paul Collinson of Horizon Optical; Emma Silsby and Simon Walford of Seiko Optical; Lorna Prado-Marin, Molly Burbridge, Laura Lord and Kevin Porter of Rodenstock.

Chlorhexidine – An Optical Confederation Statement evaluates risk

November 2012

The Optical Confederation has reviewed the MHRA’s Medical Device Alert (MDA/2012/075) of 25 October 2012 which gives examples of anaphylactic shock in response to the use of chlorhexidine skin wipes and chlorhexidine impregnated intravenous catheters and issues the following statement.

While chlorhexidine is used is some optical products including rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lens solutions (such as Bausch + Lomb’s Boston Advance Conditioning and Cleaning solution and Boston Simplus solution), the concentration in these products is much lower (0.003% in Boston products) than the 2% level used in skin wipes. This means that the degree of risk is very low and offset by benefit of including chlorhexidine as a highly effective preservative.

Chlorhexidine has been used in RGP contact lens solutions for many years and, whilst it can cause some sensitivity reactions e.g. red eye or discomfort, the Optical Confederation is not aware that there have ever been any more serious reactions.

Patient safety is always our top priority and it is the top priority for reputable manufacturers too. In line with MHRA recommendations, packaging will be labelled as containing chlorhexidine along with a warning such as “Do not use this solution if you are allergic to any component of this product”.

The Optical Confederation believes that practitioners can continue using contact lens solutions containing chlorhexidine as before, whilst being mindful of the very small risk of an adverse reaction and recording all known allergies, including to chlorhexadine, in the patient record.

The MHRA’s Medical Device Alert (MDA/2012/075) of 25 October 2012 is available here:

Full Optical Confederation statement:

GOC freezes registration fee

November 2012

The General Optical Council (GOC) has frozen its 2013-14 registration fee at £260 – a third consecutive reduction in real terms.

The freeze follows fee cuts in the two previous years, meaning the Council will have cut its fee for optometrists by 27.5% in real terms since April 2010.
GOC chief executive and registrar Samantha Peters said, “We have been working hard over the last three years to improve our efficiency and make the best possible use of resources.

“Particularly as the economic climate remains difficult, it is vital that our fees are no higher than necessary. When setting our fees we ensure that we remain sufficiently resourced to fulfil our regulatory functions and keep protecting the public while minimising the burden on registrants.”

The draft budget, passed at yesterday’s public Council meeting, has seen the GOC absorb the costs of scheduling more fitness to practise hearings next year without passing the burden on to registrants. The increased number of hearing dates will help the GOC’s continuing efforts to speed up its fitness to practise process.

The low income fee for registrants earning less than £12,000 per year has also been frozen at £160. The student registration fee will remain frozen at £20.

Spectrum Thea announce awards sponsorship

November 2012

Spectrum Thea are the proud sponsors of the Optician Award's DRY EYE AWARD 2013! You can enter or nominate someone who has had success with their Dry Eye Clinic. Closing date for nominations is January 18th, 2013.

Second wave NHS Choices sign up for optical practices

November 2012

NHS Choices is a central plank in the Government’s NHS Reforms and its plans to giving patients better quality information to choose an NHS provider. NHS Choices profiles for opticians have been live for some time and managed by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). During 2011, opticians’ profiles were upgraded to allow providers to include additional information about the services they provide. Alongside this, patients can post comments on the quality of their care and recommend a practice to others.

In order to manage both, two rights of access exist - profile editing and feedback response (sign in rights) which were allocated via PCTs.

While many optical contractors have already signed up, there was reluctance amongst some PCTs to hand over sign in and editing rights and a substantial minority has not been able to access their rights.

To resolve this, NHS Choices and the Optical Confederation have agreed that contractors can go direct to NHS Choices to gain access. In order to ensure that sign in rights are allocated appropriately, NHS Choices will write to all contractors over the coming weeks as follows. Independent contractors will receive a letter from NHS Choices with a unique identifier code which they can use to prove their identity when contacting NHS Choices. For multiple groups, NHS Choices will be in touch with head office to ensure that they have the correct profile editing and feedback response rights.

Mark Nevin on behalf of the Optical Confederation said ‘we are pleased that optical contractors can now go direct to NHS Choices to receive their sign in rights. We urge all optical practices that have not yet been signed up to do so ideally before the end of January 2013’.

Geoff Roberson from the AOP said ‘should you need help in managing feedback on NHS Choices, your OC representative body is available to advise you. Practices also have the option of using the NHS Choices website marketing tool to reach out to new patient groups and illustrate the services available in the community’.

Eye Health Indicator confirmed and details announced – eye health sector response

November 2012

The eye health sector has welcomed the announcement of details of how the first ever Public Health Indicator for preventable sight loss will be measured. From April 2013 this Indicator will be introduced as part of the Public Health Outcomes Framework in England and will monitor the major causes of preventable sight loss in adults.

Public Health England, the organisation responsible for this Framework, will assess how many people are certified as sight impaired (partially sighted) or severely sight impaired (blind) and have lost their sight from one of the three major causes of preventable sight loss: glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Anita Lightstone, UK Vision Strategy Programme Director and Chief Operations Officer for VISION 2020 UK, has welcomed the news and has also revealed details of a new briefing available to everyone with an interest in eye health. The briefing 'Preventing avoidable sight loss: a public health priority' explains more about how individual stakeholders such as optometrists, ophthalmologists, orthoptists as well as voluntary sector professionals working in the sight loss/eye health sector can raise awareness of this new indicator amongst key decision makers.

She said:

“By working together the eye health sector has ensured that preventable sight loss has been recognised by the Government as a public health priority for the first time.

"This major achievement is one further crucial step on our journey to improving the eye health of the nation. We must continue to work together to ensure Health and Wellbeing Boards, Public Health professionals, Clinical Commissioning Groups and the new Local Eye Health Networks reflect this new Indicator in their Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies, their Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and commissioning and service development plans.

"This briefing launched today will help everyone involved with eye health to speak with one voice to highlight why this Indicator is so important".

Lord Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Quality welcomed the briefing. He said: "Regular eye sight tests are vital if we are to prevent people from losing their sight unnecessarily.

"Including the preventable sight loss indicator in the Public Health Outcomes Framework will be valuable in helping drive up standards in eye care.

"I welcome this briefing and encourage the eye health sector to use it in delivering and promoting the preventable sight loss indicator."

The briefing 'Preventing avoidable sight loss: a public health priority' is available at

Jai Kudo offers 100 of its clients a free paperback book about marketing your independent practice

November 2012

Jai Kudo estimates that these are some of the toughest times ever for independent opticians. The combined effects of the double dip recession, the multiples and cheap glasses websites are squeezing revenues like never before.

So they’ve arranged for their clients to get hold of a free paperback copy of a brand new book on marketing and growing your practice. It’s called “It’s Time to Fight Back” and has been written by Richard Pakey, a successful UK DO who has built and sold two successful practices.

This is a paperback book not a PDF, and it’s posted to you totally free of charge. Inside the book you’ll discover:

• How to find new clients, get more referrals and increased footfall to your practice
• How to get existing clients to visit more often and spend more (and love you for it!)
• The way to rid your practice of the prescription-only clients that cost you money
• Smart ways to sell more commodity products at higher prices despite the fact they can be purchased for less on the internet
• The number one way to differentiate from the multiples with vastly superior marketing budgets
• How to grow your practice while maintaining high standards of client care

Hoya Factory tours fully booked

November 2012

Hoya reports it has had great success with their factory tours in 2012 and their December factory tour is now fully booked!

Hoya customers were given an insight into creating lenses, from the application of coatings to quality testing as well as the latest technologies and innovations being applied right through from order to dispatch.

Visitors rated the overall experience as excellent and gained CET points along the way! There will be more tours arranged for 2013 so watch for the next dates .

Royal Warrant Holders celebrate Jubilee

November 2012

Royal Warrant Holders, Roger Pope & Partners, enjoyed celebrating Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last week at a glittering Ball at Westminster’s Park Plaza Hotel, London.

The white tie event brought together Royal Warrant Holders from around the UK, marking excellence in British service and manufacturing.

Roger Pope, pictured third from right back row, with his team, including business partner Stephen Hopkinson, back row left, said –

“It was a wonderful way to celebrate with our valued team – we had an exceptionally rewarding year. Everyone has worked very hard and so entertaining them at the event was a fitting tribute to their dedication and hard work – we had a lot of fun too.”

Roger Pope and Partners in London’s Harley Street district employs a team of 20, together with the sister practice in Dulwich, south-east London.

College and AOP launch joint event to support new optometrists

November 2012

The College of Optometrists and the Association of Optometrists have teamed up to launch a joint event, specifically designed to support newly qualified optometrists.

The Fresh Eyes conference offers a unique opportunity for newly qualified practitioners to build their confidence and clinical knowledge at a very early stage in their career. The programme will include entertaining expert presentations, hands-on and interactive sessions alongside a great social programme and the chance to network with others who are also new to the profession .The event will tackle a number of critical topics including dealing with children in practice, handling business pressures and avoiding legal pitfalls.

Dr Kamlesh Chauhan, President of the College of Optometrists said: “We all need support to reach our goals and develop our skills as practitioners. The College recognises this and that’s why we are working alongside the AOP to provide newly qualified optometrists with a great platform to help them to progress at this critical time as they begin their careers.”

Karen Sparrow, Head of Professional Development at the Association of Optometrists added “The conference programme is being designed with the specific needs of new optometrists in mind and builds on the success of the ‘Eye Opener’ student conference. It will encourage new optometrists to begin a path of life–long learning in a friendly environment and introduce them to the opportunities that CET and scientific conferences bring to enhance their clinical skills and make new friends.”

