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Opchat Magazine Exhibition and Training pagesExhibition and Education News, October to December 2020


Covid-19 Pandemic and it’s effects on the Pre-Reg population
New Principal for ABDO College announced
Sight Loss Needn't Mean Job Loss - Free 1 Hour Webinar Oct 29th at 4pm
OptiCommerce, launches BYTESIZE, a webinar series with a difference.
ABDO College is supporting the development of dispensing across the world
SILMO 2020 D'Or Awards announce that an unprecedented year deserves an alternative approach!
Three Optometry bodies say funding uncertainty on GOC education plans threatens patient safety and public confidence
More AAOF Fellowships and Grant Recipients announced.
Professor Humphrey Scott appointed as new Dean of the Royal Society of Medicine
Varilux Comfort Max to be supported by large professional package
Archived Exhibition and Education News for July to September


October 2020

A survey of attitudes of optometrists in Ireland and the UK towards Digital Eye Strain (DES), and their approaches to its diagnosis and management has been launched by Aston University.

Aston would like to invite you to participate in a research study. Before you decide if you would like to participate, take time to read the below information carefully.

What is the purpose of the study?

At Aston University, we are carrying out a study to determine the attitudes of optometrists in Ireland and the UK towards digital eye strain (DES) and their approaches to its diagnosis and management.

The use of digital devices at work and in everyday life has become ubiquitous in recent years.

A range of studies have shown a very high prevalence of DES, up to 50% or more, which can cause frequent and persistent symptoms for sufferers, and may even reduce the productivity of employees who work with computers. Given its high prevalence, optometrists are likely to examine patients with DES on a daily basis and are well placed to provide professional advice on its management options. So that we can get information about how you deal with DES in practice we have developed a questionnaire which we would like you to complete.

The survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. Most of the questions require you to indicate your level of agreement or disagreement to a statement and there are no right or wrong answers.

You must be an optometrist registered in either Ireland or the UK to take part.

Participation in this study is voluntary. It is up to you to decide if you want to volunteer and you will be asked to confirm your participation using an online consent form

If you start the questionnaire, but decide not to complete it and withdraw from the study, you can close the browser and your responses will not be saved. Note that you will not be able to withdraw from the study after you submit your responses as the questionnaire is anonymous and we will not be able to identify your individual response.


In the survey:

You will be asked to complete the short online questionnaire about your views in relation to digital eye strain, its diagnosis and management. In the questionnaire we will also ask some questions about your area of practice, experience and working environment. The questionnaire is anonymous and will take less than 10 minutes to complete. Note, that there is no 'correct' answer for any of the questions.

No personal information that could enable participants to be indentified will be collected. All data collected will be stored on a secure cloud storage device.
Whilst there are no immediate benefits for those people participating in this study, we hope that the results will enhance our understanding of practitioner views on digital eye strain and its diagnosis and management.

Covid-19 Pandemic and it’s effects on the Pre-Reg population: Call to Action from Profession

October 2020

Black Square

We have all faced challenges throughout the global Covid pandemic, Optics has had its fair share of challenges.

One group in the industry that have faced a unique set of challenges is the Pre-Reg population.

At Black Square we have heard of pre-reg’s being let go half way through their placement and high numbers struggling to find a placement at all.

In response to these trying times BlackSquare has launched an initiative to help pre-reg’s find the support they need.

Black Square has asked their client base and larger network if they can support any Pre-Reg students and a lot of companies have responded very positively with either full Pre-Reg placements or offering Pre-Reg’s employment until they can find a placement.

BlackSquare are not charging the Pre-Reg or Client for the placement, it’s totally free.

" We are happy to be helping the optical community in any way we can and we still need employers who are able to take on a pre-reg, with university towns and midlands being the areas most in need.

If you are able to offer a Pre-Reg a placement or assist in any way at all we can help you connect. Email:

New Principal for ABDO College announced

October 2020

Dr Robert Cubbidge will take over as principal of ABDO College from July 2021.

Rob is currently a senior lecturer in Optometry at Aston University. He has held academic posts there since 1998 including programme directorships of the BSc and MOptom programmes. He has been visiting Associate Professor at Aarhus University, Denmark since 2016.

He has had a long association with ABDO and ABDO College and has been an external moderator for the college since 2014.

He has also been an external assessor for the ABDO programme in Malaysia.

His professional interest lay largely in optics and in his own words he has “a passion for lenses and dispensing”. Rob has extensive knowledge of research programmes and will seek to substantially enhance our progress in this area. He has published a number of books and many articles.

