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Opchat Magazine General NewsGeneral News, April to June 2016


First half of 2016 sees strong growth in registrations from professionals on PHN.

Blackfin partnered the Modena Cento Ore Rally with special edition eyewear for the teams of drivers from all over the world.

First SPECTRALIS OCT2 with OCT angiography installed in Belfast.

“Expanding Horizons” A day at the Vision UK 2016 Conference.

Eye health and sight loss professionals crowned at the Vision Pioneer Awards

10,000th SPECTRALIS hits the market and highlights remarkable UK growth.

Optical Confederation pledges support for Diabetes Week.


Lens Leader Presents Students with their own Scientific Creations.

Josie Lloyd to step down as GOC director.

AOP’s journal Optometry Today wins national award.

OCUCO User Group Webinars announced.

The American Optometric Foundation (AOF) to present the 2016 Jill and George Mertz Fellowship to Dr. Pauline Kang.

Shamir and Transitions back TV Campaign with Scratch Card Promotion.

FODO leads the way in its determination to get things moving.

Space station vision checking comes to Keynsham for the first time.

Portsmouth Optometrist wins trip to 14th Annual International SPECTRALIS Symposium.

ABDO launches ‘ABDO Insight 2016’ news-style programme with ITN Productions.

Spotlight on kids’ eyecare at Specsavers.

Norville Opticians helps Gloucester Rugby supporters to keep their eyes safe in the sun.

“Never appreciating what we have before we lose it” is something that we all know too well.

RSM GP and Primary Care section event provides opportunity for Optometry Profession to influence.

Gloria Macgregor’s own personal statement on coping with hearing loss prompts PHN to allocate a new section of news about hearing services and audiology in the UK.

MYKITA says Hello Washington, as it opens its most recent shop – the second in the United States – on a stylish street corner in the historic neighbourhood of Georgetown

Norville Opticians optometrist awarded Doctorate for research into dietary links with AMD risk factors

Mainline Instruments show off their patient friendly instrument at Optrafair.

Spiraling costs of equipment and keeping up with “The Jones’s” Is it necessary?

First half of 2016 sees strong growth in registrations from professionals on PHN.

June 2016

Another 200 professionals have registered on the home page in order to receive our fortnightly email update advising on news and optical primary care advice that has been published over the previous 14 days on the pages of

The update readable on smart phones, tablets and pcs allows you to catch up on recent news you might have missed and also cherry pick the stories that interest you most.

Registration is simple and free to all professionals in the optical world and can be processed by clicking the register tab (top right of home page). The LCID code 67882 has been allocated to all registrants, unless you are a member of one of the 13 LOC secret admisinistration and communication sites hosted by PHN. (In which case your LOC will have provided an individual local code.)

We keep almost all all of your free professional site open however as well as the news update publication, registration also provides access to placing events on the diary pages for free as well as the ability to advertise staff vacancies.

Click here to register now.

Complete the form and leave the LCID code, which has been pre entered for you, untouched. Make sure you make a note of your chosen username (at least 4 letters long) & password, (case sensitive) and that you enter your email address correctly.

You can leave the forum preferences untouched or adjusted. Clicking “Register” will create an email to be sent to the email address you have provided. (Check your spam tray if you cannot see in in your inbox) Now confirm your account by clicking the link.

Register now and join your 4600+ professional colleagues already receiving fortnightly alerts.

Blackfin partnered the Modena Cento Ore Rally with special edition eyewear for the teams of drivers from all over the world.

June 2016

Modena Cento Ore

Blackfin, the brand of titanium eyewear entirely designed and manufactured in Italy, was a partner of the 2016 edition of the Modena Cento Ore, the only rally in Italy and one of the few in the world where the drivers have to face up to the challenge of both circuit racing and stretches on roads closed to traffic: a winning mix of rallying and high-speed track racing.

Yet again for 2016 the race, organised by the Scuderia Tricolore and Canossa Events team, was completely sold out.

Jurgen Barth

Among the drivers, were passionate amateurs and famous drivers like the legendary Jürgen Barth, winner of the 1977 Le Mans 24-Hours.

From 7 to 12 June, ninety spectacular classic competition cars speeded across Italy, coast-to-coast, on some of the most beautiful roads in Emilia Romagna and Tuscany, from Rimini to Florence, from Forte dei Marmi to Modena.

The Modena Cento Ore is more than just a race, first and foremost it is a knockout mix of fabulous cars and gentlemen drivers who come from every corner of the globe for a very special taste of Italy, combining the adrenalin-rush of the competition with the delights of delicious food and the chance to explore some of those uniquely magical landscapes.

Blackfin selected two sunglass models for the event, styles that chime perfectly with the retro-vintage atmosphere that surrounds the race.

Blackfin Modena Cento Ore


The BF728 Key West and BF743 Waterhouse have been personalised with the “Modena Cento Ore” logo and they have been presented as a gift to all the teams in the race, one for the driver and one for the navigator, in the Sensation Black special packaging, an up-to-the minute, high-impact case with its exclusive metal plaque bearing the legend “Blackfin dedicated to Modena Cento Ore”.

Both models are inspired by the classic panto shape, a mix of classic styling revisited in today’s materials, expressing utterly timeless luxury.

The alternating colour scheme gives the models their personality, enhancing the superb quality of the pure brushed titanium they are made from: midnight blue with sky blue mirrored lenses for the BF743 Waterhouse and dark brown with brown graduated-tint lenses for the BF728 Key West.

First SPECTRALIS OCT2 with OCT angiography installed in Belfast.

June 2016

OCT2 In BelfastThe UK’s first SPECTRALIS OCT2 with OCT Angiography Module* has been installed at Queen’s University in Belfast. The device will be used in the NICOLA study (Northern Ireland Cohort for Longitudinal Study of Ageing), which is following the lives of 8,500 over 50s as they grow older.

“The TruTrack active eye tracking feature in SPECTRALIS will create a detailed retinal map of each patient” explains Christopher Mody, Director of Clinical Services. “It will allow the automatic placement of follow-up scans in precisely the same anatomical location, so the clinician can observe the smallest changes in the patient’s eyes as they age.”

