Association News

Contact lens world comes together in Liverpool

The past, present and future of contact lenses were put into sharp focus as practitioners from across the world with a “passion” for the subject came together for the industry’s leading flagship event.

Dry Eye, OrthoK and Myopia were high on the agenda as three days of sharing innovation, the latest research and best practice took place at the 40th anniversary conference of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA).

Hundreds of delegates descended on Liverpool’s ACC for the 2017 for the organisation’s Clinical Conference and Exhibition in what represented a “comprehensive exchange of knowledge”.

Leading experts contributed to lectures, workshops and discussions all focused on driving up standards of care at the showcase event, which ran from Friday, 9 June, to Sunday, 11 June.

Cheryl Donnelly, chief executive of the BCLA, said: “The role of the BCLA is ensuring that everyone has access to the very latest research and technology to allow patients to receive the most up-to-date care available to them.

“Our 40th anniversary conference not only allowed us to facilitate a comprehensive exchange of knowledge, the conference also provided an opportunity to celebrate our proud 40-year anniversary. We have been at the heart of many advances in our industry over the last four decades and will keep to push over the next four decades as contact lenses continue to advance

Long-standing BCLA member and new president Keith Tempany said: “The sterling leadership of Brian Tompkins has seen the BCLA go from strength to strength, now it is my role to continue to strive for excellence.

“I share a passion for contact lenses with Brian and will take this forward with the aim of inspiring others to fit contact lenses for as many people as possible. I am also proud to lead a unique multi-disciplinary, multi-national and multi-cultural organisation.”

Read more here....

BCLA Award Winners at the Conference 

Successes and excellence in the industry were also celebrated through a series of awards presented throughout the three days, including:

BCLA Awards
        Dry Eye Practitioner of the Year: Nick Dash
Young UK Contact Lens Practitioner of the Year: Laura Reece
Industry Award: Paul C Nicolson
President’s Award: Kate Gifford

BCLA Medal for outstanding contribution to contact lenses
Professor Michel Guillon

BCLA Dallos Award
Jaya Sowjana Siddireddy 

BCLA Irving Fatt Award
Fabrizio Zeri

The Diane Gould Photographic Awards
Photographic winner: Antonio Calossi
Photographic first runner up: Susan Bowers
Photographic second runner up: Boris Severinsky

BCLA Poster Awards
Poster winner: Debby Yeung
Poster first runner up: Carlos Carpena-Torres
Poster second runner up: Stefan Bandlitz   

Member Spotlight

Shabnam Raji is an Optometry student at City University. She shares her experience of being a BCLA ambassador and attending her first ever BCLA Conference. 

Tell us a bit about yourself:  

I’m a 2nd year Optometry student at City University of London. I chose the course as I found the optics aspect really interesting and valued the patient care involved with being an optometrist. A few people had recommended the course at City because it had a great department. Aside from optometry, I enjoy photography and am a bit of a film geek.

When did you first join the BCLA? 
I joined the BCLA as a student member as soon as I started my course back in September 2016.

Why did you sign up? 

I signed up because I wanted to be kept up to date with news from the contact lens industry, which was a lot bigger and active than I thought. But sadly I was also living up to the stereotype of a thrifty student perpetually in search of freebies - the BCLA offers free membership to undergraduate students which includes free and discounted events, publications and resources!

Has it lived up to expectations?  
Yes, the resources available are very useful for the contact lens modules in 2nd year - I advise every undergrad to sign up! I have also recently become a BCLA ambassador which has been really exciting and an amazing way to meet so many influential people in the industry. 

What are the biggest challenges facing the industry and how can the BCLA help tackle those issues?
Speaking as both a member of the public and now optometry student, I think public engagement would be a challenge that the BCLA faces. I don’t think many people are aware of how much useful information and news the BCLA has on contact lenses. Although this is changing and the BCLA is reaching a lot more people on social media, especially under the previous President Brian Tompkins who had a particularly vibrant personality.

As a student ambassador, how was your experience of the recent BCLA experience?
A few months into the role and I had already been invited to represent the BCLA as a student ambassador at the 2017 Clinical Conference in Liverpool. Meeting the other student ambassadors from optometry schools across the UK has been a fun bonding experience. The conference itself was a real-eye opener - it introduced me to different contact lens suppliers and listening to presentations from those at the forefront of contact lens research was amazing. The BCLA council were also incredibly friendly and accommodating throughout the conference!

Why would you recommend the BCLA to others?
It’s a helpful hub of information on everything contact lens related. Getting involved with the events can lead you to meet really interesting people who are often leaders in their field which is so important, especially early on in your career.