Back to normality?

31 January 2022
Winter 2022

A message from Colin Davidson, College President.

I know the end of last year and beginning of this year has been a challenging time once again, as we continue to work our way through the ever-changing nature of the pandemic. I do hope that you all managed to have some time off over Christmas and New Year to spend some well-deserved time with your families.

The subject of immunity has been a hot topic throughout the pandemic. How exactly does COVID-19 act to affect people, why are some better at fighting it off than others, and how does the vaccine work? In our cover feature this issue, Kim Thomas looks at a very specific element of immunity and how it relates to the eye.

It is amazing to consider how the eye has evolved to protect itself from harm, and our greater understanding of the immune system in general has led to advances in ocular surgery, from cataract operations to corneal grafts, and also promises further gains in potential treatments including stem cell and gene therapy. 

Research has been important in informing how we practise and keep our patients safe

Over the years, research has been important in informing how we practise and keep our patients safe. Interestingly, new research into glaucoma now shows that considering intraocular pressure in isolation was a poor screening tool for glaucoma, and had an insufficient sensitivity for enabling clinicians to diagnose the condition. As optometrists, we are often the first clinicians our patients see for an eye health check and Adrian O’Dowd explores how, as a profession, we can raise the public’s awareness of this disease, as well as offering some helpful dos and don’ts for assessing patients.

Something else becoming increasingly apparent is that the pandemic has inevitably increased waiting times for patients to be seen in the hospital eye service. During 2021, the College of Optometrists and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists set out a joint strategy to address the challenges of increased demand, and Jo Waters asks optometrists, ophthalmologists and others involved in eye care how they plan to meet the increased demand for their services.

There is no doubt that the coming months will bring more challenges for us as a profession, but I am confident we can meet these challenges and continue to do what we do best to look after all our patients in a safe and effective way. 

Wishing you a healthy and more settled 2022.

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.

Image credit | Caroline Andrieu

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