Editorial: Looking backward to move forward

28 February 2020
Volume 21, Issue 1

Not only is 2020 the year of vision, but it also happens to be Optometry in Practice's 20 year anniversary. Professor Leon Davies FCOptom, looks back at key publications to see what's changed in that time.

It goes without saying, 2020 is an important year for optometry and all those interested in vision and eye health. Additionally, 2020 marks 40 years since the formation of the College of Optometrists (known in 1980 as the British College of Ophthalmic Opticians). Not to be left behind, Optometry in Practice completes the trio as it celebrates its own 20-year anniversary. 

Throughout 2020, Optometry in Practice will look back at its publication library to consider how our scope of practice has changed over the last 20 years. We will, of course, continue to share with you the latest developments in the evidence base to support your contemporary and future practice. Readers will also have noticed that Optometry in Practice now publishes a podcast to accompany each issue. I would encourage readers (and listeners) to access these recordings as they highlight topical areas from recent issues in a digestible format. 

Turning our attention to the latest set of Optometry in Practice papers, where better to start than with a review of the use of topical beta-blockers over the last 40 years? In their article, Hazelwood and Tatham take us back to the introduction of timolol maleate as a topical treatment for glaucoma. The article outlines how beta-blockers interact with the autonomic nervous system, provides an overview of their systemic side effects and places their current use in the armoury of modern glaucoma treatments. With the advent of an increasing number of alternative treatment options, however, the authors conclude by recognising the diminishing role of beta-blockers in today’s treatment of glaucoma.

Remaining with the glaucoma theme, Cheloni and Denniss provide an excellent review of how optical coherence tomography (OCT) can be used in the detection of the disease. With access to OCT increasing dramatically over the last few years, readers will be keen to read how the technique can enhance patient management of glaucoma. Importantly, the authors provide useful advice on how practitioners might improve confidence in diagnosis and prediction of future functional vision loss.

In our next paper, Hawley and colleagues use police force data in Great Britain recording the circumstances of all vehicle collisions on public roads where someone is injured. From a population of over 1.5 million drivers, the authors found that drivers aged 60 years and over were significantly more likely than younger drivers to be assigned a vision-related ‘contributory factor’, e.g. ‘uncorrected, defective eyesight’. The authors stress the important role optometrists play in assessing visual fitness to drive. They also propose that road safety campaigns should target older drivers to promote the importance of frequent eye examinations and the wearing of corrective appliances.

Finally, we turn our attention to a research paper by Bradford College academic Dean Dunning, which examines how a cohort of ophthalmic dispensing students use online social network sites (OSNS) to assist their learning. Using an online survey and semi-structured interviews, the author concludes that those questioned use OSNS in a similar way for learning as they do for social interactions. Moreover, the prominent use of OSNS was largely seen as beneficial to students’ learning; however, there was widespread concern regarding the reliability of some online information. In terms of the future, Dunning argues that optometric education could utilise OSNS more, particularly to build learning communities.


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

Immediate Past President, Chair of the Board of Trustees, 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.

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