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#EyeHealthEU: campaign to awareness about preventable sight loss on World Sight Day

FODO Chief Exec and ECV Chair David Hewlett gets involvedThis 13th October marks World Sight Day, which galvanizes the eye health community to draw attention on a global level about blindness and vision impairment. Blindness and vision loss can be prevented or treated in at least 50% of the cases, but screening and early diagnosis are key to make this happen! This year, the European Forum Against Blindness (EFAB), the European Coalition for Vision (ECV) and the European Alliance for Vision Research and Ophthalmology (EU EYE) on a social media campaign to raise awareness about preventable sight loss.

FODO Chief Executive David Hewlett is the current chair of the ECV. 

To mark the day, the social media campaign will spread a simple message: We need to talk about eyes! Vision loss and blindness require the immediate attention of national and European policymakers. As Europeans live longer and longer, we need improved mechanisms for screening and identifying eye diseases early on, especially with at risk groups such as people affected by diabetes or other chronic diseases. This helps us realise the objective of a healthy ageing European population.

Join the online campaign for World Sight Day on 13 October - the idea is simple!

  • Visit the ECV website or click on the attachments to the message to discover a set of 7 key messages
  • Print the message that you would like to spread
  • Hold the message high and take a selfie (or ask someone to take a photo of you)
  • Post it on Twitter or Facebook using the campaign hashtag (#EyeHealthEU) and the World Sight Day hashtags (#WorldSightDay, #WSD2016)

Please free to share the following tweets:

  • Help us raise awareness about preventable #blindness on #WorldSightDay by tweeting a selfie! #EyeHealthEU
  • Proud to support #EyeHealthEU campaign on the occasion of #WorldSightDay!

As advocating with one collective voice is central to making eye health a priority for national governments and to improve vision awareness among the general population, we look forward to receiving your selfies!

Don Grocott new Master of Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers

Don Grocott was installed as the new Master of the Spectacle Makers’ Company on Wednesday 5 October 2016.

Don is well known across the optical world, having been Chairman of the Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers and President of Euromcontact, the European contact lens manufacturers’ federation. He was also President of the Association of Optometrists and President of FODO, before spearheading the formation of the Optical Confederation to bring together key players in optics and present a co-ordinated view to  government on issues affecting UK optical professionals, manufacturers, retailers, distributors and importers.  Don was Chairman of the Optical Confederation until October 2014.

The Installation of the new Master and Wardens took place during the Company’s annual service at St Bride’s, Fleet Street and was followed by a lunch at the historic Apothecaries’ Hall in the City of London, attended by visiting City Livery Company Masters and many guests and friends from across optics.

Nockolds to provide new complaints mediation service for veterinary sector

The provider of the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS), Nockolds Solicitors, has launched a new complaints mediation service for the Veterinary Sector. The scheme is launched as a trial funded by Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) from 3 October 2016 to see how complaint mediation may benefit veterinary surgeons, their practices and animal owners across the UK.

As Jennie Jones, Head of the OCCS explains:

The RCVS was very interested to hear and learn more about the impact of complaint mediation in Optics. It was great to share the experience from the Optical sector and we now very much look forward to exploring how mediation and also key insight sharing can developed in the veterinary sector. Once again, I thank those involved in Optics who have assisted by sharing their views and experiences with the RCVS and the ongoing commitment to positive complaint resolution in our sector

For more information on the Veterinary Client Mediation Service please visit

Optical practices should be high street health hubs

Cllr Jonathan McShane, Local Government Association and Katrina Venerus, Local Optical Committee Support Unit

High street optical practices can deliver preventative health for patients, especially for those who do not often visit a GP, as highlighted by a new guide for local authorities, jointly produced by the Optical Confederation, Local Optical Committee Support Unit and the Local Government Association.

The eye health and public health experts say that optical practices are perfectly placed to deliver health and lifestyle check-ups, offering care closer to home for patients and taking pressure off of hospitals and GPs.

The guide, Improving eye health through community optical practice, calls on local authorities to make better use of the nationwide network of optical practices in every community to make every contact count and help combat smoking,  alcohol consumption, obesity, falls, isolation and more.

“A sea change is required in eye health care delivery, and opticians and optometrists can be a vital part of that,” says Katrina Venerus of the Optical Confederation.

“With the NHS under such serious financial constraint, health and well being boards are encouraged to utilise existing resources such as optical practices in their plans to tackle unhealthy lifestyles and future problems of an ageing population.

“Optical practices should be the first port of call for all eye health issues, not just thought of for sight tests and buying glasses. Optometrists and opticians are dedicated health professionals who can make a difference to the health of local people in every community.”

Opticians and Optometrists have the clinical skills and the long-term customer relationships, along with community locations and seven-day opening, to make significant health interventions.  Practices can act as high-street health hubs advising on lifestyles, behavioural change and signposting, as demanded by the Five Year Forward View’s focus on prevention.

The guide is aimed at Health and Wellbeing Boards in England and Scrutiny Committees, who may find the guide useful when reviewing Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs).

Follow the link for a copy of the guide:

Optical Confederation meets with new primary care minister David Mowat MP

From l-r: OC Chair Chris Hunt, AOP Chief Executive Henrietta Alderman, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, David Mowat MP, Derek Busby, Dental and Eye Care Service Department of Health, David Geddes, Head of Primary Care Commissioning, Helen Miscampbell, Dental & Eye Care Section Head, Department of Health

Optical Confederation meets with new primary care minister, David Mowat MP to discuss the crucial role of the optical sector

Optical Confederation (OC) representatives called for the roll-out of Minor Eye Care Services (MECS) to all commissioning areas across England at their first meeting with the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, David Mowat MP.  

Central to the discussions were the pressures facing hospitals and GPs. Chris Hunt, OC Chair, and OC Chief Executives’ representative, Henrietta Alderman emphasised the value of community optical practitioners supporting NHS care, the public health role of the sight test and the scope for utilising local practices to allow more routine services to be brought out of hospital and provided closer to home. This would both add extra capacity to local health systems and deliver an effective, cost efficient eye health service in the community.

Chris Hunt said: “We are heartened that the Minister was genuinely interested in how the optical sector can offer real value within a primary care setting and deliver the Five Year Forward View. He was surprised that eye health services were not higher up the NHS agenda, a concern which we fully share. Indeed it was not clear that officials had convincing answers for this.” 

Chief Executive of the AOP, Henrietta Alderman said: “Community optical professionals and practices are already proven in delivering high-quality eye care services over and above the sight test, for example, monitoring stable glaucoma patients in the community and treating minor eye problems. The OC is keen to champion community eye health services and we were pleased that the new minister shared our desire to integrate optics into the wider NHS system and primary care planning.”

