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Opchat Magazine General NewsGeneral News, October to December 2017


LOCSU warns about bogus emails sent from OptoManager.
First SPECTRALIS SPIRIT installed at new independent practice.
Public opinion split on the benefits of using machines in the future delivery of eye care.
European Medicines Agency to leave London.
Qatar Airways CEO is fighting avoidable blindness in the UK through Orbis.
Health Minister has sights set on how better vision can improve road safety in UK.
College of Optometrists publishes advice for drivers during Road Safety Week.
Norville Opticians’ adds its voice to call for stronger vision checks for drivers.
Norville Medi-Lens Day held at Gloucester RFC.
AOP calls on optics to support Don’t swerve a sight test campaign.
American Academy of Optometry Announces Dr. Stacey S. Choi as 2018 Career Development Awardee
London optometrist liked the Spectralis so much he bought it twice!
GOC erases Southall-based optometrist from its register.
AAOF announces two sets of Scholarship Awards.
AIO comments on Which? Undercover report.
Yet again another expert panel of witnesses cast doubts on the eye tests.
AOP responds to Which? article on sight tests.
Two out of five eye tests not up to scratch, according to Which? probe
Louis Stone Optical’s Instagram shortlisted for national award.
WCSM installs only 3rd Lady as Master in its centuries long history.

LOCSU warns about bogus emails sent from OptoManager.

December 2017

Suspect webstar email


LOCSU has received information that a bogus email has been received by one Primary Eyecare Company Clinical Governance & Performance Lead purporting to come from Webstar / OptoManager.

Cegedim have checked their systems and confirmed that the email has not come from them. It seems likely theirfore that Webstar/Optomanager has been compromised in some way.

LOCSU warns all those connecetd to be alert and do not click on the link from any suspect email you may receive.

Left, is a screenshot of the email and email address. All suspect emails should be disregarded and deleted.

First SPECTRALIS SPIRIT installed at new independent practice.

December 2017

The first SPECTRALIS SPIRIT – Heidelberg Engineering’s new OCT device – has just been installed at a re-launched independent practice in south-east London.

Nishit PatelAston-trained optometrist, Nishit Patel, and his wife Jinal opened the Orpington Eye Care Centre just two months ago and OCT was high on the list of priorities for the revitalised practice, "I am looking to work closely with the NHS to provide shared care. As I will have a strong clinical focus to the business I was looking for a good OCT with accurate and consistent scanning. I am continuing to work part-time in medical retina at Epsom and St Helier Hospital Trust so I have been well placed to discuss the options with the medical retinal specialists. Heidelberg Engineering came highly recommended and I am starting with the SPECTRALIS SPIRIT as I believe it has all the functionality our practice needs at this stage. If, in the future, I want to, I can convert the functionality to a full SPECTRALIS device.”

Nishit, who is soon to complete the independent prescribing course, is looking specifically at shared care in medical retina and glaucoma management. “It is a very exciting time for optometry as we have the opportunity to move more into the clinical care side. I really love the SPECTRALIS SPIRIT, as having used OCT so much in the hospital environment I feel that I am not carrying out a thorough eye examination without it. It is so quick and easy to use, and with Heidelberg Engineering’s training my support staff will soon be undertaking the acquisition of images. The idea of OCT has been positively received by the patients too who appreciate the greater level of care.”

Public opinion split on the benefits of using machines in the future delivery of eye care.

December 2017

The general public are split on the benefits of using machines to replace optometrists in delivering sight tests, according to the General Optical Council’s (GOC) latest public perceptions survey.

In the GOC’s latest annual survey, members of the public were asked about scenarios which may occur in the future in which machines and automation play a greater role in testing sight.

The survey found that 48 per cent of respondents would be uncomfortable having a sight test conducted by a machine without an optician present but 43 per cent would be comfortable.

The research found a noticeable demographic split with 55 per cent of those aged 16-34 being comfortable with no optician present whilst only 23 per cent of those aged 75+ being comfortable.

GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, Vicky McDermott, said,

“Optometry is one of the healthcare professions most challenged by the introduction of automation and Artificial Intelligence. This research shows that a large proportion of the public do not see significant issues with machines taking over some of the tasks of optical professionals. Others part of the population are not comfortable with the possible reduction in human interaction which automation may bring.

