Latest News

Vouchers at a Glance 2018 - Updated June 2018 Edition

FODO, on behalf of the Optical Confederation, has published an updated edition of 'Vouchers at a Glance'. 

The earlier April 2018 edition provided the recommended minimum sight test intervals for people with diabetes, as given in the College of Optometrists’ guidance. This differs slightly from the intervals agreed with NHS England and has caused some confusion as a result.

The reissued June 2018 edition reflects the NHS England memorandum of understanding. In addition, a note has been added to clarify the position for Northern Ireland.

We hope you find this new version a useful reference guide, and would like to apologise for any confusion caused.  

To download the updated June 2018 edition of Vouchers at a Glance, click here

More high street eye services will reduce avoidable blindness

The Optical Confederation, of which FODO is an active member, today called on health chiefs to take to take immediate action to end delays and reduce avoidable sight loss.

This echoed the call made today by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eye Health and Visual Impairment for urgent action following its report into capacity. Moving non-emergency services into high-street optical practices could solve the crisis, the Optical Confederation (OC) insists.

OC Chair, Fiona Anderson, said: “All eye experts are agreed this is an avoidable crisis and that the current eye health system is failing patients on grand scale. All that is needed is positive leadership and decisive action to end this appointment lottery.

“Moving routine and non-emergency eye health services into optical practices will allow the hospital sector to concentrate on the most urgent and complex cases and reduce avoidable sight loss.”

The APPG's report follows its inquiry into capacity issues in eye care, and the findings are being launched at a Parliamentary reception for MPs today. The inquiry and its calls for urgent action are also being supported by key organisations including Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. The inquiry received evidence from 557 patients and 111 organisations.

For the full Optical Confederation press release, including details of the findings of the report and the Optical Confederation's written submission to the APPG inquiry, click here.

NHS England pilot new post payment verification system


The Optical Confederation, of which FODO is an active member, is working with NHS England and the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) to develop a new method of post payment verification (PPV) of GOS claims.

NHS England and the NHSBSA are piloting this new PPV method in Wessex, West Yorkshire and Harrogate, to gain a better understanding of the level of errors made in claims and provide assurance to NHS England that contractor claims are appropriate.

For the full Optical Confederation statement, as well as links to guidance on the PPV pilot schemes, click here

FODO Chair Lynda Oliver re-elected for second three-year term


FODO Chair Lynda Oliver (Outside Clinic) was unanimously re-elected for a further three years at the FODO Annual General Meeting in London today.

Paul Carroll (Specsavers Optical Group); Stephen Hannan (Optical Express); William Stockdale (Optimise); and Giles Smith (Haines & Smith Opticians) were also re-elected as Directors, having stood again after having stood down on rotation.

Sarah Joyce (ASDA) and Stuart Burdett (Vision Express) also joined the Directors Board, filling vacancies following the resignation of Omar Hassan (Vision Express) and retirement of Eddie Watson (Boots). All Directors were elected for a period of three years.

At the AGM, Lynda Oliver formally launched the FODO Annual Review 2017/18 during her Chair’s address, a full transcript of which can be seen here

Optical Confederation wholeheartedly endorses NAO report conclusions showing unacceptable Capita and NHS England service to primary care practitioners


The Optical Confederation 'wholeheartedly endorses the conclusion of an NAO report published today (17 May) that the service to primary care practitioners from Capita and NHS England has fallen a long way below an acceptable standard'. As an active member of the Optical Confederation, FODO strongly supports this position. 

The report found that ‘NHS England did not know enough about the services it inherited to set achievable service specifications and performance standards from the start of the contract.' There were also a lack of appropriate performance measures – for example, simply measuring if payments were made on time but not if they were accurate.

The NAO called on NHS England to determine whether all current services within the PCSE contract are best delivered through that contract or whether some should be taken in-house by NHS England, and to consider the operational readiness of each service before agreeing to the implementation of any further transformation change.

Optical Confederation Chair Fiona Anderson said: “As the NAO points out, value for money is not just about cost reduction. Yet these poorly managed changes have been driven by the desire for savings, not the need to improve primary care services. The report highlights that the optical payments service is still unreliable. Indeed, once again this month payments due are being delayed to hard working practitioners struggling to provide essential and sight saving NHS care.

“It is only to be hoped that the Public Accounts Committee will pick this up to ensure that lessons are learned, that the sector will be listened to this time, and that we can now work jointly to deliver the much-needed modernisation of the GOS system, with properly agreed plans, timescales and support for the NHS front-line.     

“NHS England, Capita and more importantly patients cannot afford another fiasco on this scale.”

To read the Optical Confederation's full statement, click here. The NAO report, 'NHS England’s management of the primary care support services contract with Capita' can be found here





Annual Strategy Meeting 2018 - FODO commits to expanding primary eye care, integrating ophthalmic services and pushing for lower VAT on optical goods


FODO looks ahead with confidence and energy, committing to more primary eye care, integrating ophthalmic services across boundaries to meet public needs and push for lower VAT on optical goods to help patients.

At its annual strategy meeting, 23-24 April 2018, the FODO Group Board and industry leaders met to review eye health needs and to plan how FODO will support its members expand primary and community services to meet growing demand for high-quality eye health services both within and outside hospitals.

