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Opchat Magazine General NewsGeneral News, July to September 2016


2016 BETA SIGMA KAPPA (BSK) Research Fellowship recipient announced.

AIO welcomes results of Which? Members survey.

College of Optometrists welcomes nearly 400 visitors through its doors as part of Open House London.

Optical Confederation backs National Eye Health Week 2016.

Re-estrification of omega-3 supplements enables rapid response to dry eye symptoms & improves patient outcomes.

Giovanni Staurenghi discusses the benefits and pitfalls of OCT angiography in new webinar.

Silhouette Launches New Campaign Imagery and Visual Merchandising Guides for 2017.

ABDO announce ‘Sandwich Generation’ survey results and embark on national radio campaigns.

Chair of GOC provides an in depth look at his role and his enthusiasm for the Optical Sector

European Coalition for Vision Welcomes New Vice Chair.

TV’s Gregg Wallace Chooses Silhouette for his Big Day

Sponsorship for 2016 Rio Paralympics racer Jason Smyth.

Rayner Launches RayOne fully Preloaded Injection System.

The AOF announces this years DOUGLAS W. HOPKINS Primary Care Residency Award.

AREA98: Direct Distribution growing in Europe.

Why a sight test is a back to school essential. The AOP reminds all.

Honey Rose sentenced today.

TxCell appoints Biogen’s Dr. Olivier Danos, pioneer in gene therapy for neurological disorders, to its Scientific Advisory Board.

Back to school with Blitz Kidz

Learn more about using your SPECTRALIS on YouTube.

STOP MOTORISTS DRIVING BLIND, Bristol Company urges Government.

Alcohol abuse drug can be repurposed to treat a blinding disorder, research shows.

College of Optometrists urges sports-enthusiasts to optimise their vision.

GOC seeks expertise for its committees.

OC Responds to "Laissez-Faire Challenge" from Optician News Magazines on Capita's Failure.

Dwight McKenzie to leave Optical Confederation.

Google's AI division, DeepMind, is partnering with Moorfields eye hospital in England with hope that its deep machine learning abilities can find vision loss and other eye problems in the eye.

Shamir Launches Spark Mi competition.

College of Optometrists urges sports-lovers to make sure they can see their favourite sport clearly this summer.

ITN report highlights the increasing role of High Street Opticians.

2016 BETA SIGMA KAPPA (BSK) Research Fellowship recipient announced.

September 2016

AblamowiczThe American Optometric Foundation (AOF) in collaboration with Beta Sigma Kappa International Honor Society, is pleased to announce Dr. Anna F. Ablamowicz, OD, FAAO, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, as the 2016 recipient of the Beta Sigma Kappa (BSK) Research Fellowship.

The fellowship is designed to provide support for early career optometric and vision science faculty research that will fund Dr. Ablamowicz’ s project, “Investigation of an Inflammatory Component of Lid Wiper Epitheliopathy in Dry Eye Disease”.

Dr. Ablamowicz will be honored at the AOF Annual Celebration Luncheon during the American Academy of Optometry’s Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Ablamowicz on this impressive honor.

AIO welcomes results of Which? Members survey

September 2016

"Independents best once again," says AIO.

The Association for Independent Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians (AIO) has welcomed the results of the latest Which? Members survey that gave local Independent Opticians the best overall rating in the market place. In respect of eye testing Independents came out top in every category surveyed and it is only in those categories relating to cost when buying glasses that others came ahead. However Independents were the only ones to achieve a five star rating for customer service when it comes to buying glasses, perhaps demonstrating the old maximum – you get what you pay for.

Peter Warren, Chairman of AIO commented: ‘It comes as no surprise to AIO that Independents once again come out on top in a Which? survey of its members. The results are unequivocal and with 4029 responses out of the 8265 provided by Which? members the findings are particularly robust. Our members routinely offer the highest quality patient care, allowing enough consulting time for each patient’s needs and not trying to sell them eye wear that they do not need.’

In June 2014, Which? research found that Independent opticians came out on top with a satisfaction score of 88% and this latest members’ survey shows that nothing has changed in that respect. Which? members said that they highly value the professional staff, the great aftercare and the thorough eye testing provided by Independents.

‘Getting this message across to the Great British public is the challenge for the Independent sector and AIO is doing its utmost to make this happen’ Peter Warren added.

PHN are media partners of the AIO and wish them well in their forthcoming conference. See their page here.

College of Optometrists welcomes nearly 400 visitors through its doors as part of Open House London.

September 2016

The College of Optometrists opened its doors to visitors once again as part of the Open House London event on Sunday 18 September. The public, members and fellows had the opportunity to look around the College’s historic headquarters in the West End of London and visit the museum of the optical and eye care professions featuring the world’s oldest collection of spectacles and vision aids.

With a total number of 384 visitors, some came from as far as Brighton, Bristol, Devon, Ipswich and Portsmouth, whilst overseas visitors came from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Spain, and the USA.

Innovations this year included a downloadable audio tour of the Council Room paintings and a rolling slide presentation on the architectural history of the property and street.

Museum Curator Neil Handley said: “Open House always guarantees a large turnout of interested and motivated people, keen to learn more about the work of the College and the premises it occupies. We hope that the next visit many of them make will be to the practice of one of our members.”

Open House is held every year for one weekend in September, during which a wide range of buildings usually closed to the public can be visited completely free of charge.

Optical Confederation backs National Eye Health Week 2016.

September 2016

The Optical Confederation is throwing its support behind National Eye Health Week (NEHW) 2016, highlighting the importance of taking care of your eyes and the need for regular sight tests for all.

Yes, it is currently on this week.

More than a thousand events and activities are expected to take place next week (19 – 25 September) to raise awareness of eye health amongst the public and to offer eye care advice.

David Cartwright, Chair of National Eye Health Week said: “We want the whole sector to inspire people to take better care of their eyes, realise how important regular eye examinations are and how good vision correction enhances everyday lives.

Research released this week by the RNIB shows that more than 27 per cent of the public (14 million people) do not have regular sight tests. This includes people at risk of preventable sight loss, such as those with diabetes or a family history of glaucoma.

Chris Hunt, Optical Confederation Chair said: “National Eye Health Week is one of the sector's great successes with everyone working together to help the public and save sight. We are also showcasing what community optical practices can do to deliver NHS eye health services out of hospital and closer to home. Good luck to everyone who takes part.”

Re-estrification of omega-3 supplements enables rapid response to dry eye symptoms & improves patient outcomes.

September 2016

  • New research reveals the importance of high quality supplements
  • Processing of most commercially available omega-3 supplements results in less effective dietary support
  • Optometrists able to improve symptoms of dry eye through nutriontials in just 6 weeks

A new study reveals that high quality omega-3 supplements significantly improve tear osmolarity, tear break up time (TBUT), MMP-9 and OSDI symptom scores1.

The study published in Cornea Journal highlights the importance of re-estrification, the process of removing artificially added alcohol from omega-3 nutritionals to optimise their efficacy in treating dry eye disease.

Essential fatty acids, including the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, must be obtained through diet and perform numerous roles throughout the body.

Consumption of omega-3 has long been associated with improving dry eye symptoms, but the extent of the differences between varying omega-3 supplements are often less well known.

