The best of a bad year

A message from Colin Davidson, College President.

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For those of us involved in eye care, 2020 promised to be a big year. However, none of us could have been prepared for the challenges it was going to present. COVID-19 continues to impact on our lives both personally and professionally, and there is no doubt that the adaptations we have made will be with us for some time to come.

There were however some positives: for one thing, the College launched its ambitious five-year strategic plan last October. This February sees the publication of our new Guidance for Professional Practice, and we will work throughout 2021 and beyond to achieve more integrated primary and secondary eye care. We will be reviewing our higher qualifications to ensure that they support and recognise members’ specialised skills. In line with our focus on workforce development, the GOC’s Education Strategic Review and proposed CPD changes will remain a priority for the College in 2021.

Offering patients a remote consultation may well provide more effective and efficient eye care services

More good news is that optometrists in England are now able to access rapid lateral flow tests for COVID-19. This is thanks to the work of the College in emphasising the importance of optometry practices being included in the groups of healthcare practitioners providing NHS services.

Looking ahead to the future, our first edition this year examines some of the ways that eye care will continue to evolve. Our feature on big data identifies how it could be used to predict eye disease, particularly inherited retinal disease, which accounts for a high proportion of blindness in children, and how it can identify who may be suitable for experimental gene therapy in the future.

During 2020 we all adapted to remote consultations, a necessity in the early phases of the pandemic. As with some other “temporary changes”, our article on video consultation software suggests that it may have a continued role in eye care going forward. The ability to offer patients a remote consultation may well provide more effective and efficient eye care services for all involved, especially in the context of emergency presentations.

As I write, vaccines are also being rolled out nationally, so there does now appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Further challenges lie ahead – but opportunities do too and we want to ensure our profession, and our members, are able to meet and benefit from them. I for one am hopeful of a gradual return to a more normal way of life in 2021.

Author(s)

Colin Davidson BSc (Hons) FCOptom DipTp(IP)

Colin currently works part-time for the University of Hertfordshire where he is programme lead for independent prescribing. He also works in independent practice in East Sussex, and at Sussex Eye Hospital in Brighton where he works in both A&E and uveitis clinics. He is a senior assessor for the College and an OSCE chief examiner. He is a former member of East Sussex LOC and a current member of the education faculty at the Johnson and Johnson Institute.

Colin was awarded a Diploma in Independent Prescribing Dip TP(IP) in 2011, and Fellowship of the College in 2013.

E: colin.davidson@college-optometrists.org


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