“We are excited to include the SPECTRALIS OCT Angiography* Module in the NICOLA add-on studies to look at the microvasculature within the retina and choroid, non-invasively,” explained Dr Ruth Hogg. “These consist of a second visit by NICOLA participants on the basis of features we see in their NICOLA main study visit, and will include a study of normal ageing, diabetes, AMD and glaucoma.”

It is intended that the data gathered in the study will provide the basis for future government policy and ensure that Northern Ireland is prepared to meet the demands of an aging population.

The OCT Angiography Module* for SPECTRALIS is now available for demonstration. If you would like to learn more please call Heidelberg 01442 502 330 visit their pages on PHN.

*Under development, not for sale.

Heidelberg's Sponsorship of PHN helps us provide the Optical Profession with Free news and the PHN Knowledge Site.

“Expanding Horizons” A day at the Vision UK 2016 Conference.

June 2016

PHN was represented by CEO and Editor Bob Hutchinson last Tuesday (14th June).

Once again this day provided inspiration and innovation in buckets.

Members of PHN have visited the event annually for the last 4 years and have watched it grow year by year.

Vision UK 2016

Vision UK is an umbrella organization that pulls together under its charity format large and small charities involved in support and financing agencies that will produce a better life for our ageing population by striving to detect, manage and slow or cure sight loss. And provide a better life for those with sight loss.

The conference sponsorship shows a broad collection of major vision charities, RNIB, Action for Blind People, VICTA and Bayer a key pharma company.

This year saw also a much applauded innovation and improvement from past conferences by the existence of key collaborations with Age UK and Diabetes UK. Both being conference partners.

Over 500 delegates from across the UK attended to network with like-minded specialists and to meet and mingle with those with sight losses who are after all the best source of information on the everyday challenges they face.

It is from the “seeing and hearing” of such participants that the inspiration springs from. It is clear that given the right help and advice and the opportunity to rebalance their lives that those facing sight loss can enjoy a full and active life.

The question remains, are we getting vital information to the public as a preventative message and giving re-habitational education for young and the elderly, and is eye health’s response to the challenge joined up and robust? Patchy would be the best adjective to describe results. In educational needs of the young through to university level there is a post code lottery and even when services exist the marketing of their existence is very weak.

Being told you will be blind in a finite time often out of the blue is something none of us wish to hear for ourselves or family members, but this information is often passed on in a matter of fact manner, leaving the recipient to go find out where life will lead them.

The collaboration of Age UK and Diabetes UK is a step forward, for loss of sight is not just an eye health issue and what is needed in the UK is a joining up of services that involves social care and volunteers from all sectors. That includes a better understanding from professionals on a personal level for a patients journey to sight loss.

This subject is not a never-ending dark tunnel, there are examples of Best Practice, involving Eye Clinic Liaison Officers, ECLOs (or Sight Loss Advisors) offering advice and links to local rehabilitation officers in the community, ready at the point of diagnosis to calm nerves and encourage those facing blindness to better understand, remain positive and take up the challenge.

The conference had 4 main streams:

1. Ageing and Sight Loss

2. Diabetes and preventing blindness

3. Children and Young People

4. Science and Technology.

PHN will endeavor in separate story headline on our Charity Page to precis a very busy and stimulating day.

We met many agencies some not listed on our charity pages and remind them all to contact us for free inclusion and a free generic page on the professional and public indivisual webites we run. Just email

Collaboration has to be the most successful buzzword to take away from the day. In order to allow this to flourish and maintain momentum Vison UK must now grow in confidence and prestige and be seen as the lead umbrella organization for better eye health and expectations in the UK.

Please click above on the 4 streams to read key points that were made on the day.


Eye health and sight loss professionals crowned at the Vision Pioneer Awards

June 2016

Pioneer Awards
The Vision Pioneer Awards 2016 were held the evening before the main Conference event to celebrate the outstanding work of professionals in the eye health and sight loss sectors across the UK.

Created by UK Vision Strategy in collaboration with RNIB and NB Online, the awards champion and celebrate good practice and honour the achievements of professionals committed to supporting children, young people and adults who are blind or partially sighted.

The awards also aim to raise awareness of sight loss and the importance of quality eye care by striving towards the outcomes of the UK Vision Strategy.

The winners of the five categories were announced at London's Grange Tower Bridge Hotel:

Campaign of the Year

Irenie Ekkeshis

No Water by Irenie Ekkeshis



Wayfindr by Royal London Society for the Blind

Professional of the Year (Adults)

Rehabilitation Officer (Visual Impairment) at Bradford Metropolitan Borough Council and Chair of the Rehabilitation Workers' Professional Network

Professional of the Year (Children and Young People)

Paula Varney, Family Support Officer at Vista

Team of the Year

Neuro-Ophthalmic Visual Impairment in Children clinic team at Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast Trust

Pioneer Awards


Simon Labbett said: "For me, being awarded 'Professional of the Year' is a massive boost for vision rehabilitation professionals across the UK. Whilst I certainly love the variety that my job brings and learning from each person I work with, I know that my values and commitment are no different from many of my colleagues who are doing the same job. I'm convinced that we have to make the profession much better known and appreciated amongst the general public and healthcare workers. We want to encourage more people into this line of work."



Lesley-Anne Alexander, Chair of the Vision Strategy Leadership Group and Chief Executive of RNIB, said: "When we set up these awards we wanted to discover some exceptional professionals, campaigns and projects that make a real difference to the lives of people with sight loss. All of our winners demonstrate dedication and excellence, and are helping to prevent sight loss or empowering blind and partially sighted people.


10,000th SPECTRALIS hits the market and highlights remarkable UK growth.

June 2016

The 10,000th SPECTRALIS® diagnostic imaging platform has been delivered to French retina specialist, Dr. David Sayag at his private practice near Paris.