The OC and Mr Mowat agreed to meet again in early 2017. Mr Mowat will also speak at the National Optical Conference in November 2016.

Reducing pressure on hospitals: Lessons from the frontline of community health

The Optical Confederation (OC), in conjunction with the NHS Confederation, Local Government Association and the Health Foundation, is hosting fringe events at the upcoming Labour and Conservative party conferences.

The events will explore key themes facing the health sector including

  • cuts to public health funding
  • delivering more healthcare in the community
  • social care provision and
  • preventative healthcare.

The events, ‘Hospitals under pressure: the community solution?’, will take place on 26 September (Labour) and 4 October (Conservative).

They will see senior representatives from each organisation discuss the ways in which community health care providers can help reduce pressure on hospitals, with the community optical sector held up as a good example of how local services can support change in a sustainable way.

These events will highlight to conference delegates, including Health and Wellbeing Board members and councillors, how community providers are relieving pressure on GPs and hospitals. They will examine how this helps to close the NHS funding and capacity gap whilst delivering on the NHS’s own priority to provide more care out of hospital and closer to home.

Speaking on behalf of the Optical Confederation, Katrina Venerus said, “These events are a great opportunity to highlight to key stakeholders how community eye health providers are relieving pressure on GPs and hospitals. We will be sharing best practice examples of locally commissioned eye care services and calling on political decision-makers to follow national priorities and accelerate the uptake of these models at scale and pace, increasing access and capacity in an innovative yet sustainable way in their local areas.”

VISION 2020 UK announce Astbury Award winner at FODO HQ

The winner of the 2016 Astbury Award has been announced this week at a ceremony at FODO headquarters in London.

Now in their third year, the awards, named for former VISION 2020 UK Chair and inaugural recipient Nick Astbury, were set up to recognise work that fosters excellence in collaboration within the eye health and sight loss sectors. Nominations were taken from VISION 2020 UK member organisations.

The Award winnersThis year’s winner is the London Employment Programme Pilot, ‘Works For Me’, from Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT). The pilot programme supports people with sight loss to gain and retain paid employment. Collaboration with businesses, charities and individual professionals gave the programme access to resources far beyond its own capacity including event space, expertise, volunteering hours, professional networks and peer support all of which contributed to some staggering employment outcomes.

TPT is working with Visionary, the membership organisation linking local sight loss charities, to use the learnings from the report to support others in the sector to implement lessons learned about collaborative working.

Highly Commended certificates were awarded to The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) for the See, Plan and Provide campaign; The UK Practice and Development Team (UKPDT); and Mark Godfrey, Project Lead, for the booklet ‘Sight Loss – what we needed to know’.

Alexa Sage, who managed the Employment Programme Pilot, said: “We are delighted to win the Astbury Award. It is a wonderful recognition of this project, which supported people with sight loss to gain and retain paid employment. Going forward, Pocklington’s partner, Visionary, will be sharing the learning from an independent evaluation of the pilot by NCVO’s Charities Evaluation Services, to support local organisations across the UK in delivering employment services to blind and partially sighted people.”

Mercy JeyasinghamVISION 2020 UK CEO, Mercy Jeyasingham, commented, “We are very aware of how often collaboration goes unnoticed. Important collaborative work goes on behind the scenes in the various VISION 2020 UK Standing Committees and elsewhere which produces excellent outcomes but receive little acknowledgement. The Astbury Award was created to celebrate this work and to allow us to show how effective and powerful collaboration can be.”

Including the winners there were 12 shortlisted entries for the Astbury Award 2016. Details of all the shortlisted projects can be found at

VISION 2020 UK have thanked the Optical Confederation for sponsoring the venue for this event.

Optical Confederation backs National Eye Health Week 2016

The Optical Confederation is throwing its support behind National Eye Health Week (NEHW) 2016, highlighting the importance of taking care of your eyes and the need for regular sight tests for all.

More than a thousand events and activities are expected to take place next week (19 – 25 September) to raise awareness of eye health amongst the public and to offer eye care advice.

David Cartwright, Chair of National Eye Health Week said: “We want the whole sector to inspire people to take better care of their eyes, realise how important regular eye examinations are and how good vision correction enhances everyday lives."

Chris HuntResearch released this week by the RNIB shows that more than 27 per cent of the public (14 million people) do not have regular sight tests. This includes people at risk of preventable sight loss, such as those with diabetes or a family history of glaucoma.

Chris Hunt, Optical Confederation Chair said: “National Eye Health Week is one of the sector's great successes with everyone working together to help the public and save sight.  We are also showcasing what community optical practices can do to deliver NHS eye health services out of hospital and closer to home.  Good luck to everyone who takes part.

Progress, Continuity and Change at LOCSU

LOCSU’s board has announced important changes to the organisation following its quarterly meeting today.

The Board heard that positive early progress had been made towards delivering the targets in the Breakthrough Strategy following the embedding of the expanded commissioning team.

After four years leading LOCSU, Managing Director, Katrina Venerus, is to take up a new part-time role as Clinical Director. This change will allow her to fulfill her long-held ambition to complete an MSc in Healthcare Leadership as part of her professional development.

The LOCSU Board were very keen not to lose Katrina’s skills and experience and are pleased to have been able to agree with her that she will remain in a new three-day per week post.

LOCSU is today announcing plans to recruit a new Chief Officer to continue to drive through the ambitious targets in the Breakthrough Strategy to completion and into the next stages.

LOCSU Chairman, Alan Tinger, said: “I am delighted that Katrina will continue to be involved at the heart of LOCSU’s work in a senior role as its Clinical Director. As previously, she will continue to provide expert advice, guidance and leadership for key projects and sector-wide policy development and will continue to represent LOCSU externally and with partners including the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning.

I am very proud that LOCSU has gone from strength to strength under Katrina’s stewardship and that she is now recognised as a leader of and within the sector.”

Mr Tinger said that, in the meantime, no-one should notice any changes in LOCSU’s day-to-day support and service as Katrina will remain in her current role until the recruitment has been completed.

Payment Service Plan Must Deliver, Insist OpticalLeaders

Optical sector leaders have made it clear to NHS England and Capita that the latest plan to turn around the ophthalmic payments service must not fail.

Leaders demanded crunch talks to highlight the acute problems the chaos was causing the sector and to hear NHS England’s plans for the improvement of the Primary Care Support England (PCSE) service, delivered by Capita. 

In a letter to the sector following urgent discussions on 30 August, NHS England apologised for the failures in the services. Karen Wheeler, the NHS England director responsible for overseeing the contract, provided assurances that Capita were being held to account for their unacceptable service levels and confirmed that financial penalties had been applied.