As Lead Researcher Epitropoulos highlights within the study, “Fish contains mercury and carcinogens, making it risky to consume sufficient omega-3 fatty acids by simply ingesting this food group. As an important safety precaution, almost all commercial fish oils employ a process of adding alcohol to detoxify these compounds. However, this addition of alcohol induces a chemical change in the natural triglycerides found in fish oil and converts the triglyceride to an ethyl ester compound. Our bodies have difficulties processing and absorbing the ethyl ester compound, which is not found in nature.”1

Re-estrification: The technology enabling better absorption of fatty acids

The process of re-estrification creates a supplement which is better absorbed by the body and is better tolerated with less gastrointestinal side effects.

New data has also shown that re-esterified supplements benefit tear osmolarity, TBUT, MMP-9 and OSDI symptom scores. Measured using TearLab, the quantitative testing device for disease markers in tears at the point-of-care, statistically significant improvements were found in those taking re-esterified omega-3 nutritional supplements at 6 weeks, indicating a ‘rapid response’.

Optometrists: Improving uptake of re-esterified omega-3

Research from Scope Ophthalmics reveals that only 12% of DED sufferers currently take an omega-3 supplement, and of those who do 40% rely on own brand products2, rather than a re-esterified supplement such as Omega Eye.

Giovanni Staurenghi discusses the benefits and pitfalls of OCT angiography in new webinar.

September 2016

Prof Staurenghi

Professor Giovanni Staurenghi of the University of Milan, discussed the unique attributes of hybrid angiography at Heidelberg Engineering’s 5th Annual Masterclass in May.

His presentation, entitled “OCT Angiography – Benefits and Pitfalls”, is now available to view online and provides a thoughtful and rational look at the role of OCT angiography* in the clinical decision making process as part of a multimodality imaging approach to patient investigation and diagnosis.

“OCT angiography is a new imaging tool and we are still in the learning curve”, explained Professor Staurenghi. “I think discussing its advantages and pitfalls is an important and honest way to approach this new angiography and we have shown that it is advisable to exercise caution when using new technology that we do not necessarily fully understand yet. We know that using multimodal imaging provides a better diagnosis than using single imaging modes alone and it seems OCT angiography will play an important role in multimodal imaging in the future”.

In the recorded webinar, Professor Staurenghi discusses the specific clinical applications of OCT angiography through a series of case studies and the challenges image artefacts and incorrect retinal layer segmentation create for the clinician when interpreting the images that have yet to be overcome by any commercially available device.

The recorded webinar of the full presentation can be viewed here.

*OCT Angiography Module for SPECTRALIS is under development and not yet for sale.

Silhouette Launches New Campaign Imagery and Visual Merchandising Guides for 2017.

September 2016

Silhouette Adventurer

Silhouette has launched a brand new campaign for AW16 featuring key eyewear collections including the iconic TMA styles and SUN 17.

The new campaign offers Silhouette customers a fresh range of images to be used as POS and window display materials.

Silhouette has drafted a ‘visual merchandising’ guide with the purpose of helping Opticians to make the most of their display space as well as
offering a ‘social media package’ available for customers in order for them to maximise with the campaign through their individual channels

Customers also have the opportunity to use ‘guide to wearing rimless’ video on their website designed to help to sell Silhouette’s rimless concept and vision

ABDO announce ‘Sandwich Generation’ survey results and embark on national radio campaigns.

September 2016

ABDO Sandwich Generation

Don't forget to tune into Radio Day on this coming Friday.

Members of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) board will be speaking about the findings of ABDO’s latest consumer survey on local and national radio this month.

ABDO has commissioned media agency, the Relations Group, to interview around 2,000 members of the ‘Sandwich Generation’, asking them about how they look after their own health, that of their parents and their children.

The ‘Sandwich Generation’ - originally coined by social worker Dorothy Miller in 1981 - describes those who are “sandwiched” between looking after young children and aging parents, as their primary caregiver.

This is a growing group as families are having children later and seniors are living longer.

This 40-60 age group is a cohort that is entering presbyopia and at increasing risk of sight-threatening eye disease, while still perceiving themselves too young for both glasses and eye disease.

The survey has unveiled that a quarter (25 per cent) of the ‘Sandwich Generation’ spend more time looking after the health of others than their own and 17 per cent admit that their own health suffers due to the demands of looking after others.

What effect is this having on people in this bracket?

The research found that a fifth (20 per cent) feel pressured by their growing responsibilities. Almost three quarters (72 per cent) place their child’s health above their own and around a quarter (24 per cent) prioritises their parents’ health over their own.

The research also highlighted that looking after their eyes was a key area that was sacrificed due to lack of time, with 7 per cent having not been to the optician for a staggering nine years or more.

As many as 1 in 6 (16 per cent) say they don’t have enough time to spend on their own health, while a quarter (24 per cent) are most likely to go to the optician for their child and 2 per cent for their parents, over themselves.

ABDO has produced the infographic (see right) that outlines the main survey results and how those interviewed look after their own health, and their eye health in particular.

Alongside the survey results, during the radio campaign broadcasts ABDO media representatives will highlight the role of the dispensing optician.

It will be promoting messages such as, ‘Association of British Dispensing Opticians members provide professional eye care throughout the UK to prevent the potential loss of sight’ and ‘regular eye tests are readily available to everyone in the UK near their home’.

Together with a Radio Day on Friday 16 September, this Friday

ABDO is also spreading the eye care message to parents and children via Fun Kids Radio, with a reprise of the series of audio programmes broadcast last year, which will be running from 19 September.

On top of this, there will be an animated video series going live from 2 October. To find out more or download the podcast visit and search for ‘Hallux’s i-Guide’.

The Sandwich Family


Details of the findings of the latest ABDO survey can be found on the ABDO website at and across ABDO social media channels from mid-September.


ABDO College are one your Opchat News Sponsors. Their support helps us provide your free independent news and knowledge resource to over 7000 professionals. Please tell your colleagues to visit us and visit the ABDO College pages.

Chair of GOC provides an in depth look at his role and his enthusiasm for the Optical Sector

September 2016

Gareth in a relaxed interview with the PHN editor gave his thoughts on regulatory bodies, public protection and his desire to streamline the GOC since arriving to provide both the public and the sector with a body that is efficient and fit for practice.

“I would like the Act to ensure that all opticians prove their scope of competence within the standards promulgated by their regulator which is essentially the same as in all other health care professions. “

We discuss Internet Contact Lenses, regulatory bodies and the cost of membership across an array of organisations. Full interview.

European Coalition for Vision Welcomes New Vice Chair.

September 2016

The ECV has elected Jean-Félix Biosse Duplan as Vice Chair to help support their expanding influencing workload across Europe

The European Coalition for Vision (ECV) has created a new Vice Chair post to support the organisation’s growing workload across Europe. They are delighted to announce that Jean-Félix Biosse Duplan was elected to the role this Friday (9 September).

Jean-Félix is a Vice President of Eurom1 – the European Manufacturers Ophthalmic Association (Lenses and Frames). He has wide experience of business to business operations and optical manufacturing in Asia, the Pacific, India and China and in Europe through Essilor and the Essilor Vision Impact Institute. Jean-Félix also sits on the boards of two of Frances’ leading optical organisations, Asnav and GIFO.

David Hewlett, ECV Chair, said: “Jean-Félix is already an enthusiastic and hard -working member of the Coalition and will make an exceptional Vice Chair. With so many urgent issues for the ECV to lead on these days, we need active and engaged members and leaders at all levels. Jean-Félix has the skills, experience, knowledge and commitment to help us excel. He also brings important links to the manufacturers, innovators and R&D globally. He will be a tremendous asset as we continue to fight for better eye health, services, innovation and support, for all citizens across Europe.”