Heidelberg OCT 2Dr Sayag bought his first SPECTRALIS for the clinic in 2007, and still uses this system today to help diagnose and monitor the hundreds of patients that ophthalmologists refer to him. Over the years, he has upgraded the platform with new modules such as the Ultra-Widefield Angiography Module.

His new system joins the clinic’s SPECTRALIS family and brings with it OCT2 – the latest technology from Heidelberg Engineering, which uses a high scan rate of 85,000 Hz to provide the platform for advanced imaging techniques such as OCT angiography*, as well an enable improved image quality and 50% faster image acquisition.

The UK has played its part in the achievement of this milestone, having experienced a 450% growth in the number of SPECTRALIS systems purchased over the last four years.

“We put this remarkable growth down to raising the standard of education within acute care and the community settings”, explains Krysten Williams, Director of Heidelberg Engineering UK. “Hospitals recognise the benefit of the follow-up function allowing them to accurately track progression, with many now investing in multiple systems. In addition, the community sector has grown tremendously as more and more practices are participating in shared care schemes to reduce the increasing burden on the NHS and improve patient care.”

*Under development, not for sale

Discover SPECTRALIS for yourself by visiting their page on PHN.

Heidelberg support the publication of your free Opchat News and Knowledge Website.

Optical Confederation pledges support for Diabetes Week.

June 2016

The Optical Confederation is pleased to support National Diabetes Week (12 -18 June), an annual UK-wide initiative devoted to increasing awareness of diabetes and raising money to help fund research.

Set up by charity group Diabetes UK, this year’s theme is ‘Setting the record straight’ which aims to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions about diabetes.

Chris Hunt, Chair of the Optical Confederation said, “It is fitting that this year’s theme is ‘Setting the record straight’.

“We urge people to get regular eye sight tests as an important part of their health regime.

“A sight test might detect signs of underlying general health conditions - including diabetes - as well as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

“Optical professionals know that diabetic eye disease is one of the leading causes of sight loss in people of working age in the UK, yet the general public often do not realise the impact diabetes can have on a person’s vision.

“It is time to ‘set the record straight’ about the links between eye health and diabetes, and community optical practices should use National Diabetes Week as an opportunity to educate their patients about the risks involved.”


May 2016

VANESSA, EVA, JACK & CLINT our styles, played the stars on the Croisette.

OKO My Muse JackIf you got the chance to be in Cannes on the French Riviera during the Film Festival and if you had the amazing luck to climb the famous steps on the most famous red carpet, if you wanted to be recognized, different and if you wanted to have THE style just like the stars and famous people who walked along the ‘Croisette’ and if you wanted to be spotted in the hypest, coolest and stylish parties of the Festival ... that was THE eyewear that you had to wear.

OKO My Muse Clint

For you guys, premium acetate sunglasses JACK & CLINT from MYMUSE by OKO Paris to get a Hollywood elegant look and so dreamy and lovely!

And for you girls, premium acetate sunglasses VANESSA & EVA from MYMUSE by OKO Paris to be even more glamourous and unique!

This sunglass collection for women and men is all about refinement and elegance.

My Muse by OKO Vanessa

It will please all the fans of designer eyewear who like character and style. Feminine or masculine, those frames seduce by their designer and innovative look.

Through MYMUSE by OKO Paris and its sunglass models, the brand pays a tribute to some of the most beautiful faces on the planet thanks to subtle combinations of materials and shapes.

OKOP My Muse Eva

This “Hand Made in Italy” sunglass collection got inspired through emblematic (and famous!) women and men in the movie industry…like a a farandole dance of magnificent models truly astonishing. But who’s hiding behind VANESSA, EVA, JACK & CLINT?

Selected models for the Cannes Film Festival 2016: VANESSA Tortoise C6 – EVA Shiny Brown C4 – JACK Black C1 – CLINT Tortoise Mat C6.

Lens Leader Presents Students with their own Scientific Creations.

May 2016

Students showcased their scientific creations at a presentation day at Thornbury lens manufacturer Essilor’s laboratory and were then given the models and certificates.

Essilor pupils at passing outThe boys, from Castle School in Thornbury and Marlwood School in Alveston, spent six weeks working with Essilor experts and technicians.

Now, the 14-year-olds have ‘passed out’, after spending half a day a week at the laboratory and completing their projects.

Working with teams at the lab on Thornbury Industrial Estate, they designed and produced a telescope, microscope, spyglass, handmade specs and a focimeter.

Essilor laid on a presentation day at the factory, throwing open its doors to parents and teachers. Thornbury mayor, Cllr Helen Harrison, was there to applaud the pupils too.

The boys gave presentations about their creations and were thrilled when Essilor’s MD Mike Kirkley presented them with the models to take back to school, along with certificates.

Mike said: “We have an opportunity to support the schools to help ensure every child reaches their potential and help provide a window to employment showing the students that skills taught have a practical use later in their lives. Working with the Castle School and now Marlwood, we have a fantastic opportunity to help make a difference to these young and talented individuals.

Young Instrument makers “Building on the essential educational elements and skills these young men learn at school, physics and maths and technical, we have worked alongside them by putting those elements to a practical purpose to create something. We hope they have also learnt about the importance of teamwork, effective communication and problem-solving.

“Bringing together these skills, they have designed and built these wonderful precision instruments, which we are very pleased to hand over to the schools today.”

Essilor’s head of quality Pete Dodd said: “The presentation day was all about these talented young people, about what they’ve done and how they have grown through developing their communication and teamwork skills.

“Working with them is so inspiring. They do 80 per cent of the design and production work themselves. With the telescope, they work on a paper tube, then a plastic tube and then the final stainless steel telescope.”

Pete set up the partnership with Castle School Education Trust and geography teacher Garry Atterton is equally enthusiastic about the project.

“Working with Essilor teams at their laboratory is both inspirational and aspirational for these boys. They found it so exciting. They developed a co-operative approach and problem-solving skills along the way and came out with a sustainable product.

“The partnership is a real success story. It embraces Essilor, the schools, parents and the community. The parents are so proud of their boys.”