She confirmed that she has also been working with Capita at CEO level to ensure there is now better focus and additional resources going into driving recovery across PCSE. The NHS England director said she expects Capita’s operational improvement plan to stabilize the ophthalmic payments service by the end of October and for all residual issues to be resolved by the end of the year.

Speaking on behalf of the optical sector, Katrina Venerus said: “We welcome the honesty from NHS England to accept there have been unacceptable service failures and to apologise for the difficulties and pressures these have added to optical contractors and professionals in England.

We have seen Capita’s plans and we will maintain week-by-week scrutiny to verify improvements are in line with the recovery plan. We will continue to keep the sector informed as usual via LOCSU Hot Briefs.”

The optical sector has also demanded immediate action to address current delays in processing performer list applications, especially for newly-qualified optometrists, which has had an unacceptable impact on the profession.

Venerus added “It is essential that the plans to get the ophthalmic payments service and performer list service are fully implemented as soon as possible and we will continue to review progress with PCSE and NHS England on a weekly basis until the service has recovered.

Read the full text of the letter on the LOCSU website.

European Coalition for Vision Welcomes New Vice Chair

The ECV has elected Jean-Félix Biosse Duplan as Vice Chair to help support their expanding influencing workload across Europe

European Coalition for Vision Logo

The European Coalition for Vision (ECV) has created a new Vice Chair post to support the organisation’s growing workload across Europe. They are delighted to announce that Jean-Félix Biosse Duplan was elected to the role this Friday (9 September).

Jean-Félix is a Vice President of Eurom1 – the European Manufacturers Ophthalmic Association (Lenses and Frames).  He has wide experience of business to business operations and optical manufacturing in Asia, the Pacific, India and China and in Europe through Essilor and the Essilor Vision Impact Institute. Jean-Félix also sits on the boards of two of Frances’ leading optical organisations, Asnav and GIFO.

David Hewlett, ECV Chair, said: “Jean-Félix is already an enthusiastic and hard -working member of the Coalition and will make an exceptional Vice Chair.  With so many urgent issues for the ECV to lead on these days, we need active and engaged members and leaders at all levels. Jean-Félix has the skills, experience, knowledge and commitment to help us excel.  He also brings important links to the manufacturers, innovators and R&D globally.  He will be a tremendous asset as we continue to fight for better eye health, services, innovation and support, for all citizens across Europe.”

Jean-Félix Biosse Duplan said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to take a bigger role for the European Coalition for Vision.  A lot of combined efforts are needed to make our political and health leaders at European and country level recognise the public health value and the crucial personal and economic importance of eye health and best vision. The ECV is clearly the most widely based and collaborative organization to champion these issues and I am very excited to devote more time and energy to helping it succeed”

Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund Celebrates Golden Anniversary As Applications Open for Student Travel Bursaries

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund.

Ahead of the milestone, the Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund (IAMF) and Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) are inviting optical students to apply for the 2017 bursary.

Click here to learn moreEach year, the Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund (IAMF) and Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) offer two bursaries for 2nd year optical students to experience work in Africa through a grant made available by the Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians (FODO).

The award, originally supported by FODO forerunner the Society of Opticians in 1966, has so far enabled over 40 students to experience working conditions and eye problems very different from those found in the UK.

This has been invaluable to previous recipients in their future careers, including senior lecturer at Aston University, Hannah Bartlett.

“I was very fortunate to travel to Swaziland as an Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund bursary recipient”, recalls Hannah. “I had a fantastic experience and learnt so much about eye care in developing countries.

“The trip also provided the opportunity for me to develop my team-working, organisational and communication skills, especially as there was a language barrier to contend with.

“I met and worked with people from such a range of different backgrounds; it provided invaluable life experience.”

The fund commemorates its first chairman, Irvine Aitchison, co-founder of Dollond&Aitchison, who played a prominent role in promoting the Opticians Act (1958) and was a founder member of the General Optical Council.

Irvine Aitchison’s sense of adventure, combined with an unfailing demand for high standards in education, led The Trustees of the Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund to work with Vision Aid Overseas to give optical students a chance to work on an overseas project and expand their skills and horizons.

David Cartwright Chair of the IAMF said: “The Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund was originally set up to hold annual educational lectures, but more recently has sponsored optometry students to embark on overseas projects.

“We are extremely proud to reach such a significant milestone and celebrate the incredible opportunities that have been created over the past fifty years through education and travel.

“We invite optical students from the UK and Ireland to apply for the 2017 bursary and we look forward to creating more opportunities for young volunteers and hopefully setting them on a path to become the optical leaders of tomorrow.”

Application forms for the Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund (IAMF) 2017 programme can be found on the FODO website.

Free eye examinations to continue in Scotland

Community review to build on successful decade of free eye examinations.

Free eye examinations are to continue in Scotland, with a review of community optometry services to make further improvements, Health Secretary Shona Robison announced last week.

The review will consider the role that community eye services play within the wider NHS and whether more can be done to improve the level of care for patients.

It comes a decade on from the successful introduction of free NHS eye examinations, which has seen a 29% increase in the number of tests carried out since 2006.

Over two million eye examinations a year are now carried out in Scotland, providing both a sight test and an eye health check that can identify treatable conditions at an early stage in their development.

Announcing the review, Ms Robison said: “The free NHS eye examination has proven to be hugely successful in encouraging more people to attend their local optometrist – with over a half a million more people a year now getting an eye exam than in 2006.

“Community eye-care services play a vital role in delivering these tests and will become even more important as we face the challenges of an ageing population, with more sight threatening conditions such as diabetes and glaucoma.

“Let me be clear that we are committed to retaining free NHS eye examinations, and the review won’t change this.

"Ten years on, the time is now right to look again at how our community eye-care services are working – particularly in the context of the developments we are making to primary care.

“Many optometrists can now, with the appropriate training, manage the treatment of certain eye conditions and are able to prescribe treatments to patients instead of having to make a GP or hospital referral. The review will consider whether more could be done to make best use of the clinical skills of optometrists, streamlining services for patients.

“We also want to use the opportunity of the review to learn more about which patients are taking up the offer of the free eye examination and whether more can be done to reduce health inequalities by encouraging uptake amongst vulnerable groups or in deprived areas.”

The review group will be chaired by Dr Hamish Wilson, CBE, the current Vice-Chair of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, and made up of a range of clinical and non-clinical professionals and public stakeholders across health and social care.

Dr Wilson said: “I am looking forward to chairing this important and timely review of community eyecare services. I have witnessed the positive impact implementation of the new - and free - eye examination has had for the people of Scotland since its introduction in 2006. I believe that now, ten years on, we have a great opportunity to look at what else our community Optometrists can help deliver to enhance further patient care throughout the country.”