Jean-Félix Biosse Duplan said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to take a bigger role for the European Coalition for Vision. A lot of combined efforts are needed to make our political and health leaders at European and country level recognise the public health value and the crucial personal and economic importance of eye health and best vision. The ECV is clearly the most widely based and collaborative organization to champion these issues and I am very excited to devote more time and energy to helping it succeed"

TV’s Gregg Wallace Chooses Silhouette for his Big Day

September 2016

Greg WallaceBBC’s Masterchef presenter and TV favourite Gregg Wallace looked the picture of happiness on his wedding day in August.

While his eyes may have been firmly on his new bride, all eyes were on Gregg’s spectacular choice of glasses for his big day, as he chose to wear the timeless SPX Illusion Fullrim frames by luxury eyewear manufacturer Silhouette.

With the SPX Illusion, Silhouette brings full-rimmed frames made from the most flexible and comfortable high-tech plastic, SPX+. Developed by Silhouette, SPX+ is used exclusively to make even fullrim eyewear as light and comfortable as possible.

Sponsorship for 2016 Rio Paralympics racer Jason Smyth.

September 2016

Jason Smyth


Ocuco are proud sponsors of Jason Smyth in his challenge to defend his title in the 100m race at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio this month.

Jason already has four Gold Paralympic Medals and holds three world records.

The Irish man, crowned the ‘The Fastest Paralympian on the Planet’ tops the world rankings for the T13 category of the 100m and believes he can go even faster.

Jason lost his vision when he was 8 years old due to an inherited condition called Stargardt Disease, which causes severe macular degeneration.

Alice Austin, Ocuco Sales and Marketing Director, says ‘Jason is an inspiration to us all and we look forward to welcoming him home with, hopefully, another gold medal’.

We wish Jason the best of luck on September 9th in Rio.


“The final of the men’s 100m T13 takes place on Friday morning, where Smyth will be hoping to achieve a memorable third consecutive 100m Paralympic title. At the last two Paralympic Games, Smyth has lowered his world record and will be hoping to go faster than the 10.46 seconds he clocked at London 2012.”

Rayner Launches RayOne fully Preloaded Injection System.

September 2016

RaynerRayner has launched its Rayner fully preloaded injection system, the UK-based IOL manufacturer announced Sept. 1, 2016.

The company plans to unveil the platform Sept. 10 to 14 at the ESCRS meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The RayOne injector has the smallest fully preloaded injector nozzle available, according to Rayner, and the nozzle is parallel-sided for minimal stretch, helping to maintain incision architecture.

The system was designed with the new RayOne micro-incision cataract surgery lens, an enhanced version of the C-flex and Superflex platforms, combined into a single 6.0 mm optic design.

The material and design benefits of the original lenses have been retained.

The firm said this new RayOne platform will be the base for the next generation of Rayner IOLs, as the company continues to work toward becoming a leading manufacturers of IOLs.

The AOF announces this years DOUGLAS W. HOPKINS Primary Care Residency Award.

September 2016

Shannon LeonShannon K. Leon, OD, primary care/ocular disease resident at the University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry was chosen by a committee of members in the Comprehensive Eye Care Section of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) as this year’s recipient for the Douglas W. Hopkins Primary Care Residency Award.

Douglas W. Hopkins, OD, FAAO, was a leader within the Primary Care Section and the Academy who passed unexpectedly in 2007. In his honor, friends and colleagues established the Douglas W. Hopkins Primary Care Fellowship Fund. With their generosity and that of Dr. Hopkins’ widow, Roberta, the fund quickly became fully endowed and the first award was issued in 2012.

The award is intended to promote the practice and development of the field of Primary Eye Care Optometry by providing incentive and support to talented optometric residents who demonstrate a passion and commitment to further clinical experience, research, and education. Jeff C. Rabin, OD, PhD, FAAO, Diplomate.

Vision Science Section and Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies at the University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry, said “Dr. Leon is unequivocally one of the most exceptional Doctors of Optometry Interns I have ever encountered. Her competence, confidence and superior intelligence are tempered by a unique sense of patience, passion and caring for her patients.”

Of the nine applicants who applied to the program, Shannon presented an impressive resume of experience in clinical, volunteer service, research, and lecture presentation. Shannon will receive a $2,000 education award and a $750 travel fellowship to attend the Academy 2016 Anaheim annual meeting in November.

AREA98: Direct Distribution growing in Europe.

September 2016

Area98 strengthens its distribution in a number of European countries; the project is part of the company's growth plan that aims to consolidate the direct presence of its collections in the most strategic markets of the eyewear industry.

Area98 has teamed up with Funk Designs in the UK and Ireland, whose agents operate exclusively using a direct distribution formula for the Coco Song, La Matta and Oliviero Contini collections. In this transition phase, the Kaos brand is being managed temporarily by the Area98 headquarters.

A direct presence is also growing in Switzerland: in both the German and French-speaking areas, exclusive agent Hermann Geiger, who has already been working with the luxury Coco Song and Robert Rüdger collections for the last year, will expand his portfolio with fashion lines La Matta, Kaos, Oliviero Contini and Genesis Easy as of 1 July 2016.

Distribution of the Area98 brand has also been strengthened in the Mediterranean, thanks to an agreement with Marina Palacios Fernandez, the exclusive agent for Kaos, La Matta, Oliviero Contini and Genesis Easy in Catalonia and for all lines in Andorra.

In Spain, Coco Song and Robert Rüdger are distributed through Vision Lent.

Finally, Area98 has further strengthened its sales network in France for the Coco Song and Robert Rüdger brands, which are directly managed by 7 agents who are active throughout France and overseas (Dom-Tom). The other brands - Kaos, La Matta, Genesis Easy and Oliviero Contini - continue to be successfully distributed by Art Monium, a long-time partner of the company.

"Year after year, the Area98 collections are continuing to carve out their own place in the international eyewear market" - Elisio Tessaro, Area98's Art Director and Marketing Manager tells us - "Each one is individual in its own particular way and it is therefore necessary to think of a selective and targeted distribution which takes all the characteristics of each brand into account including the market each one addresses. A direct presence allows us not only to have a greater sensitivity on consumer trends but also to transfer the quality and uniqueness of our products to the the optician, responding more quickly to his requests and, at the same time, ensuring a timely and efficient after sales service. "

Why a sight test is a back to school essential.

September 2016

With students returning to school next week the Association of Optometrists (AOP) is highlighting the link between good vision and academic development; urging parents to ensure their children are on a level footing this term by booking a sight test.

A recent study of four and five year olds published in the British Medical Journal links visual ability in young children to reading and writing levels[1]. The study found those children with lower ‘visual acuity’, a measure of how well we view details, had significantly reduced literacy development even when other factors – such as cognitive skills and background – are taken into account.

Optometrist Henry Leonard, Clinical and Regulatory Officer at the AOP, commented that “a whole range of things can be affected by poor vision, including schooling and social development. Yet many children will not know if they have a vision problem. With few reference points they may believe the way they see is perfectly normal. While parents should look out for signs, in some cases no symptoms will be apparent so regular sight tests are essential.”

