Editorial: A time for reflection and recognition

20 December 2021
Volume 22, Issue 4

Our Editor in Chief, Professor Leon Davies FCOptom, looks back at what's been another challenging year.

December each year often brings mixed emotions: it’s an opportunity to take time away from work with friends and family (perhaps the only time each year when the frequency of that irksome email ‘ping’ finally reduces), which offers us the chance to reflect on the previous 12 months. The year 2021 has continued to challenge us all both at home and at work. Despite these hurdles, our profession continues to advance to ensure we provide our patients with the best possible eye care. With that in mind, I would like to thank our readers for their ongoing hard work, strength and resolve.

Turning attention to this issue of Optometry in Practice, I am pleased to share with our readers the latest evidence-based and peer-reviewed CPD content.

As with other healthcare professions, optometric practice is based on rigorous, methodologically sound and ethical science. General Optical Council Standards require optometrists to apply relevant research developments to their clinical practice. However, clinicians are not limited to reviewing and applying published evidence. Indeed, optometrists are well placed to contribute to the evidence base by participating in, or conducting their own, practice-based research. Our first article by Amy Sheppard and Rakhee Shah provides a background to practice-based research, opening with the different types of study and the hierarchical classification of research evidence, before moving on to describe the various stages of a research project. Developing the research question, design of the study and implementation and analysis are all discussed, with particular emphasis on how these aspects may be undertaken by optometrists alongside their clinical work.

In our second article by Neema Ghorbani Mojarrad, Heather Bruce, Louise Jolly and Emily Hallam, the authors state that a gradual increase in wearing times for neophyte contact lens wearer is often adopted in clinical practice. However, due to a lack of evidence investigating the optimum approach, the application of gradual wearing schedules during soft contact lens fitting varies between practitioners, largely influenced by industry guidance, prior optometric education and standard operating procedures of the practice they work in. In this article, the authors describe the history of soft contact lens materials, which may have previously benefited from gradual adaptation, and describe recent studies that investigate current and alternative approaches to contact lens adaptation.

Pregnancy results in various changes to all systems within the body, including the visual system. During pregnancy, several physiological changes can occur within the eye, such as changes to corneal morphology, dry-eye disease and a reduction in intraocular pressure. Pathological ocular conditions may also occur during pregnancy, due to pre-existing disease or new disease, whilst diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma can also progress. As stated by the author of our third article, Parminder Kaur Chohan, it is important that ocular diseases are identified and managed effectively during pregnancy, to ensure healthy development of the baby and the continued well-being of the mother.

Our final article, by vision scientist Samantha Strong, covers some key revision of the brain and the visual cortex, before moving on to explain important principles of brain imaging with examples of imaging techniques. The review focuses on the structural and functional changes associated with visual disorders, with discussion of the implications of those changes in optometric practice.

Finally, I would like to thank the whole Optometry in Practice editorial team for their hard work and support over the last 12 months. In particular, I would like to mention the often-unsung heroes of the peer review process: our anonymous, expert reviewers. Optometry in Practice is fortunate to be able to call upon a breadth of academic and clinical expertise across the globe to ensure our articles maintain the rigour and relevance our readers are accustomed to.

I hope you find the latest selection of articles in Optometry in Practice interesting and informative, and I wish you all a successful 2022.

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.

Related further reading

The College’s Research Excellence Awards recognise achievements in optometric research, and the way in which they enrich the whole profession.

Deborah Bott is the first author of the winning entry of the 2024 College of Optometrists Early Career Researchers Poster Competition.

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.