Practitioners urged to embrace 'golden opportunity' of contact lenses

Benefits of advances in technology emphasised at first BCLA UK event that attracted more than 200 delegates

Professor Philip Morgan

A new generation of practitioners have a ‘golden opportunity’ to grow the contact lens industry, the first-ever BCLA UK conference heard last week.

Statistics from the event revealed that just 7% of the UK population currently wear contact lenses. Globally, 120 million people wear lenses – representing just 2% of the world’s population.

The two-day event (12–13 June, The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield) attracted more than 200 delegates.

During a keynote speech, Professor Philip Morgan (pictured), director of Eurolens Research, said that advances in technology represented the dawn of a “brave new world” that could trigger a “colossal” change in the way contact lenses were used.

“The next 20 years will see a huge shift in the way lenses are worn. Rather than being seen purely as a vision correction tool, they will become a lifestyle choice,” he told delegates.

“There is a huge opportunity for growth in the industry,” he added. “Technology is moving fast and new techniques are being developed. Myopia control is going to change the world.”

Practitioners were urged to ‘maximise their potential’ and embrace contact lenses at the conference and exhibition, which shared the latest knowledge around contact lenses, with a focus on patient retention and embracing new technology.

Delegates heard from a number of high-profile guest speakers, including Professor Lyndon Jones, who flew in from Canada to chair an optometry-themed edition of the BBC comedy television programme ‘Room 101.’

BCLA chief executive, Cheryl Donnelly, said: “We have been absolutely blown away by the buzz around BCLA UK. It’s the first time we have held the event and it was fabulous to see such energy and enthusiasm from all of the delegates.

“There has been an overwhelming sense of positivity across the two days, from the guest speakers, the exhibitors and all our visitors. Hopefully this can kick-start a new generation to learn to love lenses,” she concluded.

Retention rates were a hot topic at the event, with the focus on minimising patient drop-out rates by maximising comfort in contact lenses.

Katharine Evans, who gave a lecture on the subject, said: “We need to reassure patients that it’s okay to try different types of lenses. Contact lenses are much like ex-boyfriends – you have to try a few and find out what you don’t like before finding one that you do.”

BCLA president, Brian Tompkins, said: “The enthusiasm shown by all the delegates over the two days was infectious and there was a tangible feeling of positivity from all those who came along.

“People went home re-energised, refocused and hopefully with their love of contact lenses reignited.

“The industry as a whole now has a real chance to embrace the technology available to us and make a long-lasting difference to patients’ lives,” he emphasised.

New BCLA fellows were introduced at the event. The exhibition was devoted to contact lenses and the anterior eye, featuring the latest products and technologies from leading manufacturers.