“Any transition towards a more automated future in the delivery of eye care therefore needs to be handled very carefully, particularly with an ageing population who have more complex needs and who are less likely to be comfortable with less human interaction.

“Where automation does replace the work currently undertaken by an optician this has the potential to free up the optician’s time to allow them to focus on managing more complex eye care conditions. We will continue to monitor technological developments in the eye care sector to identify any potential risks of harms to patients and the public.”

Other findings in the research included:

• 95 per cent of people were happy with their overall experience of visiting their optician
• 24 per cent of people would visit their optician first if they woke up with an eye problem rather than their GP or an NHS hospital, an increase from 19 per cent in 2015. Respondents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were more likely to visit their optician first than those in England – this is a reflection of the changing role that opticians are playing in delivering primary care and the changes in eye care policy across the UK

• People remain more likely to consider themselves a customer (39 per cent) than a patient (29 per cent) when they visit their optician (29 per cent consider themselves to be both) which is an indication that the public see their high street optician as part retailer, part healthcare provider.

The GOC also held a focus group with glaucoma patients as part of the research. The group had some concerns about the idea of their condition being managed in the community by optometrists instead of in a hospital setting. Concerns included doubts about optometrists’ ability to carry out complex work, about the equipment available in high street clinics and about optometrists’ qualifications.

Vicky McDermott, said: “Although this was only one focus group, it showed that in order for patients to have full confidence in the delivery of NHS eye care services in the community, the professions must do more to educate patients about their skills and competence and to engage with them when changing how eye care services are delivered.

“The GOC is currently reviewing the system of education and training for optical professionals to ensure that they are equipped for the roles of the future and that public protection is maintained.”

The research carried out by the independent research company Enventure Research took the form of an online survey of 3,025 members of the public in June and July 2017. Additional focus groups and in-depth interviews took place with glaucoma patients and with members of the general public to better understand their views about the introduction and use of automated technology in the delivery of eye care.

European Medicines Agency to leave London.

November 2017

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is set to move to Amsterdam, it was announced this week, following a vote of the EU General Affairs Council.

Currently located in Canary Wharf alongside its UK equivalent, the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the EMA is the regulator of a number of optical products, including fluorescein strips.

Qatar Airways CEO is fighting avoidable blindness in the UK through Orbis.

November 2017

Qatar Airways has renewed its sponsorship as Official Airline Partner to Orbis UK for a further three years. The airline has been a proud supporter of Orbis and its blindness prevention programmes since 2012.

Orbis is a global charity that brings people together to fight avoidable blindness through access to quality eye care. Together with its partners, Orbis trains eye teams, strengthens eye care services and works on the ground to provide lasting solutions to communities in need.

Orbis’s pioneering Flying Eye Hospital spearheads the charity’s global efforts to transform lives. The world’s only accredited eye hospital with wings is equipped with a state of the art operating theatre which is connected to a class room at the front of the room with a 3D screen, enabling those learning to get a very real view of the surgery taking place. The aircraft also features pre and post-op spaces for patients to recover.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “Qatar Airways strongly believes in giving back to the global community and to making a difference. As an airline that connects communities and people around the world, we are delighted to continue our support for Orbis for another three years as Official Airline Partner. This initiative is of great importance to the global communities served by this state of the art flying medical facility, providing crucial eye care to people around the globe.”

Orbis UK Trustee, Dr Robert Walters said: “We are so thankful for Qatar Airways’ trust, friendship and support since 2012. Together we have already hosted the Flying Eye Hospital in Doha three times and facilitated the royal visits, enabling us to gather the support required to launch Qatar Creating Vision. It is only through the power of partnerships that we are able to proudly celebrate the millions of eye tests provided to children and the thousands of people trained to help find those struggling with low vision in communities.”

Countess of WessexThe renewed sponsorship this week also coincided with a visit from Her Royal Highness, Sophie The Countess of Wessex, to a ‘Qatar Creating Vision’ programme in Dhaka and Chittagong, Bangladesh.

There she watched as patients bandages were removed, spoke with the Orbis volunteers transforming lives and the local medical teams undertaking brilliant work.
The Royal Visit concluded in Doha, where Her Royal Highness Sophie The Countess of Wessex also met with H.E. Mr. Al Baker, to celebrate the achievements of Qatar Creating Vision, which has undertaken 2.4 million eye tests for children and provided over 27,000 training sessions to doctors, teachers and community workers, to reach those living with unnecessary blindness.

