Shaping the future

1 February 2024
Winter 2024

A message from Leon Davies, College President

Welcome to the first issue of Acuity in 2024. I hope you were all able to rest, reflect and recuperate over what is often a busy festive season, and that you are looking forward to a productive year ahead. 

The last quarter of 2023 was arguably the busiest of my presidency. I continued to champion our profession by representing primary care optometrists in Westminster at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Eye Health and Visual Impairment in November. Here, I outlined optometrists’ vital role in the context of the RNIB’s Eye Care Support Pathway. Following the government’s cabinet reshuffle, I wrote to Dame Andrea Leadsom MP, Minister for Public Health, Start for Life and Primary Care, offering the support of the College and our profession in addressing the key challenges the NHS faces in delivering eye care services.  

Once again, the highlight of 2023 was the College’s diploma ceremony at Central Hall Westminster, London, where I welcomed over 400 new optometrists to our profession. I was also delighted to celebrate the outstanding achievements of three new Life Fellows and two Honorary Fellows along with colleagues whose research excellence in optometry, optics and vision science was acknowledged. I encouraged new diplomates to pursue all professional development opportunities to serve their patients to the highest level.

I am a passionate advocate of the positive impact of volunteering

In 2022, I spoke at a meeting of the APPG for Achieving High-Street Health. As noted then, optometry has similarities with dentistry, in that they provide a mix of private and NHS care with links into secondary care. Drawing on an existing model of networking across dentistry, our feature article discusses how optometry can optimise the way clinical learning and relationship building can improve patient outcomes with managed clinical networks.

Our career profile highlights one of my own mentors from Aston University, Emeritus Professor Bernard Gilmartin, who was awarded the College’s President’s Medal at our AGM back in June. Bernard is a truly inspirational individual, who has achieved so much for our profession throughout an illustrious career. 

As a trustee of two charities, I am a passionate advocate of the positive impact volunteering can have in communities to shape the future. To that end, our article outlines how optometrists are a good fit and how volunteering from your home allows optometrists to contribute their skills and experience while balancing other work–life commitments.

I hope readers enjoy the rest of this issue, and that you all have a fruitful 2024.

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 standardisation of digital imaging across eye care services will transform efficiencies, accessibility and timely care of patients.

The College has offered its congratulations to Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party on their success in the General Election and on forming the next UK government.

The College of Optometrists and BCLA (British Contact Lens Association) welcomed around 900 attendees at Optometry Tomorrow 24 - now incorporating BCLA Focus on 28-29 April.