He added “It is estimated one million children in the UK have an undiagnosed vision problem. When we look at how this can negatively affect a child’s development, it’s a really worrying figure. It’s particularly important to detect and correct these problems during early childhood, to ensure that vision develops normally, as it can be difficult or impossible to correct once a child reaches the age of eight or nine. Parents are often quite shocked to realise their child has been struggling with schoolwork due to a visual problem, which can often be corrected with a simple pair of spectacles. It’s very rewarding to see a child who was previously struggling, starting to enjoy reading and writing for the first time.”

The AOP recommends that children are taken for a sight test around the age of three and then at least every two years, or as advised by your optometrist, so any vision problems can be treated early. There are many tests that an optometrist can carry out which are designed to engage children from a very young age or need no response to make the test easier for the child.

Children under the age of 16 are entitled to NHS-funded sight tests (covering the cost of a sight test), plus an optical voucher, which entitles parents or carers help towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses if required.

Read the BMJ study on " The impact of visual acuity on developing literacy at age 4–5 years: a cohort-nested cross-sectional study."

Here is a resumee


Objectives To estimate the prevalence of poor vision in children aged 4–5 years and determine the impact of visual acuity on literacy.

Design Cross-sectional study linking clinical, epidemiological and education data.

Setting Schools located in the city of Bradford, UK.

Participants Prevalence was determined for 11 186 children participating in the Bradford school vision screening programme. Data linkage was undertaken for 5836 Born in Bradford (BiB) birth cohort study children participating both in the Bradford vision screening programme and the BiB Starting Schools Programme. 2025 children had complete data and were included in the multivariable analyses.

Main outcome measures Visual acuity was measured using a logMAR Crowded Test (higher scores=poorer visual acuity). Literacy measured by Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised (WRMT-R) subtest: letter identification (standardised).

Results The mean (SD) presenting visual acuity was 0.14 (0.09) logMAR (range 0.0–1.0). 9% of children had a presenting visual acuity worse than 0.2logMAR (failed vision screening), 4% worse than 0.3logMAR (poor visual acuity) and 2% worse than 0.4logMAR (visually impaired). Unadjusted analysis showed that the literacy score was associated with presenting visual acuity, reducing by 2.4 points for every 1 line (0.10logMAR) reduction in vision (95% CI −3.0 to −1.9). The association of presenting visual acuity with the literacy score remained significant after adjustment for demographic and socioeconomic factors reducing by 1.7 points (95% CI −2.2 to −1.1) for every 1 line reduction in vision.

Conclusions Prevalence of decreased visual acuity was high compared with other population-based studies. Decreased visual acuity at school entry is associated with reduced literacy. This may have important implications for the children's future educational, health and social outcomes.

What to expect at your child’s sight test

• At the beginning of the appointment your optometrist will ask about your family history, your child’s health generally and if you have any concerns about their sight. If your child is old enough the optometrist will also speak to them about their vision.
• Several tests will be carried out in the test room to check your child’s eyes are healthy. These can include shinning a light into the child’s eyes, asking them to follow an object with their eyes and asking them to identify images, words or letters whilst looking through different lenses. The optometrist may also include a stereopsis test to check how your child’s eyes are working together and a colour vision test to detect colour deficiencies.
• The test will normally take around 20 minutes and you can stay with your child at all times.
• Your optometrist will then let you know if your child would benefit from glasses, or any treatments, and advise when to return for their next sight test.

Honey Rose sentenced today.

August 2016

Blitz frames

In a "first of its kind" case where jurors found Honey Rose, a locum optometrist working for Boots Opticians in Ipswich, guilty in less than two hours of consideration, sentence has been passed today.

Sentencing Rose, Judge Jeremy Stuart-Smith said it was the first case of its type and ordered Rose to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and gave her a 24-month supervision order.


It was claimed by the optometrist that she couldn’t see in the Childs’s eyes because he kept closing them. However, the court heard that an auxiliary had taken retinal photographs that showed evidence in both eyes of papilloedema.

Previous Story on PHN in July 2016

Honey Rose sentence hearing: AOP media response below:

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is aware that AOP member Ms Honey Rose was today given a two-year suspended sentence in the case of Vincent Barker.
Ms Rose was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter in July 2016.

This tragic case has had devastating consequences for all involved.

The case, a criminal one involving an optometrist on clinical matters, is the first of its kind in the UK. There are millions[1] of sight tests undertaken in the UK each year. Optometrists adhere to strict standards of practice set out by the regulatory body, the General Optical Council (GOC).

The AOP can confirm that a leave of appeal is being sought by Ms Rose. Due to the ongoing Fitness to Practise hearing that Ms Rose faces before the GOC we are unable to comment further at this time.

TxCell appoints Biogen’s Dr. Olivier Danos, pioneer in gene therapy for neurological disorders, to its Scientific Advisory Board.

August 2016.

SAB now composed of four world-leading immunology experts, including Prof. Zelig Eshhar, who recently received the Novartis Prize for Clinical Immunology>

TXCL, a biotechnology company developing innovative, personalized cellular immunotherapies using regulatory T cells (Treg) to treat severe chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, today announces the appointment to its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of Olivier Danos, PhD, Senior Vice President of Cell and Gene Therapy at Biogen and a world-leading expert in the field of Gene Therapy for hematological and neurological diseases.

“Dr. Olivier Danos has pioneered technologies of central importance in the field of gene therapy and genome editing,” said Arnaud Foussat, Chief Scientific Officer of TxCell. “He is another significant addition to our SAB, which already includes leading experts in immunology, T-cell biology and chimeric antigen receptors. These include Professor Zelig Eshhar as Chairman, who was recently awarded the prestigious Novartis Prize for Clinical Immunology. We are looking forward to their insights and advice on our current and future R&D programs targeting severe chronic autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.”

Dr. Danos has led Biogen’s gene therapy research group, a team dedicated to identifying and developing new technologies for gene transfer and genome engineering, since 2014. Prior to Biogen, Dr. Danos served as Senior Vice President, Molecular Medicine, Synthetic Biology and Gene Regulation, at Kadmon Pharmaceuticals, from 2011 to 2014. In this role, he was instrumental in assembling a gene therapy program and a technology platform for the development of controllable gene expression systems. Prior to Kadmon, Dr. Danos was the Director of the Gene Therapy Consortium at University College, London, and led a gene therapy research team at the Necker Hospital - Enfants Malades in Paris. His other previous appointments include Scientific Director of Généthon and Senior Research Director with the CNRS in France.

TxCell created its SAB in March 2016 with the appointment of the first three members: Professor Zelig Eshhar (Chairman), Professor of Immunology, Chair of Immunology Research, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel; Professor Chiara Bonini, Head of Unit, Experimental Hematology, San Raffaele Hopital, Milan, Italy; and Doctor Bernard Malissen, Research Director, Immunology, Center of Marseille-Luminy, Marseille, France.

Professor Zelig Eshhar awarded the Novartis Prize for Clinical Immunology

On August 22, 2016, Professor Eshhar received the Novartis Prize for Clinical Immunology at the 16th International Congress of Immunology (ICI) in Melbourne, Australia. The prize was awarded to three scientists, including Professor Eshhar, for their work on cellular immunotherapy using Chimeric Antigen Receptor-T cells (CAR-T-cells) for diseases such as cancer. The winners were selected by an independent jury of seven world-class immunologists for their groundbreaking research into the biology of the immune system.