The conference will be held at the De Vere East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham on Sunday 17 March 2013. The ticket price includes a Saturday evening welcome reception, attendance at the conference and the conference gala dinner and a free delegate pass for the lectures at the College’s Optometry Tomorrow conference on Monday.

Record number of applicants for Irvine Aitchison memorial fund overseas

November 2012

There have been record numbers of applications from second year Optometrist and Dispensing Optician students for an Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund Bursary which could enable them to take part in and benefit from a Vision Aid Overseas Group visit to Africa in the summer of 2013.

‘We have been very impressed with the quality of the applications as well as the quantity, and it has been truly difficult finalising the shortlist for interview’ said Chairman of Trustees, Brian Carroll. ‘It is very heartening to hear how the optometrists and dispensing opticians of tomorrow appreciate the opportunities they have in the UK and are willing to give their time and newly learned skills for the benefit of those who are less well off’.

The Memorial Fund was established originally by members of the Society of Opticians [now the Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians] to commemorate the contribution to optical education made by Irvine Aitchison, the first Chairman of Dollond & Aitchison which recently amalgamated with Boots Opticians.

Recognising Achievement Through Lifelong Learning... the message at College Ceremony

November 2012

Over 700 guests met at Central Hall Westminster yesterday to welcome 232 newly qualified optometrists into the profession and celebrate the achievements of more experienced practitioners through the award of Higher Diplomas, Research Excellence Awards, Fellowships and Life and Honorary Fellowships. Guests at the ceremony celebrated lifelong learning and heard about the importance of professional development.
College President, Dr Kamlesh Chauhan, told diplomates that they were “in a truly privileged position, to enrich people’s lives.” He said that although diplomates will feel relief at having qualified, it is important to “do all that you can to serve your patients to the highest level by continuing your development.”

College of Optometrists Diploma CeremonyForty higher qualifications were presented to those who had achieved success in either glaucoma or Independent Prescribing examinations. This was the first time the College had presented its new accredited higher qualifications, which are designed to give commissioners proof that an optometrist has the knowledge and skills to offer enhanced services. Dr Chauhan acknowledged the important role that the more experienced clinicians being recognised at the ceremony had played. He encouraged new members to “listen to their experiences and use them as role models to follow in order to fashion a long and successful career for yourselves”.

Jackie Martin, Director of Education at the College added: “I was delighted to see so many of those who have achieved higher qualifications attend yesterday’s ceremony. These qualifications present an excellent opportunity for practitioners to stretch their capabilities and develop their careers.”

As part of its continued commitment to supporting and recognising research excellence, the College presented:

• The Bernard Gilmartin OPO Award to Dr Thomas van den Berg, Dr Luuk Franssen and Dr Joris E. Coppens for the most highly regarded paper published in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics within the last five years.
• The George Giles Postgraduate Research Prize for outstanding postgraduate research to Dr Amit Jinabhai.
• The Philip Cole Prize for excellence in practice-based research to Shona Hadwin.
• The Neil Charman Medal for Research for outstanding research by College members to Dr Lisa O’Donoghue.

Each year the College funds a number of postgraduate scholarships. The ceremony acknowledged the work of College funded scholar Dr Amit Jinabhai, PhD student at the University of Manchester, whose work may impact on the management of keratoconic patients, particularly when prescribing alternative contact lens designs.

Fellowship is the College’s highest award in recognition of achievements in the workplace as well as success in exams. The following individuals were welcomed to Fellowship of the College:

• Dr Salvatore Camilleri in recognition of his contribution to optometric services in the UK and overseas
• Dr Leon Davies for his contribution to research and to the education of undergraduates and post-graduates in the field of optometry
• Stanley Keys in recognition of his outstanding contribution to optometric education and research in the UK and voluntary work overseas
• Dr Shehzad Naroo for his outstanding contribution to optometric education and research
• David Wilson in recognition of his services to optometry in the community and pre-registration training and education
• Professor James Wolffsohn for his outstanding contribution to optometric research and the education of optometrists at undergraduate and post-graduate level both nationally and internationally.

The ceremony was brought to a close by celebrating the work of those who have played a significant role in shaping the profession. The College awarded four Life Fellowships to:

• Jennifer Birch for the contribution she has made to research into colour vision in the UK.
• Richard Earlam for the contribution he has made to the teaching of ophthalmic dispensing.
• Malcolm Gray for the contribution he has made to understanding dyslexia and the development of the diabetic retinopathy screening service in Staffordshire.• Professor John Lawrenson for the contribution he has made to the development of the Scheme for Registration of UK optometrists and the introduction of independent prescribing rights for optometrists.
Honorary Fellowships were awarded to:
• Anne Fiona Spencer for commitment to collaborative working between ophthalmologists and optometrists in glaucoma referral refinement and glaucoma higher qualifications for optometrists.
• Dr Bridget Towle in recognition of her commitment and dedication to the College’s Lay Advisory Panel and Governance Group.

Responding on behalf of the new Life and Honorary Fellows, Professor John Lawrenson echoed the President’s remarks about the importance of continuing to develop as a professional, saying “ the primary purpose of continuing professional development is to improve the quality of care you provide to your patients. As optometrists, we have a duty to keep our knowledge and skills up to date throughout our working lives.” He went on to remind newly qualified members that one of the College’s key roles is to support members in their professional development.

Customer Satisfaction Put to the Test

November 2012

Customer service staff at Rodenstock have successfully completed an FMO training programme as part of the company’s goal to provide opticians with the highest levels of service.

To date, four staff have been awarded Level 2 Certificate in Optical Customer Service (Spectacles). They are Lorna Prado-Marin, Kevin Porter, Molly Burbidge and Laura Lord as pictured (l to r).

The achievements are reward for a new focus on the needs of practitioners implemented at the company’s UK headquarters by Customer Services Manager Katie Watts, who joined the business at the end of 2011.
Katie has spearheaded a drive to ensure that staff are equipped with all the resources and experience needed to efficiently handle queries or orders.

“This year we have doubled the number of people in the team and everyone is undertaking the FMO training to enhance their skills. We are well on our way to providing levels of customer service not seen before in the optics industry,” says Katie.

mee Healthcare Launches in Cheltenham

November 2012

mee Healthcare launched its third healthcare centre in the Gallagher Retail Park, Cheltenham and pledges to donate 10% of the first week's sales to charity.
The new 1,200 sq. ft. vision and hearing centre - ‘see mee’ and ‘hear mee’ - is located in Sainsbury’s at the Gallagher Retail Park, Cheltenham. Dental Care - ‘dental mee’ - will be launched at the centre over the coming months, providing high quality and affordable dental care to our patients.

Dr Gail Lese, Founder and Chairman of mee healthcare, said:

“Following the strong demand for mee services and products at our first two centres in Leeds and Ely, I’m delighted that we are extending our relationship with Sainsbury’s and bringing mee healthcare to Cheltenham. Our centres are designed to provide our customers with access to essential healthcare services at affordable prices and in convenient locations, with extended opening hours.”

“mee healthcare provides state-of-the-art, one-stop clinics for health and wellness services and products. This represents a new approach to healthcare delivery, enabling customers to benefit from a range of services at affordable prices including hearing, vision, dental and health checks. By combining these services under one roof, mee healthcare aims to provide the highest quality customer service, and to support better and more efficient outcomes and earlier detection of underlying health issues for our patients.”

Dr Lese further commented:

“In addition, mee healthcare is committed to serving the people and the communities in which it operates. We are proud to announce today that mee Healthcare will be donating ten per cent of the first week’s trading turnover to two local charities.”

Joy Felgate, Chief Executive of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust was delighted that the trust had been nominated by mee. She said: “We are a small charity with a huge task and we work very hard to make every penny we receive go a long way. We are very grateful to mee for nominating CHECT and wish them all the best with the launch of their new healthcare centre.”

mee healthcare will be making donations to the Pied Piper appeal and The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)

GOC recruiting new Chair

November 2012

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today launched a campaign to recruit a new Chair.

GOC chief executive and registrar Samantha Peters said: “The Chair will play a key role in driving our strategic direction through this current period of regulatory reform.”

The GOC has obtained the approval of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) for the appointments process. Appointments to the GOC Council were formerly made by the Appointments Commission.

Current Council member Brian Coulter will take on the role of interim GOC Chair until the new appointee starts, which is expected to be in February 2013.
Brian is currently a non-executive member of the Human Tissue Authority, and a former member of the Independent Tribunal Service. In 2003, Brian was awarded an OBE for his services to Social Housing in Northern Ireland.

Brian said, “I’m very much looking forward to working with the new Chair next year. “In the meantime I'll be ensuring there is no loss of momentum in the ongoing GOC programme of regulatory reform and organisational development, nor of focus upon our core task of building public confidence in the optical professions.”

The new appointee will replace Anna Bradley, who stood down on 31 October to avoid a conflict of interests with her new role as Chair of HealthWatch England.

Dibble Optical Awarded Supplier of the Year 2012

November 2012

Dibble Optical became the optical industry's Top Cat when they were awarded the prestigious AOP Supplier of the Year title at a celebrated Awards Dinner at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole on Thursday 18th October.

Gaining a remarkable 53% of the overall votes the company went on to beat optical industry giant Essilor and nutraceutical supplier Macuvision to the coveted top spot. The Supplier Award was presented on the evening to Barry and Adam Dibble by AOP chairman David Shannon and AOP president Chris Hunt.

Company owner Barry Dibble commented: “I was immensely proud when I originally learnt that my company had been nominated but when our name was announced as the winner I was absolutely bowled over! For me this is the culmination of many years hard work and I would take this opportunity to thank in particular two key members of staff, Jackie and Adam, without whom none of this would have been possible.”

