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Opchat Magazine Professional Matters PagesProfessional Matters News, April to June 2017


For Ophthalmology Section Page Click Here.

College of Optometrists launches new online supervisor training.
People with autism may have sight loss which is going undetected, because health and social care practitioners misdiagnose the symptoms"
American Academy of Optometry Foundation announces The 2017 William C. Ezell Fellowships
News from General Optical Council Meeting
GOC appoints new Chief Executive.
The College says, "Help us make optometry dementia friendly!"
GOC welcomes Professional Standards Authority performance review.
AAO Calls for Abstracts - Academy 2017 Chicago Scientific Program
Irish Optometrists to deliver briefing on eye-care crisis – and set out cost saving solution on May 4th.
AOP announce election results.
AOP launches new optical Peer Support Line.
Coventry-based optometrist suspended by GOC.
College presents Dementia Research.
GOC publishes guidance on gaining valid consent.
2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Student Travel Fellowship Recipients Announced.
GOC publishes Strategic Plan for next three years
GOC removes 171 registrants after renewal deadline passes.
"Developing a Refractive Surgery Dataset.
AOP Council – voting now open for 2017 elections.
New College Council members welcomed.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists publishes refractive surgery standards guidance for ophthalmologists.

College of Optometrists launches new online supervisor training.

June 2017

The College of Optometrists has launched an online training resource for those wishing to become a trainee supervisor.

The training, which offers 1 CET point, provides all the information and guidance needed to become an effective supervisor for the Scheme for Registration and is available online.

The training includes four short videos about supervision and covers the communication and standards of practice competencies. Participants will need to complete a multiple choice quiz to demonstrate what they have learned.

All four videos can be completed in one go, or can be taken across multiple sessions.

Jackie Martin, Director of Education at the College of Optometrists said; “It’s great to be able to offer this new, more supportive guidance and training. Hopefully it will encourage more optometrists to think about becoming a supervisor. With online training and our recently launched Competency Framework, we want make it easier to become a supervisor and to ensure those that do so feel supported. Being a supervisor is an essential role in helping to develop the profession and having the opportunity to encourage someone in their career can be very rewarding.”

You can take a look at the online supervision here or read the FAQs the College provides on being a supervisor here.

People with autism may have sight loss which is going undetected, because health and social care practitioners misdiagnose the symptoms" says RNIB Scotland along with Scottish Autism.

May 2017

A systematic review of research evidence, published in the 'Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders', found there are similar behavioural features between autism and severe visual impairment in childhood.

These include difficulties with spatial awareness, light and contrast sensitivity or facial recognition that may indicate visual processing difficulties associated with autism, but may equally result from ophthalmic issues. Other features include delay in the development of symbolic play, and repetitive mannerisms such as rocking, eye-poking and rubbing.

A study on autism and sight loss by the charities RNIB Scotland and Scottish Autism, and Edinburgh Napier University, has found there is not yet sufficient evidence to give a definitive idea of how pervasive vision impairment is among autistic people. Nevertheless, it is vital individuals have access to eye care so that vision problems can either be ruled out, or diagnosed and appropriate support given.

"Undiagnosed sight loss can have a serious impact on a person's quality of life," said Anne McMillan, adult social care operations and development manager with RNIB. "RNIB's Complex Needs Services have been raising awareness of 'hidden' sight loss, among groups who might not be able to communicate problems as easily as others, for a number of years. When a person with complex needs has problems with communication their primary diagnosis may overshadow difficulties with their sight."

As part of the Scottish Government's Strategy for Autism, RNIB Scotland, Scottish Autism and Edinburgh Napier University have investigated ways of improving vision awareness and support through an education programme delivered to staff at Scottish Autism.

RNIB's Bridge to Vision education programme comprises a one-day course to introduce practitioners to common vision issues, their impact on daily living, indicators of sight loss, and the need for regular sight tests. A more in-depth two-day course can then follow for 'Vision Champions', in which a smaller number of participants learn to make systematic observations for referral to optometry and receive a toolkit for improving support and documentation for vision needs.

The training is effective, as the results published in the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities demonstrate. One participant said: "A lot of the stuff we have been taught on visual impairment is very similar to behaviour which for years we have been putting down to someone's autism."

Participants in the training reported an increased number of people they support attending eye tests, as well as more detail on vision issues in clients' support plans. Vision Champions spoke of paying closer attention to supporting those with known vision issues, ranging from thinking carefully about light sources in a room, to changing venues for activities and repainting rooms to ensure clear contrast between walls and doors.

The intention is to integrate RNIB Scotland's Bridge to Vision education programme into Scottish Autism's services. This will mean equality of access to eye care and ensure that vision issues do not go undiagnosed in people with autism.