The event was launched with a review of the growing application of artificial intelligence in eye care, led by Professor James Wolffsohn of Aston University, followed by forensic analysis of the operating environments and trends for eye health both within and outside the NHS, in the Irish health service and across sensory impairment. 

To view a full summary of the discussion points, click here

Department of Health freezes GOS fees for third consecutive year


The Government has announced today that it is freezing GOS fees for the third year running. This comes as extremely disappointing news for the optical sector, particularly in light of the more generous offers being seen recently in other areas of NHS health provision.  

The Optometric and Fees Negotiation Committee (OFNC), for which FODO provides the secretariat, has issued a press release in response to the news, which can be read here. In it, the OFNC calls the announcement “completely unacceptable” for the profession amid rising costs of running optical practices, and makes clear that the so-called ‘negotiated settlement’ amounts to a real terms cut to a key public service.

Speaking in her role as OFNC secretary, FODO Director of Policy and Strategy Ann Blackmore also criticised the lack of funding for IT connectivity:

“OFNC have stressed the urgent need for the Department and NHS England to find funding for IT connectivity in the coming year. The short-sighted rejection of previous bids and lack of risk assessment means that patients’ eyesight is at risk from the withdrawal of fax machines for urgent referrals. NHS Mail will be a temporary fix but the NHS drive to be paperless means the problem will return in spades unless there is investment in the optical sector.” – Ann Blackmore

For more information or advice, please contact or call 020 7298 5156.

Spring Statement - FODO welcomes Government commitment to tackle 'scourge' of late payments

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Responding to this afternoon’s Spring Statement by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians (FODO) Chief Executive David Hewlett, said:

“Growth in the economy is always welcome news for health care.  We also welcome the Chancellor’s promise to eliminate the ‘scourge’ of late payments. Let us hope this also applies to the NHS, where the catastrophic failure by NHS England and Capita to deliver NHS optical payments has had serious consequences for our members and needs to be addressed by the Government with the utmost urgency.”

In January earlier this year, FODO co-signed an Optical Confederation letter to NHS England, calling for urgent action to address these failings to fulfil contractual obligations. For more information, click here.

David Hewlett added: “Other changes announced in the Spring Statement, including the frequency of business rate valuations and the funding of apprenticeships for small businesses, will also affect FODO members.  We will be studying these proposals closely and advising our members accordingly later in the week.”


FODO CET Sessions at Optrafair

FODO is running three CET sessions at this year’s Optrafair (14-16 April) in Birmingham, where also be exhibiting.

These are shown below: 

The Duty of Candour and How to Apply it in Routine Practice Saturday

Saturday 14 April, 11.45 – 12.45 PEER DISCUSSION 
Leader: Richard Edwards 

Details: Following publication of the GOC Standards in 2016, the profile around the Duty of Candour has risen. Understanding what this means for optometry and how to comply with the changes is key. Supporting the launch of FODO’s easy reference guide ‘Candour at a Balance’, in this interactive peer discussion, Richard Edwards uses case studies to explore key discussion points, encouraging delegates to think about and test how they meet new regulator expectations.

Information Governance and Management 
Saturday 14 April, 15.30 – 16.30 DISCUSSION WORKSHOP 
Leader: Bhavina Patel 

Details: Data protection rules are changing at a rapid pace, with real implications for optometry. Under new regulations, expectations regarding information governance have risen dramatically.  In this discussion workshop, Bhavina Patel uses case scenarios to allow delegates the opportunity to discuss the effect of the changes amongst peers and to find out whether they are compliant with the changes. Learn what all the fuss is about and pick up some tips along the way.

Consent in Routine Practice 
Sunday 15 April, 10.30 - 11.30 PEER DISCUSSION 
Leader: Richard Edwards 

Details: Following publication of the GOC Standards in 2016, the profile around the Duty of Candour has risen. Understanding what this means for optometry and how to comply with the changes is key. Supporting the launch of FODO’s easy reference guide ‘Consent at a Balance’, in this interactive peer discussion, Richard Edwards uses case studies to explore key discussion points, encouraging delegates to think about how they meet new regulator expectations.

All of the sessions are worth 3 CET points and will be held at the ABDO CET theatre (B40). 

Please note: There is no registration, with places being allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. We do hope to see as many FODO members as possible at these events. 

OFNC seeking NHS eReferral grant for optical practices



The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) has been in negotiations with NHS England to secure funding to provide IT connectivity between optical practices in England and the rest of the NHS.  It had been hoped that this could come from an underspend elsewhere in primary care which has been widely reported in the media.  Unfortunately at the last minute this proved not to be possible. 

Trevor Warburton, OFNC Chair, said:  "It is extremely disappointing that we have not been able to secure funding to connect optical practices with the NHS this year. However, NHS England do now seem to accept that investment in this area is needed, which is progress, and have committed to continue working with us on this in 2018-19, although no budget has yet been allocated. It is essential that NHS England do now work with us to deliver on this long overdue modernisation."

Ann Blackmore, OFNC Secretary added: “NHS England have confirmed that the requirement for all primary care referrals to be electronic from October will not apply to optical practices. Nevertheless, however we look at it, this change is likely to result in  more work for some practices and GPs which could have been avoided Looking ahead  our shared aim with NHS England must be to develop a simple and straightforward system of IT connectivity as soon as possible and we will continue to press NHS England hard on this.