Essilor has manufactured lenses for spectacles at its Thornbury site, near Bristol, for 42 years, and is now reaching out to local schools to prepare them for employment while screening their eyes at the same time.

It is sending teams into the schools to screen hundreds of youngsters, to show whether the children need a full eye examination.

Mike said it was all part of an eye care and health education awareness initiative among children, school staff and parents.

He said: “We are passionate about helping young children as we know that more than 90 per cent of a child’s learning will be gained through sight.

“Research shows that children with some form of visual correction needs do not achieve their full potential. We believe this should not happen anywhere, but certainly not here, in the South West, in 2016.”

The company has also worked with neighbouring Charfield Primary School where young children produced their own newspaper, the Charfield Chatter, interviewing Mike and then selling advertising space locally through cold-calling.

The Charfield schoolchildren and Mike were filmed by BBC Points West news at the Essilor site. “The children were inspirational”, Mike said.

Josie Lloyd to step down as GOC director.

May 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today announced that its Director of Resources, Josie Lloyd, is to step down from her role to take up a new position as Resource Director at Colne, a housing association near to her home.

Josie Lloyd GOCJosie will take up her position on 1 August 2016, until when she will remain in post at the GOC.

GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, Samantha Peters said: “I would like to wish Josie all the best in her new role, and thank her for the tremendous work she has done for us in her three and a half years at the GOC.

“In particular, I must thank Josie for all her instrumental work in securing our move from Harley Street to our new Farringdon offices. The move had been in the pipeline for many years, and without Josie’s commitment and tireless endeavour we would not have been able to so successfully complete this move. As an organisation we are already very much reaping the benefits of the new offices.

“Josie has been invaluable in providing support to me and the GOC more widely and, while we will all be sad to see her go, we are delighted to see her appointed in this new role.”

During her time at the GOC, Josie’s achievements include ensuring efficient management of the GOC’s finances and successfully managing the Registration, HR. IT and Facilities functions.

The GOC will shortly be appointing a new interim Director of Resources, before recruiting a permanent successor later this year.

AOP’s journal Optometry Today wins national award.

May 2016

AOP AwardThe Association of Optometrists’ (AOP’s) journal, Optometry Today (OT) has won a prestigious national award at the MemCom 2016 Awards. The journal scooped the ‘Best Professional Association or Royal College magazine’ accolade, announced at a ceremony yesterday (19 May).

OT fought off fierce competition from other membership organisations, including the Federation of Small Businesses, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers and the Association of Accounting Technicians. Organised by MemCom – the networking organisation for membership marketing professionals – the awards recognise and celebrate excellence within the membership sector.

OT Managing Editor, John White, said: “Winning the MemCom 2016 Award is fantastic. It was a highly competitive category which featured impressive member journals and magazines, so for the judges to pick OT as their outright winner is extra special. Last year we set ourselves the task of making OT – already a successful and popular journal with our members – even better. We embarked on full-scale redevelopment of the journal with our publishing partner Think. This included moving from a fortnightly to a monthly journal, and bringing in a raft of new content sections to reflect the interests and needs of members today – each with their own distinct design. To have this work recognised by our peers in the membership sector as 'best in class’ is a great feeling.”

The awards judges included representatives from the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Commenting on OT, the judges highlighted the journal’s ‘classy and clean design and wide range of relevant, topical and educational content’.

AOP Chief Executive, Henrietta Alderman, said: “We are delighted that OT has received this recognition from the membership sector, reinforcing the journal’s place as the must-read resource for all optical professionals. OT keeps our members up-to-date with the latest legal, health, clinical and regulatory news in the profession, along with wide-ranging CET which covers all competencies. To be acknowledged as the leading membership journal underscores the hard work and commitment of the OT team, delivering exceptional value to our members and subscribers.”

The awards ceremony took place at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London.

OCUCO User Group Webinars announced.

May 2016

Laptop webinar After the success of their online user group meetings, Practice Management Software (PMS) provider, Ocuco, have now scheduled a series of monthly advanced training webinars for their Acuitas and Focus PMS users.

“Our user group meetings are always well attended and very productive, both for our users and ourselves, however taking days out of the practice to attend these meetings is not always possible."

"This is why we have launched a series of online user group sessions allowing practice owners and staff to learn more, in less time,” reported Alice Austin, Ocuco’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer.

The webinars run on the first Tuesday of each month for Acuitas users and on the second Tuesday of each month for Focus users.

Practice owners and their staff can learn more about their software, receive training and give feedback from the comfort of their own practices, taking part with a PC, smart phone or tablet.

The sessions are open to all members of the practice team and are free to attend.

Discover Ocuco yourself by visiting their page on PHN.

Ocuco support the publication of your free Opchat News and Knowledge Website.

The American Optometric Foundation (AOF) to present the 2016 Jill and George Mertz Fellowship to Dr. Pauline Kang

May 2016

The American Optometric Foundation (AOF) is excited to present the 2016 Jill and George Mertz Fellowship to Dr. Pauline Kang, an optometry graduate and faculty member of the School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Dr KangDr. Kang is planning to carry out her Mertz Fellowship at the State University of New York College of Optometry to conduct novel research exploring temporal integration of visual signals deriving from peripheral retinal defocus.

Dr. Kang is quoted as saying, “The Mertz Fellowship will not only provide unique research and teaching experience critical for my academic career development, but the knowledge gained from this study will increase our understanding of fundamental mechanisms involved in visually guided ocular growth as well as providing insight into methods of improving the efficacy of current optical strategies of myopia control”.

The AOF will honor Dr. Kang during the annual AOF Celebration Luncheon at Academy 2016 Anaheim, on November 12th.

About the Jill and George Mertz Fellowship:

In September 2002, the optometric community experienced the sudden loss of a valued colleague and friend, George Mertz.

His legacy exemplified a firm commitment toward the advancement of patient care through education and research. This was evident in his interactions and supportive roles within national and international organizations, schools and colleges of optometry, faculty organizations, and optometry students.