American Academy of Optometry Foundation announces The 2017 William C. Ezell Fellowships

May 2017

The American Academy of Optometry Foundation announces the eleven recipients for the 2017 William C. Ezell Fellowship program.

The Ezell Fellowship program is named after the founding President of the AAOF, William C. Ezell, OD. It was established to provide talented post-doctoral students who are pursuing an advanced degree in optometric research and education with recognition and support. To date, over 300 William C. Ezell Fellowships have been awarded since the inception of the program in 1949.

Funding for these Fellowships is provided by leading optometric companies, private endowments, and other generous business organizations that represent most sectors of the industry.

The Foundation congratulates the following students who have been selected as the 2017 - 2018 Ezell Fellows:

American Academy of Optometry Ezell Fellow
Maria A. Walker, OD, FAAO
University of Houston College of Optometry

American Academy of Optometry Foundation Karla Zadnik Ezell Fellow
Katherine M. Bickle, OD, MS, FAAO
The Ohio State University College of Optometry

AAO Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technologies Ezell Fellow
Erin Rueff, OD, MS, FAAO
The Ohio State University College of Optometry

Baycross Christian Family Foundation Binocular Vision and Pediatrics Ezell Fellow
Ann Morrison, OD, MS
The Ohio State University College of Optometry

Irvin M. Borish – Essilor Ezell Fellow
Ian Erkelens, OD
University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science

Mike Daley – Essilor Ezell Fellow
Suraj Upadhyaya, OD, FAAO
University of Houston College of Optometry

Merton C. Flom Leadership Ezell Fellow
Phillip Thomas Yuhas, OD, MS, FAAO
The Ohio State University College of Optometry

Michael G. Harris Ezell Fellow
Elise N. Harb, OD, MSc, FAAO
University of California Berkeley School of Optometry

Optometric Glaucoma Society Ezell Fellow
Nevin W. El-Nimri, OD, MS, FAAO
University of California Berkeley School of Optometry

John H. Schoen Ezell Fellow 
Kevin Thomas Willeford, OD, MS, FAAO
State University of New York College of Optometry

William C. Ezell Fellow sponsored by Vision Impact Institute
Kaitlyn Anne Sapoznik, OD
Indiana University School of Optometry

This year’s Ezell Fellows will be honored at the AAOF’s Annual Celebration Luncheon on October 14, 2017 during the American Academy of Optometry’s Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

News from General Optical Council Meeting

May 2017

Education Strategic Review

Council welcomed the detailed and considered submissions that were received from over 50 stakeholders in response to the call for evidence on the Education Strategic Review. They discussed and approved the publication of an independent report summarising the responses and agreed the next steps for the project.
The Review is designed to ensure that education programmes and qualifications leading to GOC registration, properly equip optical professionals to meet the changing needs of patients and the challenges of a dynamic sector.

Director of Strategy Alistair Bridge said:

“The Education Strategic Review will be crucial in fulfilling one of the three strategic objectives in our Strategic Plan; ensuring that the learning and development of optical professionals adequately prepares them to carry out the roles of the future.

“The number, as well as the detail and quality of the responses to our call for evidence, show that there is strong desire from across the optical sector to be involved in shaping the development of the UK’s system of optical education.

“The responses demonstrate a consensus on the direction of travel for eye care delivery, and that the roles of optical professionals and therefore the system of education and training will need to change as a result. Our report summarising the responses provides a good platform for the next phase of the project, which will involve working closely with stakeholders to develop proposals for change.”

The GOC will publish the independent report on the responses to the Education Strategic Review and will issue a draft statement to Council in July. A draft consultation on the issues that have been raised will then be presented to Council in November.

FTP Complaints Strategy

Council approved the Strategy for Managing Fitness to Practise (FTP) Complaints more quickly and effectively and requested the addition of milestones to track the Strategy’s progress.

The Strategy aims at delivering a review of the GOC’s FTP processes and implementing changes to enable the Council to deal with FTP complaints more quickly and effectively.

Supported by KPMG, the GOC undertook an extensive review of its processes and structure, to identify issues and to learn from examples of good practice within other organisations. This included a review of the GOC’s approach to case management.

Interim Director of FTP, Safia Iman said: “KPMG identified a number of opportunities to improve our processes to provide a more sophisticated and targeted approach to case management.

“Having evaluated these opportunities, we saw value in taking all of them forward while adopting a phased approach to implementation.
We will continue to work proactively to identify potential improvements to our processes that will assist in meeting our overall objective to manage FTP complaints more efficiently.”

The GOC’s Strategy for Managing Fitness to Practise Complaints is available at HERE

GOC Performance

Council noted the GOC’s performance report for quarter four and remarked on its good progress with project work, including stakeholders’ constructive and detailed engagement with the call for evidence which was issued to launch the Education Strategic review.

