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Opchat Magazine Contact Lens PagesContact Lens News, October to December 2020

BCLA teams up with Alcon for series of PPE videos
SwissLens will officially acquire the complete Lunelle® product portfolio from CooperVision.
Global audience expected for live-streamed BCLA UK
Industry comes together for positive message on future for contact lenses
New BCLA webinar will give tips on growing your contact lens business
Read Last quarter's Contact Lens News stories here

BCLA teams up with Alcon for series of PPE videos

October 2020

The “donning and doffing” of PPE is now part and parcel of eye care practitioners’ daily working lives and the British Contact Lens Association has teamed up with Alcon to produce a series of videos detailing handy hints for making face coverings work better for you.

The set of three videos, presented by critical care nurse Sally-Anne Bradbury and BCLA President, Indie Grewal, look at ways of resolving many of the issues associated with regular wearing of PPE.

The videos have been specifically created to provide guidance for the benefit of all eye care practitioners and those working within a practice environment. They are available via the BCLA website and on YouTube and can be downloaded to share in practice.

Luke Stevens-Burt, chief executive of the BCLA, said: “We know that for many of our members, they need to adjust to PPE as they return to full delivery of services and care.

“It’s vital we come together as a profession and industry to do all we can to help eye care practitioners adjust to the demands placed on them to help keep both themselves and their patients safe.

“This series of videos shines a light on best practice and shares top tips for how to wear PPE most effectively and with the best possible degree of comfort. We’re grateful for Alcon’s support on this project and we are confident it will make a real difference to ECPs and the way they work."

The issue of PPE in practice was also the subject of a recent BCLA podcast, with Nick Howard and Luke Allen teaming up to discuss their experiences of carrying out procedures while wearing face masks.

The pair discussed everything from surgical masks and video slit lamps to boiling kettles to prevent Volk lenses from steaming up – as well as sharing tips on how to stay safe and improve communication with patients while wearing protective equipment.

For more details, and to access both the videos and the podcast, visit

SwissLens will officially acquire the complete Lunelle® product portfolio from CooperVision.

October 2020

As an official partner of SwissLens, No7 Contact Lenses will become the exclusive distributor of all Lunelle® products in the UK.

Lunelle products now distributed by No7SwissLens has over 20-years of experience, manufacturing and supplying the popular Lunelle® Toric RXi. And, having forged a successful partnership with No7 Contact Lenses over the past 2-years, opticians and patients can be assured of a seamless continuity of supply.

Since 1997, SwissLens in Prilly near Lausanne (Switzerland), has been manufacturing bespoke contact lenses of the highest quality and distributing them to eye specialists in over 34 countries. Thanks to extensive research, patented and innovative manufacturing technologies, SwissLens is continually developing its products and services.

The Lunelle® range of designs, manufactured exclusively in the renowned ES70 material, have been rewarding patients with outstanding comfort and vision for decades.
“We’re delighted that we have the opportunity to add this established and distinguished custom soft lens to our specialist portfolio. We’re committed to offering an outstanding service to existing patients. But we are equally excited about the opportunity Lunelle® designs offer to new patients - especially those who fall outside the parameter range for moulded lenses but still require a high performing soft lens,” said Ashley Pepper, Managing Director of No7 Contact Lenses.

No7 Contact Lenses has been manufacturing specialist contact lenses for over 40-years. Established in Devonshire Street, London in 1979, No7 initially supplied lenses to opticians within the London area. They subsequently expanded and re-located to Hastings, East Sussex in 1994. They remain there today.

A commitment to investment and innovation - introducing Ortho-k, Hybrid and miniscleral lenses to their portfolio - combined with first-class customer support has seen No7 grow to now become a global supplier of specialist contact lenses.

Today, quality, education and support continue to underpin their business philosophy. New manufacturing technology, innovative customer centred services and a comprehensive educational program are all part of their planning pipeline.