At the time of his passing George was President of the American Optometric Foundation (AOF). His mission was focused solely on education and research funding as a basis of for improved eye and vision care.

After George's passing, George's wife Jill spearheaded and also chaired a move to establish the George W. Mertz Scholarship Fund.

With her initial gift and the generous support from others, a permanent tribute to George Mertz from which young students and researchers would be supported began.

In 2007, Jill Mertz passed away. Jill was proud and passionate about the George Mertz Scholarship Fund. As a tribute to George and in keeping with Jill’s wishes; her family estate made a substantial gift which now goes to support the biennial $30,000 award in their name.

Shamir and Transitions back TV Campaign with Scratch Card Promotion.

May 2015

Shamir Scratch Card on Transitions

Shamir UK is working with Transitions to offer a fantastic range of lifestyle adaptive lenses now with voucher rewards scratch card scheme, to find out more contact Shamir today.

Jump on the back of the awareness created from the TV advertising campaign this spring.

To find out more about any of the Shamir Transitions range, including the new Graphite Green colour available through Shamir, contact one of their customer service representatives. Contact details are available on the Shamir page on PHN here.

Full terms and conditions can be found on their website.

FODO leads the way in its determination to get things moving.

May 2016

In yesterday's (Tuesday May 10) FODO AGM it was made clear that FODO intends to act as the "engine room " for change in Optics. Their members have the muscle and the commitment to drive an agenda forward. In a frank exchange with Hewlett, FODO's CEO it became obvious that FODO will refuse to play a waiting game while others might be tempted to stay on the sidelines.

FODO prepares for storm ahead
An example of Hewlett’s new determination comes from his "tongue in cheek" statement received regarding the Umbrellas we guests were all provided with at the AGM.

"FODO Chief Executive, David Hewlett said,

“The FODO umbrellas are incredibly popular and vanish like gold dust at Optrafair. I am still using my original one which is now five years old, has withstood all that wind and rain in these islands and Europe can throw at it and is as resilient and strong as ever.
Just like FODO really” he joked. “But we have had to move with the times and, influenced by the Foresight Project, have had to develop smaller, more portable and personal versions for the next generation!”


It’s a measure of FODOs ability to free think with its member's approval that it can set out its vision of the future without recourse to endless committee discussions.

One hopes that their rallying call will be strongly backed vociferously by other Optical Confederation members. If the Foresight Project has it right, time is not on our side.

Space station vision checking comes to Keynsham for the first time.

May 2016

ISS Eye ExamNorville Opticians has brought the same technology to its newly relocated premises in Keynsham’s High Street as is being used by Tim Peake and his colleagues to make regular checks on their vision in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station which is orbiting approximately 370km above the earth.

Norville Opticians are using this marketing device to attract new patients into their Keynsham practice, something that many Spectralis practitioners might well consider.

Telling the local community that for the first time patients in their town can access a technology which enables 3D images to be built of the various layers of their eyes. Scans, especially if repeated over a period of time, can give a vital early warning of several serious conditions long before they become apparent to the patient.

They continue -

The equipment made by Heidelberg Engineering is based on a technique called Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) which until recent years could only be accessed in hospitals. It is a complex technology used to measure the eye and particularly the layers of the retina (the light sensitive area at the back of the eye, equivalent to the film in a camera or CCD in a digital camera). The retina can be damaged by many common diseases like glaucoma, diabetes and age related macular degeneration which can lead to visual impairment or even blindness.

Crew members on the International Space Station (ISS) have been using the Heidelberg SPECTRALIS OCT for eye examinations every four weeks since June 2013 as NASA’s ongoing ocular health study. The astronauts all had OCT baseline checks prior to their space missions with follow-up examinations in orbit allowing observations to be made of possible ocular changes developing during the mission.

“We are gradually installing this exciting capability across our practices,” said Norville Opticians Director Adrian Street. ”For the first time it offers our patients in Keynsham an opportunity to monitor their health and detect problems at a much earlier stage. The test is very simple, takes just a few seconds and is completely non-contact; there are no sudden puffs of air or flashes of light. Any areas that appear unusual can then be measured and later repeat scans can be lined up with the original and any changes can be seen and measured.”

He added, “Unfortunately this test is not part of the NHS eye examination and so we have to charge a nominal fee but when you consider what it can detect then it’s well worth the money.”

Picture Caption – Norville Opticians in Keynsham’s High Street now has the same technology as can be found on the International Space Station for detecting eye health problems.

Portsmouth Optometrist wins trip to 14th Annual International SPECTRALIS Symposium.

May 2016

Anne Gill WinnerThe winner of an all-expenses paid trip for two to Vienna, Austria, for the 14th Annual International SPECTRALIS Symposium (ISS) has been confirmed as Anne Gill, Optometrist at Anne Gill Eyecare, Portsmouth.

The competition, run by Heidelberg Engineering during Optrafair, asked entrants to submit one reason they thought they should own a SPECTRALIS Imaging Platform.

The competition received dozens of entries, but Mrs Gill’s submission, “the repeatability of the results and the superb service offered by the sales team and support staff” was chosen as the favourite by Bill Harvey, Clinical Editor at Optician Magazine.

Mrs Gill will join SPECTRALIS fans from around the globe in November to share experiences and gather new ideas. “I was blown away by the knowledgeable staff and accuracy of the follow-up function on the SPECTRALIS at Optrafair”, explained Anne. “I’m so excited to be joining leading retina and glaucoma experts at the ISS and looking forward to taking home new concepts for clinical practice”.

To find out more about the 1-micron accuracy of the follow-up function on the SPECTRALIS and how you can improve patient care, contact Heidelberg Engineering

ABDO launches ‘ABDO Insight 2016’ news-style programme with ITN Productions.

April 2016

News-style programme looking at dispensing innovations premiered last week at Optrafair.

The Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) and ITN Productions have launched a news and current affairs-style programme for the third consecutive year.

‘ABDO Insight 2016’ explores the latest innovations and the changing role of dispensing opticians, premiered at Optrafair on 9th-11th April at Birmingham NEC.