In quarter four the GOC had focused on finalising the new strategic plan for 2017-20 and business plan and budget for 2017/18, which were developed through comprehensive engagement with Council, employees and stakeholders.

Areas where the GOC has seen improvement include; registration application processing, illegal practice processing, employee engagement and information governance compliance. Council observed that there were still significant operational challenges in speeding up delivery, particularly within Fitness to Practise.

The GOC will continue to review and evaluate its work, and to identify required changes to its processes.

Other news

Council Chair, Gareth Hadley, welcomed Vicky McDermott, as the GOC’s new Chief Executive and Registrar, who will take up the position on 4 September 2017.

He also expressed his gratitude to the GOC’s outgoing Chief Executive, Samantha Peters, and wished her well. Her last day will be 13 June 2017.


GOC appoints new Chief Executive.

May 2017

Vicky McDermottThe General Optical Council (GOC) is delighted to announce the appointment of Vicky McDermott as its new Chief Executive and Registrar. Vicky, who will take up the position on 4 September 2017, will replace Samantha Peters, the current Chief Executive and Registrar.

Vicky joins the GOC after serving three years as the Chief Executive Officer of the Papworth Trust, the leading disability charity in the East of England. Here she was responsible for leading an organisation of over 600 staff with a broad portfolio across accessible housing, social care, disability employment and policy.

She also steps down from her role as Chair of the Care and Support Alliance, in which she directed more than 90 charities in campaigning for improved adult social care across England.

Vicky joined the Papworth Trust in 2014 from the NHS Business Services Authority, where she led the transformation of the NHS Pension scheme and advised Government Ministers on a range of issues.

In addition to her experience in healthcare, she has worked in the private sector for BT; responsible for transformation and customer involvement.

Announcing the appointment, Gareth Hadley, Chair of the GOC said: “I am really pleased to welcome Vicky to the GOC. She brings a wealth of experience to the role and joins us at a pivotal time for the organisation, as we embark on our new Strategic Plan for 2017/20. I am confident that Vicky will provide the GOC with the strong leadership needed to ensure that the optical sector is ready to face the challenges of the future.

“I would also like to thank Samantha Peters for the significant contribution that she has made to the GOC over the past six years, and wish her all the best for the future.

Vicky McDermott said: "I am delighted to be joining the GOC, at what is a very exciting time for the organisation and the optical sector. I look forward to working with the Council, staff, registrants and patients to build on the GOC’s strong reputation for protecting and promoting the health and safety of the public.”

The College says, "Help us make optometry dementia friendly!"

May 2017

The College is supporting Dementia Awareness Week 2017 (14 – 20 May) by encouraging optometrists to become Dementia-Friends.

The Dementia-Friends programme, run by Alzheimer’s Society, is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.

All you have to do is sign up to simple online awareness training or face-to-face information sessions to gain invaluable skills in treating and communicating with people who have dementia.

Clinical Adviser Daniel Hardiman-MCCartney MCOptom has written a blog about his experience as a Dementia-Friend, or visit our Dementia learning page for top tips, videos and further reading on the condition.

GOC welcomes Professional Standards Authority performance review.

May 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today welcomed the Professional Standards Authority’s (The Authority) 2015-16 performance review report. The GOC has met 22 of The Authority’s 24 Standards of Good Regulation. This is an improvement on the previous review when the GOC met 21 of the Standards.

The Authority’s report notes a number of changes that the GOC has made to its registration processes to improve the accuracy of the register. These improvements enabled the GOC to pass The Authority’s third registration standard, which it had not done so in 2014-15.

Samantha Peters, Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “We welcome The Authority’s report and their feedback on our work to protect the public. We are pleased that they have recognised the significant work we have done to improve the quality assurance of our register.”

The standards the GOC did not meet relate to information governance and the total time taken to process fitness to practise complaints. The review covered the period 1 April 2015 – 30 September 2016.

Samantha Peters added, “We have already made significant improvements in our information governance since the period under review, which the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has recognised. Where we had a small number of information breaches the ICO recognised the swift and appropriate action we took to minimise any risk and as a result they did not take any enforcement action against us.

“We have also made changes to improve the efficiency of the fitness to practise process. These changes are improving the way we handle new cases so we hope to see an improvement in our processing time once our older cases have filtered through the system.

“We fully understand the importance for both registrants and patients alike in improving the time we take to deal with cases and this remains an organisational priority.

“We look forward to continuing to work together with The Authority to protect patients and the public.”

The full report is available here

AAO Calls for Abstracts - Academy 2017 Chicago Scientific Program

April 2017

The Scientific Program Committee of the American Academy of Optometry invites the submission of abstracts for Academy 2017 Chicago, to be held Wednesday, October 11 through Saturday, October 14. The Academy's Scientific Program offers scientists, educators, and clinicians the opportunity to exchange the latest information in optometry and vision science in two formats, research paper presentations and scientific posters.