Dibble Optical supply a high quality range of ophthalmic consumables and accessories, including sports eyewear and prescription swimming goggles, from Breitfeld & Schliekert (B&S) plus the highly popular Miraflex range of paediatric eyewear.

Left to right, Chris Hunt AOP President, Barry Dibble, Adam Dibble, David Shannon AOP Chairman.

RCGP prioritises eye health amongst elderly patients

November 2012

Eye Health, with a focus on ageing and sight loss, has been announced by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) as one of its four clinical priorities for 2013 – 2016, following a successful proposal by the UK Vision Strategy, a united cross sector initiative.

Working together, the RCGP and UK Vision Strategy will develop a framework to help GPs across the UK to identify undetected sight loss amongst elderly patients.

Undetected eye conditions can have a significant impact on the quality of life of older patients. Almost 2 million people in the UK are living with sight loss but this is set to double to 4 million by 2050. These increases are mainly due to an ageing population as over 80% of sight loss occurs in people over 60 years.

Anita Lightstone, Programme Director for UK Vision Strategy and Chief Operations Officer for VISION 2020 UK said: “Many older people accept poor vision as part of the natural ageing process but this does not need to be the case. GPs have a vital role to play in raising awareness of the need for them to protect their eye health.

“By making eye health a priority and making ageing and sight loss a particular focus of this programme of work, we hope that we will be able to prevent many elderly patients from losing their sight unnecessarily.”

Dr Waqaar Shah, Royal College of General Practitioners Ophthalmology Representative said: "By identifying sight loss at an earlier stage GPs can help prevent patients suffering from other issues such as falls and depression which have strong links with sight loss, which will significantly improve the lives of patients.”

A three-year programme of work by the RCGP for eye health, focusing on ageing and sight loss, will launch in April 2013 and will be led by a senior clinician, to be known as a clinical champion, who will be appointed in early 2013. More information will be announced shortly about the programme and the resources which will be developed by and for GPs and fellow primary health care professionals to enable them to improve the quality of patient care in this clinical area.

Dates for National Eye Health Week 2013 Announced

November 2012

The fourth annual National Eye Health Week will take place next year from Monday 16 September to Sunday 22 September.

This announcement follows the success of the 2012 campaign, which saw high profile media coverage and hundreds of organisations from across the sector taking part to raise awareness of eye health and the need for regular sight tests for all.

Francesca Marchetti, Chair of the National Eye Health Week Steering Group, said: “Following the success of this year's National Eye Health Week we are delighted to announce the dates for next year's campaign. We hope to make the 2013 week the most successful yet so if you would like to find out how you can get involved go to, follow us on Twitter @myvisionmatters or email to receive the latest news and information".

Further details of the 2013 campaign will be announced in the coming weeks.

National Eye Health Week also announce the Chair and Vice-Chair have been re-elected

November 2012

Francesca MarchettiFrancesca Marchetti and David Cartwright have been re-elected as Chair and Vice-Chair (respectively) of the National Eye Health Week Steering Group.

Francesca Marchetti represents the Association of Optometrists (AOP) where she is a Council Representative. Francesca is also practicing Optometrist, a Council Member for the College of Optometrists, Secretary to Warwickshire LOC, and sits on the Driving and Vision Working Group.

David Cartwright represents the Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians (FODO). David is a Consultant Optometrist and sits on the General Optical Council Standards Committee. He is also a past President and Council Member of the College of Optometrists.

Francesca Marchetti said "I am delighted to be reappointed as Chair of National Eye Health Week. I am looking forward to working with the Steering Committee to make next year's campaign the best yet".

David Cartwright: “I am really pleased to be asked to remain as Vice Chair. It is important that we raise the profile of the importance of an eye examination and we have the opportunity for all sectors within the optical professions to pool resources and support this aim through National Eye Health Week".

Other organisations and charities represented on the NEHW Steering Group include: British Contact Lens Association (BCLA), Eyecare Trust, Fight for Sight, International Glaucoma Association (IGA), Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) and UK Vision Strategy.

Poor driver eyesight costs UK £33m a year

November 2012

A new report commissioned by leading global insurer, RSA, has found that road crashes caused by poor driver vision cost the UK an estimated £33 million a year and result in nearly 2,900 casualties, with official tests to identify and rectify the problem in need of urgent reform.

The report, commissioned for RSA’s Fit to Drive campaign and launched today at a Parliamentary event in Westminster, aims to raise awareness of the dangers of driving with poor vision and is calling for a change in UK law requiring:

• the current number plate test to be scrapped, as this does not provide an accurate assessment of a drivers’ vision;
• all learner drivers to have their vision tested by a qualified professional prior to applying for a provisional driving licence; and,
• eye tests to be mandatory every ten years, linked to driving licence renewal; with drivers encouraged to voluntarily have their eyes tested every two years (in line with NHS recommendations .).

RSA’s proposed changes to eyesight testing are estimated to generate net savings to the UK economy after the first year of introduction and increase to £14.4 million by year ten.

Adrian Brown, RSA UK & Western Europe CEO, said: Adrian Brown, RSA UK & Western Europe CEO said: “The report’s figures speak for themselves. If we simply make an eye test mandatory when getting your first driving licence and when renewing every 10-years we will save lives and reduce the strain on public finances.

“Wider understanding among politicians, health professionals, the police and insurers about the serious impact of poor eyesight on road safety is crucial and our Westminster roundtable event marks the start of what I hope will be a sustained commitment to working together to improve safety on our roads.”

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, the road safety charity, said: “This report gives an indication of how many violent and devastating casualties on our roads could be prevented through a simple eye examination. Being able to see clearly what’s in front and around you is fundamental to safe, responsible driving.

“That’s why we urge drivers to have an eye test at least every two years, even if you think your sight is fine. We also hope to see common sense winning through and the Government tightening up the rules on driver eyesight. To make our roads safer and ensure everyone is fit to drive we need a scientific eyesight test at the start of your driving career and compulsory re-tests at least every 10 years thereafter.”

At the Westminster event several MPs signed RSA’s Fit to Drive pledge, which outlines their support for the issue as well as urges others in the Government to do the same.

The pledge reads: “I have signed RSA’s Fit to Drive pledge to show my support for this important campaign, and will be urging my colleagues in Parliament to do the same.”

General Optical Council announces new directors to join GOC

November 2012

The General Optical Council (GOC) has appointed Josephine Lloyd and Alistair Bridge to its senior management team.

GOC chief executive and registrar Samantha Peters said, “Josephine and Alistair will both bring a wealth of experience to the GOC. It is vital that we have the right leadership in place to continue protecting the public through fair, effective and proportionate regulation; I look forward to working with Josephine and Alistair at this time of regulatory change.”

Josephine Lloyd, Director of Resources

Josephine will be responsible for ensuring that the organisation continues to work effectively and embrace modernisation while using its retention fee income efficiently. She will manage the GOC’s budget and resources.

Josephine said: “It’s vital that the GOC maximises its resources to deliver effective public protection. We must build on the success of projects such as online retention to ensure that the GOC is best-equipped to deliver its mission.”

Josephine has held a number of senior finance and resources roles in both the private and public sectors. She is a qualified accountant and has managed large budgets and staff teams in a wide variety of organisations.

Alistair Bridge, Director of Policy and Communications

Alistair will ensure the GOC stays one step ahead of changing circumstances in optics and regulation. He will lead its work with the Law Commissions to enable it to be best-placed to continue protecting the public. He will manage strategy, communications and stakeholder engagement.

Alistair said: “The regulatory landscape is going through a period of extensive change. We must maximise this opportunity to shape our legal framework to best protect the public.”

Alistair has extensive regulatory experience, having worked in policy, strategy and communications for communications regulator Ofcom and the Communications Consumer Panel, the independent statutory body that champions consumers’ interests. He is also a qualified solicitor.

Optical leaders ‘in the dock’ at BCLA Pioneers Conference

November 2012

Members of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) will be given a rare opportunity to grill the leaders of the optical bodies at the 9th BCLA Pioneers Conference, to be held on 22 November at the Royal Society of Medicine, London.

In a panel discussion led by Dr Shehzad Naroo and Professor James Wolffsohn, entitled ‘Our leaders in the dock’, delegates will put their questions about the future of contact lens practice to: the BCLA President, Dr Catharine Chisholm; Association of British Dispensing Opticians President, Jennifer Brower; Association of Optometrists Chairman, David Shannon; Optical Confederation Chairman, Don Grocott; and Dr Kamlesh Chauhan, President of the College of Optometrists.

Delegates will vote on ‘How safe is the future of contact lens practice in our leaders’ hands?’ at the start and end of the session, declaring whether they are ‘unsatisfied’, ‘neutral’, ‘satisfied’, or ‘very satisfied’.

This year’s Pioneers Conference and accompanying exhibition starts at 12.30pm and offers a host of stimulating lectures by eminent speakers including Dr Michael Pritchard from the Royal Photographic Society and Andrew Gasson on imaging, Dr Clare O’Donnell on confocal microscopy, Professor James Wolffsohn on OCT, Glenn Carp on refractive surgery – and Tim Bowden with his annual Pioneers Update.

As always, the conference is free for BCLA members to attend and will provide one contact lens CET point.

Fiona Stapleton BCLAThe evening Pioneers Lecture – ‘Understanding how to eliminate contact lens related microbial keratitis’ by Professor Fiona Stapleton of the University of New South Wales, Australia – has for the first time been approved for one Independent Prescribing point as well as one contact lens CET point. The lecture, from 6.30-7.30pm, is also free for BCLA members to attend, along with one non-member guest each.