Now, proudly established as the UK’s leading manufacturer of specialist lenses, No7 looks toward an exciting future. Its experienced and knowledgeable team will continue to explore fresh opportunities,
working in partnership with eyecare practitioners in the UK and across the world to give every patient the sense of health and well-being they deserve.

In the near future, SwissLens are planning to develop a new line of Lunelle® designs featuring the ES70 material. Currently, Lunelle® lenses are provided in the following designs:

• Lunelle® Spheric (ES 70 UV)
• Lunelle® Toric
• Lunelle® Toric RXi
• Lunelle® multifocal (Variations 70+ UV)
• Lunelle® Colors
• Lunelle® Sun

Global audience expected for live-streamed BCLA UK

October 2020

This year’s BCLA UK Conference & Exhibition promises to be something truly unique, with the virtual event now being live-streamed for eye care practitioners around the world.

The current UK Government guidance means that delegates will not be permitted to attend on-site as planned at The Vox in Birmingham on Sunday, 8th November.
However, delegates will be able to follow the conference online from their own homes with the main lecture track available via live streaming technology, making BCLA UK accessible to eye care practitioners across the globe.

The programme for the event is centred on “evidence-based practice for today” with lectures promoting best practice to maximise success with modern contact lenses, including confidence with myopia management and the management of Dry Eye Disease.

The first digital seminar will be chaired by immediate past president, Jonathon Bench, who will look at the issue of retention and how to grow the category. He will be followed by Sarah Smith with her session entitled ‘Eyes On The Planet: Sustainability in Practice’. Further sessions include ‘Science of Compliance’ to be chaired by Dr Katharine Evans and ‘Evidence-based Practice’ chaired by Professor James Wolffsohn.

A series of online peer review sessions will also be held. Christine Purslow will hold a session entitled ‘Lubricants for dry eye – what’s it all about?’ while Craig McArthur will present ‘Perfecting communication for successful myopia management’.

These sessions will fulfil the GOC-approved CET interactive requirement for the BCLA certificates in Dry Eye and Myopia Management.

Luke Stevens-Burt, chief executive of the BCLA, said: “While it’s very disappointing not to be able to stage the event in person, we’re delighted that BCLA UK will still be going ahead in an exciting new digital format – reaching even more people around the world.

“BCLA is now a truly global organisation and 21st century technology means members can access a wide range of lectures wherever they are in the world. We may not be meeting up face-to-face but this is bringing us closer than ever before.”

Another new feature for BCLA UK 2020 will be the Virtual Exhibition, where delegates will be able to contact the suppliers directly and be able to view product demos during coffee breaks throughout the main programme.

All BCLA members have free access to the event as part of their membership but will need to register their attendance in advance. Non-members can attend the full virtual conference for £20 +VAT and must also register in advance.

Anyone already registered to attend the event in Birmingham, will automatically be transferred to the online event.

For more information, and to register your place, visit

Industry comes together for positive message on future for contact lenses

September 2020

The future is bright for the contact lens industry and there are positive developments arising from changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s the verdict of industry leaders taking part in the first-ever International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) Virtual Conference, on the theme ‘Back to contact lenses’ (26 September).

Joining a panel discussion chaired by IACLE Vice President Professor Philip Morgan were:

BCLA October webinar

Cheryl Donnelly, Head of International Professional Affairs and International KOL Lead – Vision Care at Alcon
Gary Orsborn, Vice President Global Professional, Medical & Clinical Affairs, CooperVision
John Meyler, Global Head, Professional and Clinical Education, Johnson & Johnson Vision
Osbert Chan, Director of Medical and Clinical Affairs for Bausch + Lomb, Asia Pacific

Key developments for the contact lens sector arising from the COVID-19 pandemic included:

