Eyeing up the evidence

5 May 2023
Spring 2023

A message from Leon Davies, College President - Spring 2023.

Since my last editorial, I have had the pleasure of engaging with and listening to colleagues and stakeholders from across the sector. I have also taken the opportunity to raise the profile of our profession and College with sector leaders and policymakers. I am pleased to say that I have more meetings of this type in the coming weeks and months, and I hope to be able to share the outcomes with you in greater detail in my next Acuity editorial this summer.

Among my engagements with members and stakeholders over the last few months, I was pleased to accept an invitation to attend 100% Optical in London and the AOP Excellence in Eye Care Awards, where the subject of our article, Simon Berry MCOptom, received an award for his sustainability work with ophthalmic suppliers. In the piece, Simon talks more broadly about his journey though the profession and his interest in all things research, from developing equipment and assessing patients with learning disabilities to scanning moths’ eyes! 

Like me, I’m sure we are all proud of the College’s long track record in supporting UK clinical research to build our profession’s evidence base. In 2021 the College published its seminal 40 years of research report, which celebrates how the College’s research awards, support and collaborations have impacted knowledge and practice over the last 40 years, helping to define our profession. Our article explores the tremendous potential for optometrists to build on this expertise to conduct more research, including practice-based and translational research for patients’ benefit.

I’m sure we are all proud of our long track record in supporting UK clinical research

Colleagues working in primary and secondary care will have first-hand experience of the UK’s ageing population. Indeed, projections suggest that the number of people aged 65 years and over will increase by two million in the next 10 years, growing to become 22% of the population (Centre for Ageing Better, 2022). While one may argue that this is a success story for modern medicine and healthcare systems, we also know that not all individuals age healthily. Our article reveals how older populations with poor eye health affect supply and demand in optometry, and how the College’s Workforce Vision, informed by our new workforce data-modelling project, sees all UK primary care optometrists as vital first-contact practitioners for patients with eye health needs.

As ever, this spring issue of Acuity covers many other topics, and I hope readers find the information contained herein both useful and informative.

Professor Leon Davies PhD BSc(Hons) FCOptom Prof Cert Med Ret

Immediate Past President, Council Member - West Midlands

Leon Davies is a registered optometrist and Professor of Optometry & Physiological Optics at Aston University. A Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, Leon holds fellowships with the College of Optometrists, the American Academy of Optometry, and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Leadership roles at Aston University include Director of Research (2010-17) and Head of the School of Optometry (2016-21). His clinical research is focused on presbyopia and the restoration of ocular accommodation to the ageing eye.

Image credit | Sam-Kerr

Related further reading

The College and Eye Research Group Oxford are collaborating to bring you a webinar on Monday 24 June, on how optometrists can get involved in research.

We have partnered with Ulster University to develop a series of learning modules to support optometrists who want to undertake research, from developing their understanding of research to acquiring the necessary skills.

The College has provided key information to help you identify cases and guidance on managing circumstances that are relevant to optometry practices.