“The annual meeting of the Academy is a great forum to showcase your recent scientific and clinical findings in optometry and vision science, and we encourage authors to submit abstracts for both oral and poster presentations,” remarked Suresh Viswanathan, MS, PhD, FAAO, Chair of the Scientific Program Committee.

The abstract submission window will be open from May 1 through May 31, 2017. This year, the Scientific Program Committee will present focused sessions on special topics that will include extended discussion, integration of clinical topics, and debate on current controversies.

The Scientific Program Committee will consider all presentations including those from students and residents. Abstracts will be judged on the following criteria:

• Adherence to submission guidelines
• Scientific or clinical novelty
• Methodologically sound
• Quantitative description of the results
• Conclusions that are substantiated by the results
• Submissions of previously published copyrighted material (e.g. ARVO abstracts or journal articles) will not be accepted.

First authors (excluding students and residents) of accepted papers/posters are also eligible to register for Academy 2017 Chicago at reduced rates. To read more about the submission guidelines or to submit an abstract, visit here.

Irish Optometrists to deliver briefing on eye-care crisis – and set out cost saving solution on May 4th.

May 2017

Eye-care currently has the largest waiting list of any health treatment area in the country, placing patients at very serious risk and compromise.

This Thursday the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI) will outline the major extent of this problem – and also set out an approach to solving it which includes:

• Clearing waiting lists quickly

• Making care more accessible

• Saving on costs

• Clinical effectiveness

• Improving early detection and treatment.

EVENT: Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI) briefing on the future of eye-care for media and Oireachtas members
DATE & TIME: Thursday, May 4th, 12noon-1pm
LOCATION: The Board Room, Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.

All involved in the sector are welcome to attend.

A news release and position paper will be available. The briefing will include a keynote presentation by AOI CEO Sean McCrave, followed by patient case studies & examples from practising Optometrists.

AOP announce election results.

May 2107

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is pleased to announce the results of the 2017 Council elections. The 2017-18 Councillors will begin their term of office on 7 June 2017.

Eleven regional Council positions were open for nominations. There were member votes with contested elections in five constituencies this year: East of England, North East England, South East England, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber. Councillors were elected unopposed in the East Midlands, South West England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The AOP also received applications for the appointed designated positions of Undergraduate Student Optometrist and Pre-registration Optometrist.

Henrietta Alderman, AOP Chief Executive, said: “I’d like to warmly congratulate our new Councillors and also thank those who have been part of the elections process this year. AOP Councillors play a vital role in representing the views of members across the UK, informing our policy making and helping to shape the future of the optical profession. Significant work lies ahead in 2017-18 including continued engagement in the GOC Education Strategic Review, extended primary care services and the future impact of technology – I very much look forward to working with Councillors on these and other issues.”

Ms Alderman added: “I also extend my sincerest thanks and appreciation to our outgoing Councillors for their hard work and dedication – they have contributed a great deal to the AOP’s work and to the wider profession.”

Newly elected AOP Council members 2017-18
Newly elected Councillors representing regional constituencies across the UK

AOP Results

AOP launches new optical Peer Support Line.

May 2017

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) today launches an important new service which offers peer-to-peer support by phone for those experiencing a difficult situation, stress or anxiety.

The AOP Peer Support Line provides a listening service for individuals at any stage of their career, and is designed specifically for the optical profession.
The service gives callers the opportunity to talk anonymously and in confidence to a fellow optical professional about an issue or stress they may be facing in their work or home life. Callers are not provided with advice but an empathetic peer, who understands the pressures of optical practice, will listen to their concerns and signpost sources of practical advice and information, where appropriate.

Chief Executive of the AOP, Henrietta Alderman, said: "The AOP Peer Support Line was borne out of findings from our 2016 research into the health and wellbeing of optometrists in the UK, and responds to the need for a different kind of support outside of our established legal, clinical or regulatory advice. In the research, more than half of the respondents reported that they frequently work to tight deadlines and 63% said they do not have enough time to balance work and family responsibilities. We developed this service to help alleviate the kinds of pressure felt by optical professionals and to strengthen the support network available in the sector.”

Optometrist and Chair of the Peer Support Line, Thurka Sivapalan, said: “The helpline is designed to help individuals gain relief and clarity over the situation that is affecting them – that first vital step often begins with talking about it. We know that practitioners can sometimes feel overwhelmed and I’m glad to be part of a service which addresses that – giving individuals a dedicated space to share those worries, unburden themselves and gain easy access to emotional support.”