• Collaboration between industry, practitioners, scientists and educators to dispel myths about the safety of contact lens wear at the early stages of the pandemic
• Lack of going out, socialising and playing sport were the reasons for patients wearing contact lenses less, rather than safety concerns
• Hygiene now ‘top of mind’ for patients and practitioners
• Efficiencies in appointments and services, such as telemedicine or ‘teleoptometry’
• Rising demand for online ordering, direct-to-patient delivery and digital engagement
• Recognition that contact lenses are an important, ongoing revenue stream for practices
• Acceptance of online learning among industry, practitioners, educators and students
• Opportunities for wearing contact lenses to avoid spectacles fogging and to enhance eye appearance when wearing face masks and coverings

Each of the panel members expressed optimism about the future for contact lenses and identified major changes to contact lens practice that had resulted from the pandemic:

Cheryl Donnelly said that patients purchasing habits for contact lenses, and how and where they interacted with their contact lens practitioners, had changed. ‘We need to look at how patients want to engage, and consider changes to our practice patient journey to allow for the imposed and required changes. It’s not about doing things to a lesser extent clinically… but doing things differently.’

Dr Gary Orsborn anticipated a permanent change in the patient journey. ‘Virtual aftercare appointments, I believe, will improve the situation we have in retaining patients in contact lenses and this should result in fewer dropouts, because of the effectiveness of improved virtual communications. Expect to see increased investment in telemedicine solutions for eye care.’

John Meyler said the sector could work in a much smarter way going forward. ‘Patient experience will improve. This has been a time to reflect on how we can do things more efficiently and better serve patients. I think the future’s very bright for the industry.’

Dr Osbert Chan was also ‘very optimistic’ about the future. ‘We know what to do. We need to learn how to live with the virus and how to overcome it.’

All congratulated IACLE and its members – contact lens educators worldwide – on their response to the pandemic. ‘From the IACLE perspective, you’ve stepped up education delivery so well in these last few months, and have led the way with The TLC (Teach. Learn. Connect) Initiative,’ said Ms Donnelly.

More than 200 delegates took part in the IACLE Virtual Conference live. Members participated via the Zoom platform, while non-members and students were able to watch selected sessions via Facebook.

The conference was introduced by IACLE President Dr Shehzad Naroo, chaired by Europe / Africa – Middle East Regional President Judith Morris and organized by Executive Manager of Educational Programs Nilesh Thite. Speakers on education topics were Lakshmi Shinde (India), Dr Etty Bitton (Canada), Professor Craig Woods (Australia), Fakhruddin Barodawala (Indonesia), Dr May Bakkar (Jordan), Dr Frank Eperjesi (UK), Professor Renée Reeder (USA) and Dr Byki Huntjens (UK).

A recording of the conference is available to IACLE members on its learning management system, IACLETOP, along with around 40 global, regional and national webinars delivered under the TLC Initiative so far.

The next series of global webinars – on myopia and its management – will run weekly in November.

New BCLA webinar will give tips on growing your contact lens business

September 2020

BCLA October webinar
Helping eye care professionals to grow their contact lens business will be the subject of the next BCLA webinar, with the session giving a series of top tips and advice.

Presented by Dr Neelam Patel and Shelly Bansal, the webinar will discuss monthly payment care plans as a method of growing an existing contact lens business.

Dr Patel said: “Monthly payment plans have the potential to improve patient retention, allow the practice to price products competitively and create a more sustainable business model.

“This webinar will present the findings of practice-based research around monthly payment care plans, and discuss how to successfully implement, customise and evolve them in community practice. This is particularly relevant in an increasingly competitive market but also during the recent COVID-19 lockdown period.”

Neelam currently shares her working week between independent practice and hospital optometry, while Shelly’s own independent practice has a client base of over 16,000 patients and where 40 per cent of the overall turnover is both contact lens and fee-based related.

The online session will be held between 6.30pm and 7.30pm on Thursday, 15 October. To register, and to find out more, visit

New BCLA President urges members to ‘do things differently’ if they want to be the best

September 2020

The new President of the BCLA, Indie Grewal, has urged eye care practitioners to focus on how they can “do things differently” in order to provide patients with the best possible service.