Professor Eshhar pioneered the CAR approach and was the first scientist to demonstrate the therapeutic potential of CAR-Treg cells in preclinical models of intestinal inflammation. In June 2016, TxCell obtained exclusive worldwide rights to a patent co-invented by Professor Eshhar which covers all redirected, genetically engineered T regulatory cells (CAR Tregs) and their use in the suppression of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. This patent has already been granted in Europe and is under review in the United States.

Back to school with Blitz Kidz

August 2016

Blitz frames Getting ready to go back to school is always hectic.

Here at Norville we make it easier for you with a wide range of frames in different colours and styles for both genders to choose from.

Children are more trend-aware than ever before; they are becoming experimental, as spectacles have become a true fashion statement. Norville’s collection of ophthalmic frames is ideal for kids who like to keep up-to-date with the latest colours and designs.

Youngsters regularly require new eyewear as they outgrow their frames. Correct fitting is very important; similarly keeping up to trend with patterns and colours is important too. Frame BK019 C2 in blue is one of our Blitz Kidz ranges which are available in two additional colours: pink and butterscotch.

Frame Shown is:

BK019 C2
Sizes: 43-34mm 15mm 125mm
46-37mm 15mm 130mm

Norville offers a fantastic 2-year "No Quibble" guarantee against breakage when supplied glazed with TRIVEX - TRILOGY lenses.

Learn more about using your SPECTRALIS on YouTube.

August 2016

Heidelberg Engineering have added an extensive range of videos to their YouTube channel to assist users to get the most out of their SPECTRALIS Imaging Platform.

Heidelberg on You TubeA range of ‘how-to’ videos are featured, which provide guidance on acquiring images using the Ultra Widefield Module, as well as the MultiColor, BluePeak Autofluorescence and Anterior Segment Modules.

The “Basic image acquisition with SPECTRALIS” video provides a useful starting point for anyone embarking on an OCT assessment of a patient with a simple scanning protocol for the macula and retinal nerve fibre layer.

There are also a number of videos providing instruction on interpreting OCT images, which give clear guidance on how to make valued judgements while scanning, where to place the OCT cross section, how to identify structural changes and pathology and link visual symptoms and history to OCT appearance.

“The how-to videos on our YouTube channel are exceptionally useful to new customers and also serve as a reminder for more experienced users”, explains Christopher Mody, Director of Clinical Services for Heidelberg Engineering. “They are designed to be short reminders of the techniques covered in our comprehensive on-site training and hands-on courses at our Academy training facility in Hemel Hempstead. In addition to the how-to videos, there are a range of case studies which always prove popular at our training days.”

The latest addition to the YouTube channel is an ITN report highlighting how OCT is being used to diagnose many health conditions, allowing dispensing opticians and optometrists to work closely with the NHS to better diagnose eye conditions and improve patient care.

View the YouTube videos by visiting and entering Heidelberg Engineering UK in the search bar.

STOP MOTORISTS DRIVING BLIND, Bristol Company urges Government

August 2016

Driveing blindA world-leading lens manufacturer is spearheading a national campaign to stop UK motorists ‘driving blind’ and save lives.

Thornbury-based Essilor is launching the Think About Your Eyes campaign in Bristol to lobby the Government into reversing the UK’s shocking track record on failure to test drivers’ vision.

Essilor’s CSR Director in the UK & Ireland, Nigel Corbett, points out that the UK is one of only five EU countries which does not legally require drivers to be tested by a medical or optical professional as part of their driving test.

“It is incomprehensible that the driving test involves a rigorous assessment of a persons’ capability to operate and control a motor vehicle safely, yet the visual capability of the driver is assessed by a basic vision test carried out by a non-medically qualified driving test centre employee,” said Nigel.

“At Essilor, we are not prepared to sit back and watch people die at the hands of careless motorists who don’t get their eyesight checked properly at the point they are given their licence, and who aren’t tested at regular intervals over their driving career to ensure they are safe to continue driving.”

It is estimated that there are 3,000 casualties on UK roads every year where poor vision is a key factor.

The stakes are high – UK drivers face up to 14 years’ imprisonment, a £1,000 fine and invalidating their insurance if they cause an accident due to defective vision. In 2011 16-year-old Cassie McCord was killed by an elderly driver who had failed a vision test. A campaign by her mother created Cassie’s Law, allowing police to strip drivers of their licences if they fail a roadside eye test.

Driving blindSince 2013, 609 drivers have had their licences revoked after failing the on-the-spot tests.

“We’re all aware of the risks of speeding, drink-driving and not belting up,” said Nigel. “But do any of us think about our eyes before we get behind the wheel of a ton of metal?”

Essilor has launched the Think About Your Eyes campaign to encourage the Government and every motorist in the UK to take vision seriously. “A full eye test, carried out by a qualified optometrist should be mandatory as part of the UK driving test. It should then be every motorist’s responsibility to have regular eye tests at least every two years, or earlier if they notice any deterioration in their vision. The Government should insist a full eye exam is conducted as part of the first driving test and then periodically in accordance with best practice seen across Europe.”

In the UK, the minimum legal vision requirement has drivers reading a number plate from 20 metres, roughly five car lengths, with or without glasses as part of the main driving test. The test does not assess peripheral vision, which is a critical factor in a driver’s ability to judge the full extent of their surroundings.

That test can be when someone is as young as 17, and is carried out by a driving test employee, rather than an optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist. Unless a specific medical condition is identified in the interim, drivers can potentially continue to drive for the remainder of their life without ever having to submit to a professionally conducted vision test under the current arrangements.

“It is ludicrous that, despite knowing sight worsens with age, a driver passing their test at 17 can drive with their vision unchallenged for the rest of their driving life,” Nigel explained. “Placing the emphasis on self-assessment for something as important as being in charge of a motor vehicle is ridiculously risky.”

Think About Your Eyes is calling on the Government to bring the UK into line with countries like Italy, Spain, Estonia, Latvia and Serbia and Turkey, where drivers are tested every 10 years and at five, three or two-year intervals as they get older. Other safeguards could include following France, Spain and Switzerland where a spare pair of glasses must be kept in the vehicle by law.

The campaign is also highlighting the distinction between Group One and Group Two drivers (lorry and bus drivers); encouraging employers to take greater responsibility for employee safety on the road. “Company car users do as much mileage as group two drivers. Surprisingly, taxi drivers and couriers are group one licence holders,” explained Nigel.

“Employers have a duty of care to ensure employees driving on their behalf have appropriate medical assessment of their capability to drive.”

“It is also advisable that companies which offer company cars and allowances have corporate eye care contracts.”

Essilor is urging people to get behind the Think About Your Eyes campaign. Nigel said: “It’s imperative that these changes are brought into force in the UK. We all have the power to save lives.”

The campaign is being supported by Cabinet lead for Transport, Councillor Mark Bradshaw, MP for Bristol West Thangam Debbonaire, Bristol University, Bristol City RFC, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), the Institute of Advanced Motorists and independent opticians around the UK.

If it’s been more than two years since your last eye test book your appointment now at or visit to take the #DrivingBlind Riskometer.

Alcohol abuse drug can be repurposed to treat a blinding disorder, research shows.

August 2016

Findings suggest:

• Disulfiram prevents scars forming in a mouse model of scarring conjunctivitis
• Human scar making cells, from patients with scarring conjunctivitis, are returned to normal by disulfiram
• Disulfiram is currently licensed to treat alcohol abuse (sold as Antabuse)
• Disulfiram works by blocking the pathway that generates Vitamin A.