Notes to editors:

  1. The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) is the community eye health equivalent of the BMA’s and BDA’s General Practice Committees and community pharmacist’s pharmaceutical services negotiating committee (PSNC). It is the recognised negotiating body for fees for the professions. Its members include the ABDO, the AOP, the BMA, and FODO.
  2. The Chair and secretariat to the OFNC are provided by AOP and FODO.
  3. The current membership of OFNC is Trevor Warburton (Optometrist, AOP – Chair OFNC), Henrietta Alderman (AOP CEO), Richard Edwards (Optometrist, FODO), Claire Slade (Optometrist, FODO), Gordon Ilett (AOP), Ian White (Optometrist AOP), Simon Longstaff (OMP BMA), Kim Fowler (BMA), Professor Nagasumbramanian (OMP BMA), Sir Anthony Garrett (CEO ABDO), David Hewlett (CEO FODO). Secretary: Ann Blackmore (FODO).
  4. Further information can be obtained from the secretary at or on 020 7298 5156.

Short Interview with new BCLA President Keith Tempany


[Pictured: Keith Tempany] 

FODO’s James Turner spoke recently to Keith Tempany about his priorities as the new BCLA President after the organisation recently moved into its new home at Gloucester Terrace, joining FODO, the FMO and ABDO. Here’s what Keith had to say…

James: “Hello Keith and a warm welcome from FODO members - many of whom already know you as a pioneering and highly-respected member of the optical community.  

“You gave an inspiring call to action in your presidential address on 21 September 2017. Could you set out the main issues you discussed again for FODO members?”

Keith: “Sure. There have been a number of revolutionary moments affecting the contact lens world over the last 40 years, and I believe the next of these will be centred around myopia control. This is currently a huge ticking time bomb for public health that very few people are aware of. What’s more, the idea that there is a so-called ‘safe myopia’ has been blown out of the water by Ian Flitcroft’s *paper on the aetiology of the condition. It’s now clear that even low-level myopia carries health risks and we have to understand that the more myopic people become, the greater the risk of sight-threatening effects.

“Timing is everything in tackling this challenge and we should be looking to step in with treatment from a younger age than we are currently. This means having conversations with young parents, especially where one or two of them are myopic themselves. For these individuals, we should be making sure we see their children at six months, whether or not they are not showing signs of short-sightedness.

“Even for parents with no history of myopia, we really should be seeing their children before they start school, as those between the ages of six and seven who present with a less plus prescription than they should have are at greater risk of developing myopia further down the line. Studies have shown that it is the year of two before becoming myopic that the eye changes shape the quickest. In cases where a child does become myopic, we need to be proactive, as most of the damage is done between the ages of 6-13. After then it can be too late. Despite an awareness of myopia and the risks, actions are being taken too late. We need to be more on the ball. If we in the optical community don’t believe all of the research on myopia, we at least need to have the conversation.

“What’s clear is that myopia is too massive a problem for one organisation to solve. And so, optical bodies need to come together to educate the public and to provide a unified voice and a unified strategy. We all have a duty of care, and myopia control is part of this. Although we still don’t know very much about myopia, we know far too much to sit back and do nothing. It hasn’t reached the public in a big way yet, but it will”

James: “What is your view of the contact lens sector – what does it do well, and how can it be better?

Keith: “The industry-led education in the sector is excellent and the BCLA is a big part of this.  However, as a sector, we need to be comfortable talking to patients after eye examinations and offering them all possible options, including contact lenses. Contact lenses can be life-changing. We hear it so many times from many individuals, but it’s worth remembering. 

“We also need to get more comfortable fitting children with contact lenses. Even for an adult, a contact lens fitting might seem like a daunting prospect, so it’s no surprise that children may feel apprehensive. To serve children effectively, the fitting needs to be a continuation of care based on trust. For instance, it’s really helpful before starting out with any treatment, to get a good understanding of the child’s individual likes and dislikes and to tailor the first session with a child accordingly. If you get a lens on the eye that’s a bonus, but it’s really just about building a rapport with the child at that stage, and most importantly, establishing trust.

“To do this, it helps to speak to children not from up high, but at their eye level and to use short sentences and phrases. This is a communication skills challenge, especially given that it’s also part of an ongoing conversation between the optician and the parent, as well as the child. The patient is the priority, of course, and we want them to feel able to ask questions and not feel intimidated.  An example we’ve seen of making it fun for children is in using dyes. Instead of just telling a child that you’re going to put dye in their eye, which can understandably make them nervous, you can instead tell them that you’re going to use drops that they won’t feel to give them yellow dragon eyes for a few minutes. It’s just one example, but I’ve seen it done myself, and children love it. This sort of approach really helps to break the ice.

“When it comes to talking to parents, the approach is obviously slightly different, and there’s a fine balance between making them aware of risks and yet not overly scaring them - we can explain about the risk of vision loss without the need to show lots of nasty pictures, for example. Fitting lenses is not difficult. What is a challenge is the communication process.”

James: “Is the Opticians Act (as amended 12 years ago) still fit for purpose?”