Peter Black and KaplinskyIntroduced by national newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, the programme features key industry interviews as well as independent and sponsored news-style reports.

The programme aims to provide a greater understanding of the role of opticians by examining the most important challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, as well as capturing the latest developments and best practice, particularly in the area of paediatric dispensing, lens technology, and spectacles frames.

In his interview with Natasha Kaplinsky the outgoing president of ABDO, Peter Black, discusses various topics, including the increasing role of dispensing opticians in primary care, the importance of children’s sight tests and the implications of aging population for dispensing opticians.

In another interview, the incoming president of ABDO, Fiona Anderson, talks about the findings of a new research highlighting the necessity for designing and manufacturing bespoke frames for children.

‘ABDO Insight 2016’ also includes a sponsored news-style report with the optical retail chain Specsavers examining the patient’s shifting habit of going to local high street opticians for screening and treatment instead of to the GP or the hospital, as well as Specsavers’ major investment and innovations in children’s eye care.

Also, ‘ABDO Insight 2016’ takes its audience on the ski slopes to reveal what make the best eyewear for winter sports and updates on ABDO’s ‘Eyecare
FAQ’ social media campaign, aiming to educate people about the importance of eye care.

The programme includes some highlights and additional interviews from Optrafair 2016 featuring the new ABDO president, Fiona Anderson, Clive Marchant, ABDO vice president, Anthony Blackman, ABDO board member and tutor, Nick Black, partner at BBR Optometry Ltd and Antonia Chitty, journalist. The interviews cover a wide range of topics including ABDO’s strategies, goals and challenges, optical education, children’s eyewear and low vision.

Peter Black, ABDO immediate past president, said: “ABDO’s work with ITN Productions over the past three years has assisted in raising the profile of dispensing opticians and we have highlighted the vital role optometrists and dispensing opticians can play in primary care. The annual programmes also feature exciting innovations and new technologies now available to the optical sector.”

Simon Shelley, Head of Industry News, ITN Productions said: “Dispensing Opticians are continuously innovating and their role is becoming increasingly important in the community care services. ITN Productions is delighted to continue its partnership with ABDO for the third year running to explore the latest learnings and best practice in the profession.”

The first part of ‘ABDO Insight 2016’ is now available on the ABDO website here

An extended version of the ABDO Insight 2016 programme will be released later in the year including an additional sponsored editorial featuring Heidelberg Engineering, the high-tech imaging solutions company which designs, manufactures and distributes diagnostic instruments for eye care professionals.

Read our following story on the specsavers interview for ITNP.

Spotlight on kids’ eyecare at Specsavers.

April 2016

Children’s eyecare at Specsavers is in the spotlight as part of ABDO Insight 2016, a news and current affairs style programme released this week by ITN Productions and the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO).

Introducing the Specsavers news-style report, national newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky says, ‘It is predicted that patients with minor and some more serious eye conditions will go to their local high street optician for screening and treatment instead of the GP or hospital. Good habits start early, which is why high street opticians Specsavers have made a major investment in children’s eyecare.’
Specsavers D Perkins interviewed by ITN
The four-minute Specsavers segment, which was filmed in the group’s West Bromwich store, focuses on three initiatives to improve children’s eyecare that are unique to Specsavers.

The first is the online vision screening programme made available to schools across the UK since January 2016 as the result of a partnership between Specsavers and Thomson Screening.

So far more than a thousand schools have signed up to the programme which is designed to pick up vision problems that could affect a child’s educational and social development.

Children’s eyecare is a specialist area and the report also explains how Specsavers is the only accredited provider of a level 6 BTEC qualification in children’s eyecare for optometrists and dispensing opticians. The online course will ensure every practitioner is super competent and confident about looking after the under-16s.
HarvieAnd the report looks at how Specsavers has developed frames that are a great fit for children instead of being just scaled-down versions of adult glasses. Specsavers has been working in conjunction with Alicia Thompson of ABDO, whose PhD in paediatric dispensing is the first of its kind to solely focus on the measurements of a child’s head through its various development stages.

Finally the report highlights how an aging population and new treatments are putting pressure on the NHS and optometrists are seen as a solution. Specsavers co-founder Doug Perkins comments: ‘That’s the big vision, to be the GP of the eyes.

We know that the eye hospitals are full and we have got four year-qualified optometrists who can actually step up to that role of offering more convenience and that’s going to be good for everybody.

‘It’s never been more exciting than it is now because we’re working ever more closely with the health service and the hospitals. We’ve always screened for health, but now we’ll be able to make an ever-greater contribution.’

Norville Opticians helps Gloucester Rugby supporters to keep their eyes safe in the sun.

April 2016

The official eye care partner to Gloucester Rugby, Norville Opticians, showed off two its latest ranges of sunspecs last Friday evening when it attended their home match with the Exeter Chiefs at the Kingsholm Stadium.

Gloucester RFC ScratchcardStaff from Norville Opticians, a leading independent chain of opticians with 11 practices in and around Gloucestershire, were there to present supporters turning up to the match with scratch cards and several lucky fans were able to pick up a special pair of the sunspecs in the home team’s colours directly from one of the two stands in the ground or later from one of their local practices.

Those who did not get one of the lucky cards were still winners as they can take their cards to any of the practices in the chain and claim a substantial discount on spectacles and sunglasses.

The new Dash and Racer ranges of sunspecs, available exclusively through the Norville Group, enable a prescription to be incorporated into a wrap-round lens and mounted into a dedicated sports frame: something which has previously been very difficult to achieve.

The unique eye care partnership was agreed between the two organisations at the end of 2014 and provides the team and its supporters with access to the latest vision technology for their spectacles and eye health.

Adrian Street, Director of Norville Opticians and himself a keen supporter of the club was pleased with the reaction of those who visited the stands.

Speaking from Gloucester Rugby’s Club Members’ Suite he said: “We are very proud to have this link with another historic Gloucester brand. The supporters cover all ages and to be able to offer them protection from the sun’s harmful rays at special prices is an important aspect of our partnership.”

