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Opchat Magazine Exhibition and Training pagesExhibition and Education News, July to September 2020


Successful ABDO Webinars
LV Honours Course updated by ABDO
Join Ocuco's next Clinical Lecture on Paediatric Optometry with Tania Constable
ABDO College has extended the deadline for applications to the Ophthalmic Dispensing and Contact Lens courses.
October SILMO exhibition becomes another fatality in the expo season
ABDO guidance and advice for Student DO's
Vision Expo West 2020 Cancelled;
ABDOs new payment plans assist in training
NRC reopens its doors
Over 140 professionals across all Vision Care Professions joined a RSM Webinar this week
Ophthalmic Lens Availability, the optical lens bible, has moved online
Archived Exhibition and Education News for April to June

Successful ABDO Webinars

August 2020

The ABDO Examinations Department has hosted a successful two day webinar on 29 and 30 July, free of charge to all final year students to help them prepare for summer session practical examinations.

Over two hundred students registered to attend the webinars. Alicia Thompson BSc(Hons) FBDO R (Hons) SLD SMC (Tech), Director of Professional Examinations says, “Students could tap into a mixture of videos, live demonstrations, lectures, case discussions, Q and A, and mock exams. We are grateful to the examiners and ABDO staff who contributed their time and expertise voluntarily to make this happen. I feel this event has helped to instill confidence in final year students.”

Student feedback on the event was overwhelmingly positive:

• Extremely useful to have had these revision days. Amazing knowledge from everyone with really useful tips for exams
• Excellent, very thorough
• 10/10 :)
• The tutors were very clear and to the point. I found the revision days very helpful.
• Very well structured, great content and visible examples and training were good refreshers.
• I feel much more at ease about the exams and look forward to qualifying. Very well done

For those who could not make it, and those who want to revisit the revision event, the webinar recordings, Q and A sessions, handouts and case records can be found here:

The comprehensive FQE revision guide is also on ABDO’s website.

Practical examinations will start this month and continue until 18th December 2020, to ensure that we can accommodate our students safely and arrange practical dates to suit our students who are at varying stages of completing their practical experience.

LV Honours Course updated by ABDO

August 2020

The Low Vision Honours course at ABDO College has been updated for 2020, with an earlier start date. Optometrists and opticians wanting to develop their expertise in this field are encouraged to apply now.

ABDO College’s Low Vision Honours course gives eye care practitioners the chance to go in- depth into all relevant aspects of low vision practice. This can help you develop your confidence and start a new
strand of activity within your practice. And starting in September 2020, the course now includes additional teaching hours, offering you further chances to develop your expertise.

The course now incorporates two periods of block release – a four-day block release delivered virtually in November 2020, and the face-to-face teaching block in April 2021. The majority of the lectures and seminars will also carry CET points.

Simon Butterfield BSc FBDO (Hons)LVA PGCert(HE) FHEA, lecturer and course leader, says, “We have increased the Low Vision Block Release to a total of 7 days this academic year. This gives students more opportunities to discuss their applied practice with the experienced opticians and optometrist here at Godmersham.”

The course includes the theory and practical aspects of low vision consultation and fully prepares you for the ABDO Level 6 FBDO (Hons) LVA examinations. Current third-year students can apply for and start the theoretical elements of the course before the completion of their FBDO.

Applications are now open. Payment plans are available to allow you to spread the £2150 course fee. Application deadline: 10 September 2020.

If you are interested in studying at ABDO College, visit

If you have specific queries regarding the Low Vision Honours course please contact Simon directly on

Join Ocuco's next Clinical Lecture on Paediatric Optometry with Tania Constable

August 2020

Ocuco Webinar with Tania Constable

Ocuco hosts a Clinical Lecture on Paediatric Optometry presented by Tania Constable, a Paediatric Specialist Optometrist at Temple Street Children's University Hospital, Dublin, on Tuesday 25 August, at 18:00 GMT.

The topic "Talking Unicorns: why paediatric eyecare is not that scary" aims to demystify the assessment and management of children's eyecare.