In 2013, Her Royal Highness Sophie The Countess of Wessex, in her role as the Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), visited Doha with the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital to discuss the devastating impact a lack of access to eye care can have on people across the world. In October 2015, the Qatar Fund for Development and Orbis launched Qatar Creating Vision, an initiative that brings together the people of Qatar in the fight against preventable blindness.

Earlier this year, the aircraft returned to Doha to bring together key stakeholders from across the ophthalmic medical community in Qatar to share knowledge of preferred practices and approaches to eye care.

Health Minister has sights set on how better vision can improve road safety in UK.

November 2017

Philip Dunne MP attends Vision Express ‘Eye Tests Save Lives’ event at Westminster for Road Safety Week 2017

Philip Dunne MPHealth Minister Philip Dunne MP got behind the wheel of a driving simulator to experience the significant impact of glaucoma this week, as part of an initiative calling on MPs and policy-makers to acknowledge the road safety risks posed by motorists who avoid regular sight checks.

Hosted by Vision Express, the Westminster event on Tuesday 21 November at Portcullis House, welcomed the health minister alongside more than 25 other MPs.

Each had consultations with expert Vision Express optometrists, and had images of their retinas captured using a sophisticated OCT machine, which can detect some conditions, including glaucoma, as long as eight years prior to symptoms appearing.

All were invited to use the driving simulator, to experience for themselves how conditions such as glaucoma can gradually steal up to 40% of sight.

Dubbed the ‘silent thief of sight’, glaucoma is among the biggest causes of preventable vision loss in the world – and is one of the sight-related conditions that threaten the safety of road users due to drivers neglecting regular eye tests.


The event was held following research by Vision Express, from YouGov, which shows one in four people who drive for work are not having regular eye tests.

Worst still, 6% of those polled admitted they have not had an eye health check within the last 10 years, and shockingly, 2% have never had one.

A quarter of the drivers surveyed considered sub-standard sight to be among the most significant road safety hazards and almost nine in 10 (86%) claimed to feel unsafe if other road users have poor vision.

The findings come amid a sharp increase in UK road traffic by people driving for work. Buoyed by a surge in online shopping and on-demand deliveries, more vans than ever are travelling on UK roads.Taxis and private hire vehicles are on the rise too, as the latest Department for Transport figures show a 16% increase year-on-year in England alone.

In 2016, there were 44,048 work-related road casualties, and it is estimated that crashes involving a driver with poor vision causes 2,900 casualties each year.

Jonathan Lawson, Vision Express CEO, comments: “Many don’t realise that changes in sight can be gradual, and it’s possible to lose up to 40% of your vision before even noticing it. Tellingly, the vast majority (93%) of drivers in our research believed they did meet the legal eyesight requirement for driving, yet over half (56%) couldn’t identify what this is, so there is a clear need to educate drivers about vision – particularly that half of all sight loss is preventable. The very best way to safeguard your licence is to get yourself to an optician.”

For most people, their only mandatory vision check is reading a registration plate from 20 metres away as part of a driving test. Reports estimate five million drivers on UK roads would fail this if they had to take it again.

In addition to working with MPs to raise awareness of the correlation between poor driver vision and road safety, Vision Express is supporting Road Safety Week by offering free eye tests via a voucher, downloadable until 26 November from the Vision Express website: The voucher can be redeemed until 31 December 2017 at any of approximately 400 Vision Express stores across the UK and Ireland.

Jonathan adds: “We all know we should make sure our tyre pressures are right, there are no cracks in our windscreen and we don’t drive without a valid MOT. My first car was a Mark 2 Golf which I bought shortly after passing my driving test. If that was still on the road today, it would have undergone an MOT around 30 times, yet, by law, I wouldn’t have been required to have one eye test. That presents a huge road safety problem that we need to address if we’re going to reduce the 2,900 annual road casualties caused by poor driver vision.

“We thank the MPs, including Philip Dunne, for joining us to address this crucial issue. We’re calling on the Government to take action to help us raise awareness about the importance of regular eye tests for drivers. One simple step would be to ensure that when drivers are prompted to renew their photo card license every 10 years that they are also reminded about the importance of making sure their eye prescription is up-to-date.”

College of Optometrists publishes advice for drivers during Road Safety Week.