Sir Anthony Garrett CBE HonFBDO says, “I am delighted that we have managed to recruit such a well-known and respected teacher to build on the tremendous work that Jo Underwood has done and I am sure everyone will give him a warm and generous welcome when he takes up his post.”

Sight Loss Needn't Mean Job Loss - Free 1 Hour Webinar Oct 29th at 4pm

October 2020

Every 6 minutes, someone in the UK starts to lose their sight.

Visual Impairment is indiscriminate and can happen to anyone at any stage in their life so some of your employees or colleagues could be struggling with sight loss without you knowing.

They do their best to conceal the fact that they can’t see as well as they used to which often leads to anxiety, sickness absence, frustration and reduced performance.

With adjustments, assistive technology and the right support, employees with visual impairment can, and do, continue to work successfully.

This free webinar will cover the challenges and solutions available to overcome them and is suitable for everyone working in Occupational Health, Health and Safety, Wellbeing at Work, HR and Management.

Please register here

OptiCommerce, launches BYTESIZE, a webinar series with a difference.

October 2020

BYTESIZE is a guided series of 6 digestible webinars (only 25 mins each!) for optometry professionals designed to provide 6 achievable actions to help build a better online presence.

OptiCommerce is a team of digital and design specialists providing website development, eCommerce solutions and digital marketing to the Optical sector. OptiCommerce was founded in 2008 by Co-Founder and current Director, Paul Clare.

As the implications of COVID-19 continue to be felt worldwide, societies and industries, including the eyecare sector continue to adjust to the ‘new normal’. In line with social distancing regulations, a new patient landscape has emerged; the home has become a health hub.

Patients now expect to complete as much of their journey as possible, remotely. Recent studies show that patient purchasing channels have shifted. Online retail sales in the UK have grown over 26% already in 2020 .

The practicalities of this for eyecare are specific and will enable long term resilience for the vocation and industry.

“The eyecare journey is complex and at times individual to a practice. Although parts of this journey cannot be performed remotely there are certain sections that can. Adjusting an existing “bricks and mortar” patient journey to a “bricks and clicks” edition will

1) Assure patients their safety is your utmost concern

2) Keep your practice transacting regardless of any restrictions in your local area

3) Empower your employees (one of your largest costs) to continue delivering exceptional patient service and upselling products”
explains Paul Clare, Co-Founder and Director of OptiCommerce.

The BYTESIZE program begins on the 14th October and will run weekly until November 18th.

It is free to attend and comes complete with a Bricks and Clicks Eyecare Playbook.

The schedule is flexible with two time slots offered per day. Attendees can also choose to take part in all, or specific modules offered by the program.

Topics were chosen because of their unique affect to enhance a practice’s capability to transact during this challenging time.

Topics include; Google my Business and SEO, Social Media, eCommerce solutions, Telehealth and Teleretail, Virtual Try-On and Blogging.

BYTESIZE promises to be another valuable program of webinars offered by OptiCommerce. Asaria Tanveer, from The Vision Clinic describes attending a Social Media workshop, ran by OptiCommerce earlier this year as “excellent, simple to understand and effective”.


Bytesize Schedule

Looking to learn more or register: Click Here

In 2017 Ocuco acquired OptiCommerce after a successful partnership. Today OptiCommerce is a market leading operation based in London.

Their vision: to deliver valuable online changes that work hard for optical business, delivering online leads and driving instore and online conversions.

ABDO College is supporting the development of dispensing across the world

October 2020

As it welcomes 10 students from South Africa onto the ophthalmic dispensing course.

Optics in South Africa has been through a difficult time since a change in employment law. There is only one university in the country that offers a full time three-year diploma course in Ophthalmic Dispensing, which isn’t a route of study that’s available to all. As a result, ABDO College is delighted to have 9 students from South Africa on the FBDO (Overseas) course, to help the profession grow and develop.

Dr FlesizigThis move is supported by the South African Optometric Association, which includes dispensing opticians in its membership. Jorina Lombard (right) says, ““Having only one institution in South Africa that hosts the dispensing course on a full time basis and no option for part-time studies, ABDO College has given us a platform for distance learning that means the world to our profession. We have so many people working in an optical environment who wishes to further their careers and by having the opportunity to study through the distance learning option, it enables them to do so.

“We are absolutely thrilled about the number of students that enrolled for the first year and I am excited to say that we already have a great interest for next year as well. We are humbled and grateful for the support and effort that we received from ABDO – a special thank you to Sir Anthony Garrett of ABDO and Mr Steve Hertz of ABDO College. They absolutely went the extra mile for us.”