Professor Stapleton will discuss the epidemiology of contact lens-related corneal infection, including modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors and strategies for both the prevention of disease and limiting morbidity. She will also present during the afternoon conference, on ‘Best practice, practitioner compliance and patient advice’.

Professor Stapleton said: “I’m thrilled to be involved with the Pioneers Conference this year, and feel very humbled to be the 9th Pioneers Lecturer. Nigel Burnett Hodd has done a magnificent job as usual with the organisation of the conference, and delegates will hear a great overview of how diagnostic imaging technology is changing practice today and what we can look forward to in the near future. Get ready to cross examine the eminent panel on trial about the challenges facing contact lens practice – such as internet sales, managing lens wear drop-outs, and practitioner and wearer compliance.

“The day offers many opportunities for interacting with friends and colleagues in a wonderful venue with plenty of relevant clinical pearls to go home with,” added Professor Stapleton.

This year’s sponsors are the BCLA, Alcon, Bausch + Lomb, CooperVision, David Thomas Contact Lenses/Menicon, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Sauflon, Spectrum Théa and Topcon.

Hoya announce IPad winner from ABDO conference

Hoya iPad winnerNovember 2012

Congratulations to Edward Ukjeja of Peepers Opticians, Banbury. Edward won the Hoya prize draw for the iPad at the ABDO conference Stratford-upon-Avon. Hoya has attended the ABDO conference for years and this year was no exception.

Hoya received great feedback on the new Hoyalux iD LifeStyle V+ stand design and it was an opportunity to introduce the new FreeForm lens to the optical market.

Left: Paul Jones, Area Sales Manager, Hoya Lens UK
Right: Edward Ukjeja, Peepers Opticians, Banbury

China Optometric and Optical Association signs up to the eye show 2013

November 2012

The China Optometric and Optical Association (COOA) has signed up to exhibit at and work with The Eye Show 2013, the Optical and Ophthalmic Exhibition and Conference taking place on 12-14 February at London’s ExCeL Exhibition and Conference Centre. This important Chinese national association has over 1,000 member companies composed of manufacturers, optometrists, traders, research institutes and education institutions of the industry. COOA is responsible for, among other things, managing the development of China's optical industry overseas.

Mr. Cui Yi, the chairman of China Optometric and Optical Association says, “We are delighted to be associated with The Eye Show. This is an ideal opportunity and great platform for us to introduce and profile our members to the UK market.”

Dawn Kime comments, “We are delighted to have the support of the COOA. We will be working with them to attract their members to attend the show in both an exhibiting and visiting capacity. The interest in The Eye Show by overseas trade associations is unprecedented. The support of these powerful organisations is a huge asset to the Show.”

UK Vision Strategy refresh consultation closing soon

November 2012

There is less than a month left for individuals and organisations to share their views on the refresh of the UK Vision Strategy and contribute to its future direction.

The UK Vision Strategy, a framework which sets the overall direction for eye health and sight loss services in the UK, was released for consultation in July this year and is due to close on 16 November 2012.

UK Vision Strategy, a VISION 2020 UK initiative led by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), launched a five year plan in 2008 and is now looking ahead to ensure the Strategy continues to prioritise the most important issues from 2013. The refreshed UK Vision Strategy will inform the whole sector.

Anita Lightstone, UK Vision Strategy Programme Director and interim Chief Operating Officer, Vision 2020 UK, said: "It is vital that we obtain a wide cross section of views from the sector to help shape the strategy and ensure that we are moving in the right direction. This is a great opportunity for healthcare practitioners, support services, and those living with sight loss to have their say and advise us on how we can best meet their changing needs.''

RNIB Group, made up of RNIB; Action for Blind People; Cardiff, Vales and Valleys; and National Talking Newspapers and Magazines, is also beginning to think ahead and make plans about where it should focus its efforts from 2014.

Until 16 November people will be able to give their views on both the UK Vision Strategy and RNIB's future plans either online or by telephone or in writing. To take part in the UK Vision Strategy consultation visit or call 0207 391 2221.

Mr. Singh’s dream for Optometry Giving Sight

November 2012

Games Maker, popular optometrist and charity fundraiser Mr. Singh has a dream. He wants to help Optometry Giving Sight raise £60,000 by 15 December, by encouraging 6,000 members of the optical industry, as well as friends, family and patients to each donate £10.

Mr SinghMr. Singh, who has travelled to eye camps in India and parts of Africa on self-funded trips says:

“I know with everyone’s help we are going to make it. My dream is to raise £60,000, anything more would be a miracle. Please make a one-off payment of £10 to help create a miracle.”

Mr. Singh, of Eyes Rite in Harwich, Essex, suffered short-sightedness for four years as a child before his brother helped him buy his first pair of glasses. He has been a keen supporter of the charity for some years, and was inspired to go the extra mile after hearing of Olympic athletes who received eye care at the London 2012 athletes’ village, many of whom were from poor countries with limited eye care. He says:

“This gave me inspiration to raise money for Optometry Giving Sight, to help the underprivileged gain confidence through regaining their sight.”

Optometry Giving Sight funds eye care services in communities where they do not exist, ensuring sustainable, lasting results in three ways: training of local eye care professionals; establishment and support of vision centres and schools of optometry; and delivery of affordable eye care and glasses.

£60,000 is enough to fund the establishment of a vision centre, and one vision centre alone can service up to 50,000 people.

To date, Optometry Giving Sight has provided financial support to 57 projects in 32 countries – all of which are helping to develop Optometry as a profession throughout the world and provide access to affordable vision care services to people in need.

AOP Chairman David Shannon comments:

“We can all dream. I hope Mr Singh realises his. How inspirational to want to give the gift of sight to so many.”

To help Mr. Singh and Optometry Giving Sight, donate at

Optometry Giving Sight announce new advert

November 2012

Optometry Giving Sight Xmas advertOGS has published their special Christmas Advertising campaign detailed below.

You can download a full or ½ page PDF copy for your own use below or go to the OGS site.

Full page advert

Half page advert

College hosts second successful public health strategy roundtable

November 2012

Representatives from across the ophthalmic sector were told last Friday that the sector has made significant progress towards its aims of highlighting the importance of ophthalmic public health through its focus on three key areas: knowledge, capacity and communication. The comments were made at a roundtable event hosted by the College of Optometrists on Friday 26 October - the second such meeting hosted by the College as part of the optical sector’s joint strategy to improve ophthalmic public health. The College was congratulated on 'demonstrating significant leadership' in driving this strategy forward.

Leaders from a range of optical bodies came together to debate what more should be done to address the ophthalmic health needs of the most at risk populations and to promote the importance of eye health among healthcare professionals and commissioners at a national and local level.

The roundtable was attended by more than 30 representatives from organisations throughout the eye health sector, including the the Optical Confederation, RNIB, LOCSU, UK Vision Strategy, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the General Optical Council. Attendees also included representatives from all countries in the UK.

Attendees were updated with a presentation on the College’s Public Health Data project, led by College vice-president David Parkins. They also heard presentations from Katrina Venerus on Health and Wellbeing Boards and Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and Anita Lightstone on the Public Health Indicator.
In addition participants heard from three public health ambassadors about the public health training they had received and how they had been able to put it into practice.

Participants discussed a range of issues, including how best to support people working in ophthalmic public health and the importance of engaging with new Health and Wellbeing Boards.

Kamlesh Chauhan, President of the College of Optometrists, commented: "I would like to thank everyone who attended the roundtable event. Not only was this a much bigger meeting than our first roundtable, but the discussion was better informed and more directed to outcomes. I’m pleased to say that it’s clear that, thanks to the hard work of everyone involved, significant progress has been made since this time last year. For example thanks to the College’s Public Health Data project we now have a much clearer view of the eye health data available. However we also agreed that more needs to be done, for example linking eye health messages to broader public health issues such as smoking, falls and dementia, collecting additional data and embedding public health education in optometry training. I very much look forward to working closely with partners across the sector to move the strategy forward.”

Anita Lightstone, UK Vision Strategy Programme Director and VISION 2020 UK, Chief Operations Officer, commented: “As a sector it’s important that we acknowledge the excellent progress that has been made since last year. The importance of working collaboratively and approaching commissioners and government with a unified voice cannot be underestimated. It is thanks to this approach that we have achieved the inclusion of preventable sight loss as a key health indicator in the Department of Health’s Public Health Outcomes framework, which I believe is a real breakthrough for eye health.”

The Eye Show launches advertising campaign on PHN

October 2012

Organisers of the Eye Show due in Mid February next year in London have asked PHN to market the exciting show on the most popular online news site for the optical industry. Over the next few weeks banners will link to the Eye Show web site for information and registration. More information will appear on a page linked from the supplier’s guide “Exhibition Category”

"We are delighted to advise The Eye Show who we welcome among many new supporters of your site enabling us to do more for you” said Bob Hutchinson, PHN Director, “we work actively with organisers of optical shows, SILMO being our last to feature and we look forward to showcasing this new show.”

North London CET Evening and Exclusive Clinic Tour

October 2012

My iClinic in North London is delighted to announce a series of free CET evenings with an exclusive tour of their new clinic. The events will consist of short presentations on cataract, glaucoma, macula, and squint and attendees will have the opportunity to tour the new facility. John Bolger, Consultant Ophthalmologist at My-iClinic said, "I am looking forward to welcoming colleagues from Primary Care to our new clinic for some informative evenings of CET led by our consultants."

The CET evenings will take place on 19th November, 11th December, and 16th January starting at 7pm with a buffet dinner provided. For further information please visit their website at Alternatively you can phone on 020 8445 8877 or send My iClinic a Fax on 020 8445 4323. You can download full details here.