Keith: “When it was written, the optical marketplace was totally different from how it is now. The scope of eye care professionals has changed a great deal since then and will continue to change in the near future. A review is absolutely necessary, and any new Act should be future-proofed in order to protect patient safety in years to come. It would also need to promote fairness in the industry to ensure that no grey areas could be exploited.” 

James: “What are the current priorities for the BCLA and your presidency?”

Keith: “It’s funny, I never thought I would be President. When I first joined the BCLA Council almost ten years ago, I was really pleased just to be able to give something back to a profession that I loved, and I feel the same way now. And so, I don’t want to just turn up and chair meetings, I really want to see real change take shape during my tenure. For me that chiefly concerns the control of myopia. By the end of my time here, I want the issue to be out there in the public domain and also for the optical profession to be raised up a notch or two in the public consciousness.

Dry Eye Disease is also really important for the BCLA. In fact we have recently completed a dry eye accreditation and will be doing the same for myopia management this year, so I would really encourage practitioners to get up to speed on the subject - not just contact lenses but also the anterior surface.”

James -“Finally, if you have one message for FODO members, what would it be?”

Keith: “Join the BCLA! Come to our conference, keep up to date with the anterior surface and contact lenses and let us help you grow your business!” 

FODO would like to thank Keith Tempany and the BCLA for this interview and wish Keith every success for his Presidency and with the myopia campaign.

For more information, contact James Turner, or Cheryl Donnelly .

*Ian Flitcroft’s paper, entitled ‘The complex interactions of retinal, optical and environmental factors in myopia aetiology’ can be found here:

Winners of the Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund announced



Wednesday 24 January 2018

(Pictured Left-Right – Asad Javed, Huma Batha)

The two bursary winners of the Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund (IAMF) which supports students to work with Vision Aid overseas have been announced.

Huma Batha, 20, from City University and Asad Javed, 21, from the University of Bradford have been picked and will be heading off to Africa next summer for two weeks.

They will be supported by Vision Aid Overseas to provide training to local eye care workers, to establish Vision Centres where patients can access eye care services and to support outreach services in rural communities.  

Both students were in London for interviews on Wednesday 6 December 2017 and will head off on their assignment to Africa in summer 2018. The exact location has not been chosen yet, however for the last two years it has been in Zambia.

Huma Batha said:

“I’m thrilled to have been selected for this bursary. The opportunity to take my skills to a country that urgently needs them is thrilling and a privilege.”

Asad Javed added:

“With so many people in developing countries needing support with protecting their eyesight, I cannot think of a better way to give something back than spending some time working with them.”

The volunteers are crucial to Vision Aid Overseas and help them to achieve their mission to fight poverty by transforming access to eye care and affordable glasses in Africa.

For more information on Vison Aid Overseas visit



Notes to editors

Irvine George Aitchison MA, LL B(Cantab), FSMC, FBOA, Barrister-at-Law, led a distinguished life of wide ranging interests.  He had been President of the Ski Club of Great Britain and of the Alpine Ski Club and was held in wide esteem in many circles both within and outside optics.  In 1911 he assumed responsibility for the firm of Aitchison & Co. and in 1927 took over the ailing Dollond & Co. on which he built the foundations for the optical group Dollond & Aitchison.  He was an active member of the Society of Opticians Executive Committee until his death in 1965.  He played a prominent part in promoting the Opticians Act 1958 and was a founder member of the General Optical Council.

In 1966 the members of the Society of Opticians formed the Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund (a registered educational charity) to commemorate its first chairman.  In 1985 the members of the Society joined the newly formed Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians (FODO) and the Society ceased to exist.  The Trustees of The Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund are grateful to FODO for providing office and secretarial services for this Fund.

Irvine Aitchison’s sense of adventure, combined with an unfailing demand for high standards in education, led The Trustees to form an arrangement with Vision Aid Overseas to allow two students a chance to join a Vision Aid Overseas assignment. 


FODO signs Optical Confederation letter calling on NHS England to take urgent action to address Capita failures


Monday 22 January 2018

FODO has today signed an Optical Confederation letter (Monday 22 January 2018) written to Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, calling for urgent action to address the ongoing failure of Capita to fulfil their contractual obligations. 

The letter highlights the “utter frustration, dissatisfaction and anger” at the continuing failure of the Primary Care Support England (PCSE) service delivered by Capita for NHS England. Echoing a similar letter from the British Medical Association (BMA), the Optical Confederation Chief Executives describe the situation as “completely unacceptable”, pointing out that Capita has failed to deliver on promises to rectify the situation dating back as far as April 2016. 

The optical sector has “no confidence” in Capita, which has failed to manage the ophthalmic payments service to an acceptable standard, to execute the processing and payment of CET schemes within expected timescales for the second year running, and to manage and process Performers List and GOS contract applications. 

In light of these failures, the Optical Confederation has formally requested that unless a “cast iron guarantee” be provided by the end of the financial year (April 2018) that the backlog of payment issues will be resolved by the end of June and that the service will be operating at the required standard by that point, then the contract should be taken away from Capita. The Optical Confederation recognise that this would involve significant upheaval, but nevertheless believe that it would be in their members’ best interests.  