"Like all ophthalmic dispensing students, the South African trainee DOs will complete weekly modules online, and gain hands on experience in practice. Boots Opticians (UK) has also donated a set of books for each student to help them get started. Les Thomas FBDO, Learning & Development Specialist at Boots Opticians says,

“We were delighted to be approached by ABDO College to donate a number of textbooks for South African Student Dispensing Opticians to help with their development in the field of ophthalmic dispensing. We sincerely hope that our donation in collaboration with ABDO College will enable an increase in the number of qualified dispensing opticians in South Africa, so dispensing services can be expanded to a wider population of patients requiring them. At Boots Opticians, we would like to wish these students all the very best with their studies.”

Amanda Visser

South African student DO Amanda Visser (left) says, “I am hoping to complete the ABDO Dispensing Opticians course so that I can take up frontline training again to provide knowledge to more frontline assistants in South Africa. We have such a shortage of dispensing opticians, and my aim is to empower other students to such a level of understanding , that they too will feel they want to take on the journey of becoming a dispensing optician.”

South African student DO Elmar Deysel says, "I think the course will benefit me in the long run to give me a lot more opportunities and knowledge. The course has already made me realize that there is a lot more to dispensing than just choosing frames and lenses. I would also like to use the knowledge I build up now, to help me share and assist others who is interested in oispensing."

If you are interested in courses from ABDO College available worldwide, visit

SILMO 2020 D'Or Awards announce that an unprecedented year deserves an alternative approach!

October 2020


For the first time, the SILMO d'Or award ceremony will be broadcast live on our social networks on Saturday 3 October at 2pm

We couldn’t imagine not supporting those exhibitors who have continued to launch products revealing their talents despite the lock-down.

The Silmo d’Or awards are a compelling spotlight of the entire industry.

The trade fair has adapted to the current situation with an itinerant version, Hors les Murs (Outside the Walls).

How to join in

Saturday 3 October at 2pm on :

Facebook Silmo Paris



Our website

We couldn’t imagine not supporting those exhibitors who have continued to launch products revealing their talents despite the lock-down.

The Silmo d’Or awards are a compelling spotlight of the entire industry.

Three Optometry bodies say funding uncertainty on GOC education plans threatens patient safety and public confidence

October 2020

Joint statement from the Association of Optometrists, the College of Optometrists and the Optometry Schools Council

(The Optometry Schools Council (OSC) represents the collective views of UK institutions providing GOC accredited optometry programmes. Further details, including a list of members, can be found at

The General Optical Council’s proposed new framework for optometric education is untested – and it isn’t yet clear whether education providers will be funded to deliver it safely.

The Association of Optometrists, the College of Optometrists and the Optometry Schools Council are concerned that this could significantly disrupt future optometry education and training, affecting patient safety and public confidence. We are urging the GOC to agree to monitor this risk closely and only confirm the new framework when it is clear that it is financially viable for providers.

What’s happening

The GOC is currently consulting on final proposals for the new Education Strategic Review (ESR) framework, and is aiming to agree them by December 2020. The consultation closes on 19 October 2020. The AOP, the College and the OSC will all respond to the consultation, giving our individual perspectives and views. But we are making this joint public statement now because we agree the risks around funding are critical, and could cause serious damage to optometry education and training.

The ESR proposals would change the regulatory requirements that optometry education programmes in the UK have to meet.

To enable innovation, many aspects of the new framework are less specific than the current rules. However, the model also imposes new conditions, including the requirement that providers must offer an integrated path to GOC registration, incorporating at least 48 weeks of clinical experience organised by the provider.

This is a substantial change from the current two-stage process, whereby most students undertake a BSc degree followed by a separate pre-registration phase. It will require providers to arrange, manage and quality assure a high volume of placements, which will carry a substantial cost for the providers.

The risks

There are differing views in the optical sector on whether change on this scale is needed, and what the benefits maybe. At times, the GOC has suggested that the practical changes providers have to make may be modest. But, in our view, the level of change for education providers, and for employers and supervisors providing placements, will be substantial.

The AOP, the College and the OSC have all previously said that the GOC must think through the funding implications before introducing such major changes.

The GOC has done some work on this but we have deep concerns that, in the draft Impact Assessment published alongside the current consultation, the GOC has made no assessment of the financial impact its proposals will have on education providers. It has only asked providers to give their views in response to the consultation.

The GOC has recently commissioned consultancy advice on this issue, to inform its Council’s decisions on the new framework; however, the final report will not be available until after the end of the consultation.

We do not think the timeframe and funding for this commissioned work is proportionate to the complexity of the funding implications of the ESR across the four nations.

This inadequate approach will not allow time for informed public scrutiny and debate on the likely financial implications of the ESR before the planned GOC Council decision on the framework in December.