Dr Rosie Allister, Manager of the Vetlife Helpline and researcher at the University of Edinburgh, provided training to the AOP’s volunteers. She explained: “Research shows us that talking through a problem alone can alleviate pressure and it can also give someone the perspective they need to navigate through a difficult situation that otherwise they may feel stuck in. The AOP Peer Support Line is a safe, non-judgemental place where callers can explore their issues, be listened to and be understood.”

Dr Allister added: “Those looking to use the service don’t need to have lots of problems or be at crisis point to pick up the phone – it’s there to help individuals and give them an outlet, no matter how small they think the issue is.”

The AOP Peer Support Line is a free-phone helpline, staffed by optical professionals – with the aim of providing callers with fast confidential access to trained volunteers who understand their working environment. Calls will be answered 24 hours a day by an external answering service, with volunteers on duty to return calls between 8am and 8pm.

Coventry-based optometrist suspended by GOC.

April 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has suspended Mohamed Saleem Patel, an optometrist based in Coventry, from its register for a period of nine months.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by virtue of a conviction for harassment and misconduct in failing to declare a police caution.

In making the decision, the Committee, chaired by Rachel O’Connell, said:

“The Registrant acted dishonestly in failing to declare the police caution. While his dishonesty was in relation to one matter, it had been repeated on a number of occasions and he had not taken a clear opportunity given to him to tell the GOC about the caution. Proper regulation of the profession depends upon registrants being honest with their regulator.

“The Registrant’s conviction for harassment in 2014 was also a serious matter. However the Committee finds that there is a low risk of repetition, both in terms of the behaviour which led to the conviction and in terms of the misconduct which produced the dishonesty. The Registrant has full insight into the behaviour which led to the conviction and developing insight into his misconduct.”

The Committee also recognised that the Registrant had engaged fully in the fitness to practise proceedings.

The Committee felt that a significant period of suspension would appropriately mark the seriousness of the misconduct and the conviction and maintain public confidence in the profession.

Mr Patel has until 18 May 2017 to appeal the decision. If no appeal is lodged with the Courts, the suspension order will take effect on 18 May 2017.

College presents Dementia Research.

April 2013

Prevalence of visual impairment in those with dementia generally higher than the overall population according to research from College of Optometrists

Nearly three quarters of visual impairment in those with dementia addressed through spectacles or cataract operation

Research led by The College of Optometrists found that prevalence of visual impairment (VI) in those with dementia is generally higher than for the overall population, highlighting the importance of sight tests in this group of people.

The College’s research also found that almost 50 per cent of those living with dementia and VI were no longer classified as visually impaired when wearing their up-to-date spectacle prescription and that VI was approximately 2-2.5 times more common for those people with dementia living in care homes than for those living at home.

The research, entitled the Prevalence of Visual Impairment in People with Dementia (PrOVIDe), was led by the College of Optometrists in collaboration with City, University of London, University of Birmingham, Thomas Pocklington Trust, Alzheimer’s Society, University of Newcastle, Trinity College Dublin and University College London and was funded and published by the National Institute for Health Research.

The project also benefitted from in-kind support from The Outside Clinic.

The study aimed to measure the prevalence of a range of vision problems in people with dementia aged 60-89 years to determine the extent to which their vision conditions are undetected or inappropriately managed. The study’s key findings were:

• 32.5 per cent of people with dementia had visual acuity (VA) worse than 6/12 (the legal standard for driving) and 16.3 per cent had VA worse than 6/18 (a commonly used international standard for defining when someone is 'visually impaired'). These figures are generally higher than in comparable data from prevalence studies on the general population (after adjustment for age and gender).

• Almost 50% of those with VI were no longer classified as visually impaired when wearing their up-to-date spectacle prescription

• 22 per cent of participants reported not having had a sight test in the previous two years, including 19 participants who had not been tested in the last ten years.

• VI was approximately 2-2.5 times more common in those living in care homes than for those living in their own homes, even after age and gender had been controlled for.

• Once refractive error was accounted for:

o Cataract was the primary cause of VI in those with VA worse than 6/12. Cataract is treatable with surgery in suitable patients.

o Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) was the primary cause of VI in those with VA worse than 6/18.

• 16 per cent of participants could not read standard newspaper-size print with their current spectacles, however almost two thirds of these participants could read this print wearing a prescription given following a dementia-friendly sight test.

Of particular note to practising optometrists, the study highlighted:

• The need to allow more time when examining people with dementia. For individuals having an eye examination who are accompanied by a carer or professional care worker, it’s important that the care worker knows the individual and has relevant information to hand. Their input is described by participating optometrists as ‘invaluable’.

• Optometrists are not always informed that an individual has dementia before their examination takes place. This knowledge is a very significant factor in achieving the best outcome for the individual.

• Optometrists did not feel enough training and support is provided to examine people with dementia.