November 2017

College urges drivers to visit their optometrist if due a sight test.

Vision plays a vital role in driving, and as a driver it’s important that you ensure you have the best vision possible. To mark Road Safety Week, taking place from 20-26 November, the College of Optometrists has issued advice to drivers encouraging them to ensure their vision is up to standard before getting behind the wheel.

If you are a driver, the College of Optometrists has the following advice for you:

• The glare of low-lying sun on icy roads can cause difficulty for drivers, so make sure your windscreen is clean, both inside and out.

• It’s useful to have a pair of sunglasses in the car to help with the glare from the sun. If you are buying sunglasses, make sure you invest in eyewear that complies with the safety standard BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013 or that carry a CE mark. If you need glasses, prescription sunglasses are also available.

• It can be difficult to see when driving during the long, dark nights of winter so it’s easy to understand why more accidents happen at night. If you are due a sight test, make sure you go to ensure you have the best possible vision.

• In winter, you may have more difficulty seeing clearly. This is because your pupils are larger in the dark than in the daylight. Your depth of field decreases when pupils are large and this means you notice blurriness more. This has two effects: firstly, you may find that your vision without spectacles is OK during day, but not at night, so you need to wear spectacles at night. Secondly, you will notice if your spectacles are not quite right for you more in the dark than in daylight, as small changes in your vision become more noticeable at night. It is therefore particularly important in winter to make sure that your spectacles are up to date to make sure that things are as clear as they can be.

Dr Susan Blakeney, Clinical Adviser for the College of Optometrists says “Having good vision is an important part of responsible driving. At the College we advise that people over 40 should have their eyes examined at least every two years. We know that poor vision can cause road accidents; research funded by the College and published last year* looked at contributory factors for just over one million injury-collisions.

This found that car drivers aged over 60 were more likely to be involved in a crash where a contributory factor was ‘uncorrected, defective eyesight’, and that this contributory factor increased with age. The research also found that ‘dazzling sun’ was a significant issue for older drivers, so we always advise that you have a pair of sunglasses to hand in your car.”

Further information and advice to help look after your eyes can be found on the College’s Look After Your Eyes website:

Norville Opticians’ adds its voice to call for stronger vision checks for drivers.

November 2017

Driving with poor sightAn independent chain of opticians based in Gloucester has added its voice to concerns in the optics profession over the way drivers’ vision is tested.

In the run up to the annual Road Safety Awareness Week taking place from 20 – 26 November, Norville Opticians has backed the campaign launched this week by the Association of Optometrists (AoP) which is calling for stronger vision checks for drivers, as well as promoting the need for every driver to have a regular sight test.

Currently, drivers are tested on their visual acuity before their driving test by being asked to read a car number plate, at a distance of 20 metres. If they require spectacles or contact lenses to meet this test, they are required to wear them for driving.


In addition, a driver is required to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if they have certain eye or general medical conditions and also if they are advised by an optometrist or a medical practitioner that they should no longer drive.

Once a driver reaches the age of 70, the DVLA requires them to declare whether they are fit to drive and then every three years thereafter.

Norville Opticians Director Adrian Street said: “There were seven fatalities and 63 serious injuries on the UK’s roads last year which can be put down entirely to defective eyesight. I believe the current assessment of drivers’ vision consisting of an initial number plate test, which could be completed in varying conditions, is inadequate. While the ability to drive safely requires a number of mental and physical capabilities, good eyesight is obviously a crucial one of these and is essential for road safety.

He added: “We want to see stronger legal requirements for drivers; they should be required to prove that their vision meets the standards for driving at least every ten years (for example, at licence renewal), and more frequently as they get older.”

He concluded by saying: “Everyone should have a sight test every two years, or more often if recommended by their optometrist. Sight tests not only check your vision but are also crucial in detecting sight-threatening diseases.”

Nine out of 10 optometrists believe the current rules do not go far enough, the AoP said. More than a third had seen patients in the last month who continued to drive despite being told their vision was below the legal standard.

Norville Medi-Lens Day held at Gloucester RFC.

November 2017

Frank Norville and Andrew Dowson

Frank Norville used the recent Norville Medi-Lens day occasion held at Gloucester Rugby Club to present the Norville 2017 prize for the most thought provoking media contribution.

This year the prize was awarded to Andrew Dowson, a Head Specialist, on his enlightening talk “headaches” an outcome being quite the opposite to that the title implied.