Norville Opticians of Keynsham offer hope from Chernobyl Fall out

October 2012

Norville Opticians in Keynsham near Bristol was able to test the eyesight of two young children from Belarus recently when they visited the town. The trip was courtesy of the charity Chernobyl Children’s Life Line which organises recuperative breaks in the UK for children who were or are now affected by radioactive fallout from the nuclear explosion in April 1986.

Belarus, where most of the charity’s work is focused, received over 70% of the fallout from the explosion and the disaster has resulted in thousands of children every year either being born with or going on to develop thyroid cancer, bone cancer and leukaemia.

Optometrist Jenny Edden is pictured here with interpreter Valentina Charopka (left), Dima Smirnou (in black top) and Vania Sharamet.

BCLA announce new reduced rate for newly qualified CLOs and OOs

October 2012

All optometrists and contact lens opticians (CLOs) newly qualified in the UK are invited to take advantage of a new, two-year discounted rate of membership of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA).

Newly qualified UK CLOs and optometrists can now enjoy a host of career enhancing educational and professional BCLA membership benefits for just £66 per annum.

The new BCLA membership rate is available for a maximum period of two years post qualification and registration with the General Optical Council (GOC) as a fully qualified eye care practitioner.

“Joining the BCLA gives newly qualified practitioners immense opportunities to network with, and learn from, established contact lens practitioners, attend BCLA events and be part of the global contact lens community,” said Dr Catharine Chisholm, BCLA President.

“The first two years in contact lens practice are about further developing practical skills and knowledge and building confidence. This is a cost-effective way for our newly qualified members to do just that,” added Catharine.

Anthony BlackmanBCLA and Association of British Dispensing Opticians member Anthony Blackman, who received the BCLA ABDO Examination Prize in 2011, said: “This new membership rate is a great way for the future of the contact lens profession to more readily access all that is happening globally in industry, practice and research. I believe that BCLA membership is invaluable for enhancing your clinical skills, whatever stage you’re at in your career. I wouldn’t be without it now I’m fully qualified.”

The membership benefits for newly qualified practitioners are:

• Online access to Contact Lens & Anterior Eye (worth £156)
• Free ACLM Contact Lens Year Book
• 50 per cent discount on Contact Lens Spectrum
• 15 per cent discount at Elsevier (plus free P&P)
• Evening CET lectures (including Presidential Address)
• BCLA factsheets
• Free and discounted patient practice leaflets
• Clinical Poster Library
• Virtual Lecture Library
• Clinical Photographic Library
• Contact lens case studies and reports
• E-news services and alerts
• Reports and market data on contact lenses and useful downloads
• Quarterly newsletter, Contact, by email
• Inclusion on the BCLA ‘Find a contact lens practitioner’ tool enabling patients to search for a practitioner in their area

College of Optometrists to host roundtable on ophthalmic public health

October 2012

The College of Optometrists will continue its work to coordinate the sector’s strategy to improve ophthalmic public health in its second public health roundtable next week. Attendees will discuss how eye health fits into the new structure of the NHS and the way eye health is prioritised by councils.

The College is committed to working in partnership with others to influence the delivery of eye care. In September this year, more than 30 influential optical bodies took part in a College workshop to discuss public health data and how it can be better used to improve the nation’s eye health. During last year’s College led roundtable on public health, three areas - knowledge, capacity and community - were identified as priorities to explore in order to improve ophthalmic public health, and September’s workshop explored the area of knowledge: assessing the quality and quantity of currently available ophthalmic public health data and ways to improve measurements of the quality and value of care provided.

Following last year’s roundtable, a joint strategy – Optical sector strategy to improve ophthalmic public health – was developed to improve ophthalmic public health. This resulted in a more collaborative approach across the sector prompting increased awareness among government of the importance of optical healthcare. The sector built upon this approach to successfully present the case for a public health indicator for eye health in England. Another success was the Welsh Assembly’s support for prioritising the avoidance of preventable sight loss.

This year’s roundtable, which takes place on 26 October 2012, will be attended by representatives from more than 20 bodies across healthcare, including those within eye care, nursing, commissioning and academia.

Kamlesh Chauhan, president of the College of Optometrists, said: “Changes to the NHS and the commissioning process mean that there may be further opportunities for optometrists to provide patient care. We want to use this roundtable to discuss how the sector can work with other health professionals, government and commissioning bodies to prevent avoidable sight loss. The College wants to ensure that optometrists are recognised as clinicians who have a vital role to play in the management of eye disease and eye health. Last year’s roundtable was a good example of how working together can drive greater awareness of eye health and, in turn, improve outcomes for patients. This year we will be reviewing the joint strategy and discussing what progress the sector has made against the main themes of the strategy.”

The ophthalmic public health roundtable will be held at Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London, NW1 2B from 10am to 3pm.

Jenny Wright returns to Optrafair team

October 2012

Jenny Wright, OptrafairThe Optrafair team has been further boosted with the return of longstanding Sales Manager, Jenny Wright, following maternity leave.

Jenny, who has worked on several shows, is well known to exhibitors and has an extensive knowledge of the needs of optical companies and show visitors. Embracing many new features, Optrafair 2013 plans are now well underway with the Fashion Quarter nearly sold out.

As she said -

“Whilst I have been away the show has achieved so much, with many exhibitors already on board, but I am looking forward to giving it another push as we get closer to the show. I will also be organising Optrafair TV, the OptraAwards and the FQ catwalk area, so lots of exciting things to progress.”

Optical Confederation input to ECLF Seminar - Contact Lens Penetration in Europe: what could it be?

October 2012

Optical Confederation senior representatives Simon Rodwell (ACLM) and Alan Tinger (FODO) took part in the second annual seminar of the European Contact Lens Forum (ECLF) in Amsterdam on 17 October 2012. The theme for the day was Contact Lens Penetration in Europe: what could it be?

The audience included representatives from a wide range of countries and types of contact lens suppliers, healthcare providers and educators.

Speaking at the conference was the UK’s Dr Julie-Anne Little (President elect of ECOO). Julie-Anne said:

“practitioners need to keep up with advances in technology because the latest products are able to offer the benefits of contact lenses to a far greater number of their patients".

Chairman of the ECLF and President of EUROMCONTACT Helmer Schweizer added:

“Practitioners are in the best possible position to seize this opportunity and they should grab it, especially since contact lenses have been shown to increase loyalty amongst patients”.

Key messages from the conference for the UK were

1. Practical fitting skills and ongoing education for practitioners in the latest technologies are an essential starting point for bringing the benefits of modern contact lens wear to all suitable patients
2. Communication with, and listening to the needs of, patients is a top priority for all staff in the practice – who should all understand the key benefits of contact lens wear
3. Contact lens uptake is governed by awareness, accessibility and affordability. Unless the contact lens option is raised with all suitable patients as a mainstream correction option, then uptake will be slow and patient benefits foregone
4. Every country within Europe, let alone the rest of the world, operates a different model for testing sight and supply of corrective eye wear, and this is can be taken advantage of (perfectly legally) by entrepreneurial businesses when mainstream optical practice is slow to respond to new opportunities and patient wishes. The Internet is now a part of many people’s lives and retail experience. This is the consumer-choice world we live in, and it applies to every sector, so practitioners must learn to adapt and innovate
5. Two current and future growth areas in which practitioners would do well to build up key contact lens skills are myopia control and presbyopia. In both areas there is burgeoning demand worldwide
6. Cross-subsidies distort markets, as we know only too well in the UK from our GOS experiences, and so charging for professional time, instead of loading charges onto products which can be bought more cheaply from the Internet, is the right way forward in contact lens supply
7. Most Internet customers are part-time wearers. A key issue for all suppliers is to get across the messages of the need for compliance, aftercare and the advantages of trading up to the latest technologies so that fewer wearers experience wearing problems and drop out. Fitting contact lenses to children from the age of 5-6 where they themselves have the motivation for it, is safe, benefits the children and builds up confidence for a lifetime of respect about ocular matters and contact lens wear in particular. The later in life contact lens wear begins the higher the likelihood of adverse incidents due to carelessness, and consequent dropouts
8. Contact lens wear tends to diminish with age, so for presbyopes, that ever-growing sector of virtually every community, it is easier to offer the benefits of contact lens wear if the individuals concerned already have a regular sight testing routine
9. Dropping out of wearing is still a major phenomenon, particularly at the onset of presbyopia. Understanding at the individual level why patients have stopped wearing, and then recovering those wearers, should be priorities for all practices if we want the benefits and habit of contact lens wear to spread
10. Technological improvements are coming on-stream all the time from manufacturers, usually with the aim of improving comfort and wearability. These go a long way to meeting customer needs and reducing dropouts, including presbyopes, so should be offered as they become available in preference to misplaced brand loyalty
11. Patient loyalty is rarely as strong as practitioners like to think, but is the lifeblood of any practice and has to be constantly earned by excellent clinical service and support and by offering cutting edge products

GOC Committee praised for “sound decisions”

October 2012

The General Optical Council’s (GOC) Investigation Committee has been assessed as ‘making sound decisions’ by the body which scrutinises and oversees its work.

The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) audit found that the public can be reassured that: “The GOC assesses any risks to patients at an early stage in the investigation process and that complaints are generally progressed…in a timely manner.”

CHRE also found “A number of examples of good practice” when looking at 42 cases from December 2011 to May 2012 which the GOC closed in the investigation phase.

GOC chief executive and registrar Samantha Peters said, “This report should provide assurance to both the public and registrants that we deal with complaints about registrants in a fair, effective and proportionate way.”

The report also stated that CHRE “Had no concerns about any of the [GOC’s] decisions made to close cases at the initial stages of the fitness to practise process”.