Indie Grewal President BCLASpeaking during the BCLA’s first-ever Presidential Address to be live-streamed over the internet, the leading optometrist said it was vital eye care professionals look at how they can stand out from the competition by offering a more varied service, rather than simply trying to do the same things better.

Due to the ongoing concerns over COVID-19 and to avoid asking members to travel into London, the presentation was run as an online webinar, allowing overseas members of the BCLA to, for the first time, attend the Presidential Address wherever they were in the world.

Entitled ‘Making a lasting first impression’, Indie shared his memories of attending the 1997 BCLA conference, shortly after becoming a member.

That lasting impression, including talks by Sarah Morgan on the environmental impact of contact lenses and the importance of a standardised way of grading anterior eye conditions by Nathan Efron, has since influenced and shaped his own contact lens practice.

Indie, who takes over as President from Jonathon Bench, looked in detail at the technologies we can use today to engage patients, including the latest OCTs and biometers.

He also looked at the evolving contact lens market and how potential new technologies, such as lenses that tell you if you’re at imminent risk of a heart attack by communicating via bone conduction and a text message, will add to the relationship eye care professionals have with patients.

He said: “Creating a lasting first impression has always been important when meeting someone new, never more so than today. It can take less than a second for you to judge someone and create a first impression, it’s time to make that second count.

“COVID-19 has seen more people switch to shopping local. They’re going to their local butcher and baker, and many are trying their local optometrist too. It’s vital we develop long-lasting relationships from the start.

“You can’t look at the competition and say you’re going to do it better, you have to look at the competition and say you’re going to do it differently. We can do that by making sure we are better informed than anyone else out there to help guide our patients. We also need to collaborate to ensure we are at the forefront of technology and really own that space as new lenses come onto the market.”

The address followed on from the BCLA’s AGM – which saw previous chief executive Cheryl Donnelly made an honorary life member of the BCLA for her outstanding contribution to the organisation.

Multifocal contact lenses slow myopia progression in children

August 2020

NIH-funded clinical trial provides independent evidence that multifocal contact lenses reduce worsening nearsightedness

Children wearing multifocal contact lenses had slower progression of their myopia, according to results from a clinical trial funded by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. The findings support an option for controlling the condition, also called nearsightedness, which increases the risk of cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachment later in life. Investigators of the Bifocal Lenses In Nearsighted Kids (BLINK) Study published the results August 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“It is especially good news to know that children as young as 7 achieved optimal visual acuity and got used to wearing multifocal lenses much the way they would a single vision contact lens. It’s not a problem to fit younger kids in contact lenses. It’s a safe practice,” said BLINK study chair, Jeffrey J. Walline, O.D., Ph.D., associate dean for research at the Ohio State University College of Optometry.

Read the report here

BCLA podcast looks at role of PPE in practice

August 2020

Two leading eye care professionals have discussed their experiences of wearing face masks and carrying out procedures using PPE as part of the latest BCLA podcast.

BCLA Podcasts
Nick Howard, who works in two Lancashire hospitals fitting speciality contact lenses while developing innovative techniques for management of myopia and dry eye in independent practice, is joined on the podcast by Luke Allen, who manages and treats severe dry eye cases, as well as fitting specialist contact lenses, in a private independent practice.

The pair discuss everything from surgical masks and video slit lamps to boiling kettles to prevent Volk lenses from steaming up in the latest episode of the BCLA podcast series – as well as sharing tips on how to stay safe and improve communication with patients while wearing protective equipment.

The latest podcast follows on from the first broadcast released in July, which gave listeners the chance to hear from experts about the impact of COVID-19 on the contact lens profession.

BCLA chief executive, Luke Stevens-Burt, said: “We’ve had some great feedback from the first podcast, which was a real success, and we look forward to reaching even more eye care professionals as the series goes on.