The lecture is accredited for one CET point and it is free of charge. Registration is open and can be completed at the following page

During the one-hour webinar, Tania Constable will discuss several aspects of paediatric optometry, including:

• Age-appropriate vision tests, age norms for both refractive error and vision
• Assessing refractive error in children
• When and what to prescribe to children
• Examination of children with additional needs: testing and prescribing
• The importance of fitting contact lenses in childhood
• Practical information on assessing children, including the environment, safeguarding, and record-keeping

In addition, the webinar will address some of the barriers that prevent optometrists from being confident at managing children's eyecare.

"Optometrists often mention concerns about knowing when and what to prescribe to children. The aim of this webinar is to provide some of the tools to make it easier to manage those pre-schoolers, or amblyopes, or young myopes. Honestly, paediatric eye care can be fun and it is an opportunity to make a real difference," explains Tania.

The Presenter

Tania Constable
Tania Constable is a full-time paediatric specialist optometrist, working in both a primary and secondary care setting in Dublin.

Tania holds certificates in Paediatric Eyecare, Glaucoma and Medical Retina from the College of Optometrists.

She has experience working with children with additional needs such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Down's Syndrome and raising awareness of the difficulties associated with cerebral visual impairment.

Currently, Tania is undertaking an MSc in Clinical Optometry in Cardiff University.

Summary of Interactive CET Webinar

Lecture: Talking Unicorns: why paediatric eyecare is not that scary

Presented by: Tania Constable, Paediatric Specialist Optometrist (Read Bio Here:

When: 25 August 2020

Time: 18:00 GMT

Register Now  

ABDO College has extended the deadline for applications to the Ophthalmic Dispensing and Contact Lens courses.

July 2020

Steve Hertz FBDO, Head of Operations at ABDO College says, “It has been really pleasing over recent months to see how many students are keen to develop further, either by starting a new course or continuing an existing programme. However, we know that everyone has been through a time of upheaval, and it is understandable that employers and applicants may need more time to make plans for training for the coming year. As a result, we are extending the application deadline for two of our most popular courses until 22 August.”

ABDO College is offering payment plans and advice on self-funding for those who are keen to take the course but don’t have support from an employer. Employers are also able to apply for a payment plan to make cash flow easier.

If you are interested in studying at ABDO College, visit Applications for Ophthalmic Dispensing degree and diploma and Contact Lens certificate must be in by 22 August.

October SILMO exhibition becomes another fatality in the expo season

July 2020

The SILMO Executive Board met with its partner COMEXPOSIUM, and took the unfortunate decision to cancel the Silmo 2020 Paris event as it was planned to take place at Paris Nord Villepinte.

They extend great thanks to the 688 registered exhibitors who demonstrated great entrepreneurial courage by deciding to maintain their participation in Silmo Paris 2020, despite the crisis we are going through.

“SILMO Paris, so much more than a trade fair!” In such an exceptional context, agility is key. We will therefore pursue our commitment to guide the industry’s return to business, ensure our mission to promote its products and services, and uphold our pledge to the optical and eyewear sector.

That is why: from October to November 2020, Silmo will set out to encounter opticians in France and throughout Europe.

“Silmo Hors les Murs” (“Silmo Outside the Walls”) will propose events that honour our commitment to support the industry, in keeping with the Silmo convivial spirit!

This unprecedented operation will begin on 4 and 5 October 2020 at the heart of Paris, and will be repeated every Monday in the month of October in a different city, such as Bordeaux, Lyon, Rennes and Brussels (programme still being finalised).

The 2020 Silmo d’Or awards will go forward, open to all the companies registered to date. Once again this year, Silmo Academy will issue a scholarship to support a scientific research project in vision and optics.

Through a specialised application, Silmo Next – a laboratory of ideas, a forum for interprofessional discussions, and a showcase for creation and innovation – will present the summary of the work that began two years ago, probing into the future of the sector, product developments, and the optical profession:

“Towards a techno-responsible optical and eyewear future.”

We assure you that this is an “extra-ordinary” plan for the 2020 edition... SILMO 2021 will welcome you back to the Paris Nord Villepinte exhibition centre from 24 to 27 September 2021. We sincerely thank you for your loyalty to Silmo Paris, And we hope to see you again very soon.