It added, “Our findings in this year’s audit are generally consistent with those in our last audit confirming that the GOC’s investigation committee makes sound decisions.”
The report is available on the CHRE website at

Contact Lens Penetration in Europe: What could it be?

October 2012

The European Contact Lens Forum (ECLF) held its second seminar in Amsterdam around the theme: Contact Lens Penetration in Europe: What could it be?

Helmer Schweizer, the ECLF chairman, gave an overview of worldwide contact lens penetration and pointed out that with around 5% of contact lens (CL) penetration in Europe is on the low side, compared to North America’s app. 15% (mainly the US) and Japan’s 22% There are exceptions of high penetration rates in Europe, mainly in northern Europe. The penetration rate is influenced by awareness, affordability and accessibility.

It was then up to various European associations to show what they as an association do to increased the penetration rate of CLs in Europe.

The first three speakers all put the need for education and continuing education forward as the main way to grow the CL market.

For Dr. C. Koppen, Secretary General of the ECLSO (European Council of Contact Lens Fitting Ophthalmologists), the low penetration rate is due to a lack of interest and CL education in Western European countries, thereby losing the ability to provide professional CL fitting and management.

J. Morris, President IACLE (International Association of Contact Lens Educators) for the EAME region, explained that the use of high quality education materials, such as that which IACLE provides, for all CL educators (ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians), could definitely increase CL penetration in Europe.

According to Julie-Anne Little, President-elect of ECOO (the European Council of Optometry and Optics, opticians and optometrists) CLs should consider as a plausible option for more of their customers, patients, especially with the new types of CLs.

Cheryl Donnelly represented the Euromcontact (European association of manufacturers and national association of contact lens and lens care manufacturers) view. Before a CL even reaches the eye care professional (ECP) or the consumer, industry is involved in market research, research and development, manufacturing, regulatory monitoring and lobbying, trial lenses, specific ECP support, ECP education and consumer awareness. The last two speakers explained how individuals contribute to CL market development.

Michael Kraftman is the CEO of GetLenses, a major UK Internet supplier of CLs with subsidiaries in several European countries. The company has a database of 250,000 customers, a stock over 1 million lenses, 90 % of the orders are shipped the same day. He believes that to grow the CL market, CLs need to be more affordable, and customers educated by weekly emails, which can enthuse customers about CLs. He believes that opticians should think CLs first and be keener to suggest new technology. He challenged the meeting with the thoughts that governments should deregulate and create a harmonized environment throughout Europe to enable e.g. pan-European direct -consumer marketing campaigns. Why not a European CL wearer “license”?

As the owner/manager of the Danish Kontaktlinse Institutet, Bo Lauenborg had 850 new fittings in 2011, but 700 dropouts, some of them also due to the competition of discount chains, internet trade and refractive surgery. His practice has been focussing on CLs for presbyopia for the past 5 years to stimulate growth. Industry is probably doing enough but ECP’s may actually be their own worst enemy by being laid back. The partnership with industry and customers/patients should be enhanced. Communication training is the key to stop the dropout. Stopping or reducing dropout is also key to increase CL penetration.

The lively afternoon debate was led by Ian P. Davies on behalf of Euromcontact. The following questions fascinated the audience:

Is deregulation the way forward? Are CLs are over-regulated considering the low risk profile they present?

According to most speakers, proper fitting and repeated education about wearing CLs are a necessity, and not just via e-mail. Personal contact with an ECP is the best way to increase compliance and upgrade to better CLs. The future lies in a sound co-operation between the ECPs and Internet suppliers because self-fitting can be dangerous, as can be the lack of proper advice at the after care. Adverse incidents are most often caused by the wearers’ behaviour, ignoring the basic rules about wearing and caring of CLs. The ECP’s staff should equally get training about CL’s. The regulations that provide high quality and the safest possible CLs shall not be eliminated or lowered.

Although many ECP’s are not doing it and afraid of starting to do so, is a fee for service a way forward?

Here, the audience agreed that a fee should be charged for service and the principle of splitting charges for service and product sales is a good one. Will the pressure on cost of health care force fitting away from ophthalmology to optometrists and opticians and thus increase the penetration in those countries that are ophthalmology-driven?

Good co-operation between all ECP’s should be a top priority for all professional associations and influence government policy in that sense. Well trained optometrists and / or opticians may well provide the fitting and after care at lower costs and shorter waiting times than ophthalmology.

Is the level of drop-outs as high in Internet companies as in private practice?

Most Internet customers are part-time wearers. They are sometimes turning to another Internet company and some are returning to their opticians. These are not dropping out of CLs. CL comfort factor is also an important reason for dropping out, showing the importance of proper fitting, after care, upgrading to better CLs and care products, also providing education and continuous contact with the wearers, consumers.
There are products out there meeting most of the consumer requirements, so why are consumers not aware of that? Is the ECP indeed the gatekeeper?

How to get new CL wearers?

Children can be fitted at any age, depending on their individual situation, motivation and desire. They may then stay CL wearers for the rest of their life, but ECP’s need to know that it is safe to do so.
Fitting more presbyopes would definitely grow CL penetration. CLs for presbyopia have become easier and easier to fit, bit ECPs are often still lacking the motivation to use, fit them as a port of the complete set of vision correction options.

The presentations are available for downloading on the website of the ECLF:

Public gets new tools on public website to search for all recognised brands supplied by practices

October 2012

PHN’s “” can now offer to the 30,000 + members of the public visiting its highly ranked site a search engine capable of looking for practices stocking: frame, lens, contact lens and solution brands by region, area, town or post code.

“Our latest statistic shows around 27,000 page visits each month on the site use the practice finder on our complete registered practice database for the UK. We have now completed our complete overhaul of the public site started almost a year ago with the addition all recognised brands sold in the UK. As new brands appear we will rely on the help of manufacturers and wholesalers to ensure we keep this up to date. Practices for the first time ever can attract new customers on this unique site not only by tempting them with proven and niche brands but also by announcing the specialist services that they can provide including enhanced services and domiciliary work,” announced Charles Greenwood, Director of Primary Health Net who administer and publish the mylocaloptician website.

Gaining access to advertise on this feature has been made simple by clicking from either of PHN’s sites and the company has offered a free 3 month trial to prove its worth to all practice managers.

Greenwood continued” We’ve made it as easy as possible for practices to click on as many brands and as many specialisms that they normally provide and if we have any missing they can contact us with more ideas. For some this is a new environment in patient and customer attraction but we have been building the most visited public site over the last 5 years and we are now seeing that we have created a unique opportunity to grow optical footfall. Giving an unconditional three months free trial period will provide confidence in the market for others to join their fellow competitors.”

Those selecting brands to search online can also click the brand directly from the search name for further information about the brand when supplier involved is a PHN supporter.

Enhanced entry on

Screen Shot of “find my Optician” practice example with their selected brands and specialities

Visit or direct to form

Tel Charles Greenwood or Justine Marsden 0208 776 9542

LOCSU reduces levy from next April

October 2012

Delegates attending the NOC at Birmingham were pleased to receive the news of a relaxation of the levy from 0,5% to 0.4% from next April.

Katrina VenerusAlan Tinger, LOCSU’s Chairman broke the news after this year's accounts were adopted by the largest audience ever seen at the National Optical Conference, a name change that now reflects the inclusion of Dispensing Opticians, when many are now becoming involved in LOC and CCG issues.

LOCSU has certainly come of age with only one LOC now not signed up. It is a bold step for any administrative body to admit that it no longer needs the same amount of funding to fullfil its role. Many would have thought they would more likely have found ways to spend it.

Katrina Venerus recently made up to MD at LOCSU provided the key note speech which showed how LOCSU had positioned itself ready for next April’s changes in Primary Care. The conference itself provided the necessary information on enhanced service provision, the ability if required for LOCs to use ready set up Ltd companies and the opportuinity to purchase a webstar Opto manager product to help collate and cost enhanced services.

This was a conference where the experts took more of a back seat and allowed collegues to present their stories on successful enhanced contracts. Most lectures were not rocket science and were well known by those already heavily involved in procurement but the purpose was to spread to word and encourage everyone to get involved.

Ultravision announce new appointment

October 2012

Contact Lens manufacturer UltraVision CLPL is delighted to announce the appointment of Graham Avery as new Sales Director. Graham comes to UltraVision CLPL with more than thirty years’ experience in the contact lens industry from running his own business to sales and marketing director of David Thomas Contact Lenses and more recently as Global Export Manager of Menicon. He has a track record of success in introducing speciality contact lens designs into the market in both the domestic and export markets.

‘This is an exciting time to be joining UltraVision CLPL with both KeraSoft IC and a stream of new products under development’, commented Graham Avery. ‘I look forward to helping take UltraVision CLPL to the next level and making UltraVision CLPL the company of choice for all lenses for all patients outside of the disposable lens range.’

FMO looks to other aspects of optics

October 2012

An insight of “looking over the wall to the other side of optics” was held by The FMO this week at The Vision Care Institute of Johnson & Johnson Medical Ltd.

Providing FMO members and their guests with a view of the world of intraocular surgery and advanced contact lenses, the regional meeting in Wokingham drew widespread praise from the delegates who had travelled from around the UK.

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon from Southampton, Rob Morris, delivered a fascinating presentation into the advances in laser techniques, cataract and multifocal lens surgery, particularly for the “silver surfer post baby-boom generation”. He contrasted the shocking procedures still performed in sub-Saharan Africa with what we are likely to see in the West’s most advanced operating theatres in the future. He also outlined what is currently available as an NHS procedure and the patient options available within private health care.