Nicola McElvanney, Chair of Optometry Scotland said: “Since 2006, the profession has demonstrated commitment and desire to deliver the best possible care for patients in Scotland. This has seen a shift in the balance of care which provides more patients with access to care or appropriate triage for eye conditions outside of a hospital or GP setting. This is a major success for patients and the NHS.

“There are existing models of good practice across Scotland; the review provides the opportunity to adopt the best across the country and in doing so, reduce the capacity issues in secondary care. The outcome we are all committed to is one which sees patients being able to access the most appropriate care close to their home, ensuring that only those patients who must been seen in a hospital setting are referred there.”

The review is scheduled to report to Scottish Ministers by the end of the year.

College publishes first ever study comparing spectacles bought online vs in store

Study comparing over 300 pairs of spectacles found participants prefer shop bought specs over those bought online

 A study commissioned by The College of Optometrists found that, when comparing spectacles bought online and those bought and fitted in optometric practices, customers preferred shop bought spectacles.

The study, published in the leading American journal Optometry and Vision Science, found that customers preferred shop-bought spectacles fitted by practice staff, ranking them higher overall than those bought online. Researchers from the University of Bradford and Cardiff University compared 154 spectacles bought online with 155 spectacles from UK optometric practices.  Participants completed a questionnaire on vision, comfort, fit, and how acceptable and safe the spectacles felt and all participants and spectacles were assessed at the University of Bradford eye clinic for clarity of vision, ocular muscle balance and fit and quality of the spectacle frames and lenses.

Mike Bowen, Director of Research for the College of Optometrists, said: “This study is important, not just because it’s the first of its kind, but also because of the rise in online purchasing. It’s important that optometrists explain to patients that someone trained in dispensing, can guide on the shape, fit and appropriateness of a certain pair of spectacles over another, which is particularly important for the elderly. As a sector, we need to prepare for the changing ways in which customers are shopping and ensure that consumers are getting a high quality service from whatever platform they choose to purchase.”

Professor David Elliott, Professor of Clinical Vision Science at the University of BradfordProfessor David Elliott, Professor of Clinical Vision Science at the University of Bradford and principal investigator in the study said: “The results of this research should help patients understand the possible adverse effects of spectacles not being supplied correctly. This is particularly important for older patients wearing bifocals and varifocals, as frail, elderly patients need their multifocal spectacles to be fitted carefully due of the increased risk of falls in this group.”

The key study findings are:

  • Participants preferred shop bought spectacles dispensed by practice staff, ranking them significantly higher overall than those bought online. This was particularly true of more complex prescriptions such as Progressive Addition Lenses (PALs).
  • Researchers found a higher rate of spectacles bought online were classed as unacceptable or unsafe due to incorrect measurements of pupillary distances. When ordering online, pupilary distance is usually measured and supplied by the customer and the measurements can be inaccurate.
  • 79% of participants said that they would purchase their next pair of spectacles from the high street. The remaining 21% that indicated they would purchase their next pair online cited convenience, clarity in pricing, significantly lower prices and the lack of pressure to purchase amongst their reasoning.
  • The average cost of online spectacles was significantly lower than the high street spectacles used in this research.
  • 6% of all study spectacles were classified as unsafe. 78% of spectacles perceived as unsafe came from online suppliers. For 50% of these spectacles, the issue was due to the fit of the frame rather than the accuracy of the lens prescription.
  • Significantly more online spectacles (30%) were classed as unacceptable by participants than practice bought and fitted spectacles (10%), largely due to fit and appearance.

 The study resulted in the below recommendations for optometrists:

  • The dispensing of PALs by online retailers using online estimations of fitting heights and estimated pupillary distance measurements should be accompanied by a warning about the potential danger of falls.
  • Online retailers could improve their services by providing patients with frames to try on at home; ensuring stock matches website information; by encouraging more accurate PD measurements; and by offering a fitting service if not currently providing this service if not currently providing this service.
  • High street practices should ensure patients do not feel rushed or pressured when making purchases, provide clarity with pricing and should allow sufficient time for spectacle frame adjustments. This is also supported by other research published in the College’s journal Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics(3,4).

Details of the study

309 spectacles bought online and in retail shops (where they were dispensed by practice staff), were compared by survey participants. All spectacles were then assessed at the eye clinic of the University of Bradford for participant preference, indication of acceptability and safety (based on fit, appearance, fitting height distance being outside tolerance, amongst others), lens and frame quality and fitting and lens prescription. Preference, indication of acceptability and safety factors were measured by participants, lens and frame quality, fitting and lens prescription were assessed by an experienced dispensing optician at the eye clinic.

To read about  or contribute to the Research Fund, visit the College’s donation page 

Sir Roger Gale MP visits Kent opticians

Sir Roger Gale, MP for Thanet North, visited Sanford Opticians in his constituency earlier this month to find out why regular sight tests are so important in preventing avoidable sight loss and to hear from representatives from the Kent and Medway Local Optical Committee (LOC) about the community eye care services available in optical practices across Kent.

Over 1.8 million people in the UK are living with sight loss and this figure is set to increase by 115% to nearly 4 million people by 2050, largely due to the ageing population. Much of this is preventable through the early detection and treatment of eye problems. Regular sight tests are a simple and practical way to maintain good eye health and look after your eyes.

L to R Charles Greenwood, Kent and Medway Local Optical Committee, Jo Connell, Sanford Opticians and Sir Roger Gale, MP for Thanet NorthAt the visit, Sir Roger met with representatives from the Kent and Medway Local Optical Committee (LOC) and also heard about the greater role local optical practices are playing across the county, by delivering eye care over and above sight tests.

Community optometrists and opticians can deliver high-quality eye care services over and above the sight test by, for example, monitoring stable glaucoma patients in the community and treating minor eye problems. This relieves pressure on hospital eye departments and GP surgeries, and reduces the risk of patients not receiving the care they need.

Practice Owner and Optometrist, Jo Connell, said: “It was great to meet with Sir Roger and talk about the importance of having regular sights tests, not just to determine whether you need glasses, but also to check the health of your eyes and for signs of eye conditions. We also spoke about the greater role community optical practices are playing by delivering some eye care services over and above sight tests in Kent. We look forward to working with Sir Roger to ensure his constituents are able to benefit from as many of these services as possible.”

Commenting on the visit, Sir Roger Gale MP said: “Only those who have lost their sight can really understand what it means to enjoy a faculty that most of us take for granted. My own mother, who was driving until she was nearly 90, has found her mobility and the ability to live a full and active life curtailed as a result of sight loss, and I know the devastating effect it has had on her.

“It is vital that people avail themselves of the optical services available on the basis that prevention is infinitely better than the alternative, which may mean no cure at all.”