Frank took the opportunity to suggest Opticians may consider doing more by way of providing assistance to the growing band of migraine sufferers, particularly as M.E.C.S. could be taken to mean Migraine Eye Clinics!

AOP calls on optics to support Don’t swerve a sight test campaign.

November 2017

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is calling for a change in the law that would see all drivers required to prove that their vision meets the legal standard every ten years.

More than one in three optometrists have seen a patient, in the past month, who had vision below the legal standard, yet continued to drive against advice[1].

The research also reveals that 91% of UK practising optometrists believe that the current sight requirements for a driving licence are insufficient.

Under the existing law, drivers must undergo an initial number plate test when taking a driving exam, then a self-declaration for renewing their licence thereafter.

This means a 17-year-old who can read a number plate from 20 metres away when they take their test, may continue to drive with no further checks for the rest of their life.

An additional public poll[2] shows that 30% of current road users have doubted whether their vision is adequate, yet continued to drive.

A further 26% say they have delayed getting their eyes checked by an optometrist despite suspecting their vision was deteriorating, and 6% admit to stalling a sight test for more than a year.

The survey also found that only 40% would stop driving altogether if they were told their vision, even with glasses or contact lenses, was below the legal standard for driving. With 10% saying that they would continue to drive as normal, regardless.

In response, the AOP is launching the Don’t swerve a sight test campaign on 14 November, ahead of Road Safety Week (20 – 26 November).

As part of the campaign, the Association recommends that people get a sight test every two years, to maximise their eye health and make sure they are road safe.

The AOP are calling on the optical sector to support by using materials in the campaign pack including a patient facing advice video and a template letter to raise this issue with their local MP.

Optometrist and AOP Board member, Dr Julie Anne-Little said: "The UK system, which relies on self-reporting and an initial number plate test, falls behind many other countries. Because sight changes can be gradual, often people won’t realise that their vision has deteriorated over time. This campaign is about reminding drivers that with a visit to their optometrist – they can not only make sure they meet the standard but help make our roads safer.”

Key statistics:
• 8 in 10 optometrists want a full sight test to be a requirement for new drivers
• 9 in 10 say all qualified drivers should have regular sight tests
• Two fifths (38%) of UK adults think that the current laws on sight requirements in the UK for a normal car driver should be more rigorous
• 16% of UK adults admit to knowing a driver whose eyesight they believe to be below the minimum legal vision standard
• Over 10,000 UK motorists had their licences revoked by the DVLA in 2016 due to poor sight4

More information about the campaign will be available on 14 November here from

American Academy of Optometry Announces Dr. Stacey S. Choi as 2018 Career Development Awardee

November 2017

Stacey Choi PhD

The American Academy of Optometry is pleased to announce Stacey S. Choi, PhD, as the 2018 Academy Career Development Award recipient. The Academy will provide a maximum of $50,000 in direct costs per year for up to two years, potentially renewable once for a total of up to four years of funding. The Ohio State University will provide matching funds, dollar for dollar, up to $50,000 per year for each year of funding.

Dr. Choi was selected from a pool of applicants by an Academy committee based on her potential for growth and future major extramural funding. The funding will help support her research focused on cellular level structural changes in the retina associated with the onset and progression of myopia through ultrahigh resolution in vivo imaging of individual photoreceptors (PR) and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells extending out to the mid periphery in children.

The Career Development Award is designed for optometric educators and/or scientists involved in vision research as long as the case can be made for the potential to acquire future extramural funding. Preference is for innovative, original, independent, Principal Investigator driven projects. It has been recognized for some time that young investigators, including optometric investigators, take many years after the inception of their careers before successfully acquiring Federal research funding. In fact, the mean age of first time National Institutes of Health (NIH) grantees is over 40 years of age. In an effort to positively influence and reduce the age at which early stage optometric researchers attain large scale federal support, the Academy launched the Career Development Award.

“It is a great honor to receive the American Academy of Optometry Scientific Research Career Development Award. The award will allow me to use the latest retinal imaging technology to address some of the fundamental, unanswered, research questions in the area of the regulation of eye growth, especially relating to myopia, and also to make a meaningful contribution to currently available treatment strategies,” Dr. Choi said in a statement.