He then added: “…..and we won!”

“Never appreciating what we have before we lose it” is something that we all know too well.

April 2016

PHN’s Editor Bob Hutchinson describes his experiences last weekend at Optrafair and makes a plea for Optics to grasp the opportunities that exist before it is too late.

The weekend was full of a succession of experiences that led me to think about how many things we take for granted that could well be lost in the future.

My thoughts were further sharpened on the plane out to USA for the Vision Expo East Exhibition in NYC this weekend coming (April 15th onwards) when to pass the time I watched “Still Alice”, a film about Alzheimer’s, that shows how personal knowledge that one’s memory loss is depleting, losing those special lifetime moments, slice by slice is so harrowingly. The film is beautifully crafted and thought provoking.

It got me thinking about change, loss and the strategy needed to overcome the inevitable. Maybe you should all watch the film before reading about my thoughts that follow!

My weekend caused some reflection on change and how we deal with it. Spent in the company of many a friend and colleague at Optrafair, from industry, academia and optometry it provided more questions than answers.

Yes, the Optrafair organisers MA Group made a very goof fist of promoting a show that they only took on board last September. And yes some improvements will doubtless be made for next year, certainly in its marketing and the experience it provided.

But as good a show that it was all shows need people, both exhibitors, visitors and it needs to be needed by the professionals who give up time to attend.

We have as yet no idea as to the numbers but it was evident that Saturday and Monday were poorly attended and yet those who attended were there to buy.

Whatever the final attendance numbers, they will not be the fault of the organisers but can be put down to the overfull calendar of the yearly optical events.

Yes, there are now two major shows Optrafair and 100% Optical each year, where in years past there was only one every 2 years. But these two shows appeal to a different audience both in exhibitors and attendees of which many admit they enjoy either one, or the other or both.

What has become more of a distraction has been CET events that rely on exhibitors to contribute, small time enterprises that see shows as an income stream and groups and optical buying groups who need to bond with members at the expense of exhibitors. Add to this BCLA and the Colleges shows and we are all show weary.

Fast moving technology change and that includes lens and frame enhancements means that the old two-year cycle would no longer be adequate to stimulate necessary upgrades in our service. In my view the 2 major shows have a relevance to many.

If exhibitors really want to take stock for 2017 they should consider whether the smaller sideshows are needed by visitor or exhibitor.

This brings me onto the march of technology and Doug Perkins speech (reported elsewhere) which was a reprise of the speech he gave in part at 100% Optical.

Doug Perkins SpecsaversDoug Perkins speech at Optrafair in many ways sums up the future predicament that we as first line providers of optical care will undoubtedly face in the coming next 5 years.

If you haven’t already done so take the trouble to read the Foresight Project, available online on PHN, at the very least read the summary, but I would recommend a cover to cover inspection.

None of us can hold back the forces of innovation, in fact most of us welcome it in our lives with equipment like OCTs, SLO fundus cameras and NCTs now more accurate than any Goldman Tonometer.

They were all there at Optrafair and so were we like bees around a honey pot. But technology growth has no frontiers, no boarders; so will we welcome pinpoint aberrometry for autorefraction on our patients’ smart phones and full subjective refraction without the need for our refractive knowledge?

Our answer currently is no, fruitless as that might be. We must plan and adjust our competencies to the point where we welcome giving up what will become the mundane in the future.

Yes, the refractionist will be obsolete except for technicians working around us, who will also be providing scans, objective and subjective results for us, the new clinicians, to make a qualitative and clinically diagnostic analysis for our patient’s needs.

The spectacle pricing structure will no longer be there to support our overheads and our salaries. Once self-refraction becomes common place there will be no reason why customers will not resort to online purchases of eyewear.

Perkins and Specsavers in urging us to take stock of where we are heading and encouraging us to grab hold of the enhanced service life raft are not necessarily doing so for purely optical professional altruistic reasons. He knows better than most how quickly the current Specsavers business model will suffer without urgent modifications.

As we all have experienced the new technology in a personal way we have said good bye to travel agents, TV shops, launderettes, and our genre could well join them.

My final thoughts on change and loss over Optrafair weekend came from a chance meeting with someone who because of the personal experience of sudden hearing loss decided that sitting around maudlin about her change in circumstances (loss of hearing) when she was at the highpoint of her academic career was not for her.

Gloria McGregorShe picked herself up and went out and made a difference. I am talking about Gloria McGregor, a friend to me and the wife of John well known for running Contamac, a very successful contact lens manufacturer in Essex.

Finding you are losing sensory powers whether vision or hearing is a real kick in the teeth, it makes you want to withdraw and often there is no one after diagnosis there to help.

Gloria’s view was if you can’t find help then create it yourself and help others along the way.

She has after learning lip reading skills converted this into her own course for others to learn and has now widened her audience with training for all on the world wide web. Gloria has provided PHN with a personal reflection of her determination to remain relevant and useful to the community and to spread that message to all.

Read Gloria’s story in our profile section which shows how adaption to change is possible. “Never give up” says Gloria.

RSM GP and Primary Care section event provides opportunity for Optometry Profession to influence.

April 2016

In Doug’s (Perkins) speech he recognizes that the fate of optical professionals is in their own hands. He is right when he says that many Doctors, CCGs and even most of the public do not recognize us as a medical profession. In my role as web champion and Councillor on the RSMs GP and Primary Care Section, I, (Bob Hutchinson) hear my optometric and other primary care professional colleagues denoted by Doctors on my council as Non-Medics.

I am working within that organization to rebut that view.

One of the reasons I have developed a one-day lecture seminar in June (15th) this year on vision and hearing detection, management and control along a patient journey finalizing in good social care is to provide an opportunity to demonstrate that we are all working along a medical pathway and that barriers must be removed and competencies merged osmotically proving we share the same aims.

This meeting at the RSM (Wimpole St.) will have many Doctors (GPs), Nurses, Therapists and Ophthalmologists in attendance so how many optometrists will attend?