Many groups of people are entitled to NHS-funded sight tests. These include those aged 60 and over, all children under 16 and those on low incomes. Optical practices are convenient and offer easy access in the local community. You can visit any practice that is either near where you live or where you work. Optical practices can see NHS patients at times that suit them.

Latest OSCE results announced by the College of Optometrists

The results are in for the College of Optometrists’ latest OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination).

391 candidates sat the OSCE in July – the Scheme for Registration’s final assessment – resulting in a pass rate of 75 per cent, the same pass rate as last July’s cohort.

The OSCE consists of 17 five-minute stations, made up of 16 clinical tasks and a rest station. Each station assesses the candidates’ skills, including history taking, communication, data interpretation, clinical examination and practical skills.

During the OSCE, which took place at the Royal College of General Practitioners, candidates may be tested on any of the stage two elements of competence set out by the General Optical Council. This assessment acts as a final check that competence across the framework has been achieved and maintained.

The College’s Head of Examinations, Joseph Oakley, commented: “Congratulations to the candidates who have now passed their final assessment, and I’d like to welcome them to the profession. Passing the OSCE is the culmination of a lot of hard work and those who have passed should be very proud of all they have achieved during the challenging, but rewarding, pre-registration period. Those who have passed will have demonstrated their competence across the framework and I wish them all the best in their future careers.”

The College has hosted four OSCEs a year since its inception in July 2010.

VISION 2020 UK announce WESC Foundation as a new member organisation

VISION 2020 UK has announced WESC Foundation - Specialist Centre for Visual Impairment, as a new member organisation.

WESC Foundation, formerly the West of England School and College for young people with little or no sight, is a specialist day and residential centre for young people and adults with visual impairment including complex needs in Exeter, Devon.

The centre offers a unique experience for young people and adults with visual impairment, and their commitment is to excellence and innovation at a national and international level.

They provide high-quality education and care that increases learners’ opportunities and raises their expectations.

The addition of the WESC Foundation marks an exciting step for VISION 2020 UK as it expands its portfolio of membership organisations which currently includes 50 professional and public sector organisations and charities, including major eye health professions and sight loss charities.

VISION 2020 UK CEO Mercy Jeyasingham, commented, “We are delighted to confirm the WESC Foundation as the newest VISION 2020 UK member. This membership shows a great commitment to collaborative working, and we anticipate a strong, fulfilling working relationship in the coming years.”

Tracy de Bernhardt Dunkin, WESC Foundation’s CEO, said: “Our membership of VISION 2020 UK will allow us to work collaboratively with other members, and with VISION 2020 UK itself, to improve the future for the young people we work with.”

WESC Foundation is a member of VISION 2020 UK effective immediately.

University of Bradford accredited to provide Professional Certificate in Glaucoma

The University of Bradford has this week been accredited to provide the Professional Certificate in Glaucoma.

The qualification, which will largely be delivered by distance learning, will prepare students to take part in glaucoma referral refinement and OHT and COAG monitoring schemes when a patient diagnosis has already been established. The course marks the first College accredited higher qualification available to optometrists at the University of Bradford.

The certificate can be obtained mostly through online learning units, with some practical teaching being delivered via attendance at the University. It will be assessed by a computer-based examination and a practical station examination, both of which will be held at the University. The computer-based examination will be conducted under closed book conditions, and the practical examination will be conducted using the University’s clinical teaching facilities. The course will start at two points in the year: September and January, with exams following in January and June respectively.

Jackie Martin, Director of Education for the College of OptometristsJackie Martin, Director of Education for the College of Optometrists, said: “We’re very pleased that the Professional Certificate in Glaucoma is now available at the University of Bradford, particularly since this is the first higher qualification to be made available at the University. The Professional Certificate in Glaucoma is a popular course and it is good to see that there will be more opportunities for optometrists to undertake this certificate. 

"It’s also encouraging to see such a high level of interest from optometrists wishing to progress their careers by taking higher qualifications. As well as helping to increase knowledge and confidence in specific areas, the College’s higher qualifications also allow optometrists to take full advantage of opportunities to deliver more through community services.”

Professor Edward Mallen, Head of the School of Optometry and Vision Science, and Professor of Physiological Optics at the University of Bradford, said: The School of Optometry and Vision Science is delighted to announce the launch of this new qualification. It is the first in a series of higher qualifications that the School will offer. We look forward to helping optometrists expand their scope of clinical practice.”

The Professional Certificate in Glaucoma is part of a growing collection of higher qualifications developed by the College in order to enable optometrists to provide extended services in key areas such as low vision, contact lens practice and medical retina. In addition to the Glaucoma Certificate, higher qualifications are also available in Contact Lens Practice, Low Vision, Medical Retina and Paediatric Eye Care. Courses are undertaken on a part-time basis and are designed to fit with life in a busy practice or hospital department.

MP visits Harrogate opticians

Enhanced services available at high street optical practices were showcased to Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP when he visited Page and Smith Opticians in Harrogate.

The MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough met with representatives from the North Yorkshire Local Optical Committee (LOC) and also heard about the greater role local optical practices are playing across North Yorkshire, by delivering eye care over and above sight tests.

Andrew Jones MP with representatives from North Yorkshire LOCCommenting on the visit, Andrew Jones MP said: “I have done a lot of work with Guide Dogs locally and nationally.  I know from that just how important it is that we look after our eyesight.  This visit really hammered home the important message; regular checks and early intervention mean that problems that may cause blindness later in life are identified and dealt with before they have chance to damage your eyesight.”

North Yorkshire Local Optical Committee Chair Darryl Taylor said: “We really appreciated Andrew taking the time to meet with us and discuss the role opticians and optometrists can play in delivering eye care in the community. We also discussed the importance of regular sight tests to pick up symptoms of eye conditions in their early stages – which may not be obvious to the patient – so they can be referred on for investigation and treatment.”

Optometrist and Page and Smith owner, Sarah Smith added: “It was great to meet Andrew and talk about our work as optometrists and opticians. We are an underused resource in the NHS and many additional services can, and should, be delivered in practices like this one. This would help reduce pressure on NHS budgets and reduce attendance at A&E, GP surgeries and hospital eye departments.”

Ulster University gains accreditation for two new higher qualifications

Ulster University has been accredited to provide two of the College of Optometrists’ higher qualifications: the Professional Certificate in Low Vision and the Professional Certificate in Paediatric Eye Care.

Professional Certificate in Low Vision

The Professional Certificate in Low Vision has been developed to provide optometrists with up-to-date knowledge in holistic low vision care and provide a high standard of low vision care in either hospital or community optometry for non-complex cases. It will be delivered mainly through a virtual learning environment but students will need to attend the University for a practical clinical skills session for low vision assessment. The first Professional Certificate in Low Vision Ulster course will start in January 2017 and will last 16 weeks.