New research from University College London, Moorfields Eye Hospital and Duke University School of Medicine has identified a gene that drives scarring, together with a rapidly translatable therapy, for the UK’s most common cause of blinding conjunctivitis.

The results demonstrate that the drug disulfiram, licensed for the control of alcohol abuse, normalises human and mouse scar making cell (fibroblast) functions and inhibits mouse ocular mucosal (conjunctival) scarring. Fight for Sight, UCL Business, and Moorfields Eye Charity funded the study, which is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight on 4 August.

Scarring conjunctivitis is a major cause of chronic pain and sight loss. The conjunctiva is the membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the eye. In health, it helps lubricate and protect the eye, but in conditions such as ocular mucous membrane pemphigoid (ocular pemphigoid), severe eye allergy, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and trachoma inflammation trigger rapid pathological scarring, which often persists after the inflammation has gone destroying the protective functions of the conjunctiva.

Ocular mucous membrane pemphigoid was chosen for current investigations because mucous membrane pemphigoid is a prototypical immune mediated mucosal scarring disorder (that affects other mucosal sites at the orifices as well as the conjunctiva). It is also the most common immune mediated scarring conjunctival disease in the UK.

Standard treatment for both mucous membrane pemphigoid and its ocular form is to suppress the immune system. This controls inflammation when it works, but there are unpleasant side effects and it has little effect on scarring. Approximately 1 in 5 people with the ocular form go blind.

In the current study, the research team screened for genetic activity linked to scarring in conjunctival tissue, and in the scar making cells (fibroblasts) grown from this conjunctiva.

The aim was to identify potential therapeutic target molecules and provide a test bed for treatment.

Professor John Dart and Professor Julie Daniels, both of NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, were joint research leads, together with Professor David Abraham at UCL Royal Free Campus.

Results show that the aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1) family of enzymes is more active in tissue and fibroblasts from people with ocular mucous membrane pemphigoid compared to controls. ALDH1 is an enzyme that’s critical for one step in the process of turning vitamin A into retinoic acid – a key protein in immunity, inflammation and scarring.

Conjunctival scarring like that seen in ocular pemphigoid arises in a mouse model of severe allergic conjunctivitis previously developed by study co-author Dr Daniel Saban’s team at Duke University School of Medicine.

Following the ALDH1 results in tissue and fibroblasts, these mice were treated daily with eye drops containing disulfiram for 7 days after the induction of immune mediated conjunctivitis.

Disulfiram is a drug that’s licensed for treating alcohol abuse. It works by blocking ALDH activity, including ALDH2, which processes alcohol. Treatment reduced eye surface inflammation in the mice and prevented scarring compared to controls.

Ocular pemphigoid fibroblasts were treated with disulfiram to test its effect on ALDH inhibition in these human scarring cells. In keeping with the in vivo results, disulfiram treatment of human ocular pemphigoid fibroblasts, significantly inhibited their abnormal behaviour in a range of tests.

Dr Sarah Ahadome at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology is the study’s first author. She says:
“Our results have demonstrated that inhibiting ALDH1 activity with disulfiram effectively reduces inflammation and prevents scarring in vivo, and significantly reduces the signs of scarring in vitro, in human ocular pemphigoid fibroblasts. It may be that this approach will be more effective at scar prevention when there is active inflammation, but this is an important proof-of-concept that currently untreatable scarring conjunctivitis may respond to eye drops or other topical application of a drug that can be repurposed.”

A companion study from Dr Saban’s lab at Duke University, in collaboration with Dr Virginia Calder’s lab at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, is being published at the same time.

Professor Dart commented on results from both studies: “Collectively there is evidence from our data, and from that of Dr Saban’s team, that aldehyde dehydrogenase has critical roles in inflammation and conjunctival fibrosis, and is produced by the dendritic cells of the immune system and by fibroblasts. We suggest that progressive scarring in ocular pemphigoid results from fibroblast self-regulation, mediated by ALDH, through its metabolite retinoic acid (Vitamin A). These findings suggest that the repurposing of disulfiram, for the topical treatment of mucosal scarring in ocular pemphigoid and similar disorders such as severe eye allergy, may result in effective anti-scarring therapy and provide justification for a randomised controlled trial of disulfiram therapy for scarring in OMMP.”

Fight for Sight’s Director of Research, Dr Dolores M Conroy said: “This is very important work given the devastating impact of progressive scarring on the eye and other organs. There is currently just one licensed drug for fibrosis and that is for lung disease. Mucous membrane pemphigoid affects the eye in 7 in 10 people with the condition, with 1 in 5 going blind. The potential for disulfiram as an effective treatment is very exciting, particularly as we know that it may be closer to the clinic than a drug developed from scratch, and especially if it can also find an application in trachoma, which affects 40 million people around the globe.

Professor Phil Luthert, Director of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology stated: “Scarring remains a major problem in eye disease, and in many other conditions, and uncontrolled conjunctival fibrosis is terrible to live with.

This breakthrough offers new hope and is a great example of how discovery science can come together with smart repurposing of existing drugs to reach a solution for patients.”

College of Optometrists urges sports-enthusiasts to optimise their vision

August 2016

As the Olympics are about to open, the College of Optometrists is urging sports participants to consider their vision in order to enhance their sporting experience.

As people are inspired to try new sports by Olympic athletes, the College is advising that having regular sight tests, and getting fitted with corrective eyewear if needed, can enhance their sporting enjoyment and performance.

Dr Susan Blakeney, Clinical Adviser at the College of Optometrists, said: “Whatever your chosen sport this summer, do make sure your vision is the best it can be. Many people put a lot of thought into their sportswear and equipment, but may not realise that having a sight test, and wearing the right eyewear, including contact lenses, could help improve their sporting performance and enjoyment.

“Depending on the sport, another factor you should consider is protective eyewear. For sports such as football or volleyball you should protect your eyes by making sure that your eyewear is impact resistant. And, if you wear sunglasses, choose lenses that protect against UV and have a tint that’s appropriate for your chosen sport. Your optometrist will be able to advise you on what will be best for you. Sunglasses can be made with, or without prescription.”

When to see your optometrist:

  • If you can’t see the ball or it seems blurry when playing sport.
  • If you cannot see the score of your game on the scoreboard when you are playing a match.
  • If your child has poor hand-eye coordination, it may indicate that their eyes are not working well together, or that the sight in one eye is weaker than in the other.
  • Children can wear contact lenses; an optometrist will usually assess a child’s maturity, age, the child's interests and motivation to wear contact lenses, amongst other factors, before prescribing this form of corrective eye wear.

Eye or sight problems can occur at any time, but people aged 40 plus are more likely to develop problems because presbyopia (where you have difficulty seeing things close up), and conditions like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and cataract, are all more frequent in older people. Those with eye conditions in their family and people from African-Caribbean and South Asian ethnic groups also have a higher risk of developing glaucoma.

If you are over 40 or in a group of people that is at-risk of developing an eye condition such as glaucoma you should have your eyes checked regularly.  This is at least every two years or more often if your optometrist recommends it.

Atheletes case study.

Madaline RolphMadaline Rolph is a longsighted athlete and swimmer, whose favourite event is the 100 metre sprint. She is 13 and runs with Thetford Athletics Club. She started wearing contact lenses for sports when she was 11, following advice from her optometrist, Parth Shah, MCOptom and Director of Scotts Opticians in Norfolk. She has found that they are very comfortable and convenient for her when competing.