• Carers and care workers were unsure that people with dementia could have a full eye examination if they had difficulty answering questions, however it was possible to conduct key components of the exam with more than 80 per cent of people examined.

Mike Bowen, Director of Research at the College of Optometrists, and chief investigator for the study said; “Risks of both dementia and visual impairment increase with age, so a large proportion of people with dementia may also have visual impairment. We hope that this research will help professionals to understand the importance of vision to those with dementia. This in turn, can help us to provide better care and help improve quality of life for this growing group within the population.

“Optometrists are not always informed when an individual has dementia, which is a very significant factor in achieving the best outcome for the individual. This study gives us some very clear information, such as that a carer’s knowledge of the history of the person with dementia is very valuable to the optometrist. We’ve also learned that some optometrists do not think that they have enough training or support to effectively examine the sight of those with dementia and we will work to provide up-to-date training resources to our members as part of our strategy to implement the report’s findings.

The College has generated a set of resources for members to use in everyday practice, supporting them in offering the best possible eye care to patients with dementia, including peer discussion case studies, a PrOVIDe presentation from researcher, Professor David Edgar,and a DOCET programme about dementia.

James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society said: “We know all too well how important it is for people affected by dementia to access good quality eye care.

“The study helps to address the vast misconceptions that it is difficult or impossible for people living with dementia to get an eye test. It is not only possible but hugely important. The findings also show that for a large number of people affected by dementia, a simple correction such as getting glasses or surgery can greatly improve their quality of life.

“We need to make sure that both eye professionals and people affected by dementia understand the importance of accessing eye care, and how correcting vision impairments can make a significant difference to the lives of people living with dementia.”

A parliamentary launch for the PrOVIDe research took place on 25 April. It aimed to raise awareness of optometry, the College, and the issues related to vision and dementia. The event was sponsored by MP Debbie Abrahams, who is the Chair of the Dementia APPG.

Notes on the research project:

1. The research was led by the College of Optometrists in collaboration with City, University of London, University of Birmingham, Thomas Pocklington Trust, University of Newcastle, Trinity College Dublin, University College London and Alzheimer’s Society. It was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research programme.

2. HS&DR Funding Acknowledgement: This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research Programme (project number 11/2000/13).

3. Department of Health Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the HS&DR Programme, NIHR, NHS or the Department of Health.

4. The study involved 708 people with dementia (389 living at home, 319 living in a care home). It involved two stages; stage one, where 708 people had a domiciliary eye examination and stage two, where qualitative data were collected from 119 participants. This included interviews with 36 people with dementia from stage one, and eleven care workers, focus groups were conducted with optometrists, family carers and professional carers.

5. The College of Optometrists is the professional body for optometry. It qualifies the profession and delivers the guidance and training to ensure optometrists provide the best possible care. We promote excellence through the College’s affixes, by building the evidence base for optometry, and raising awareness of the profession with the public, commissioners, and health care professionals.

GOC publishes guidance on gaining valid consent.

Aprl 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today published guidance on obtaining valid consent to assist registrants in meeting its standards of practice.

The guidance reflects patients’ rights to determine what happens to their own bodies and to make informed choices when purchasing optical appliances and services. Obtaining valid consent should be seen as part of an on-going discussion and decision-making process between a healthcare professional and their patient.

Marcus Dye, GOC Head of Standards and CET said, “Gaining valid consent is a fundamental part of optical practice, but it was clear from the consultation on our standards of practice that registrants wanted further guidance on how to meet this requirement in their day-to-day work.

“We consulted closely with a range of stakeholders, including patients and the public, registrants, professional bodies, employers and insurers, to develop further guidance in this particular area.

“Our new guidance helps to clarify our standard relating to obtaining valid consent and supports our registrants in meeting it in their daily practice.”

The guidance on consent, including the legal framework on assessing capacity to consent for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, can be found on the GOC website here alongside the new guidance on the professional duty of candour published in March 2017.

2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Student Travel Fellowship Recipients Announced.

April 2017

The American Academy of Optometry is pleased to congratulate the recipients of the 2017 Student Travel Fellowship Awards. The travel fellowships will allow six students to present their research at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) annual meeting in May of 2017. The 2017 recipients and their respective schools follow.

Supported by Johnson and Johnson Vision:

• Bright Ashimatey, OD, Indiana University
• Billie Beckwith-Cohen, DVM, MBA, FAAO, University of California Berkeley
• Gareth Hastings, MPhil, BOptom, University of Houston
• Jakaria Mostafo, University of Houston
• Cornelia Peterson, DVM, The Ohio State University

Supported by the American Academy of Optometry:

• Yifei Wu, BScOptom, Indiana University

The American Academy of Optometry administers travel fellowships in order to encourage optometry students, optometric residents, and students in eye and vision related graduate programs to attend key national meetings and exchange scientific ideas on research.