Professional Certificate in Paediatric Eye Care

The Professional Certificate in Paediatric Eye Care provides optometrists with the knowledge to support evidence-based eye care for infants and children of all ages. The course has been specially designed so that it can be undertaken entirely through distance-learning, thus providing busy practitioners from all over the UK and beyond an opportunity to gain this higher qualification utilising modern web-based learning tools, including online tutorials. A face-to-face tutorial at the University is also available for those wishing to attend. The course will begin in January 2017 and will be 14 weeks long.

Both courses are designed as equivalent to a 20 credit level 7 QAA module, involving approximately 200 hours of learning.

Jackie Martin, Director of Education at the College said: “We’re pleased that Ulster University has been successful in gaining accreditation from the College to provide these courses to optometrists and to widen the availability of our higher qualifications, because we know that optometrists want to develop skills in these areas. These courses are an important undertaking as they are designed to enable optometrists to progress in their careers and ultimately to offer patients enhanced services.”

Prof. Kathryn Saunders, Professor of Optometry and Vision ScienceProf. Kathryn Saunders, Professor of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of Ulster said: I’m really excited that Ulster University is extending the range of higher qualifications offered in collaboration with the College. Both these new higher qualifications are strongly linked to Ulster University Optometry and Vision Science’s clinical and research expertise and build on the experience Ulster has in delivering high quality Masters level professional education through distance-learning.”

These courses are a part of a growing offer of higher qualifications developed by the College of Optometrists in order to enable optometrists to provide extended services in key areas such as children’s eye care, low vision, glaucoma, contact lens practice and medical retina. Courses are undertaken on a part-time basis and are designed to fit with life in a busy practice or hospital department.

Optometrists who have achieved a College-accredited higher qualification can use an affix, or letters, after their name. For the Professional Certificate in Low Vision, this will be; Prof Cert LV. For the Professional Certificate in Paediatric Eye Care, it will be; Prof Cert Paed Eye Care. These affixes will be displayed on the GOC register for all those qualified. 

In addition to the new certificate, Ulster University also offers the Professional Certificate in Glaucoma and a Professional Certificate in Medical Retina.

Find out more

For more information on the Professional Certificate in Low Vision at Ulster University contact: Julie-Anne Little via email: 

For more information on the Professional Certificate in Paediatric Eye Care at Ulster University contact: Kathryn Saunders via email: 

For more information about the College accredited higher qualifications visit our higher qualifications web pages:

College of Optometrists urges sports-enthusiasts to optimise their vision

As the Olympics are about to open, the College of Optometrists is urging sports participants to consider their vision in order to enhance their sporting experience.

As people are inspired to try new sports by Olympic athletes, the College is advising that having regular sight tests, and getting fitted with corrective eyewear if needed, can enhance their sporting enjoyment and performance.

Dr Susan Blakeney, Clinical Adviser at the College of Optometrists, said: “Whatever your chosen sport this summer, do make sure your vision is the best it can be. Many people put a lot of thought into their sportswear and equipment, but may not realise that having a sight test, and wearing the right eyewear, including contact lenses, could help improve their sporting performance and enjoyment.

“Depending on the sport, another factor you should consider is protective eyewear. For sports such as football or volleyball you should protect your eyes by making sure that your eyewear is impact resistant. And, if you wear sunglasses, choose lenses that protect against UV and have a tint that’s appropriate for your chosen sport. Your optometrist will be able to advise you on what will be best for you. Sunglasses can be made with, or without prescription.”

When to see your optometrist:

  • If you can’t see the ball or it seems blurry when playing sport.
  • If you cannot see the score of your game on the scoreboard when you are playing a match.
  • If your child has poor hand-eye coordination, it may indicate that their eyes are not working well together, or that the sight in one eye is weaker than in the other.
  • Children can wear contact lenses; an optometrist will usually assess a child’s maturity, age, the child's interests and motivation to wear contact lenses, amongst other factors, before prescribing this form of corrective eye wear.

Eye or sight problems can occur at any time, but people aged 40 plus are more likely to develop problems because presbyopia (where you have difficulty seeing things close up), and conditions like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and cataract, are all more frequent in older people. Those with eye conditions in their family and people from African-Caribbean and South Asian ethnic groups also have a higher risk of developing glaucoma.

If you are over 40 or in a group of people that is at-risk of developing an eye condition such as glaucoma you should have your eyes checked regularly.  This is at least every two years or more often if your optometrist recommends it.

Athlete eye health case study details:

Madaline Rolph, athlete and swimmer

Madaline Rolph, athlete and swimmer Madaline Rolph is a longsighted athlete and swimmer, whose favourite event is the 100 metre sprint. She is 13 and runs with Thetford Athletics Club. She started wearing contact lenses for sports when she was 11, following advice from her optometrist, Parth Shah, MCOptom and Director of Scotts Opticians in Norfolk. She has found that they are very comfortable and convenient for her when competing.

Madaline says; “My brother had been using contact lenses when playing football for a while, so when I turned 11, my optometrist suggested to my parents that I try them for running. I had seen my brother use them so was happy to give them a go and it was very successful. I’m a sprinter, so don’t have the time to push my glasses up when I’m in a very short race. With my contacts I can see so clearly and it doesn’t affect my performance”.

Madaline’s  optometrist, Parth Shah, MCOptom Madaline’s  optometrist, Parth Shah, MCOptom says; “Madaline is a sprinter and has a long-sighted prescription so I recommended to her parents that she try contact lenses when she turned 11. She mentioned that her glasses interfered with her sport, one of the most common reasons why parents request contact lenses for their children, in my experience.

"Contact lenses have really advanced in the last five years and they are now far more comfortable and, more importantly, breathable, which is much better for the overall health of the eye. Whilst not suitable for everyone, there are very few people nowadays who cannot be fitted for contact lenses, including children. I would certainly recommend considering them if you are involved in sport and need corrective eye wear.”


Public perceptions research

Findings from the GOC’s second public perceptions survey showed that people in the devolved nations of the UK were more likely to visit an optician if they had an acute eye problem than those in England.

31 per cent of Scots would first visit an optician if they woke up with an eye problem compared to 26 per cent in Wales, 25 per cent in Northern Ireland and just 18 per cent in England.

Across the UK just 22 per cent of respondents said they would go first to their optician, with 40 per cent saying their GP would be their first port of call.

The independent survey asked 3,252 members of the public from across the UK their views on opticians and showed continued public satisfaction with opticians.

89 per cent of respondents said they were confident they would receive a high standard of care from an optician, with 97 per cent of patients, defined as someone who had visited an optician in the past two years, reporting high satisfaction levels with the optician they had seen.