Dr. Choi is an Associate Professor at The Ohio State College of Optometry and Medicine, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science. Her primary research interest ranges from the clinical application of adaptive optics (AO) to high resolution retinal imaging and psychophysics. Over the last 15 years, Dr. Choi’s research has focused on studying various retinal and optic nerve diseases as well as understanding retinal physiology and function in both normal and diseased retinas using AO retinal imaging systems and clinical functional tests such as multifocal electroretinogram (mfERG) and visual field (VF) analyzer.

London optometrist liked the Spectralis so much he bought it twice!

November 2017

Blink Optics

Hammersmith optometrist Nilesh Soneji liked the SPECTRALIS OCT so much that he bought it twice: one for his Boots franchise and then again when he set up his own independent practice, Blink Optics, in nearby East Sheen.

Aston graduate, Nilesh, is passionate about OCT and after having looked at all of the options, made his selection back in 2014, and then again in 2017 –

“The SPECTRALIS is the bee’s knees, and 100% part of the practice.


Every patient has OCT during our 40 minute full eye health scan and we are taking retinal images of children too.

Blink OpticsWe have already started picking up subtle pathologies that I couldn’t see with a fundus camera - including a patient with a small intraretinal cyst and another patient with an epiretinal membrane.

“The way you capture the images and analyse the data with SPECTRALIS is second to none, and the support is very good too. Heidelberg Engineering is such a great company because they are always at the end of the phone if there is ever any assistance I need with clinical interpretation or marketing.”

You can find out more about the benefits of owning a SPECTRALIS here

Heidelberg Engineering support your free Opchat News. Go to their page and links to their website here.

GOC erases Southall-based optometrist from its register.

November 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to erase Harj Sethi, an optometrist based in Southall, Middlesex from its register. He will now be unable to practise in the UK.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by virtue of two convictions for sexual assault.

In making the decision, the Committee, chaired by Eileen Carr, said: “These were serious sexual offences committed in the context of a consulting room. It constituted a serious departure from proper professional standards, was an abuse of his position of trust and involved an offence of a sexual nature. Any lesser sanction than erasure would not meet the needs of public protection and would serve to undermine the trust and confidence in which the public hold the profession.”

Mr Sethi has until 28 November 2017 to appeal his erasure, during which time he is suspended from the register under an immediate suspension order.

AAOF announces two sets of Scholarship Awards.

November 2017

American Academy Of Optometry Foundation announces the 2017 Vincent Salierno scholarship recipients

The American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF) announces the recipients of the 2017 Vincent Salierno Scholarships.

First, second, third, and fourth year students pursuing a Doctorate of Optometry degree are nominated by his/her institution for this scholarship. The students must be enrolled in a full-time course of study and must have a 3.0 (“B”) average for all course work taken thus far in optometry school.

The Vincent Salierno Scholarship is eligible for automatic renewal provided that the recipient maintains a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and is enrolled in a full-time course of study leading to a Doctorate of Optometry degree. Continued eligibility shall be determined annually.

The 2017 Vincent Salierno Scholarship recipients are:

Brendon Manns Michigan College of Optometry
Stephanie N. Uchida Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry
Mark Calixte NOVA Southeastern University
Monica Udaykumar Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University
Keller Hopkins University of Missouri - St. Louis College of Optometry

And the AAOF also announces the Johnson & Johnson Vision J. PAT CUMMINGS SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Vision announces the 2017 J. Pat Cummings Scholarship recipients.

This award is bestowed annually to a second or third year optometry student who best demonstrates the ideal eye care standards of practice, achievement in both academic performance and extra-curricular activities, and participation with other professional pursuits such as involvement with patients through internships, community service, and other volunteer activities.

The 2017 Scholarship Recipients are:

Jessica Capri Illinois College of Optometry
Derek Phelps Indiana University School of Optometry
Esther Ko Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University School of Optometry
Kathleen Bott Michigan College of Optometry
Hannah Johnson Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry
Jessica Taylor New England College of Optometry
Hayden Nauert Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry
Melissa Zaleski NOVA Southeastern University College of Optometry
Masha Molodyh Pacific University College of Optometry
Kylie Auman Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University
Nirmani Karunathilake Rosenberg School of Optometry
Brandin Gwinner Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University
Blair Flint Southern College of Optometry
Jana R. Widell State University of New York College of Optometry
Kelly Marie Morgan The Ohio State University College of Optometry
Paul Brown University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry
Allison Mina Choi University of California Berkeley School of Optometry
Rachel Reed University of Houston College of Optometry
Aric J. Waltz University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry
Gabriella Courey University of Montreal School of Optometry
Sherene Vazhappilly University of Waterloo School of Optometry & Vision Science
Lauren Monsanto Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry

The AAOF is thankful for the professional relationship between the Foundation and Johnson & Johnson Vision. Their exceptional support for this program continues to uphold the high caliber of optometric resident education.