This is not just an abstract concern. If the GOC agrees a final framework that providers cannot afford to deliver, then some providers will exit the market – reducing student choice, cutting the number of trained optometrists available to join the register each year, and impacting on the fulfilment of patient care needs. Other providers may struggle to deliver the new requirements, leading to training that does not meet the revised standards.

Either outcome would threaten patient safety and public confidence in the profession – the things the GOC exists to protect.

The COVID-19 pandemic has considerably heightened these concerns. It is clear that universities are already facing massive resource and capacity pressures because of recent events, but it is too early to tell what the long-term impact will be. The additional financial uncertainty created by the ESR, including for optometry employers that invest in, support and depend on optometry workforce supply, will provide additional challenge and insecurity for providers to manage.

What we are calling for

At this point the AOP, the College and the OSC are not arguing that the new framework should be completely dropped. We believe that the proposals include some positive changes that should not be lost. Each of us will set out our own views on the way forward in our own consultation responses.

Ahead of that, given the high level of uncertainty over the financial impact of the ESR on providers, we are jointly calling on the GOC to:

1) Confirm that it will work closely with education providers and other stakeholders to address the likely financial impact of the proposed new framework and the sourcing of funding to deliver it

2) Commit to establishing that the new model is financially viable in all four nations before taking the final decision on approval

In a separate and subsequent News Release ABDO adds its opinion

The Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) welcomes the joint statement from the Association of Optometrists, the College of Optometrists and the Optometry Schools Council highlighting the threat to patient safety and public confidence resulting from the current uncertainty about the impact of the GOC’s education plans and how they will be funded.

ABDO welcomed the Education Strategic Review’s original aim of ensuring that student dispensing opticians and optometrists are prepared for the roles of the future and remains committed to working with the GOC, and fellow representative bodies, to ensure that the optical education system delivers consistently high standards and supports extended scopes of practice.

ABDO highlighted at the start of the consultation, however, that the GOC has failed to publish any estimates of the costs of implementing and running its proposed new system and has not provided any explanation of how these costs would be met. It also failed to provide any analysis of alternative options so the relative costs and benefits can be assessed.

Sir Anthony Garrett CBE HonFBDO, ABDO General Secretary says, "Before the GOC makes any final decision, stakeholders must have an opportunity to scrutinise the costs and benefits of both the proposed new system and other viable options. And before making any final decision, the GOC must be able to demonstrate that any changes can be funded and will deliver tangible improvements in the quality of education for the benefit of patients, students, commissioners and employers throughout the UK. The huge financial and practical challenges faced by education providers and optical practices as a result of COVID-19 make it even more vital that any changes to the education system are properly thought through and can be delivered."

More AAOF Fellowships and Grant Recipients announced.

October 2020


The American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF), in partnership with the Allergan Foundation, is pleased to announce two grant recipients this year in the areas of the anterior segment and glaucoma.

The recipient of the Allergan Foundation Grant in the area of the anterior segment is Suzanne MJ Fleiszig, OD, PhD, FAAO. Dr. Fleiszig is a Professor of Optometry and Vision Science, Microbiology, and Infectious Disease & Immunity at the University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry.

Dr Flesizig
As the principal investigator, Dr. Fleiszig has been awarded a $60,000 grant for her project, “Relationship between COVID-19 and the Eye.”

Her collaborative team of co-investigators include Eva Harris, PhD; University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health and Abby Kroken, PhD; University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry

Dr Stacey Choi The recipient of the Allergan Foundation Grant in the area of glaucoma is Stacey S. Choi, PhD, FAAO. Dr. Choi is an Associate Professor at The Ohio State University, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Havener Eye Institute.

As the principal investigator, Dr. Choi has been awarded a $60,000 grant for her project, “Characterization of inner retinal changes in glaucoma suspects in comparison to glaucoma patients and age-matched controls through adaptive optics retinal imaging.”

Her collaborative team of co-investigators include Nathan Doble, PhD, Mark Slabaugh, MD, and Shelly Jain, MD; all from The Ohio State University,
Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Havener Eye Institute.

These highly competitive grants are awarded to talented optometrists and/or vision scientists, who are Academy Fellows, and are currently undertaking cutting edge research in the areas of glaucoma and/or the anterior segment. This is the seventh year the Allergan Foundation has sponsored this generous grant through the AAOF.

The American Academy of Optometry Foundation is pleased to partner with the Allergan Foundation to recognize individuals whose work will contribute to the future of optometric care. “We congratulate Drs. Fleiszig and Choi and their expert clinician-scientist teams on their grants. Their cutting-edge research will directly improve the care we are able to provide for our patients,” said AAOF President Pete Kollbaum, OD, PhD, FAAO.