ABDO guidance and advice for Student DO's

July 2020

At this difficult time, when the situation can change rapidly, the team at ABDO College has been planning ahead to ensure that student dispensing opticians can continue to study and get the valuable input they would normally have from tutors on block release, without uncertainty and risk.

Steve Hertz FBDO, Head of Operations at ABDO College says, “We have monitored government rules and guidance for further and higher education institutes. Although so far there is nothing specific to the unique distance learning and block release setup at ABDO College, more general rules around distancing, PPE and group sizes are already being used in schools and in practice. We have also considered the fact that many students travel long distances and stay in accommodation while in attendance at the college.”

In order to give students and their employers complete clarity and the ability to plan for the coming term, the autumn term block will be online only. Steve explains, “Students will still need to book this entire period off work and have access to a PC/tablet to engage with the online sessions.” This announcement follows a successful three months’ worth of blocks online towards the end of the 2019-20 academic year with overwhelmingly positive feedback from students. Steve says, “We feel very confident in moving to this solution which keeps all students and staff as safe as physically possible, our number one priority. Students and employers will also benefit from saving on travel and accommodation at a challenging time.”

As already stated in previous announcements, ABDO College’s preferred method of teaching is still face to face so the current intention is for the second block to be at the College. Options to keep class sizes smaller are being examined for this situation. Steve Hertz concludes, “Especially when teaching practical elements, we believe that hands-on, in person tuition is by far the best way for trainee DOs to learn.”

If you are interested in studying at ABDO College, visit Applications for Ophthalmic Dispensing degree and diploma and Contact Lens certificate must be in by 26th July.

Payment plans are available.

Vision Expo West 2020 Cancelled

July 2020

The Vision Council and Reed Exhibitions, organizers of Vision Expo, announced the decision to cancel Vision Expo West 2020, scheduled to take place in Las Vegas from September 23-26.

“Over the past several months, Reed Exhibitions’ Vision Expo team and The Vision Council worked together to prepare and plan for the highly anticipated event while closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on members of the optical community. With the health and well-being of everyone in attendance at the show as the show organizers’ primary concern, Vision Expo, along with the Venetian Resort, developed a multi-layered, in-depth plan to ensure the safety of everyone planning on attending,” according to a Vision Expo news release. “Despite these efforts and a strong interest from the industry to participate, the decision has been made to cancel Vision Expo West 2020 as a result of Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s announcement on Monday, June 26 sharing that Nevada ‘will remain in Phase 2 of reopening plans through the end of July due to current trends of the coronavirus infection.’”

“While certainly disappointing, the decision to cancel Vision Expo West 2020 is prudent and necessary following the announcement of the extension of phase 2 in Las Vegas into the end of July. Without having visibility on when the state of Nevada will be ready to roll into future phases or what the future phases will allow for, coupled with the unfortunate spiking of COVID-19 cases in the region, we know it is in the best interest of everyone in the vision community to not move forward with the Show,” said Fran Pennella, Event Vice President, Vision Expo, at Reed Exhibitions.

Mitch Barkley, Vice President of Trade Shows and Meetings at The Vision Council, stated that The Vision Council will be rolling out a series of virtual offerings to bring the optical community together in between the physical events. “Some of these offerings include our Virtual Connections program, which links our exhibitors with attendees; the Virtual EYE2EYE series, a series of virtual panels and interactive conversations inspired by Vision Expo’s EYE2EYE Educational Series; and the soon-to-be launched Virtual Vision Series, all of which can be accessed via,” Mr. Barkley said.

With a focus on “delivering greater value to the industry and further developing fresh and innovative virtual offerings,” Vision Expo is launching a 365-digital platform dedicated to bringing the optical community together and allowing business to continue and flourish. The platform will include CE education, allow for direct appointment setting, virtual product showcases, service and product sourcing, and much more. The announcement on Vision Expo’s new virtual platform, its specific offerings and partners will be shared in the coming months.

Attendees and exhibitors who had registered to participate in Vision Expo West 2020 will receive separate, personalized communications in the coming days from the Vision Expo team.

ABDOs new payment plans assist in training

July 2020

ABDO College is introducing payment plans for course fees to make education and training even more accessible.