Fellowships are awarded primarily for accomplishment and potential in optometric research and education, and are evaluated by the American Academy of Optometry’s Research Committee.

Applications for student travel fellowships for the Academy’s annual meeting, Academy 2017 Chicago, will be available in July 2017. For more information visit here

The American Academy of Optometry (AAO) enhances excellence in optometric practice by fostering research and disseminating knowledge in vision science through its journal, Optometry and Vision Science, and the continuing education presented at its annual meeting. Fellows of the Academy are committed to the premise that learning is a lifelong obligation of a professional, as is the commitment to expand the profession’s knowledge base through ongoing fellowship and exchange.

GOC publishes Strategic Plan for next three years

April 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today published its Strategic Plan for 2017/20, with a strong focus on the future of education in the optical professions.

The GOC’s strategic objectives for the next three years are: the learning and development of optical professionals, a targeted approach to regulation, and organisational transformation.

GOC Chair Gareth Hadley said: “It should be no surprise that education is at the heart of our strategic plan. The professions we regulate are changing fast and new technology could render obsolete some of the ways in which our registrants have worked for decades. At the same time, an ageing population and pressures on NHS services mean there is more demand for eyecare services than ever.

“Optometrists and dispensing opticians can play a major part in meeting these demands by taking on new roles, but only if they have the right education and training to support them with these changes. This is why we have placed education at the heart of our plans for the next three years.

“We have received a positive response to our recent Education Strategic Review call for evidence and are committed to making sure that optical professionals are ready to face the challenges of the future.”

In the Strategic Plan the GOC also commits to driving forward improvements to the way it carries out its core regulatory functions. The GOC pledges to build on the progress it has made in modernising its fitness to practise function, together with activity across the organisation including processes and customer service.

GOC removes 171 registrants after renewal deadline passes.

April 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC) has removed 140 individual practitioners and 31 bodies corporate from its registers for failing to renew their registration for the year 2017/2018 – less than 1% of registrants.

51 optometrists and 89 dispensing opticians missed the deadline for renewal of 31 March. It is now illegal for them to continue practising in the UK.

Michelle Norman, GOC Head of Registration, said: “We’re really pleased to see that the vast majority of our registrants applied for renewal on time. A very small number of registrants failed to renew by the deadline and have therefore left themselves unable to practise in the UK. This demonstrates to the public and to the optical professions that our registrants understand the importance of GOC registration.”

This year, the GOC made changes to the renewal process to make it more cost-effective and efficient. Michelle Norman added, “This year we decided to no longer issue registration cards as they are only valid on the day that they are issued and don’t prove that an individual or business is registered. The best way to check registration status is on our online register which has the most up to date information.

“We also sent renewal notices by email this year instead of by post, and registrants will receive confirmation of renewal by email as well. We expect to save at least £50,000 annually from these changes. We’re delighted that registrants responded positively to the improved renewal process, which is reflected in the low numbers of practitioners and businesses removed from the registers for failing to renew. ”

Any individual or business registrants who have been removed, but who wish to continue practising or carrying on business, must restore to the registers immediately. Applicants must complete the restoration form and pay the restoration fee of £420. Individual practitioners must also provide evidence of having met the necessary CET requirements in the past 12 months. Restoration forms are available from

Developing a Refractive Surgery Dataset.

April 2017

David Hewlett from the Optical Confederation and Katrina Venerus from LOCSU represented non-hospital ophthalmology providers, optometrists and dispensing opticians at a working group on 23 March to agree a minimum data set for refractive surgery.

The working group was convened by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists but recognises that this is a growing area of clinical practice for optometrists and opticians as well as other health professionals.

Katrina Venerus said: “We are close to agreeing a minimum data set which will collect, before and after surgery, uncorrected near, intermediate and distance visual acuities as well as outcome at discharge, or at one year and discharge. The overriding principle is to err on the side of simplicity and to collect only essential information and data as part of routine practice. We also agreed that patients when consenting to surgery should also be asked whether their data can be confidentially shared for audit purpose and to improve patient outcomes.”

David added: “Developing an agreed refractive surgery dataset is a key part of our proposals for providers and clinical teams to benefit patients. Excellent progress is being made, although in many ways agreeing a dataset is the easy part. We now have to carry providers and clinicians with us to collect the data and persuade all parties to agree to submit them to a central independent analytical resource or repository. To do this we need to be clear about the purpose and uses of the data, and the independence of the analysis. There is still a significant amount of work to be done here but the signs are positive.”

David Hewlett said: “What we are doing here may well become the model for other areas of shared ophthalmic practice in years to come. So we are actively seeking the views of all optometrists, opticians and optical practices, whether or not they refer to or offer refractive surgery, cataract or other services.”