The letter is signed by the Chief Executives of Optical Confederation member bodies, the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO), the Association of Optometrists (AOP), the Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians (FODO) and the Clinical Director of the LOC Support Unit (LOCSU).   

You can read the full letter here.


FODO welcome updated NICE glaucoma guideline supporting greater role for optometrists


Updated guidance published today by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), ‘Glaucoma diagnosis and management’, clarifies the role optometrists can play in the diagnosis and management of glaucoma patients.  

Welcoming the new guidance, FODO Chief Executive, David Hewlett, said:

“This updated guideline is extremely helpful. The updated Intraocular Pressure (IOP) recommendation brings England and Wales more into line with Scotland and the pathway diagrams are extremely clear. Most importantly, the guideline should enable the NHS to plan services across primary and secondary care to make better use of all available capacity.”

FODO Clinical Adviser, Professor Steve Taylor, added:

“Optometrists will welcome this new guidance, which makes clear their clinical role in the diagnosis and management pathway for Chronic Open Angle Glaucoma (COAG) and Ocular Hypertension (OHT). It allows for the greater use of their core competences in managing patients outside hospital, and sets a more rational IOP referral threshold. I hope the guidance will now lead to universal implementation of NHS funded glaucoma referral and care services.”  

This is an update of the 2009 guideline on Glaucoma – ‘Glaucoma: diagnosis and management COAG and OHT’.  It sets a new, higher IOP threshold for referral - bringing England more into line with Scotland - and establishes a blueprint for universal referral refinement services based on community optical practices. It also includes new information on: guideline committee and scope; methodology; case finding, diagnosis and monitoring; service models; prognostic risk tools; and the treatment of OHT.

To access the updated guideline, click here


Notes to Editors   

1. The Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians is a leading professional membership and insurance organisation that represents primary care eye health providers in the UK and Ireland and offers bespoke and targeted advice to our diverse business and individual membership. We represent the interests of opticians, optometrists and other optical professionals and businesses at the highest level of national policy debate.

2. For more information please contact:
James Turner
Communications and Public Affairs Officer
T: 020 (0)20 7298 5125





New cataracts guidance for the NHS will improve patient care

FODO welcomes the new NICE guideline ‘Cataracts in adults: management’, which represents an important step in improving patient care and outcomes in the NHS.

Commenting on the new guideline, FODO Chief Executive David Hewlett said: 

“This guideline helpfully summarises the longstanding views of clinicians and professional bodies and should help to prevent non-evidence based rationing of care for NHS patients. We also welcome the recognition of the multidisciplinary and team-based nature of modern healthcare, as well as new models of care. ”

Key elements of the guideline include:

  • ruling out inappropriate and non-evidence based managerial rationing
  • tackling unwarranted variations in NHS practice
  • not using visual acuities as the only indicator for surgery
  • giving proper consideration to second eye surgery
  • clarity about what the NHS cannot afford to provide, even where this is clinically effective
  • emphasising multidisciplinary team work and the role of other health professionals such as optometrists, nurses and technicians in the pathway including pre-surgery and follow-up care
  • advice on preventing and managing complications and the responsibilities of all team members in ensuring safety and good outcomes
  • an emphasis on good patient communications, including explanations of possible risks and outcomes.

FODO will also play its part in the recommended research in order fill the evidence gaps for the 


Notes to Editors   

1. FODO - the Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians and Ophthalmology Providers - is an influential membership association across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. We represent eye health and ophthalmology providers, optometrists, opticians, ophthalmologists and eye care staff.  We wide expertise in health systems, health economics, healthcare markets, legal defence, regulation and negotiations.

We believe that maintaining eye health, correcting vision and preserving sight is essential for health living, achievement, well-being at all ages as well as for healthy and active ageing.

We are committed to working with others to fight eye health, for patients and for visually impaired people, and to advance the professions and the sector within the UK, Ireland, Europe and globally.

Our members provide over 85 per cent of optical market activity in the UK, 55 per cent in the Republic of Ireland and the majority of community eye care in both countries.

2. For more information please contact:
James Turner
Communications and Public Affairs
T: 020 (0)20 7298 5125 


World Sight Day 2017 - Eye care organisations worldwide unite to reduce avoidable blindness and 'Make Vision Count'

FODO is joining with eye care organisations the world over today in pledging to cut the prevalence of avoidable blindness and ‘Make Vision Count’.

The call from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), the alliance of eye care organisations, comes with the release of data yesterday from the Vision Loss Expert Group (VLEG) in Lancet Global Health, showing that decades of declining ‘avoidable blindness’ is plateauing, and is projected to increase.

The paper warns that an ageing and growing population, combined with an increase in Myopia and Diabetic Retinopathy could potentially lead to a tripling in blindness by 2050. Uncorrected Refractive Errors, Cataracts and Age-related Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma were the main causes of blindness or Moderate and Severe Visual Impairment (MSVI) in 2015, the paper also reveals.  

The IAPB has also updated its ‘Vision Atlas’ to feature prevalence maps for every country from 1990 to 2015 and projections to 2020. It also examines progress towards meeting World Health Organization Global Action Plan targets to reduce avoidable vision impairment by 25% by 2019. 

FODO Chief Executive David Hewlett said:

“The updated IAPB Vision Atlas is a great new resource for highlight the huge amount of work still to be done to improve access to eye care across the world and reduce avoidable blindness. It’s time to step up to the task and Make Vision Count!”