Kamlesh Chauhan, Head of the J&J Vision Care Institute and President of the College of Optometrists, spoke about the early history of glass contact lenses through to today’s advanced silicone hydrogel daily disposable and multifocal options. Challenges to comfort, and lens stability, included the fact that eyelids can cover 42km each year in blink movements. Delegates were interested to hear about future developments with contact lenses which measure blood sugar levels in diabetics and others which may provide drug delivery systems.

FMO Chairman, John Conway, praised the eagerness of FMO members to learn more about other aspects of optics –

“To have such an open forum where we can have the very best briefing to discuss patient choices, and understand the options which are available, is a tremendous step forwards. The FMO is all about benefitting its members and certainly the insights provided at the wonderful J&J event are vital for us all in gaining a wider view of the optical marketplace.”

Following a networking lunch, FMO delegates divided into their industry specific frame, lens and equipment focus groups to discuss conditions and challenges on the High Street. A positive update on next April’s Optrafair was also provided for members.

Local Professional Networks mark a new era in eye health

Ocotber 2012

The launch of Eye Care Local Professional Networks (LPNs) will bring together clinicians, patients, managers and commissioners for the first time, in order to improve eye care services, according to leading optometrist David MacVeigh.

LPNs, funded by the new NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB), will be clinically-led with experts from a range of eye health specialties, including optometry and ophthalmology, together with public health, patients and commissioners.

The LPN will quality assure the safety of eye-care services, support the integration of care, and provide professional clinical advice and leadership to help clinical commissioning boards. Information from LPNs will also help Health and Wellbeing Boards to address of public health issues affecting eye-care, which in turn will assist in the development of joint strategic needs assessments that identify the health and social care needs of local populations.

College Council member Dr MacVeigh, Optometric Adviser for NHS Devon, who has been appointed to the Devon Eye Care LPN, said that LPNs offer a real opportunity for optometrists across the country to help shape decision-making and have a direct say in improving eye care in their local communities.

“If they are to succeed, the LPNs will need to engage with all interested parties and act as a means of communication between the NHSCB and all eye-care practitioners. It will be essential, therefore, that the LPNs act in an open and receptive way to all concerns and do as much listening as talking,” Dr MacVeigh said.

Dr MacVeigh says that commissioners are often unaware of the eye health challenges in their area.

“We are sitting on a demographic time-bomb and unless we act now the demand for eye-care will overwhelm our secondary care services; my own work has shown that in Devon we are looking at increases in demand for glaucoma services of 30% in the next 10 years, for example,” Dr MacVeigh said.

Eye health affects a lot of people, impacting on the daily lives of almost 2 million people in the UK, and costs society as a whole a significant amount of money, according to the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), and that figure will only increase as the population ages. The RNIB also estimates that half of all cases of sight loss are preventable .

There are also major eye health inequalities with older people and certain ethnic groups bearing a large part of the burden of eye disease. People on lower incomes and people with learning difficulties are much more likely to have eye problems but less likely to access services.

“These are serious issues for the government and policy makers to get to grips with, and I would encourage optometrists to get involved by finding out who the eye care leaders in their area are, and raising with them the issues that they feel are important. This is a unique opportunity for us to combine our expertise with other eye and public health specialists to make genuine improvements to care for patients,” Dr MacVeigh said.
As the eye care experts the high street, optometrists have a leading role to play in educating people about the importance of eye health and how to take care of their eyes. The College of Optometrists has produced a briefing for members providing more detail about the introduction of Local Professional Networks. The briefing can be downloaded from the College website along with details of how to get involved.

Shamir UK take on Headline Spectacle Lens Sponsorship of the Opchat Forum on PHN and the public forum on

October 2012

For the next year Shamir UK have become PHN's major lens headline sponsor providing funds that will assist in the passing of news and views to over 7000 individual readers of PHN at no charge. The funding on the PHN forum has already been put to good use by including a new open professional forum “LOC Talk” to help assist all LOCs and CCGs to discuss the future of optometric primary care and the provision of enhanced services.

Shamir logoPHN is well positioned to moderate such a forum having set up its own Primary Health Support Unit and become involved with LOCs some 7 years ago, ahead of LOCSU, who they now closely work with. PHN staff have been involved with many successful enhanced service engagements over the years and will be happy to share anonymously information about contract formulation and business cases. PHN now hosts 17 LOC websites on its portal, some being for professional engagement only but others now are the public facing websites of go-ahead LOCs who need to inform the local population about local services in a generic format.

Shamir’s funding on www.mylocaloptician will also be most useful as this site receives over 30,000 visitors a month hungry for information on eyes, fashion and who in their area provides the services they are looking for. Stuart Cooksey (Sales & Marketing Manager for Shamir UK) stated “We have been pleased with our first year on both the public and professional sites and we wanted to cement our relationship further with PHN in order to help them improve their service and widen still further their audience. Our company knows the success in the future will be achieved by strong technology and R & D and PHN in optical publishing both to the profession and the public have by innovation shown how the public and profession can be brought together for the benefit of both and the industry that supports both.”

The funding has also allowed some subtle changes which now allow the site to publish all its supporters’ logos on each of the front pages of both sites.

Director PHN, Bob Hutchinson, thanked Shamir for its helpful sponsorship. “Our supporters and our readership will be aware that as publishers we run a very tight ship and try to make our funds make the most positive impact on the profession (of which our team is heavily involved) and on the public, an audience we see as the key to driving business towards opticians, particularly independents whose voice can be lost in the crowd.

Over 7 years we have created a secure portal for LOCs to host specialized websites both for their members and also for their public, provided a news, knowledge and sharing site nationally to all those interested in Optics UK and created the highest ranked UK eyecare and eyewear information standalone website.

We have created a unique online vehicle that is there for the benefit of all UK opticians to announce their presence to the public, for industry to launch new product to the public and for them to explain to the profession future promotions and products. It’s there for you all to make the most of like Shamir UK and we hope you will support us in our journey.”

Bob Hutchinson and Charles Greenwood, Co-Directors of PHN will be in attendance this week at the NOC conference at the Metropole at the NEC .

Click for Shamir page on this site

Spectrum Thea launch Nutrof campaign to professionals and public

October 2012

A campaign to tell the public about the benefits of nutritional drinks for both prolonged good eye health and a healthier body has been launched on the public’s own eye care and eyewear website by Spectrum Thea at

Nutrof Total drinkOver 30,000 members of the public visit the site each month and are being encouraged to click through for 3 free samples of the Nutrof™ nutritional drink.

Once tasting the sample they are encouraged to purchase a monthly package from any community optician.

The profession is being encouraged to back the promotion by having a stock of Nutrof on site and they have been offered the ability to purchase through this site a 3 for 2 offer which will include 3 x free trial sachets for their customers.

The two sites with different audiences work well for us said Helen Owens from Spectrum Thea, “As they help spread the word within the public whilst we can inform the professionals about the promotion.”

Spectrum Thea who also run the AMD and Dry Eye project lectures with certification have also offered to provide all those who have been on the course or are attending future courses the ability to enhance their practice's listing at a reduced publication fee and for a free 3 months trial on the “Find my Optician” database on the public site. Practices can select from a speciality list to advertise their services as well as from a list of nationally recognised brand names from the frame, lens, contact lens and solution industry that they stock and members of the public can find them from the database. (More on this next week on PHN news)

PHN are currently contacting those that have completed the courses over the last year with a promotional code but if you have not yet been approached please contact

Shamir and associates provide opportunity for unequal playing field at Lords

October 2012

Shamir lectureIn a very well attended conference provided free with numerous CET points on offer by Shamir UK and many of their company associates much was made of how to improve business in Optics both professionally and commercially in unison.

Vision Arena 2012 was considered a real success by its attendees on the one day event which is to be repeated in another innings in Old Trafford in Manchester on the 25th October.

Shamir standSimon Rose commented that “the event is a great place to meet friends from the London area, excellent venue and a very satisfactory way to gain points whilst picking up good tips on improving business.”

As well as Shamir, Transitions, Marchon, BiB, See 20/20, Performance Finance, Optos, Sauflon, Macushield, Volt Creative and Trivex all showed exciting new products to grow a bigger business.

“All these companies see themselves as associates of each other and Shamir, not competing but providing a service to opticians to help provide an mimproved and successful continuing relationship with their customers.” Said Phil Bareham, General Manager of Shamir UK.

The day was completed by food and a tour of Lords Cricket Ground.

Click for Shamir's page on this site

See 2020
Bond Eye

Learn more about NEW ICD 16.5 lens fitting with Patrick J. Caroline

October 2012

No7 Contact Lenses, manufacturer of the new ICD™16.5 mini-scleral lens, will be hosting a UK lecture tour with speaker Pat Caroline FAAO, FCLSA, FOAA.

Practitioners will be brought right up-to-date on the latest thoughts and understandings, as well as new lens developments in fitting mini-scleral lenses to complicated and normal corneas.

Pat is one of five prestigious clinicians who worked in collaboration with Paragon to develop the ICD 16.5 lens, along with its ‘no nonsense’ fitting approach. The three training and educational evenings; which includes A Practical Application of Corneal Topography in Clinical Practice, will be held in London on Tuesday 13th November, Birmingham on 14th and Manchester on 15th November. The evenings start at 7.00 PM to 9.00PM and are FREE to attend. Earn 2-CET points. Be sure to reserve your place early as places will be limited.

Notes on Patrick J. Caroline

Mr. Caroline serves as an Associate Professor at the Pacific University College of Optometry in Forest Grove Oregon and Past Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the Oregon Health University in Portland Oregon. He is a Fellow member and Diplomat of the Cornea and Contact Lens Section of the American Academy of Optometry.