AIO comments on Which? Undercover report.

October 2017

The Association for Independent Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians (AIO) has expressed great concern over the findings of the Which? Investigation into the quality of eye care.

However it was not a surprise to AIO that it was only Independents that did not receive a single unsatisfactory rating, and that the only ‘excellent’ rating went to an Independent.

Christian French, Chairman of AIO said: ‘Whilst it is disappointing to read the results of the Which? investigation, it is good to see that patients are being made aware of the disparity in eye examination quality. It is clear from the results that different business models serve patients differently, and Independents are continuing to do what they do best; offering consistently thorough and comprehensive eye examinations.

‘For Optometry to take a stronger role in providing community eye care it is essential that standards are raised across the Board. This disparity in eye exam quality encapsulates the driving force behind AIO’s new quality mark for Independent practices which we are rolling out in the coming months. This will provide reassurance for the public that they can rely on the eye health care they will receive wherever the quality mark appears in an Independents window.’

Yet again another expert panel of witnesses cast doubts on the eye tests.

October 2017

The problem with these regular salvos from the health and consumer press is the lack of information provided about the “expert panel”.

No doubt the profession will stand behind its excellent record of limited complaints from its millions of annual sight tests provided as demonstrated by the optical ombudsman reports.

But are some of the alleged mistakes in the report ones that the man on the Clapham omnibus would notice without cross reference to another professional?

The detailed analysis of mistakes which highlight all the major chains and franchises in comparison to a supposedly bette experience had with independents will make tough reading for the professional leads of those companies.

Perhaps what we should be asking each time a report is published is why every time the independents come out as better? Is that really true or does the “expert panel” have a professional bias against commercialism?

We let you judge. The expert panel consisted of three optometrists.

AOP responds to Which? article on sight tests.

October 2017

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is responding to the Which? article ‘Two out of five eye tests not up to scratch, according to Which? probe’. (see report below)

The AOP is aware of the findings by Which? in their latest report, comparing how a sight test is conducted at many High Street optical practices.

There is no evidence to suggest that this is typical across the sector and we hope that this report does not cause concern for the public.

Optometrists are eye health professionals and the services they provide are far wider than a simple test to determine whether spectacles or contact lenses are required to correct vision.

As well as an eye health check, a sight test might detect signs of underlying general health conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. A sight test includes a range of tests and this is tailored to the individual patient.

Optometrist and Clinical Director at the AOP, Dr Peter Hampson, said: “All registered optometrists and dispensing opticians are governed by set Standards of Practice to ensure patient care remains at the centre of their professional practice. Findings from our 2017 survey into the wellbeing of UK optometrists indicates that many within the profession have a deep sense of accountability and diligence.”

The AOP supports its members to meet Standard of Practice by producing guidance which gives advice on a range of areas relating to communication, patient referrals, safeguarding and maintaining patient records.

Two out of five eye tests not up to scratch, according to Which? probe

October 2017

An undercover Which? investigation into the quality of eye tests has found that almost half of opticians investigated were not up to scratch.

We sent undercover researchers into branches of independent opticians and chains such as Boots Opticians, Optical Express and Specsavers for an eye test, and asked a panel of experts to assess recordings of the appointments.

A total of 13 out of the 30 optician consultations were rated as poor or very poor by our expert panel. In the worst cases, optometrists issued inaccurate prescriptions that didn’t correct eyesight problems such as astigmatism or double vision, which would have left our researchers with unsafe glasses.

Some optometrists are also failing to warn patients about common eye health problems. Important tests were also missed, such as checking the pressure of the eyes or looking at the health of the front of the eye, that could reveal potentially serious eye health problems.

All of our undercover researchers were aged all over 40, meaning they were at higher risk of problems such as glaucoma.

Independent and small regional stores were the only type of stores we visited that did not carry out eye tests rated unsatisfactory by our expert panel.