“PPE has always been part of health care, but during the coronavirus pandemic there has been an increased expectation to increase this use. For many this includes using new PPE items and adapting to it whilst carrying out procedures.

“With it being such a talking point among eye care professionals we felt it was the perfect topic to discuss in depth in our latest podcast.”

To tune into the latest podcast, search for BCLA @Yours podcast on Spotify, Google Podcast, Breaker, Pocket Casts and Radio Public.

For more details, visit the BCLA @ Yours podcast page.

Non-medical contact lens fitting can now take place during the amber phase of the pandemic.

August 2020

Following on from consultation on our COVID-19 guidance, the College has updated it's advice on non-medical contact lens fitting.

Following the earlier advice from the BCLA the College is now stating that Contact Lens work can now take place during the amber phase of the pandemic.

As for all aspects of practice, if you wish to fit a patient with contact lenses you should risk assess whether and how to do this safely.

Take note of the College guidance on risk assessment.

In addition to scrupulous infection control procedures and the practitioner wearing appropriate PPE (see BCLA guidance on the use of gloves), we would advise that when fitting contact lenses:

The patient should wear a face covering.

Contact lens application and removal teaching should be done in a socially distanced way. For example perhaps by:

The patient watching a video on application and removal, and practising in a quiet area of the practice, away from others, with the contact lens practitioner on hand to manage any difficulties such as a stuck lens.

A transparent plastic screen being put up in the ‘teaching’ area to separate the patient from the teaching practitioner.

Contact lens practitioners should individually assess whether they feel comfortable undertaking this procedure.

IACLE introduces Online Student Trial Exam to support educators following the COVID-19 pandemic

August 2020

Craig Woods

The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) has launched an Online Student Trial Exam (STE) to support educators whose students are currently unable to attend their institutions in person or who want to assess students’ knowledge online.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Global Contact Lens Education’ survey conducted in May 2020 among IACLE Educator Members worldwide revealed:

• 71% of their institutions were currently closed to students to attend in person
• Only 24% were running exams or assessments for students to take in person
• 22% said they were not currently assessing students at all

Hosted on a new teaching online platform – IACLETOP – the Online STE is one of many additional resources IACLE is introducing under The TLC (Teach. Learn. Connect.) Initiative to support educators, students and industry at this time, and help reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative also reflects IACLE’s wider move towards online delivery via IACLETOP.

The STE has previously been a 100 multiple-choice question (MCQ) assessment in paper format to help teachers gauge how their students are progressing through their contact lens curriculum. The paper-format STE will now be discontinued. Delivering the STE online means IACLE can offer a number of enhancements:

Fakhruddin Barodawala• A choice between the traditional 100 MCQ exam or a reduced STE with 50 MCQs, providing more flexibility for educators and students.
• Questions and answer options randomized, so each student gets an individual exam.
• The option to complete the STE via a smartphone app as well as on their computer.
• Online feedback for each student, either on the day or when the educator prefers.

The Online STE will be free of charge until the end of 2020 and will initially be conducted in English, with translations into Spanish, Korean, Chinese (Simplified) and Bahasa to be completed by September.

IACLE’s Executive Manager of Educational Development Professor Craig Woods, who is leading the project, explained: ‘Even if educators are teaching remotely and their students are learning from home, IACLE is able to support them with this tried, tested and trusted exam. We’re very excited to add this to our existing resources and the three institutions that have already tried it out were impressed by how easy it was to administer to their students.’

FIACLE optometrist Fakhruddin Barodawala, lecturer at SEGi University in Malaysia, was among the first to run the exam. He commented: 'IACLETOP came to the rescue just in time. The pandemic has hit everyone globally, and we were clueless on how we would conduct the STE. At SEGi University, STE is an important element of contact lens teaching as it forms a part of our summative assessment for final-year students. Both I as the educator and my students had a good learning experience.’

