Are special requirements a barrier to contact lens success?

About the session

Contact lenses bring many visual, practical, cosmetic, and psychological benefits to the general population. However, are contact lenses equally considered when consulting special populations, such as individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders or/and learning difficulties or those who present with mild undiagnosed characteristics? 

Individuals with special requirements are at significant risk of developing refractive errors and approximately 80% of children with Down syndrome have been found to have a significant refractive error. We know that sub-optimal vision can compromise visual outcomes, reduce quality of life and impact social opportunities. Therefore, are spectacles really the only choice we should consider for special populations and does your decision vary with the level of severity of their condition? Could contact lenses be a useful tool to manage the vision of individuals with special requirements? How would you respond should a patient with additional needs or their carer ask if they could try contact lenses? 

This peer review session aims to generate a lively discussion around potential barriers and best practice approaches when considering contact lens selection, fitting, ongoing care, and communication aspects for special populations.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes and CPD information to be confirmed.


Indie Grewal FBCLA

Indie Grewal is an optometrist with over 30 years' experience within the optical industry. Shortly after qualifying, he joined Visioncare Research as a research optometrist. He opened his own Leightons franchise in St Albans in 2001, as well as participating in contact lens clinical trials. As well as running his own independent practice, Indie is a professional services consultant in myopia management for CooperVision. Indie’s passion for contact lenses has seen him work with major contact lens manufacturers and as a key opinion leader he has presented both in the UK and internationally. Indie is a fellow and past president of the BCLA.


Dr Ketan Parmar MCOptom Prof Cert Med Ret

Dr Ketan Parmar is an optometrist by profession, having graduated from The University of Manchester with a Master’s degree in 2018. He completed his placement year in two of the UK’s leading independent practices whilst also conducting a binocular vision research project. In summer 2022, he completed his PhD in autism, vision and accessible eyecare, working closely with autistic adults. 

His interests in academia and clinical optometry include binocular vision, general optometry and accessible eyecare. Currently, he is a research optometrist at Eurolens Research. Alongside this, he supervises undergraduate optometry students across various clinics and practises as a locum optometrist.


Neil Retallic FBCLA MCOptom Prof Cert LV

Neil is an optometrist with experience of working within practice, education, industry, and professional services roles. He is currently the Head of Professional Development at Specsavers and a College of Optometrist Assessor and Examiner.

He has been involved with numerous organisations across the sector as a council, committee and/or executive board member and is the Immediate Past President of the British Contact Lens Association and part of the General Optical Council Education Committee.

He is a passionate educator and has created, published, and delivered education across the globe. He has received fellowships from the British Contact Lens Association and International Association of Contact Lens Educators and is currently completing a part-time PhD on health and well-being aspects among the profession. He has actively participated in charity work with Vision Aid Overseas and Special Olympics.