The survey also found that the main association with opticians is providing sight tests rather than detecting and treating eye health problems. 40 per cent of those surveyed saw themselves primarily as a customer when visiting their optician, closely followed by 37 per cent who saw themselves as a combination of both a customer and patient. Only one in five (21 per cent) saw themselves as just a patient.

GOC Chief Executive and Registrar Samantha Peters said “The findings from this report are very insightful and, when combined with last year’s public survey, only serve to reinforce the need to highlight the important role optometrists and dispensing opticians can play in detecting and treating eye conditions. Optical professionals are specialists in this area, and it is vital that the whole sector raises awareness of the work they can do in this area, particularly in England where awareness is lowest.

“It is pleasing to see such a high level of public confidence in opticians, and this is reinforced by the fact that 92 per cent of respondents said they have not complained or considered complaining about their experience with an optician – the same figure as found in last year’s survey.”

The survey findings can be found here.

GOC seeks expertise for its committees

The General Optical Council (GOC) is looking to appoint 14 new registrant members – seven optometrists and seven dispensing opticians - to its statutory advisory committees.

There are four statutory advisory committees – the Registration Committee, the Education Committee, the Standards Committee and the Companies Committee.

GOC Council Chair, Gareth HadleyGOC Council chair, Gareth Hadley, said: “Committee members play a vital role in helping us to protect and promote the health and safety of the public and patients. It is important we draw upon the considerable expertise our registrants possess so that we can stay in touch with developments in the sector and make informed decisions.

“This is a great opportunity for personal development. The work is challenging, varied and registrants will be able to learn from the experience of committee colleagues as well as sharing their own. I strongly encourage any registrant who feels they can offer a fresh perspective and insight to apply for these positions.”

The deadline to apply for these vacancies is Monday 29 August.

All roles are on a part-time basis, with a time commitment of approximately eight days per annum for the Education Committee, and approximately four days per annum for all other committees. The roles are remunerated at £308 per meeting.

Find further information on how to apply here.

LOCSU welcomes publication of new Primary Eye Care Framework for eye health services

LOCSU has welcomed the publication of the new Primary Eye Care Framework for eye health services.

The new, expanded Commissioning Team at LOCSU is urging CCGs to play their part in helping to reduce avoidable sight loss by implementing the whole system eye care pathways proposed in the framework published this month by the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning.

CCGs will minimize duplication, streamline processes and gain better outcomes for patients, the framework predicts.

Richard Whittington“Given the current capacity issues in both the Hospital Eye Service and general practice, it is an obvious choice for CCGs,” said LOCSU’s new Assistant Director, Commissioning, Richard Whittington.

“For services to have the maximum impact and cost-effectiveness, CCGs need to work together at a population level and across CCG and care tier boundaries if we truly want an integrated service.

“Current pressures require a radical response and the introduction of a Minor Eye Conditions Service (MECS) and more routine step-down care will make a significant difference to demand and capacity.

“LOCSU, which has developed a set of accredited national pathways referred to in the Framework, believes that outcomes for patients will improve if there is a co-ordinated and multi-professional approach to tackle both urgent and routine activity.

“We know that high-street optical practices can help streamline services by being a first port of call. This will lead to earlier detection of eye problems, quicker and easier access to the appropriate service and professional and better use of hard-pressed CCG budgets.

“The current piecemeal approach isn’t working. LOCSU congratulates the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning for the timely and relevant publication of this much needed document and we urge all CCGs to fully implement its recommendations.”

A link to the report, Primary Eye Care Framework for First Contact, can be found on the LOCSU website

VISION 2020 UK hosts Dementia and Sight Loss Day in collaboration with NHS England

Over 200 delegates from the vision impaired and dementia sectors came together at an event in Birmingham this week.

The event, created to increase understanding of the prevalence and issues with vision among people with dementia, featured experts from the eye health sector tasked with enabling better care and improving the quality of life for this growing group within the UK.

VISION 2020 UK, the umbrella organisation which leads collaboration and co-operation between organisations with an interest in eye health and sight loss, hosted the one day forum at Sight Village Birmingham to help increase understanding of the problems faced by those affected by vision or visual perception conditions and dementia.

There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, 7 out of 10 of those are living with another medical condition or disability. The awareness of the particular difficulties faced by those affected by vision and visual perception conditions and dementia is very low and the day was designed to allow delegates to understand the issues and ideas.

The event was CPD accredited by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and attracted over 200 delegates from across different sectors including Rehabilitation Officers, Dementia Coordinators, Eye Clinic Liaison Officers, Sensory Loss Social Workers and Orthoptists.

Paul Ursell, Consultant Ophthalmologist at The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Consultant at Epsom & St Helier University NHS Trust and Chair VISION 2020 UK Dementia and Sight Loss Committee, commented, “This multi-disciplinary day was created to help raise awareness of treating patients with sight loss and dementia with dignity, while understanding the clinical standards required. We have emphasised the need for professionals to recognise their own role in supporting those with dementia and sight loss and how to facilitate better care and improvements in the quality of their lives.”

VISION 2020 UK Operations Manager Matt Broom, commented, “The issues of dementia and sight loss are not well understood in either the dementia or the vision impaired communities. This day was set up by our Dementia and Sight Loss Committee to address the gaps in knowledge and to enable people to engage and learn from the work being done by experts in the field.”

This event was hosted by the VISION 2020 UK Dementia and Sight Loss Committee in collaboration with Health Education England in the West Midlands, NHS England West Midlands Local Eye Health Network and Sight Village.

GOC appoints new interim Director of Resources

The General Optical Council (GOC) has appointed Mark Webster as its new interim Director of Resources, replacing outgoing Director Josie Lloyd.

Mark, a qualified Chartered Accountant, takes up his new role on a nine month contract. Prior to joining the GOC, he worked across a variety of organisations in the not-for-profit and recruitment sectors as a Finance Director, including at The Royal London Society for Blind People, The GRS Group and The JM Group.

GOC chief executive and registrar Samantha Peters said, “I am delighted to welcome Mark to the GOC. Mark brings tremendous experience and knowledge of not only finance, but also the other functions that he will be overseeing. I, and the rest of our staff and Council members, look forward to working more closely with Mark and am excited to see the new ideas he will bring on board.”

Mark Webster said, “I am very pleased to join the GOC. It is important that we continue to use our resources effectively to enhance our work in protecting the public, and I look forward to working closely with staff and Council colleagues to help achieve this.”

As part of his duties, Mark will be responsible for the oversight of the Finance, HR, IT, Registration and Facilities functions. He has been appointed on a nine month contract until April 2017.