For further information and access to online resources, see the World Sight Day campaign website

(Pictured - FODO Board)

Patient Survey - NHS Treatment Delays Survey for Ophthalmology Patients

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eye Health and Visual Impairment is running a patient survey on experiences of delays in accessing NHS hospital-based ophthalmology services.  This is part of the evidence gathering for their inquiry into NHS hospital ophthalmology capacity.  (FODO CEO David Hewlett is on the Expert Advisory Group Steering Group for the inquiry.)  

Please encourage any patients who you think might be interested to respond - the survey can be accessed here, or if they prefer patients can ring in with their experiences to the campaigns hotline on 020 7391 2123. 

The deadline for submissions is 20 October 2017.

Breakthrough standards for refractive surgery have been launched today

Breakthrough standards for providers and clinical teams offering refractive surgery, and which propose new protections for UK patients, have been launched today.

These new standards are intended to ensure patients get the highest quality of care across the board. They are patient-focussed, including new checks and balances on the way a patient’s consent is sought for refractive procedures.

The standards have been defined by a group of leading ophthalmic surgeons and other experienced eye care professionals, along with input from a wide range of stakeholders, including regulators, professional bodies, providers, eye care charities as well as individual patients.

David Hewlett, Chief Executive of FODO, said:

“Eye health needs are expanding rapidly and ophthalmology, optometry and optics are changing to meet new demands. Increasingly professionals are employed or contracted to work in multi-professional teams to meet patients’ growing needs and expectations. These breakthrough standards clearly point the way forward.”

David Teenan, a leading ophthalmic surgeon and a member of the Expert Panel that produced the standards, said:

“These standards will be welcomed by surgeons, optometrists and other clinicians as a pioneering development for the sector. They offer a guide to best practice which is based on the latest ophthalmic research and clinical evidence. This represents a significant step forward that will help clinicians collectively and consistently achieve and deliver to their patients the best quality outcomes.”

The General Medical Council’s Guidance for doctors who offer cosmetic interventions - recognising that it had been developed for doctors only - suggested that the basic principles might provide a helpful framework for other professions. These standards build upon that framework for all professionals and providers, especially those working in multi-professional clinical teams.

The standards have been launched by FODO, ABDO, ACLM and FMO – members of the Optical Confederation, representing community eye care providers. Consultation on the initial draft ran from 2 February 2017- 7 April 2017.

The Multi-Disciplinary Professional Standards for Refractive Surgery Providers and Clinical Teams are available to view and download here.

Fodo logo    Association of British Dispensing Opticians logo    The Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers logo  FMO logo

FODO Annual Review 2016/17

Our Annual Review for 2016/17 has just been released and was launched at the recent Optrafair event. The review looks at FODO’s work over the past financial year covering:


  • FODO’s Chair and CEO reports
  • Detailed policy and support update
  • Our work in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Europe
  • NCHA’s role in the hearing sector
  • Finance review and accounts
  • Our Board and staff

A copy of the Annual Review is available below or you can order copies by emailing

Annual Review 2016/17

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

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, 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.”

Lynda Oliver confirmed as new Optical Confederation Chair


Following the decision to rotate the Chair amongst its members, following Chris Hunt’s retirement in October 2016, at its meeting on 21 March, the Optical Confederation (OC) Leaders’ Group – the governing partnership of the Confederation – unanimously asked Lynda Oliver to continue in the role of Optical Confederation Chair until October 2017.

Lynda Oliver said: “This is a great honour and I am delighted to take on this role with the support of my Optical Confederation colleagues. We are making good progress on the big strategic issues which will help all our members more than any of us could do alone.”    Lynda Oliver


The chair is to rotate annually between the five OC members, so Lynda will be succeeded from October 2017 to October 2018 by Fiona Anderson, President of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO). 

At their meeting, the Leaders’ Group also considered collective strategic approaches to a variety of issues, including the General Optical Council’s (GOC) review of the education and training, the Government’s anticipated green paper on reform of the UK health regulators, which will include the GOC, and the issue of low General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) fees and grants. They also agreed an Optical Confederation public affairs strategy for the coming political session. 

FODO response to GOC strategic education review

Following the General Optical Council's (GOC) call for evidence on their strategic education review, we’ve provided our response. The GOC have stated the main aim of the review is to ensure that education programmes and qualifications leading to GOC registration equip students to meet patients’ future needs, as technological change and the increased prevalence of enhanced services are altering the roles that optometrists and dispensing opticians play in delivering eye care.

We believe there will be three main drivers which result in the needs of patients changing:

  • Demographic changes
  • Advances in treatment – both clinical and technological; and
  • Patient expectations 

We fully support the joint Optical Confederation’s response and this submission provides FODO’s further views. You can read our full submission below.

FODO response to GOC strategic education review


The Government's Spring Budget 2017

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has announced his Spring Budget. Below is a summary of the key points relevant to our members: 

Growth and public borrowing 
The Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) has revised up the expected growth of the British economy from 1.7% to 2% in 2017. However, it has revised down the figures for 2018, 2019 and 2020. In addition to this the OBR is expecting public borrowing to be lower in 2016/17-2021/22. 

