Optrafair 2016 delivered another high quality programme of authoritative, targeted and engaging seminars – with more than 100 interactive CET points available under one roof.
Among the standout speakers at the NEC was Doug Perkins, co-founder of Specsavers, who delivered a speech on the future of optics.
Perkins told Optician: ‘Optrafair is a good show. I’d say it’s above the level of last year. There’s a lot of momentum, a lot of excitement. I think the professional equipment side is very occupied with people and that’s favourable technology that suits the profession which is the more, the better. I just talked about the disruptive changes that are happening in optics. These changes that must change the business model that professional optometry. This is a good thing because it allows us to take a full scope of primary care services, something that we’ve always wanted as part of our profession. So very exciting development, which I felt the audience really bought into.’
Also included in the education programme was Professor John Lawrenson, who addressed the impact of technology on optometric practice.
Prof Lawrenson, who recently completed a Master’s degree in evidence-based healthcare at Oxford University, has a research interest in age-related eyed diseases, particularly glaucoma and AMD. He has noted advances in the scope of optometric practice in the past 20 years, including the widespread adoption of sophisticated ophthalmic equipment and IT.
The first part of his lecture presented the findings of a recent cross-sectional survey of UK community optometrists to determine the equipment and IT currently in use, and described the reported attitudes of optometrists regarding the use of specialist equipment. The second part discussed the results of two recent diagnostic accuracy studies of structural imaging (SD-OCT) and perimetry for the detection of open angle glaucoma.
Putting multimodality imaging into practice was the subject of a series of scheduled talks by Heidelberg Engineering. Nine high street optometrists and dispensing opticians who have integrated OCT successfully into practice discussed how they did it in three seminars at the Main Theatre.
‘Striking the perfect balance between promoting clinical services and retail sales is quite a challenge,’ says Heidelberg Engineering director Krysten Williams. ‘Understanding and truly believing in the benefits of a multi-modal imaging approach to the diagnosis and treatment of eye disease for patients is vital to success.’
The Optrafair seminars combined clinical education with personal experiences and practical business advice on improving the standard of patient care whilst being profitable.
Following an enthralling debate on the might of the multiples and free eye tests at Optrafair 2015, the Question Time spectacle returned this year to tackle the future of technology in practice.
Making up the panel will be optometrist Gillian Bruce, ophthalmologist Andrew Bastawrous, social entrepreneur Julia Manning, physicist Joshua Silver and Specsavers director of optometry advancement Paul Morris.
Question Time was once again be chaired by BBC broadcaster Peter White, who was honoured with an MBE for his services to broadcasting and disability in 1998. Blind since birth, White began his broadcasting career working as a freelance reporter for BBC Radio Solent in 1971 and is now the broadcaster’s disability affairs correspondent.
The following day, Professor Kathryn Saunders of Ulster University, enlightend the crowds at Optrafair with results from the landmark NICER study: childhood refractive error in the 21st century.
Released earlier this year, the study found myopia to be more than twice as prevalent among UK children as it was in the 1960s. Professor Saunders pointed out how high street optical practices can be prepared and ready to apply more treatments to slow the progression of myopia as a result. This, she says, presents ‘a really exciting opportunity’.
That said, the prevalence of childhood myopia in the UK, at around 16.4%, still falls well below countries in Asia where the majority of school leavers are now myopic. Some of the measures used to tackle the rise in Asia have included measuring mandated outdoor activity and installing glass ceilings above classrooms, Professor Saunders has revealed.
Day two in the main theatre included two discussions on the application of OCT for retinal pathology and glaucoma. Meanwhile, the conference programme continued with highlights including the lecture Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: an optometrist’s guide to ocular toxicology, by College of Optometrists chair of the board of trustees and international representative of the College, Dr Cindy Tromans.
Optometrist and dispensing optician Indie Grewal, meanwhile, drew the programme to a close with a BCLA-sponsored talk on maximising practice potential by embracing contact lens fittings.
In addition to the main conference programme and ABDO Education Theatre, Optrafair also featured a CET trail and on-stand CET. This included Silhouette Eyewear’s free workshops, where delegates earned three CET points as they learn to make adjustments for rimless frames.
The ABDO Theatre, meanwhile, hosted CET lectures on paediatric eye care and low vision, among other expert presentations. The BCLA presented a workshop programme that incorporated prescribing habits and aftercare, and the General Optical Council were on hand to offer further education on its new Standards of Practice.