MPs visit local opticians to learn more about eye health

Oliver Colvile, MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, visited his local opticians in Plymouth earlier this month to find out more about the greater role community opticians can play in delivering eye care.

Mr Colvile was joined by Max Halford, Chairman of the Devon Local Optical Committee to see for himself the work carried out at the practice and found out what community eye care can be delivered in opticians above and beyond sight tests.

L to R Max Halford – Chair, Devon Local Optical Committee, Oliver Colvile – MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport and Taymar MoteOliver Colvile MP, commenting on the visit, said: "I would like to say thank you to the Local Optical Committee and Optical Confederation for meeting with me last Friday in Boots Opticians, Plymouth, to talk about the work they do and discuss how opticians and optometrists can be doing more for patients to take the work load off General Practitioners.

"People can have an eye test at local opticians, which can detect major sight problems and get them the expert diagnosis they may need. If more practices can offer enhanced services as well this in turn may take the pressure off GPs."

Devon Local Optical Committee Chair and Optician Max Halford said: “It was great to meet with Oliver and hear that he is supportive of making greater use of opticians and optometrists in Devon, to deliver eye care beyond the sight test”.

“This could include, for example, a Minor Eye Conditions Service. This would allow patients with minor but urgent eye problems to be seen in a local optical practice - freeing up capacity in GP practices and Hospital Eye Departments - and is already delivered safely and successfully in many other parts of the country.”

MP for Birmingham Perry Barr

Meanwhile, MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, Khalid Mahmood, visited Ian Hadfield Opticians last week to meet with the Birmingham Local Optical Committee (LOC).

Commenting on the visit, Khalid Mahmood MP said: “People with sight loss issues rely on good community based services. Currently there is not the equality of high care services across all parts of the city to encourage early detection and treatment. The people of Birmingham deserve better.”

Ian Hadfield, Secretary of the Birmingham Local Optical Committee, said: “It was good to meet with Khalid and let him know about the post code lottery faced by his constituents as some (those with a GP associated with Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG) have full NHS funded access to a range of additional eye care services provided by community optometrists, whilst others (those with a GP associated with Birmingham Cross City or Birmingham South & Central CCGs) do not.

“We were also able to discuss the impending communications nightmare that is about to seriously affect eye care services because the GPs and Hospitals are about to switch off their fax machines leaving community optometrists with no means by which they can securely transmit referral information.

“Khalid was most concerned to hear about these problems and has offered to do anything he can to help to resolve them.”


Dwight McKenzie to leave Optical Confederation

Dwight (centre) with FODO and OC team members on his last day

Dwight Mckenzie has left his role as the IT Policy Officer for the Optical Confederation this week, taking up a new job in local government.

David Hewlett, Optical Confederation said: "It has been great working with Dwight over the last year and pushing on all fronts to get better digital connections between our sector and the wider NHS. He has brought great enthusiasm to the role and I would like to thank him for his hard work and dedication, especially for his work with the IT Committee.

"He will be missed by staff at FODO, where his office is based, and by colleagues from across the Optical Confederation and we all wish him every success in his new position."

Paul Morris, Co-Chair of the Optical Confederation IT Committee, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Dwight on this important area of OC policy, at an important time for the sector as we embrace new technologies and ways of working. There are a huge range of different stakeholders in our committee – representing businesses, clinicians and technology companies from across the UK countries – and it takes a special kind of person to manage discussions and policy on what can be very complicated technical issues in a way that works for everyone. We will certainly miss him.”

Dwight’s position was part funded by the Central Optical Fund and the Optical Confederation.

New Competency Framework for all Prescribers

A new, updated and restructured Competency Framework for all Prescribers has been published this week by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) after collaboration with the College of Optometrists, all the prescribing professions, and patients.

The Competency Framework outlines a common set of key competencies central to effective performance needed by all prescribers, regardless of their professional background.

The Framework helps support healthcare professionals to be safe, effective prescribers.  It can be used by any prescriber to underpin professional responsibility for prescribing and also by regulators, education providers and professional organisations to inform guidance and advice. It will also help patients and carers identify good prescribing practice.

The Framework sets out ten competencies, focused on the consultation process and prescribing governance, within which are statements describing the activity or outcomes prescribers should be able to demonstrate. 

RPS President Ash Soni said: “Both the number of medicines prescribed and the complexity of medicine regimes are increasing.  The challenges associated with prescribing the right medicines and supporting patients to use them effectively should not be underestimated.  

“There’s lots of evidence to show that much needs to be done to improve the way we prescribe and support patients in effective medicines use. This user-friendly guide will be invaluable and I’m delighted the RPS has co-ordinated the update.”

Dr Mary-Ann Sherratt (MCOptom), President of the College of Optometrists said; “The College is proud to have worked with organisations representing several professions to update this important framework. The resulting document gives very clear direction for safe and effective prescribing which will be relevant to our members, and we would encourage IP optometrists to consult the framework to support their continuing professional development.”

Download Competency Framework for all Prescribers


VISION 2020 UK call for nominations for the Astbury Award 2016

VISION 2020 UK, the umbrella organisation which leads collaboration and co-operation between organisations with an interest in eye health and sight loss, are calling for nominations for the Astbury Award, named for former VISION 2020 UK Chair and inaugural recipient Nick Astbury.

The VISION 2020 UK Astbury Award is given in recognition of work that fosters excellence in collaboration within the eye health and sight loss sectors.

Rachel Pilling, The Bradford Learning Disability Eye Service and Andy Cassels Brown, NHS Consultant in Community Eye HealthLast year’s winner, Rachel Pilling [pictured], was awarded for excellence in collaboration, working with The Bradford Learning Disability Eye Service. The service has brought together community health, hospital eye services, education, voluntary sector, patients and carers to improve access to eye health for adults and children with learning disabilities. Due to an exceptional entry the judging panel also recognised Andy Cassels -Brown with an award for lifetime achievement.

Nominations are taken from VISION 2020 UK member organisations. However nominees do not necessarily have to work in, or be trustees or volunteers of, the organisation. Nominations are assessed according to impact/outcome by an independent and impartial panel of judges.

VISION 2020 UK CEO, Mercy Jeyasingham, commented, “We are delighted to announce we will once again be recognising the hard work, commitment and dedication of those working in the eye health and sight loss sector. The Astbury Award 2016 will build on the excellent foundation of effective and collaborative working fostered by Nick and last year’s award. We invite representatives from all of our member organisations to join us in celebrating and recognising the benefits of partnership working across the whole sector.” 

To submit your nomination, please visit the VISION 2020 UK website

The closing date for nominations is Friday 12 August. The winner will be notified in August and the award is due to be presented at an event at The Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians in London, on Monday 19 September.