Bringing together hospital optometrists

As three new members join the AOP’s Hospital Optometrists Committee, OT  reflects on a successful Hospital Optometrists Annual Conference

The AOP has announced the three new AOP members who have been appointed to the Hospital Optometrists Committee (HOC) following a nomination and election period.

Samuel Comely, of Bristol Eye Hospital; Thomas Hamper, of Manchester Eye Hospital; and Martin Rubinstein, of Leicester Royal Infirmary, will all join the HOC on a term that will run until the Hospital Optometrists Annual Conference (HOAC) in 2025.

The three candidates were successful in recent elections for the committee, with voting held from 8 November–11 November.

The HOC represents and supports the interests of optometrists employed in the hospital service, developing good practice and seeking to maintain high standards of post-graduate education in hospital optometry. The committee also supports communication between hospital optometrists and other professionals.

Reflecting on HOAC 2022

Held online on 5 November, the HOAC saw high attendance with more than 750 unique attendees across all sessions.

The conference brought together optometrists working in a hospital setting, along with those considering it, for a day of dedicated education which included four webinar sessions, as well as both a general peer review and specialty peer review for hospital optometrists.

Commenting on the numbers of attendees, Dr Vijay Anand, deputy head of optometry at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and AOP Councillor for hospital optometrists, said: “It was an amazing feat for a Saturday, to get that level of attendance. I thought all the lecturers were excellent.”

“We couldn’t have done it without the HOC,” he added, also thanking the speakers and AOP events team.

Sessions covered cerebral visual impairment, glaucoma and the brain, the psychology of seeing, and medicolegal aspects of ophthalmic practice in the UK.

“What we struggled with when we were trying to come up with ideas was that we only had four lecture slots. I think the committee did a really good job of coming forward with various ideas of what hasn’t really been done before,” Anand shared.

Reflecting on the lectures presented during the conference, he remarked that the sessions had a common factor of going beyond the eyes, to consider the brain, or seeing the wider context of the patient’s needs: “Making optometrists think with a slightly different hat on.”

Professor Rachel Pilling’s session, Make it easier to see: cerebral visual impairment, looked at children with visual impairment, Anand said, noting that “we will often think of one particular route for how we have to treat these patients,” but added that the lecture encouraged delegates to step back and reflect on what else they may need to consider for the patient.

He continued: “This followed through in Fion Bremner’s lecture [Glaucoma and the brain]. We have a lot of optometrists doing glaucoma in hospital clinics and many people said that when they are in the glaucoma clinic they have a ‘glaucoma mindset.’ It was refreshing to hear, ‘Stop and think – is it glaucoma? Could it be something else?’”

Dr Sam Strong’s lecture on The psychology of seeing, tied into this, he noted: “Don’t just think about the part of the eye that patient has come in about, because there is a whole person behind that eyeball. Think about it in terms of that.”

Anand shared his hope that optometrists from outside the hospital setting also found the lectures useful as an insight into the work or topics of this environment.

“That may encourage them to seek out employment in the hospitals, because those roles are expanding for optometrists across the country,” Anand said.

Looking ahead to next year, he encouraged optometrists who had enjoyed the conference over the past two years to join the event in 2023.

Watch recorded webinars from HOAC Online on the AOP website.