Health and social care spending 
The Chancellor re-affirmed the Government’s commitment to NHS England’s Five Year Forward View. In addition to this he pledged an additional £100m fund for A&E in England. There will also be an additional £325m to support the implementation of the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP). The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, will make a further announcement on this. Hammond announced an additional £2bn for social care over the next three years for local authorities in England. This is aimed to help local authorities struggling to adequately fund social care and £1bn will be available in the next financial year. The Government will publish a Green Paper on social care later this year setting out its vision in greater detail. 

Business rates 
A cap on increase of business rates at £50 a month for small business was announced. In addition to this local authorities will be given a £300m fund to deliver discretionary relief for “individual hard cases”. 

The small business relief rate is applicable to businesses where:

  • The property’s rateable value is less than £12,000 (£15,000 from April 2017)
  • From 1 April 2017 one won’t pay business rates on a property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less. For properties with a rateable value of £12,001 to £15,000, the rate of relief will go down gradually from 100% to 0%
  • It is also possible to qualify for small business rate relief if one has two or more properties. However, none of the other properties must have a rateable value above £2,600 (£2,900 from April 2017) and the total rateable value of all properties is less than £20,000 (£28,000 in London).

National Insurance Contribution increase for self-employed 
The Chancellor announced an increase in the National Insurance Contributions (NIC) for self-employed workers. The raise will be by 1% to 10% in total from April 2018 and to 11% in 2019. 

In addition to this, it was announced that the Government will launch a consultation on taxation of benefits in kind this year. 

Other announcements included:

  • the Personal Tax Allowance will be increased to £11,500 for basic-rate taxpayers 
  • the National Living Wage will rise to £7.50 in April
  • a consumer protection Green Paper will be published later this year
  • the Government will publish its Midlands Engine document soon. This will set out the devolution agreement in the Midlands and is likely to be similar to what was agreed with Greater Manchester
  • additional funds for the devolved nations was announced with Scotland receiving £350m, Wales £200m and Norther Ireland £120m
  • increase in registration and deregistration thresholds from 1 April 2017. The VAT registration threshold will increase from £83,000 to £85,000 and the deregistration threshold from £81,000 to £83,000. 
  • £5m to promote ‘returnships’ to help people back into employment after a career break.
  • The introduction of maintenance loans for part-time undergraduates.

The full budget documents are available on the Government’s website.

Our response to NHS England's AIS Review

FODO on behalf of the Optical Confederation has responded to NHS England’s post-implementation review of the Accessible Information Standard (AIS). We have highlighted that the vast majority of practicable and reasonable adjustments were a routine part of care in our sector long before the standard or indeed equalities legislation. It is what operating in a competitive market environment means ie we compete for each and every customer. However we have also raised as a specific problem with the increase in patients, encouraged by some charities, requesting unaffordable BSL interpreters, significantly in excess of the NHS sight test fee. Our response calls on NHS England to put in place either funding or partnership working arrangements so that such services are freely accessible to community optical providers and their patients. We have also reminded NHS England that they have not yet developed their promised guidance on the acceptability of using willing relatives and friends to interpret in optical practice. 

See our full response here.

GOC publishes guidance on professional duty of candour

The General Optical Council (GOC) has published guidance to assist registrants in meeting its standard relating to the professional duty of candour that requires all those working in healthcare to be open, honest and transparent with patients when things go wrong and a patient has suffered physical or psychological harm or distress, or there might be implications for their future care.


Marcus Dye, GOC Head of Education and Standards said, “In our recent Registrant Survey, 86 percent of respondents told us they felt confident in their ability to meet our new Standards of Practice. However it was clear when we consulted on the Standards that registrants wanted more guidance to help them apply the professional duty of candour in practice. Candour is a relatively new concept in healthcare, so it’s not surprising that registrants asked for further help in this area."


“This guidance will help to support our registrants and give them extra confidence in applying the standard relating to the professional duty of candour.”


The guidance on the standards around the professional duty of candour can be found on the GOC website.

EU Court decision gives visually impaired and blind people access to more published works


People who are blind or visually impaired across Europe will have greater access to published works, following a decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on 14 February that the European Union (EU) has the power to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty.  

The Treaty, which is strongly supported by the European Coalition for Vision (ECV), is designed to create copyright exceptions for the benefit of visually impaired and blind people. Under the Treaty, government institutions and certain non-profit organisations will be able to produce and distribute published works in alternative formats without the specific authorisation of the rights holder.

The European Parliament is expected to vote on implementation of the Treaty on 22 March 2017. Following the vote, the EU Parliament and EU member states will negotiate compensation schemes, commercial availability and the official registration of authorised distributors.

David Hewlett, Chair of the ECV, said: “This is a huge step forward in equality for partially sighted and blind Europeans, who will benefit from access to the same standard and range of works in alternative formats throughout the EU. We and our partners will continue to urge the executive to implement the Treaty with minimum delay.”


Optical Confederation opens consultation on refractive surgery

The Optical Confederation has launched a consultation on multi-disciplinary professional standards for refractive surgery providers.

The Optical Confederation is seeking responses from the public, patients, clinicians and providers to help shape the new standards that will determine the way eye surgery to correct vision errors is delivered in the UK in the best interests of patients.