He is a Council member of the International Society for Contact Lens Research as well as a member of the International Association of Contact Lens Educators and the American Association of Optometric Educators. For the past twenty years Patrick has served as a contributing editor for the Contact Lens Spectrum and is on the editorial board for Contact Lens and Anterior Eye Journal. He has published extensively on a wide range of contact lens topics and lectures frequently throughout the world on contact lens design and fitting.

David Cameron gets his eyes checked at Conservative Party conference thanks to Optical Confederation and LOCSU

David Cameron Eye CheckOctober 2012

David Cameron stops to have a retinal photograph and discuss eye health issues, thanks to the Optical Confederation and LOCSU at the Conservative Party Conference.

Jenny Gowen for the Optical Confederation said:

“It is great to see the Prime Minister taking his eye health so seriously and making time in his busy schedule to discuss eye health and the prevention of avoidable blindness. We hope that this will send a clear message about the importance of regular sight testing for everyone.”

FMO to visit J&J Vision Care Institute

October 2012

The FMO’s autumn regional meeting, is to be held at Johnson & Johnson’s Vision Care Institute in Crowthorne, Berkshire, on Tuesday 16 October.

An opportunity to meet colleagues and competitors, it is also a chance to learn more about Optrafair plans, current views on internet sales and general market conditions.

Keen to encourage all aspects of the industry and profession to work more closely together, The FMO believes the venue for the event will provide an insight into the current and future direction of vision correction.
The day will include an illustrated demonstration of the direction in eye surgery and the use of intraocular lenses, presented by Rob Morris, Consultant Ophthalmologist at Southampton University Hospital Trust.

Kamlesh Chauhan, Head of the Vision Care Institute and President of the College of Optometrists, will also brief delegates on the latest options for contact lens wearers, particularly the presbyopic.

Following a networking lunch FMO delegates will divide into their sector specific focus groups for Frames, Lenses and Technology.

National Eye Health Week Chair urges supporters to give their feedback on 2012 campaign

October 2012

National Eye Health Week Chair, Francesca Marchetti is calling for organisations, charities and practitioners to share their views and experiences on National Eye Health Week 2012.

A short survey has been launched to enable supporters to quickly and easily feedback their views at:

The feedback questionnaire, which closes at midnight on 12 October, is also available to download as a Word document.

The campaign, which took place from 17 - 23 September saw hundreds of events take place across the UK to raise awareness amongst the public of the need to look after their eye health and to get their eyes checked every two years. Events included the Wales Eyecare Conference, coffee mornings for the over 60s, family fun days, school talks and the Fight for Sight Carrots NightWalk.

The week also attracted strong exposure in the media including features on ITV's This Morning, the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show and ITV's Daybreak as well coverage across many of the national newspapers.

Francesca Marchetti, Chair of National Eye Health Week said: "We are delighted with the numbers of organisations and individuals who supported this year's campaign to make it the biggest and best yet. We would now like to hear feedback from everyone who took part. Please take a couple of minutes to tell us what you thought of this year's campaign and how we can make next year even better! ".

LOCSU looks forward to stimulating conference in Brum next week

October 2012

Here is the programme:

Primary Care - Building on Success


09:00 Welcome from LOCSU and the Optical Confederation
09:15 Latest commissioning reforms and 'Excellence in Primary Care'
09:45 Discussion and questions from the floor
10:45 Annual Report by LOCSU - our Results in 2012
11:15 Discussion and questions from the floor
11:30 Parallel Masterclass in Commissioning x 4
13:30 Health & Well-being Boards
14:30 Discussion: How are we going to make this work?
15:00 Get Networked, Get Connected
16:00 Leadership in Optics work streams x 4
16:45 Leadership in Optics work streams (repeat)
17:30 CLOSE
19:00 Drinks Reception and Black Tie Dinner followed by AOP Awards


09:15 LOC or ROC regional meetings
10:00 Central (LOC) Fund AGM
10:35 Optical Atlas of Variation
10:50 Local Eyecare Services in Practice
11:50 GOS and LOCs under the NHS Commissioning Board - what's in store
12:20 Quiz Show
12:50 Conference round up and key take home messages
13:00 LUNCH and CLOSE

FMO chief executive honoured by ABDO plus Mr Frank collects another award

October 2012

Highlighting the close working relationship between the optical industry and profession, Malcolm Polley, FMO Chief Executive has been made an Honorary Fellow of ABDO at the recent conference, along with past FMO Chairman Frank Norville.

Malcolm Polley ABDODelighted to receive the coveted award, Malcolm said it meant a great deal –

“To be honoured by one’s peers is the best accolade of all. It was so unexpected and I am deeply touched as I have received so many wonderful comments. This not only demonstrates our close collaboration but also my involvement over the years with dispensing and how we have supported this side of the profession – long may the bond continue.”

ABDO explained that The Honorary Fellowship is a special accolade awarded to individuals who have made “an outstanding contribution to both the profession of dispensing optics and the Association. Since it was founded in 1986, ABDO has previously only awarded Honorary Fellowships to nine individuals.”

The ABDO citation to Malcolm praised his commitment –

“Your enormous contributions made during your time as a practicing dispensing optician, while you were with Norville Optical and as CEO of the Federation of Manufacturing Opticians where you have constantly proved to be a loyal advocate of both the dispensing profession and ABDO, are greatly appreciated. Your enthusiastic support and dedication has greatly helped your friends and colleagues in the world of ophthalmic optics. You richly deserve the gratitude of the Association and the award of Honorary Fellowship is extended to you with our sincere thanks and respect.”

BCLA provides second chance with new pre-screening service

October 2012

Authors submitting scientific papers and/or posters before Friday 30 November 2012, for the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) 37th Clinical Conference and Exhibition (Manchester Central, UK, 6-9 June 2013), will benefit from a new pre-screening service.

BCLA Pre screeningThe new service will give authors the chance to obtain feedback about their abstract from members of the BCLA Academic Committee, who have a high level of expertise in writing submissions for clinical conferences.
“The usual reason for rejecting a submission is that the author does not adhere to the specific criteria,” commented Chair of the BCLA Academic Committee, Professor Roger Buckley. “However, it can also be something as simple as inappropriate use of language. This new service will give the authors a second chance to have their abstract accepted, though it does guarantee acceptance. They will get a professional opinion and critical feedback on their proposal at an early stage, free of charge.

“We advise authors to send in their papers and posters as soon as possible, and certainly before 30 November, to make the most of this opportunity,” added Professor Buckley.

Scientific abstracts are 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’.

Research papers accepted for publication in the Association’s journal, Contact Lens & Anterior Eye, within a year of the 2013 Clinical Conference will be awarded a voucher of £100 towards the first author’s full delegate fee at the 2014 Clinical Conference.

The final deadline for submitting papers and posters is Friday 11 January 2013. Visit, email or call 020 7580 6661 for more information on how to make your submission and take advantage of the pre-screening service.

Vision 20/20 Announces Conference in November

October 2012

"A vision delivered: A future in focus."

The next VINCE conference will be on the 8th of November 2012 at the Aston Conference Centre in Birmingham.

The conference will include:

A Keynote address from Mike Brace CBE addressing the theme for the conference – ‘A vision delivered: A future in focus.’

Three strands of workshops for: Research, Practice Issues, Children and Young People (see details below)

A Panel discussion of questions and conclusion from the 3 streams. The Panel include: Mike Brace CBE, Anita Lightstone VISION2020UK/UK Vision Strategy, Fazilet Hadi RNIB and Amanda Hawkins RNIB/BACP

The presentation of the VINCE award for an individual or organisation who have made outstanding contributions to the emotional support needs of people who are blind or partially sighted and a:

• Poster Competition
• Opportunities to network and share good practice
• Good food

We know from your emails, and from feedback from the previous conference that there is a wealth of knowledge and good practice within the membership, and you will be invited to take an active part in discussions the conference

An information point and organisational stalls will also be present

For further details. E-mail

Book your tickets here:

Iconic Silhouette in the frame

October 2012

Silhouette is delighted to be showcased in Framed!

Silhouette FuturaContemporary Eyewear in Fashion exhibition, which opened on the 11th September at the Fashion Space Gallery at London College of Fashion.

Framed is one of the first exhibitions of its kind, examining the cultural significance of eyewear and celebrating the rise of fashion’s ultimate accessory.

Featuring over 100 frames, including Silhouette’s iconic Futura, the exhibition charts the historical development of eyewear through the ages from the mid twentieth century to the present.

Silhouette’s history is recounted in Framed! with a feature on its launch in 1964 where Arnold and Anneliese Schmied founded the company with a vision of making people enjoy wearing glasses, a legacy which has continued through the companies’ 48 year history.

The exhibition also features catwalk collaborations and new experimental prototypes by some of fashion’s biggest players including Erderm, Giles, Alexandre Herchovitz and many more.
The exhibition is free and is showing until the 3rd November 2012.

Waitrose Supports Vision Care for Homeless People

Waitrose Vision Care for Homeless PeopleOctober 2012

Waitrose, part of the John Lewis Partnership, has taken Vision Care for Homeless People to heart and is supporting the charity at a local level in London where three clinics operate.

Fitting the partnership’s criteria for not being a large charity, the support that it has provided has included in-store “Community Matters” collection boxes in the London area and a donation of ready readers.

“We are keenly aware that we need to broaden awareness of the charity and to gain some funding from organisations beyond optics. The support that we receive from optical companies is beyond our expectations but the time has come to engage with some other supporters as well,” said Trustee Janice English.

Pictured is the collection box at Waitrose Tower Hamlets which recently raised £375.

SILMO gets off to a busy start for the 4 day event

The PHN team visited Silmo on Thursday, the opening day of the French Optical Exhibition. Our role was to visit the UK companies who have become a regular feature of the show. We also came across some companies showing for the first time including Norville and Rockoptika. See our Silmo 2012 report.





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