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Following CLs

The publication of the Foresight Project Report in March reiterates opportunities and challenges for growth in contact lens wear, concludes the AOP’s chief executive and contact lens fan, Henrietta Alderman

AOP chief executive, Henrietta Alderman

As a dedicated contact lens wearer of many years, I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t wear them.

I love the convenience and comfort of being able to see clearly and the illusion of my eyes having perfect vision. But I seem to be in the minority; data suggests that only 12% of the UK population who need refractive correction have a preference for contact lenses.

Contact lens development, like all areas of optical practice, is an area of constant research and technological change. The Foresight Project Report, which was launched on 22 March, is testament to that. It was produced for the Optical Confederation and the College of Optometrists, was funded in large part by the Central Fund, and delivered by 2020 Health. The report highlights the opportunities for growth within the contact lens market and the customer support that is being developed to assist.

However, it also discusses contact lens developments for presbyopia, ‘zoom’ contact lenses and the drug-eluting contact lenses of the future.

"Although the GOC is trying to bring about change in behaviours through the production of a voluntary code, we would like the GOC to do even more"

Keeping up the discussion

The Foresight Project Report is a weighty read, with over 200 pages split into areas of technological development, business impacts, regulation and education.

It has been produced as a discussion document for the sector and we at the AOP will be running sessions, drawing out conclusions, looking at recommendations for policy guidance and areas for member support.

Regulation of contact lens selling proves to be one of hardest areas to police and it carries the greatest risk to patients. It is so difficult to control because of the ease with which internet suppliers from outside the UK can circumvent UK legislation. Although the General Optical Council (GOC) is trying to change behaviour through the development of a voluntary code, we would like the GOC to do even more. The regulator is limited in what it can do when many of the websites administering illegal supplies are located outside the UK.

The AOP has developed a position on illegal practice and this, and other positions, can be found within the policy area in the advice and support section of the Association’s website.

With this in mind, one of our aims this year is to produce more support materials for use in practices and when talking to patients. We are constantly adding to these within the advice and support section of the website.

Also our OT clinical editor (multimedia), and optometrist, Ceri Smith-Jaynes, has written a great contact lens blog in this section – definitely a must-read.