All of the big chains had at least one unsatisfactory appointment – and some as many as three.

Which? magazine editor Richard Headland said: ‘We rely on opticians to provide us with care and advice we can trust. ‘Our research, while only a snapshot, shows some shocking findings including too many instances of inaccurate prescriptions, inconsistent advice and failure to provide the correct eye tests. We did encounter some examples of great practice too, including one visit to an independent optometrist that was rated ‘excellent’ because of the thorough eye test, clear advice and accurate prescription. Unsafe or inaccurate glasses prescriptions The majority of our appointments resulted in prescriptions that would have corrected eyesight problems and made activities, such as computer use and driving, safe and comfortable. But we also experienced some worrying appointments that resulted in our researchers being given a spectacle prescription that wouldn’t correct problems with their vision, or that could be unsafe. One researcher would have seen double as soon as they walked out with their new glasses.

Read more:

Louis Stone Optical’s Instagram shortlisted for national award.

October 2017

Louis Stone Award

Louis Stone Optical’s Instagram account (@louisstoneoptic) has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award. The optical distributor has been announced as one of three finalists in the category of Marketing Initiative of the Year in the AOP Awards 2018, which is run by the Association of Optometrists (AOP).

Clare Gaba, who is Head of Marketing and Communications at Louis Stone said she was delighted they had made it to the shortlist in this category, commenting: “It actually made me a little bit emotional. Louis Stone Optical Ltd has been running for almost 70 years and this is the first award we have ever been shortlisted for.

Louis Stone has most definitely been deserving of awards in the past, but we never had the capacity for a member of staff to promote us, let alone find out about these awards and put us forward for them. That's when I stepped in”.

The AOP Awards recognises the highest levels of achievement in UK optics, and saw a 75% increase in entrants this year.

The Marketing Initiative of the Year accolade is about celebrating an outstanding marketing campaign which promotes an element of optometry. The initiative can be focused on products or on the promotion of eye health to the public.

AOP Chief Executive, Henrietta Alderman, said: “The AOP Awards are about recognising practitioners who contribute so much to the public and profession.” Adding, “With this year seeing more unique entries than ever before, our finalists have achieved so much by getting this far.”


October 2017

Angelina Jolie


Seen signing autographs for her fans after the Q&A Event in Los Angeles: Angelina Jolie in a Mykita frame.


Angelina is a longstanding MYKITA enthusiast and was spotted again with sunglass frame STUDIO 3.2 in Black Havana from the MYKITA STUDIO collection.


WCSM installs only 3rd Lady as Master in its centuries long history.

October 2017

Master Felicity Taylor

The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers held its Annual Service yesterday, during which the new Master and Wardens for the year take up office.

There is always a mix of skills and experience within each team of Master and Wardens and this year is no exception.

The new Master, Felicity Harding (left), has a background in social care and charity work.

She was a Trustee, and then Chair, of Vision Aid Overseas Chair of Vision Aid Overseas until 2010 and a non-executive member of National Victim Support until 2007.

She remains actively involved as an Ambassador for Samaritans, the charity founded by her father, The Reverend Dr Chad Varah, in 1953. She joined WCSM as a Freeman in 2008, was clothed as of the Livery in 2009 and became a Court Assistant in 2012.

Opchat Magazine General News

The Upper Warden, John McGregor (pictured left with Wardens and Master), is a chemist by training who founded his own business, Contamac Ltd, in 1987. Contamac is now a globally important business producing contact lens and intra-ocular lens materials and has won two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.

The Renter Warden, Huntly Taylor (right), is a Dispensing Optician with more than 30 years’ experience in his own practice and is a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of ABDO College.

WCSM Awards

At lunch following the installation service, Past Master Professor John Marshall introduced the winners of the Company’s 2017 bronze medal competition awards for research.

geraint Williams

Geraint Williams PhD FRCOphth, a consultant ophthalmologist working with a team at the University of Birmingham, was awarded the Ruskell medal for his paper on developing a predictor for scarring in ocular mucous membrane pemphigoid, a blinding form of conjunctivitis.


Deanna Taylor

Whilst Deanna Taylor, of City, University of London, won the Master’s Medal for her paper on the real life impact of dry age-related macular degeneration.

The Company received a record number of applications for membership in the last quarter.

WCSM welcomes professionals of all ages and all backgrounds who are committed to better vision for all.


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