Training at ABDO College has always allowed students to learn while they earn, making the chance to develop your career in optics widely accessible. Now, in recognition of the pressures on the optical industry during the Covid-19 outbreak, the college is introducing payment plans to make it easier for business owners who want to invest in their staff and their practice while dealing with budget constraints. This change will also help students who are self funding.

The payment plans are interest free and allow the chance to spread payments over six months. This means that for the Optical Assistant course, for example, the course would cost £135 per month. The ophthalmic dispensing diploma (FBDO) 1st year would cost £585 per month and the contact lens certificate course would cost £400 per month. You can pay monthly for all courses except revision and the Vision Science
FBDO to BSc Hons top up which requires payment per module, already allowing you to spread the cost.

Steve Hertz FBDO, Head of Operations at ABDO College says, “We always wish to make training and development of practice colleagues as accessible as possible. Clearly, the current climate is putting strain on practices and students so we hope this option will allow as many students as possible to begin or continue their studies, whilst balancing the books.”

If you are interested in studying at ABDO College, visit Applications for Ophthalmic Dispensing degree and diploma and Contact Lens certificate must be in by 26th July.

NRC reopens its doors

July 2020

The National Resource Centre (NRC) is the Association of British Dispensing Optician’s flagship meeting, events and examinations venue. The NRC is reopening for bookings from 6 July, with a raft of measures in place to ensure all users are safe.

For anyone in the optical industry, now is a difficult time to plan meetings and training. Online meetings have filled the gap, but sometimes you just can’t replace the benefits of face to face events. If you are planning how to deliver training or events, you’ll be reassured by the changes made to the NRC to ensure the facilities are safe for visitors and staff as the team plans to welcome users back.

Operations Manager Mat Stringer says, “We have carried out a thorough risk assessment at the NRC. All staff have completed infection prevention and control (IPC) training, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE will be provided for all events as well as hand sanitising stations throughout the centre. And communal areas have been adapted to adhere to social distancing. Perspex screens have been fitted in areas where necessary. You can be confident that the NRC is a safe place for your events and training. Your health and well-being is our top priority.”

In the NRC Meeting, Event and Training spaces, there is now contactless sign in. Mat and team have installed hand sanitising stations and guidance throughout the NRC. All areas have been configured for social distancing, and there are now protective desktop screens available when needed. The cleaning protocols have been reviewed so cleaning will take place with increased frequency.

Visitors will receive a new COVID-19 communication and conduct protocol before each event, along with the assistance of an individual event host. PPE will be supplied to visitors.

The NRC is well known for its excellent catering and high quality drinks and this will continue. There is a brand new personal food menu with meals served individually. Single use Vegware cups, cutlery and plates are now ready for use: although single use, these are compostable and responsibly sourced. Tea, coffee and sundries and now all enveloped and single use, and there are new cleaning stations at all coffee and catering areas.

The NRC has 10 clinical bays, plus a screening area and glazing lab, all of which are available for training use. Mat says, “Each clinical bay is sanitised before and after each use, and we have PPE and IPC signage in place along with social distancing markings. There are hand wash stations with soap, paper towels, hand cleaning signage and closed lid wastage. We have also installed slit lamp guards.”

Over 140 professionals across all Vision Care Professions joined a RSM Webinar this week

June 2020

The webinar entitled “Guiding patients and public with eyecare concerns during the Covid-19 Crisis” was provided free by the General Practice with Primary Healthcare section of the RSM, its largest section.

Bob Hutchinson Immediate Past President RSM and Opchat Editor
It was chaired by Bob Hutchinson, the Immediate Past President of the section who was joined by Dr Waqaar Shah, a practising GP. Mr Paul Ursell Consultant Ophthalmologist and Phil Ambler for the Thomas Pocklington Trust

The Chair explained the current availability of optometric practice, the CUES services and the need for care in PPE, hygiene and regular cleaning as well as pre assessment of patients and their family members. All of this will reduce the patient flow through practices and practitioners will need to prioritise patients ensuring that those in the greatest need are seen as soon as possible.

It became evident through later Q & A’s that there were still some CCGs who had not taken up the CUES system and some LOCs had found it impossible to bypass that barrier.