AOP Council – voting now open for 2017 elections.

April 2017

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) 2017 Council elections open on the 3 April. The voting period will run for three weeks, closing at 5pm on 24 April.

AOP Councillors act on behalf of members – ensuring that views from across the UK and within the profession are represented in the AOP’s policy-making.

Five regional Council positions are up for a member vote in this year’s election: East of England, North East England, South East England, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber. Only members in these constituencies will be eligible to vote.

Henrietta Alderman, AOP Chief Executive, said: “Councillors play a vital role in representing members from each UK constituency – they inform the AOP’s policy making, represent the views of members and ultimately help to shape the future of the optical profession. With the significant work that lies ahead in 2017, including the GOC Education Strategic Review, extended primary care services and the future impact of technology, we strongly encourage all members to vote in this year’s elections. Nominations include practitioners from all backgrounds, career stages and modes of practice, and it is up to our members to decide which candidate is best placed to champion their opinions, interests and concerns.”

AOP Councillor for the West Midlands, Francesca Marchetti said: “With the 2017 nominations announced, now is the time for members to get involved in this important election. I’ve had excellent opportunities as a Councillor to work on high-profile issues including the health and wellbeing of optical practitioners and education. Members can have their say on the big issues affecting the sector through AOP Council so I recommend you find out who is standing, what their priorities are and vote for the person who can best represent your views.”

Additionally, the AOP received applications for the designated positions of Undergraduate Student Optometrist and Pre-registration Optometrist. These posts are appointed by the AOP Appointments Committee and will come into effect in June 2017.

The full list of elected Council members and appointments will be announced on 2 May.

New College Council members welcomed.

April 2017

The College of Optometrists has welcomed six new members to its Council at the College’s AGM, held during the Optometry Tomorrow conference in Birmingham (19-20 March).

Laura Sweeney (MCOptom) has been elected as a College Council member for Scotland, Ceri Probert (MCOptom) will represent members in Wales, Russell Dawkins (MCOptom) will join as a Council member for the London region, Ian White (MCOptom) will represent the North West and Lucy Hall (MCOptom) and Angharad Hobby (MCOptom) will both become College Council members for the South East.

Speaking about her election to Council, Angharad Hobby MCOptom said; “I’m delighted to take a place on the College Council. As a relatively newly qualified optometrist I feel I can provide the Council with a voice and views from the younger generation of clinicians. My working life encompasses practice in the community and hospital eye service, research and education and I think this give me a holistic view of the profession. I relish the challenge of this new role and will do my utmost to ensure that College members in the South East are represented proficiently.”

A further three existing Council members have been re-elected to the Council:
• Geraint Griffiths (MCOptom) for the East Midlands.
• Shamina Asif (MCOptom) and Francesca Marchetti (MCOptom) for the West Midlands.

Two Council members have retained their seats in uncontested elections; Barbara Watson (FCOptom) for Yorkshire and Humber and Tony Gibson (MCOptom) for the North East.

Ian Humphries, Chief Executive of the College of Optometrists said; “I would like to welcome all of the new members of Council and look forward to working with them. Council members are ambassadors for the profession; they bring members’ views directly to the College, which is hugely valuable to us, and provide leadership for the profession and represent the views of their colleagues in their region. I would also like to thank and recognise all the outgoing Council and Board members for their enormous contribution and service over the years.”

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists publishes refractive surgery standards guidance for ophthalmologists.

April 2017

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCO) have published guidance on refractive surgery standards for surgeons. The new standards are expected to be implemented by 1 June 2017.

David Hewlett
David Hewlett, Chief Executive of FODO and Optical Confederation member said:

“Having commented substantively on earlier drafts, we look forward to studying this guidance and any new evidence with interest. In the meantime we are consulting on guidance for providers and wider multi-disciplinary teams which is where the majority of safe and high-quality refractive surgery now takes place. Multi-disciplinary working is also the way of the future and we are looking to fill this current gap in support for providers and other professions engaged in surgery.”

David Hewlett continues: “We are very supportive of an agreed refractive surgery dataset and an agreed, independent data and analysis repository so that we can continuously learn, improve and become more patient-focussed across the refractive surgery sector as a whole. We are also consulting on further patient protection measures for the rare occasions when trust breaks down, which we would expect all providers and regulators to support, to make refractive surgery across the board as safe and successful as it can be.”

says "The Professional Standards for Refractive Surgery April 2017, aimed at surgeons and other medical professionals, provide clear guidance on the level of experience and knowledge refractive surgeons should have, as well as the environment for performing surgery safely, good communication and teamwork, continuity of care, and maintaining trust. The new standards are expected to be implemented by 1 June 2017."

Click here to read the complete guidance standards.


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