This is our chance for the profession, yes you, as well as our leaders and those who fight for better sight to attend and mingle with GPs and show why clinical optometry is vital in primary care.

The same of course is true for audiologists and hearing consultants.

GPs will only respect us and have confidence in referring to us when we are seen as being proactive in attendance at such meetings.

CET points for Optometry and Dispensing have been applied for as they have for registered GMC members. If that’s a necessary attraction, so be it, but I’d like to see us making our presence known for the profession.

Click here to register with RSM and consider further engagement with the RSM by becoming an associate this year. If we can’t crowd the seats in June it will be doubly hard to pull this off in the future. Like Gloria MacGregor from Lipreading Practice, says “Never give up”.

Gloria Macgregor’s own personal statement on coping with hearing loss prompts PHN to allocate a new section of news about hearing services and audiology in the UK.

April 2016

PHN welcome reports and PR regarding the care, provision and the Hearing sector's needs and will aim to link with support groups and charities. To this extent we will open our free charity pages to this sector.

It is a fact that often hearing and sight loss go hand in hand whether due to the effects of illness or syndromes or merely age related. If we are to become a truly rounded and caring primary care source for the elderly, we must add hearing to our existing roles.

The list should already include LVAs, health advice, blood pressure testing and better help for the excluded and those with learning difficulties.

PHN is hoping for commitment in these areas, and looks forward to the day professionals report their stories of transition to us.

We welcome health benefitting change as should our regulators who regularly inform you through PHN and academia.

MYKITA says Hello Washington, as it opens its most recent shop – the second in the United States – on a stylish street corner in the historic neighbourhood of Georgetown.

April 2016

MYKITA opens its most recent shop – the second in the United States – on a stylish street corner in the historic neighbourhood of Georgetown in Washington.

DC Shop for MykitaJoining the line of MYKITA Shops around the world, each with their own distinctive identity, this red brick, heritage-listed building is one of the oldest in the U.S. Capital. The character of the old townhouse with its solid oak flooring creates a beautiful contrast to the clean and modern MYKITA aesthetic.

Located on M Street in Georgetown, the MYKITA Shop Washington joins a number of established, high-end boutiques situated in this popular shopping, dining and entertainment area.


Norville Opticians optometrist awarded Doctorate for research into dietary links with AMD risk factors

April 2016

An optometrist based in both Cheltenham and Gloucester has just become a Doctor of Optometry following his research into the effects of diet on the health of the eye.

John Everett who works for Norville Opticians has spent the last six years working towards a Professional Doctorate from Aston University in Birmingham.

John Everett

The Doctorate: a series of distance learning courses was launched by the university in 2008 and was designed for working Optometrists to study part time over a period of about six years towards the degree of Doctor of Optometry (D.Optom) which is academically equivalent to a PhD.

For the final part of the course John had to design and undertake a piece of research. An existing interest in the effects of nutrition on the health of the eye and its vision led him to devise a study of how the level of the yellow macular pigment in the retina at the back of the eye which originates from dietary sources might be linked with risk factors affecting the onset and progression of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

He said: “One of the reasons for this was because I could collect data while at work. One hundred and fifty of my patients took part in my study and I owe them my thanks.

He added: “The possibility that something like AMD could be staved off in some patients just by eating the right things is very exciting and I now have a far greater understanding of eye disease. I am looking forward to being able to use my new knowledge and training to the benefit of all of my patients, old and new.”

Picture Caption – The new Dr Everett after receiving his award with his study supervisors, Dr Hannah Bartlett (left) and Dr Frank Eperjesi.

Mainline Instruments show off their patient friendly instrument at Optrafair.

April 2016

Easy to use and patient friendly, the Icare® ic100 is the next generation in eye pressure measurement.

Now you can offer your patients a much more comfortable way of measuring eye pressure.

The Icare® ic100 is a portable device that’s handheld and easy to use. Based on a rebound principle, it requires no drops, air or specialised skills to use.

To order your Icare® ic100 today, or for more information follow the link.

For a limited period, purchase an icare® ic100 and get two free boxes of probes worth £140!

Spiraling costs of equipment and keeping up with “The Jones’s” Is it necessary?

April 2016

OCT users may feel smug or ahead of the game but are they contributing to real improvements in eye health on the margins of primary and secondary any care or just clogging up the system?

So say many experiencing a deluge of hi-tech artefacts being referred on.

PHN has certainly reported over the last year on an undercurrent of concern by leading ophthalmologists in the UK that OCT referrals by many have occurred because of a lack of knowledge of what many are later agreeing on as artefacts.

Often many ophthalmologists themselves are mystified by the received scans. Whatever the relevance they are all necessarily must be repeated by hospitals.

Easyscan by GraftonAnand Marchand from Holland thinks that taking the middle road of using superior laser technology in SLO fundus photography provides better information on retino-diagnosis and control in an area of competency that the optometrist can excel providing detection way ahead of old fundus photography abilities.

The SLO Easyscan provides detection, management and diagnosis which can be made and highlighted for ophthalmology departments to act quickly upon without clogging up the referral system.

Yes, having an OCT on board is an achievement not least in practice expenditure but in patient care value terms would it pass the NICE test for cost effectiveness? Anand doubts that and is going to demonstrate the EasyScan SLO system to all who wish to first consider it as an option and asks the question is the OCT really the next relevant stage of Optometric Development.

Join Anand on the Grafton Optical Stand and take a look at the real data and results that Easyscan has achieved and how well Ophthalmologists have accepted its accurate image reporting on even the most complicated patients.

Because SLO technology is very newand came after OCTs, they (OCTs) have become the de facto next step in practice procurement but are we not jumping a step too far? Discuss EasyScan SLO technology with Anand on the Grafton Stand at Optrafair and judge for yourself whether it might just be a better option for current referrals for your patient, your practice and your pocket!

Meet Anand Marchand on stand D70 and E70 at Optrafair.

Read more about Grafton Optical Easyscan


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