Waqaar Shah Waqaar Shah made the point about the lost months during lockdown.

“We have a lot of patients who have been referred for elective care having to wait for a much longer time as a result of the cessation of surgery,” general practitioner Dr Waqaar Shah informed us.

“These patients may have anxiety about their conditions, and they may even be in a situation where their sight is deteriorating,” he added.

The webinar chairman emphasised the importance of working together across professions to reduce the length of patient journeys and the importance of streamlining referrals. Dr Shah confirmed that he had considered seeing a patient with partial sight loss in one eye but then considered the visit would just add one further appointment and visit for the patient to make whereas directing them to an optical practice who saw them in 2 hours proved the efficacy of direct optometric referral.

Mr Paul Ursell
Mr Paul Ursell explained the dramatic changes that Covid had made to hospital practice saying, “During the lockdown I think most of us realised it was a little bit like the blitz. We had a war time mentality,” he observed.

Mr Ursell noted that the demands of COVID-19 allowed for faster decision making, with processes that might have previously taken five years in normal times enacted in five days.

“It has been an incredible experience. I don’t think any of us thought we would ever have to go through something like this, both professionally and socially. There have been horrors. But we have come out the other side and I think there will be procedural benefits in the system,” he emphasised.

Phil Ambler
It was then the turn of Phil Ambler Director, Evidence and Policy, Thomas Pocklington Trust who reminded the audience that people with vision impairments as well as those with learning difficulties needed much better information about how to access eyecare.

Children as well find PPE quite disturbing if surprised on arrival so it was important that when booking appointments, the full expected experience is provided to the patient, may be even pictures of those in PPE.

Whilst the College has suggested that patient examination time should be kept to a minimum was admirable for most it must be remembered that many patients with learning difficulties need more time and cannot be hurried.

There was a very interactive Q & A to follow which commented on the favourable changes that Covid had brought in working across professions with direct sending of results to eye clinics using modern digital comms such as Zoom and Opera. But comments were made that these improvements need proper funding.

The Chair, Bob Hutchinson, the Immediate Past President at the RSM praised how the spread of professional work from primary, secondary and social care had been compressed with much better communications. Once again “Necessity has proved the Mother of Invention”, he said.

This could be, if used properly, the impetus needed for change and hopefully Health Authorities and NHS Commissioners will recognise these improvements in service and work to bed them in place for the future.

Hutchinson reminded al those wishing to claim CET points to email with their Full Name and GOC number.

The RSM is considering follow up webinars during the Covid pandemic and encourages ECPs to consider joining the RSM as associate members allowing them to join the Primary Care Section where they will mix with a wide cross section of primary care professionals and be very welcome.

Ophthalmic Lens Availability, the optical lens bible, has moved online

June 2020

Ophthalmic Lens Availability (OLA) brings together data found in an extensive range of manufacturers’ catalogues in one handy location.

An ABDO team has been working over the last year to convert the annual print publication into a searchable online database of lenses.

The site contains an interactive search function enabling you to view lenses available from all of the contributing manufacturers in one place. And it can now be updated whenever data changes ensuring that you get the best lens data possible.

There are also sections for each manufacturer, bringing together an enormous number of useful resources. New sections include Specialist Lenses, Educational Information, Hidden Lens Engravings, Interactive Tools, Digital Dispensing and further reading in Optical Miscellany.

OLA Online is now available to all ABDO members as part of their membership, which means around 9000 dispensing opticians, student DOs and associate members will now have access to this exciting new development.

Companies can also use this channel to engage with dispensing opticians at the forefront of bringing new products and technology to optical practice.

Site editor Phil Gilbert has been the driving force behind the site and says, "We hope you enjoy the site and we can assure you the site will progress in content as time goes on."

ABDO head of communications Antonia Chitty says, “As members return to practice we hope that OLA Online will make life easier at a difficult time. Members who have been involved in testing and developing this addition to the ABDO website have been enormously enthusiastic about OLA, and it is great to be able to make this data widely available now.”

OLA Online is exclusively available to all members of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians. Membership of ABDO starts at £19 per month for associated professions, and comes with a wide range of benefits beyond OLA online.


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