Twenty-three years travelling on the optometric ‘Yellow Brick Road’

4 September 2023
Volume 24, Issue 1

For the very last issue of Optometry in Practice, Professor Jonathan Jackson MCOptom reflects on the past two decades of the journal and its contribution to our learning.

As the longest-standing member of the Optometry in Practice (OIP) Editorial Board I am privileged to have been invited to write the final editorial. The first edition, one of two published in 2000, was prepared under the expert leadership of Professor Stephen Parrish and included a combination of review and clinical research papers on wide-ranging subjects, including clinical governance, glaucoma management, the psychology of sight loss, protective eyewear, extended-wear contact lenses and guide dog use by those with retinitis pigmentosa. In the years that followed 23 editorial board members,1 who served for a variety of terms, oversaw the publication of 388 articles appearing in 80 issues of 24 volumes, 18 of which were available in print and six as an online resource. Each article was peer reviewed by at least two reviewers, of which there were more than 500, and thereafter reviewed by a member of the editorial board. Classification of papers by topic content is complex as many papers address overlapping topics of interest. My analysis indicates that at least 63 independent areas of subject matter have been covered, with glaucoma (38), contact lens (36), low vision/visual impairment (27), anterior eye/cornea (25) and ocular imaging/investigative technology (21) featuring the most regularly. As optometry has evolved over the 23-year period it has been pleasing to see papers on subjects such as ocular therapeutics, myopia control, evidence-based practice, shared care, training and education take pride of place. One initiative, about which I feel particularly passionate, was the production of themed issues. The aspiration was, and I hope continues to be, that these themed issues, of which there were nine, will be a referenceable resource held not only by our optometric educational centres of excellence, but that will remain in clinical consulting rooms for easy access by those wishing to gain detailed insight into their specialist area of interest. Topics covered in special issues included public health optometry; low vision/vision impairment; ophthalmic imaging and technology; hospital optometry; ageing and eye care; optometric education; myopia management; and COVID and the implications for optometry.

In this final issue (Volume 24:1) we have included six papers and a collection of abstracts of papers presented at the 2022 online Women in Vision UK Conference. The Women in Vision UK Conference has been reported on by Lindsay Rountree and four postdoc academics. Although detail presented within the seven abstracts included is, by its very nature, limited, the information provided will enable interested parties to make contact with authors for more detail.

The contribution I believe OiP has made to optometric clinical education has been huge and the content has been an important component of optometric CET and CPD.

Victoria Foster opens proceedings in Volume 24:1 by providing a comprehensive and well-referenced paper on ‘Sleep, light and the eye’. The team, led by Professor Downes, addresses many of the anecdotal theories concerning exposure to blue light, the use of electronic tablets and screen devices before sleep, and artificial stimulants. They conclude that blue light and the use of screen devices have minimal impact on sleep behaviour but that balanced lifestyle choices and reducing brain stimulation before sleep do help. The second paper by Rachel Pilling will be of particular relevance to those charged with providing refraction, ocular health and vision screening services to children with complex needs and in particular those with cerebral visual impairment (CVI). The paper provides a practical overview of the causes and impact of CVI, how it is diagnosed and telltale signs and symptoms. It concludes with advice for the general practice optometrist and stresses the important role played by the multidisciplinary team in supporting these children and their carers. Aleya Zaidi and a team from the University of Waterloo and CEVR in Hong Kong, reflecting on lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, provide a well-referenced overview of the lifecycle of viruses and how they can infect, with devastating effect. The sections on adenovirus and herpes simplex virus are particularly relevant to optometrists seeking to utilise therapeutic qualifications in the primary or secondary shared care of these patients. Neil Retallic tackles a topic less frequently covered in clinical practice journals, namely how contact lens wearers access relevant information on healthcare, concluding that any method chosen should be tailored to the population in question. Grant Robinson’s and Elizabeth Kime’s papers return us to the topic covered most often in OiP, namely glaucoma. The lessons learned from the four cases referred to will once again be valuable material for those with therapeutic qualifications helping to co-manage these cases of chronic eye disease.

As I reflect on 23 years’ association with the journal, I reiterate that it has been a privilege to serve on the Board under two esteemed Editors in Chief, in the company of 22 Board members. The contribution I believe OiP has made to optometric clinical education has been huge and the content has been an important component of optometric CET and CPD. Throughout this period the enthusiastic editorial team tirelessly sought to steer a course that would be an influence for good in the world of optometric education. As with Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, our goal, as clinical evidence-based professionals, should always be to seek out the wizard and the knowledge our optometric educators can bestow upon us. On behalf of current and past Board members, I wish to thank the College for the opportunity of being part of this institution and I have no doubt that we will miss seeing the journal appear on a quarterly basis, and trust the College will continue to explore and find creative ways of delivering continued educational material to a profession that has evolved in almost unbelievable ways over the 23 years. Thanks also to Liz Williams, Michael Bowen, Ian Humphreys, Catherine Bithell and College staff who have consistently supported Board members over this period.

Professor Jonathan Jackson PhD MCOptom DipTp(IP)

Jonathan is a hospital optometrist who for almost 40 years has pursued a career in secondary care optometry. Clinical and academic experience has been gleaned through working in teaching hospitals, universities and professional colleges in Ireland (Royal Victoria Hospital, Queen’s University, Ulster University and Dublin Technological University), England (Moorfields Eye Hospital, Aston University), the USA (University College Berkeley) and Australia (Australian College of Optometry, Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital and University of Melbourne). Jonathan has, throughout his career, in addition to holding senior clinical posts, held senior management and administrative positions at the NI Business Support Organisation (BSO/CSA) and the NI Health and Social Care Board (HSCB). He has fulfilled roles as College examiner, sat on multiple College advisory groups/committees and served as an editorial board member on OiP for 23 years.


1. Editorial Board Members 2000–2023: Stephen Parrish (Editor in Chief 2000–2017), Leon Davies (Editor in Chief 2017–2022), Jonathan Jackson (2000–2023), Maria Dengler-Harles, Andrew Keirl, Judy Senior, Alan Smith, Russell Watkins, Paul Carroll, Mike Convey, Clare O’Donnell, Dave Edgar, Nigel Best, Gill Robinson, Joy Myint, Christine Purslow, Will Holmes, Tony Redmond, Hema Radhakrishnan, Bill Harvey, Raquel Gil-Cazorla, Tony Redmond, Lindsay Rountree, Deanna Taylor, Jane Veys.

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