The American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF), is pleased to announce the 2020 David and Diane Goss Optometry History Fellowship recipient. Tiong Peng Yap, OD, PhD, FAAO, is a Private Practice Fellow at the IGARD Group in Singapore.

Dr TP Yap.
This fellowship provides support for an individual pursuing research in optometric history. His proposal topic on the history of optometric education in Singapore, was chosen out of five very competitive proposals. Dr. Yap will receive a $1,000 fellowship to further his research.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Yap as well as the other recipients on these impressive honours.

Professor Humphrey Scott appointed Dean of the Royal Society of Medicine

October 2020

Prof. Humphrey Scott New Dean of RSM Professor Humphrey Scott has been appointed Dean of the Royal Society of Medicine, a leading provider of postgraduate education and learning to the medical profession and wider healthcare teams. He will take up the post on Friday 23 October 2020.

Humphrey Scott is a consultant general and colorectal surgeon working in the NHS and is Head of the School of Surgery and Associate Dean for Health Education Kent, Surrey and Sussex. He is Visiting Professor in Medical Education at Canterbury Christ Church University and is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Educators and the Faculty of Surgical Trainers. In 2012 Prof Scott was awarded the 2012 Silver Scalpel for Trainer of the Year by the Association of Surgeons in Training.

As RSM Dean, Prof Scott will work with the Society’s Academic Board and senior management team to lead substantive changes to the way in which medical education is delivered to healthcare professionals, including trainee doctors who have experienced significant challenges in continuing their specialty education as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

Professor Roger Kirby, President of the Royal Society of Medicine, said: “We are delighted that Humphrey Scott is joining us as Dean. He became a member of the RSM as a trainee and since then has been involved in the work of several of our Sections, most recently as President of our Section of Coloproctology in 2017/18. His intimate understanding of the organisation will be of enormous benefit and allow him to play a strategic role in delivering the radical changes required to allow the Society to thrive in the future.”

Prof Scott said: “I am very excited and enthused by this fantastic challenge and the opportunity to support the delivery of excellent medical education to a multi-disciplinary workforce.”

Prof Scott takes over as Dean from Dr Fiona Moss CBE, who will be stepping down after five years in the role this month.

Varilux Comfort Max to be supported by large professional package

September 2020

Varilux Comfort Max The latest Varilux lens the Comfort Max is to be supported by a large educations, social media and promo package both B2C and B2B.

You can read about the new lens launch here and about the making and innovation of the lens here, both reported on Opchat News.

But here let us take you through the background information Opchat News received at the product PR launch today.

As the MD Tim Precious said, these have been challenging times for all industry players bur Essilor has provided new launches, improved webinars for CPD and deferred payment schemes for necessary equipment during the pandemic.

Andy Hepworth introduced the Varilux Comfort Max as providing a huge leap in comfort from the previous lens design.

It provides a great number of increased viewing positions for a wide range of prescriptions from high myopes through to high hyperopes with a standard seg ht max of 17mm and a short seg ht availability of 14mm.
Read our story about how Essilor used the latest technology to make this significant technical link.

So how will Essilor assist the optician to promote the lens?

Firstly, opticians will be receiving e-newsletters with all the information they will need. Plus, Social Media, Facebook and What’s App will be used for communication.
The key part of the full frontal Essilor approach will be training.

This will comprise of


Go to Market Product Brochure and Crib Sheet

For those more technically minded a “White Paper”

Free Fits

And for the first time a helpful guide in communicating to patients assisted by psychologists to particularly assist in conversations with young first time presbyopes.


Varilux Comfort Max

All Max lenses will be available in Transitions Signature Gen 8 plus all available tint colours and mirrors.

The lenses can have Blue Light Protection and are available in High Index 1.74

The AVA system announced this year is also available giving 1/100th Dioptre accuracy

The Optifog coatings along with all other current coatings are also possible


All lenses have a Px 60-day guarantee allowing the Opticians a full 100-day return time.


There are A1 and A2 Posters plus an A4 show card and Cube Shelf promoter.

Other additional marketing is available e.g. Billboards etc


For the public the lens will be added to the Multi Pair Promotions
The “Take Two Offer”

For the opticians:

They will receive a virtual scratch card number which online they can check to see if they have one anything from an Amazon Voucher to Kuoni Travel Vouchers. Didn’t win with first number? Then answer a question on the Max and get a second number for a second chance!

You can order all POS and Social Media blogs from

The public will be reached by fashion journal inclusions and practitioners can use Essilor’s Recall Hub to assist in marketing B2C

See the launch Info here

Read about the making of the Best Lens being bettered here.


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