The consultation will include patient focus groups (London and Scotland) and an industry consultation event as part of the education programme on Monday 3 April at Optrafair.

You can find out more about the consultation, including downloading copies of the draft standards at the Optical Confederation’s website.

Deadline for responses is Friday 7 April 2017. 

Samantha Peters to stand down as GOC Chief Executive and Registrar

The General Optical Council has announced that its Chief Executive and Registrar, Samantha Peters, will leave the organisation after six years next summer to focus on studying.

Samantha’s last day will be 13 June 2017. She intends to take a significant break from her career, particularly to focus on her PhD in kindness, compassion and altruism. Her PhD research, at Bath University, has a particularly strong focus on the failings in care at Mid-Staffs which prompted the Francis Inquiry.

GOC Chair, Gareth Hadley, said: “We will be sad to see Samantha go but it is a very exciting time for her as she focuses on her studies. The same thoughtful and strategic approach that she took to her role at the GOC will undoubtedly stand her in good stead as she tackles a fascinating, but also highly complex, research project. I look forward to seeing the outcome published; it will make a seminal contribution to future thinking on healthcare.

Her achievements in six years at the GOC are significant. She has overseen the transformation of CET, the introduction of new standards which the professions are really embracing, and great improvements both in our stakeholder engagement and in the efficiency with which we carry out our core regulatory functions. She has also overseen the modernisation of the organisation, including the move to our new fit for purpose office.

During her time here, Samantha spearheaded development of the Council’s values - being responsible, principled and forward thinking. She has embedded those values into how we work as well, leading by example by personifying those values in all she does. We wish Samantha all the best for the future – her successor will have a lot to live up to.

Samantha Peters said, “It is with great sadness that I will say goodbye to the GOC next summer. I am confident though that the organisation is in a great place to meet the significant challenges caused by the rapid pace of technological change in the sector and the need to modernise the education of optical professionals.

“Although my plans for my career break are exciting I will look back on my time at the GOC extremely fondly. In particular it has been a pleasure to work with such a committed team and I wish everyone all the best for the future.”

The GOC will announce a plan to recruit Samantha’s successor in the New Year.

GOC consults on Education Strategic Review

The General Optical Council (GOC) has published a call for evidence to launch its Education Strategic Review.

The main aim of the review is to ensure that education programmes and qualifications leading to GOC registration equip students to meet patients’ future needs, as technological change and the increased prevalence of enhanced services are altering the roles that optometrists and dispensing opticians play in delivering eye care.

The GOC is now seeking views from a wide range of stakeholders – optical professionals and students, education providers, patient representatives, employers, professional bodies, commissioners and fellow regulators; with a view to publishing a statement summarising the responses and setting out the way forward in spring 2017.

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Strategy, said: “The Education Strategic Review will be crucial in ensuring that the UK’s system of optical education prepares optical professionals for the roles of the future and therefore serves the best interests of patients and the wider public.

“The optical sector is undergoing major change and we must be forward thinking. Optical professionals will need to be fully equipped to tackle the challenges of the coming decades, working closely with other professionals, particularly ophthalmologists, orthoptists and ophthalmic nurses, as part of a flexible healthcare workforce.

“If we are to make the best possible improvements to the system, it is essential that we hear from a wide range of voices. This is a great opportunity to influence the future direction of the optical professions so I strongly encourage everyone with an interest in eye care to let us know their views.”

The call for evidence is now open and will run until Thursday 16 March 2017. To find out more about the Education Strategic Review and to respond to the consultation, please visit:

Carrying out and implementing the Education Strategic Review is one of the main objectives set out in the GOC’s draft strategic plan for the three years from April 2017 to March 2020. We are also consulting on the draft strategic plan at the moment. The consultation closes on Monday 23 January 2017.

Annual FODO DIT lecture discusses future of Irish optics

FODO Ireland staff met this week with optical students from the Dublin Institute of Technology to discuss the role they will play in the future of Irish optics

Students from the optometry and dispensing optics courses at DIT met with FODO Ireland staff Ann Blackmore and Daniel Carry and Executive Council member Peter McGrath this week to learn about the ongoing changes to the community optical sector in Ireland and the opportunities it presents for those just beginning their careers. 

FODO’s Head of Policy and Strategy, Ann Blackmore, discussed with students the role FODO Ireland plays supporting members and our work with partners across health and social care. 

Ann said: “Significant changes are taking place in community eye health in Ireland and it is important to give optical students a snapshot of where we stand now and how things might change over the coming years. Alongside the move to CORU and the much anticipated outcome of the Primary Eyecare Services Review, there is a much broader context around new community-based models of care and the role technological disruption will play.”

The annual lecture finished with a focus on the Foresight Project, an initiative looking at how advances in consumer and optical technology will bring waves of innovation and change to community healthcare. 

“The Foresight Project looks at technological disruption from a UK perspective but of course it has significant implications for eyecare professionals across Ireland, and indeed Europe,” continued Ann. “It will be important to embrace these changes and opportunities, not shy away from the challenge, a message our young audience of digital natives were fully supportive of.” 

The lecture, which drew a packed audience from the entire student cohort, was followed by a question and answer session and special breakaway session with final year students.