‘The community speaks’ - first BCLA podcast goes live

July 2020

Luke Stevens Burke-CEO BCLA
The first-ever podcast produced by the BCLA is now live – giving listeners the chance to hear from experts about the impact of COVID-19 on the contact lens profession.

Chief executive, Luke Stevens-Burt, is joined by optometrist, Sarah Farrant, to discuss the results of a BCLA survey held to better understand the feelings of those returning to practise in the contact lens field after the pandemic.

The podcast, entitled ‘The Community Speaks - attitudes and adaptations under COVID-19’, is the first in a series of short audio sessions aimed exclusively at contact lens professionals.

Mr Stevens-Burt said: “We are delighted to bring you our first podcast, kick starting a series of many more to come.

“It has been a tumultuous time for the world. As restrictions are eased across a number of countries and the return to full services imminent the BCLA held a survey to understand the emotions and considerations for those practising within these specialised areas of eye care.

“The results revealed a number of trends within the wider community, particularly thoughts on the future and the role that technology has played and will continue to play in years to come.”

Sarah Farrant
The survey results, which revealed 73 per cent of respondents were feeling positive about returning to practice, are discussed in detail in the podcast while Sarah Farrant, an independent prescribing optometrist and practice owner based in Taunton, recounts the early days of the pandemic and the impact it had on her business.

She said: “The coronavirus outbreak has been incredibly interesting and challenging. It’s been mind-blowing. I know everyone uses the word ‘unprecedented’ a lot but it’s true.

“In the early days it seemed as if time stood still. Each morning would bring a new development and things were changing by the day.

“It required a lot of adapting and a willingness to change but we soon found ourselves doing different things to make it all work, like meeting patients in car parks to hand over prescriptions through the window. We really embraced the challenge.”

Other topics, including the use of PPE in practice and comfort levels in carrying out certain procedures in a post-COVID environment, also come under the microscope in the 30 minute episode.

The podcast is available to both BCLA members and non-members. It can be accessed by clicking on the link below or via Pocket Casts and Spotify, search for ‘BCLA @ Yours Podcast’. Further platforms will be added in due course.

New BCLA President set to make a ‘lasting first impression’ with online audience at virtual address

July 2020

Indie Grewal The next President of the BCLA, Indie Grewal, will give his Presidential Address on Thursday, 10 September – with the event to be held ‘virtually’ for the first time.

Due to the ongoing concerns over COVID-19 and to avoid asking members to travel into London, the presentation will be run as an online webinar. This means overseas members of the BCLA will, for the first time, be able to ‘attend’ the Presidential Address – wherever they are in the world.

Entitled ‘Making a lasting first impression’, Indie will share his memories of attending the 1997 BCLA conference, shortly after becoming a member. That lasting impression and his longstanding membership of the BCLA has since influenced and shaped his contact lens practice.

Indie, who takes over from current President Jonathon Bench, will share the technologies we can use today to engage patients and create that lasting first impression. He will also look at the evolving contact lens market and how new technologies will add to the relationship eye care professionals have with patients.

He said: “Our return back to a new normal way of practising will also be an opportunity for many of us to see new patients, as many be unwilling to travel far or may wish to continue their desire to shop locally.

“Creating a lasting first impression has always been important when meeting someone new, never more so than today. It can take less than a second for you to judge someone and create a first impression, it’s time to make that second count.”

Registration for this eagerly anticipated event, which will follow on from the BCLA’s AGM – also being held remotely on the same day – is now open.

BCLA provides Guidance in newly published document:: Returning to Practice in Covid-19

June 2020

BCLA Post Covid Guidance

The new guidance document is available now.

As eye care professionals prepare to emerge from the enforced period of lockdown, the BCLA published guidance documents with a list of points to consider as you and your team return to practice.

In addition to these, we have just published new guidance related to the use of gloves in contact lens practice.

Returning to Practice in Covid-19: Use of gloves in contact lens practice. We will provide a link when it becomes generally available.

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