Madaline says; “My brother had been using contact lenses when playing football for a while, so when I turned 11, my optometrist suggested to my parents that I try them for running. I had seen my brother use them so was happy to give them a go and it was very successful. I’m a sprinter, so don’t have the time to push my glasses up when I’m in a very short race. With my contacts I can see so clearly and it doesn’t affect my performance”.

Madaline’s optometrist, Parth Shah, MCOptom says; “Madaline is a sprinter and has a long-sighted prescription so I recommended to her parents that she try contact lenses when she turned 11. She mentioned that her glasses interfered with her sport, one of the most common reasons why parents request contact lenses for their children, in my experience.

Contact lenses have really advanced in the last five years and they are now far more comfortable and, more importantly, breathable, which is much better for the overall health of the eye. Whilst not suitable for everyone, there are very few people nowadays who cannot be fitted for contact lenses, including children. I would certainly recommend considering them if you are involved in sport and need corrective eye wear.”

GOC seeks expertise for its committees.

July 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC) is looking to appoint 14 new registrant members – seven optometrists and seven dispensing opticians - to its statutory advisory committees.

There are four statutory advisory committees – the Registration Committee, the Education Committee, the Standards Committee and the Companies Committee.

GOC Council chair, Gareth Hadley, said: “Committee members play a vital role in helping us to protect and promote the health and safety of the public and patients. It is important we draw upon the considerable expertise our registrants possess so that we can stay in touch with developments in the sector and make informed decisions.

“This is a great opportunity for personal development. The work is challenging, varied and registrants will be able to learn from the experience of committee colleagues as well as sharing their own. I strongly encourage any registrant who feels they can offer a fresh perspective and insight to apply for these positions.”

The deadline to apply for these vacancies is Monday 29 August.

All roles are on a part-time basis, with a time commitment of approximately eight days per annum for the Education Committee, and approximately four days per annum for all other committees. The roles are remunerated at £308 per meeting.

Further information on how to apply can be found here.

OC Responds to "Laissez-Faire Challenge" from Optician News Magazines on Capita's Failure.

July 2016

Response to articles in Optician, 'Standing up for what is right' and 'Capita's failure to pay contractors has reached the point of scandal' which were probably first brought to our attention by the AIO in a letter they sent to the Minister for Health and reported by PHN in June 2016.

The AIO quoted: "AIO is also surprised at the apparent silence on this issue in optical circles and calls on other bodies to exert real pressure on Capita and The Government." (Archived report )

In response to the Editor the OC wrote:

We are writing in response to the Editor’s comment and Moneo’s opinion piece in the 8 July 2016 edition of Optician and the accusation that the optical bodies have been ‘inactive’ in regards to late payments from Capita. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth and we would have welcomed the opportunity to comment before the articles were published.

Issues with reconciling ophthalmic payments emerged as a result of a move to batch processing of the payments by Capita in some areas early this year. We had warned NHS England and Capita about the problems this would cause and, although Capita had planned to move all areas to batch processing, this was halted due to the level of concerns raised by the Optical Confederation (OC) and LOCSU. We also pressed Capita for a mitigation process for areas where batching was in place, to enable contractors to reconcile payments. This took longer than we hoped but it is now in place and being test run in all affected areas.

Around the same time, contractors in some areas started to experience issues with non-payment or partial payment of claims submitted. As these problems increased, it became apparent that there was not enough capacity or expertise within the new Leeds office which was handling much of the claims processing. This was compounded by the migration of work and the Capita’s haste to close local offices and shed staff.

These concerns were immediately raised via the Primary Care Services England (PCSE) Stakeholder Forum, on which the joint chairs of the OC Information and IT Committee sit (Peter Hampson, AOP, Paul Morris, FODO, and Katrina Venerus, LOCSU). It was then escalated to the NHS England Service Management Team that manages the Capita contract and to Karen Wheeler, the responsible director on the NHS England Board.

As a result of our intervention, an urgent recovery plan was put in place which we are monitoring closely in conjunction with the NHS England Service Management Team. This has included recruitment by Capita of additional staff, a dedicated project manager to oversee the turnaround of the claims handling service and more senior staff being moved to resolve queries. A full audit of claims processed since February at the Leeds office has been undertaken and this is about to be reconciled with payments made, so that all outstanding under and over payment issues can be resolved.

Payment issues have been escalated by LOCSU to Capita’s senior team where contractors are facing potential cash flow problems and hundreds of special payments have been made as a result. The projection in the recovery plan is that they will have caught up with the backlog of payment queries by early August. There has also been a focus on training and improving operational processes, which is ongoing.

LOCSU and the OC have negotiated a standardised process for contractors to claim interest, administration costs and bank charges on late payment of GOS fees by PCSE. This has been agreed in principle by NHS England and is going through the final stages of approval. A proforma for making a claim will be circulated along with guidance for contractors as soon as the process has been fully signed off.

In addition, the long waits to get through to the Customer Service Centre, problems logging onto the portal for ordering GOS forms and GOS forms being out of stock in some regions that were common in April and May are being resolved. Call answering times are now within target levels and the majority of the portal and stock issues are no longer an issue.

During this time, LOCSU has issued five hot briefs to LOCs and other representative bodies have kept their members informed through articles, emails and circulation of the hot briefs. Anyone still experiencing problems should contact their OC representative body (ABDO, AOP or FODO) for further support.

Capita will shortly be conducting a customer service survey and we encourage contractors to make their views known.

Signatories of the response were:

Sir Anthony Garrett CBE, General Secretary, Association of British Dispensing Opticians

Henrietta Alderman, Chief Executive, Association of Optometrists

David Hewlett, Chief Executive, Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians

Katrina Venerus, Managing Director, Local Optical Committee Support Unit

Dwight McKenzie to leave Optical Confederation.

July 2016

Dwight Mckenzie has left his role as the IT Policy Officer for the Optical Confederation this week, taking up a new job in local government.

Dwight Mckenzies

David Hewlett, Optical Confederation said: "It has been great working with Dwight over the last year, pushing on all fronts to get better digital connections between our sector and the wider NHS. He has brought great enthusiasm to the role and I would like to thank him for his hard work and dedication, especially for his work with the IT Committee. He will be missed by staff at FODO, where his office is based, and by colleagues from across the Optical Confederation and we all wish him every success in his new position. We thank the Central Optical Fund for making his appointment possible."

Paul Morris, Co-Chair of the Optical Confederation IT Committee, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Dwight on this important area of OC policy, at a critical time for the sector as we embrace new technologies and ways of working. There are a huge range of different stakeholders in our committee – representing businesses, clinicians and technology companies from across the UK countries – and it takes a special kind of person to manage discussions and policy on what can be very complicated technical issues in a way that works for everyone. We will certainly miss him.”

Dwight’s position was part funded by the Central Optical Fund and the Optical Confederation.

Image: Dwight with leaving present of “Control, Alt, Delete” cufflinks from the OC IT Committee

Google's AI division, DeepMind, is partnering with Moorfields eye hospital in England with hope that its deep machine learning abilities can find vision loss and other eye problems in the eye.

July 2016

Continuing our report of the far reaching effects new research into the production of a "Whole Eye Binocular OCT" might have for the future of Optometry as presented at the Recent Vision 2020 meeting we can confirm that the Google A1 division may well play an important role.

The Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, made their first contact with Google when consultant ophthalmologist Pearse Keane sent DeepMind an email through its website.

"I'd been reading about deep learning and the success that technology had had in image recognition," he wrote, referring to DeepMind's highly publicized victories in human games such as "go". "I had the brainwave that deep learning could be really good at looking at the images of the eye," he says now. "Optical Coherence Tomography is my area, and we have the largest depository of OCT images in the world."

The proposal caught the eye of DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman, who emailed him back a few days later.

The core of the research will be similar to other studies using neural net algorithms: give the computer a huge amount of data—in this case more than a million anonymous eye scans—and let it learn the patterns and make predictions.

Peng Tee Khaw, head of Moorfield's Opthamology, told The Guardian how complicated these scans are. They are "more detailed than any other scan of the body we do," Khaw says. "We can see at the cellular level."

DeepMind hopes to train AI to catch early signs of vision loss-related age-related macular degeneration, as well as diabetic retinopathy, which vision loss related to diabetes.

Computers have long played a role in eye care. The Seva Foundation, founded in the late 1970s to cure vision loss in India and the surrounding countries, got an Apple II from Steve Jobs to process the complex data they were dealing with.

While this will be DeepMind's first foray into medical research, it's already an experienced player in the world of British healthcare. In April, it was revealed (with some controversy) that Deep Mind had been granted access to the healthcare records of over a million British patients.

Shamir Launches Spark Mi competition.

July 2016

Spark Mi competition

Shamir announces that between 1st August and 31st of October, any appointment booked with one of their area lens consultants receives an entry into a prize draw to win a Spark Mi, the offer is open to new and existing customers throughout the UK.

This is a great opportunity for independent opticians to learn more about Shamir and the products we have to offer, as well as being in with a chance of winning the Spark Mi measuring device worth £1750.

To book an appointment contact their customer services team on 01954 785 100 or email here and we will pair you with your area lens consultant to organise a convenient time and place for an appointment.

More about the Spark Mi -

With Spark Mi, the customer looks in the mirror, as they naturally would, wearing their chosen glasses. The optician clicks once, and the client’s image is captured.

The image appears on the optician’s computer screen, along with an immediate and accurate, automatically measured PD. With that, the client’s measuring experience is done. The optician can now get all the other measurements needed from the computer: Fitting Height, frame box, DBL, BVD, face form angle and pantoscopic tilt.

A great advantage of Spark Mi is its ability to take measurements through dark-lensed sunglasses. Spark Mi is capable of clearly seeing the client’s pupils even with the darkest of lenses.

Measurement for sunglasses is now just as quick, easy and accurate as clear lenses. Full training can be provided by one of our area lens consultants on any of our products and services.

College of Optometrists urges sports-lovers to make sure they can see their favourite sport clearly this summer.

July 2016

As the summer of sports continues, the College of Optometrists is urging sports participants and spectators to consider their vision when enjoying their favourite sports. With a range of high profile tournaments and sporting competitions, including Euro 2016 and the Olympics, ongoing and taking place later this summer, the College is advising that having a sight test and getting fitted with corrective eyewear if needed could enhance participants’ and spectators’ sporting experience.

Sports WarningDr Susan Blakeney, Clinical Adviser at the College of Optometrists said: “Whatever your chosen sport this summer, make sure you get your eyes tested to ensure your vision is the best it can be. Many people put a lot of thought into their sports equipment but may not realise that having a sight test and wearing the right eyewear could help improve their performance and enjoyment of the sport. Another factor you should consider is protective eyewear. You should ensure you protect your eyes by making sure that your eyewear is impact resistant and, if you wear sunglasses, choosing lenses that protect against UV and have a tint that’s appropriate for your chosen sport. Your optometrist will be able to advise you on what will be best for you. Sunglasses can be made with, or without prescription.”

When to see your optometrist:
• If you can’t see the ball when watching sport
• If you cannot see the score or menu on your TV
• If your child has poor hand-eye coordination, as this may indicate that their eyes are not working well together, or that the sight in one eye is weaker than in the other.

To highlight the need for clear vision in sport, the College has issued a range of pictures depicting important British sporting moments. The images show how they would be seen by those with clear vision and how they would be viewed by those with common, often undiagnosed conditions, such as myopia (short-sightedness).
Eye or sight problems can occur at any time, but those over 40 are more likely to develop problems because presbyopia (where you have problems seeing things close up), and conditions like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and cataract, are all more frequent in older people. Those with eye conditions in their family and people from African-Caribbean and South Asian ethnic groups also have a higher risk of developing glaucoma.

Sports WarningIf you are over 40 or in a group of people that is at-risk of developing an eye condition such as glaucoma you should have your eyes checked regularly. This is at least every two years or more often if your optometrist recommends it.

Athlete eye health case study details:
Sam Rolph – footballer

Sam RolpheSam is a 15 year old from Methwold in Norfolk. He is longsighted and is a keen footballer and runner. He plays football for King’s Lynn Elite football squad. As part of a standard check-up with his optometrist, Parth Shah, Director of Scotts Opticians in Norfolk, Parth suggested that Sam try contact lenses so that he wouldn’t have to wear spectacles while on the pitch. Sam, who previously wore sports goggles when playing, agreed to try contact lenses although he was a bit worried about them at first.
Sam says; “I was a bit unsure about trying contact lenses at the beginning and it took me a while to get used to putting them in and taking them out.
However I knew that they would probably improve my experience on the pitch. Glasses can be a nuisance when you’re running at speed and when it’s raining they get wet! But the initial time to adapt is definitely worth it. When I first stepped onto the pitch wearing my contact lenses, I wondered why I didn’t do it sooner!”

His optometrist, Parth Shah, optometrist, director of Scotts Opticians and member of the College of Optometrists says; “Sam comes to me for regular eye examinations. He has a high hyperopic prescription with astigmatism, meaning he has difficulty focusing on objects, especially up close, unless he is wearing corrective eye wear. I knew he was dedicated to his sports and felt he would benefit from wearing contact lenses while on the pitch. I always ask patients about their lifestyle to determine what type of eye wear will best suit them.
Typically I will arrange an appointment with a patient to talk them through their requirements, whether it’s for sports, social or occupational use, and thereafter discuss the most suitable option. Sometimes it can take a while for patients to get used to using contact lenses regularly and Sam did take a few attempts, but for a patient like Sam it’s certainly worth persevering”.

*Further case studies are available on request*

ITN report highlights the increasing role of High Street Opticians.

July 2016

ITN Story on HeidelbergThe Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) and ITN Productions have released a sponsored report with Heidelberg Engineering as part of the ‘ABDO Insight 2016’ news-style programme which launched in April earlier this year.

“Advances in optical technology have allowed many ocular conditions to be diagnosed on the -High Street via a comprehensive eye health check” explains Christopher Mody, Director of Clinical Services. “Heidelberg Engineering is working closely with dispensing opticians and optometrists to better diagnose conditions and improve patient care in the community”.

In the report, SPECTRALIS owners praise the training received from Heidelberg Engineering which gives them the skills to offer more than a standard eye test and the confidence to refer to an ophthalmologist when signs of disease or change occur.

Introduced by national newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, the programme also includes interviews with thought-leaders in the industry such as the outgoing president of ABDO, Peter Black. He discusses various topics, including the increasingly active role of dispensing opticians in primary care, the importance of children’s sight tests and the implications of aging population for High Street practices.
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