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VV MAY 2020

Vision Now magazine

Turn self-isolation into self-education. The NEW CooperVision Learning Academy. A FREE eLearning platform including CET* Webinars designed to support clinical and retail staff in optical practices nationwide.

The CooperVision Learning Academy hosts CET-accredited* webinars and bite-sized training sessions aimed at developing the communication, professional and technical skills of clinical and retail staff in the optical industry. The current programme will cover topics on; COVID-19, myopia management, business education, product updates and more. Access to all content is free-of-charge and available at any time that suits your schedule, so why not register today and explore the self-education possibilities for you and your colleagues.

Register now at academy.coopervision.co.uk * Not all webinars will be awarded CET points. Please check online programme for details.

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Vision Now magazine is published by Peekay Publishing Ltd for The PK National Eyecare Group Ltd, the UK’s largest purchasing group for independent opticians.

23 18

News 4 7 9 11 13

GOS fees freeze “a social injustice” New CE for BCLA Business Club launches NHS campaign Covid-19 eyecare service welcomed E-learning available from Menicon

13 An independent view Does language matter?

15 Developing thoughts Thoughts from the dining room

16 Product profile Duette: the best of both worlds

18 Business matters Seeing the light

20 NEG Business Club Get ready for the new normal

24 Style spotlight Eyewear accessories

26 Suppliers’ directory


Nicky Collinson BA (Hons) nicola.collinson@nationaleyecare.co.uk

Editorial PA

Sally Spicer s.spicer@nationaleyecare.co.uk

Fashion Editor

Joan Grady jgparischats@wanadoo.fr

Business Editor Phillip Mullins FBDO p.mullins@nationaleyecare.co.uk Design and Production

Rosslyn Argent BA (Hons)


Michael C Wheeler FCOptom DipCLP FSMC FAAO

Editor’s comment With a return to ‘business as usual’ a long way off, optical suppliers are increasingly turning their hand to supporting the profession – and the wider healthcare sector – with PPE and other essential ‘armour’ in the battle against coronavirus. Practitioners are also getting involved, supporting frontline NHS workers and community projects, whilst continuing to provide essential and urgent eyecare services where possible. Personally, I doubt there will ever be a return to ‘business as usual’ post-pandemic – with social distancing likely to remain beyond the lifting of lockdown. How will this work in practice? Will your patients come back? Will your staff? Many independents may currently be giving serious consideration to additional, enhanced services to help them face the ‘new normal’ when it finally arrives. This could include minor eye conditions services, online product ordering, direct-to-home deliveries, audiology and more. You only have to look at Specsavers, which within the past two months has launched both online spectacle sales and a nationwide video consultation service. The knock-on effect could be patients demanding a great deal more from their local practice than previously. While emulating the Specsavers business model is not the goal of independents, it does rather press home the need for a more flexible approach to future practice. It’s amazing how community centric we’ve all become these past few months and, as Phil Mullins writes this month, a heightened focus on ‘local is best’ can only benefit High Street independent practice now and in the future. Talking of communities, our NEG Business Club four-pager also has some essential practical tips on preparing for the ‘new normal’. The world may be shrinking right now, but your outlook and forecast needn’t follow suit. Nicky Collinson Editor The Editor welcomes letters, articles and other contributions for publication in the magazine and reserves the right to amend them. Any such contribution, whether it bears the author’s name, initials or pseudonym, is accepted on the understanding that its author is responsible for the opinions expressed in it and that its publication does not imply that such opinions are those of The PK National Eyecare Group Ltd. Articles submitted for publication should be original, unpublished work and are accepted on the basis that they will not be published in any other journal. Acceptance of material for publication is not a guarantee that it will be included in any particular issue. Copyright © 2020 for Peekay Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying and recording, without the written permission of the publishers. Such written permission should also be obtained before any part of this publication is stored in a retrieval system of any nature.

@PK_NEG VISION NOW is published by Peekay Publishing Ltd for The PK National Eyecare Group Limited, Clermont House, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 3DN VISION NOW is printed by P&P Litho Ltd, Ashford, Middlesex TW15 1AB

Vision Now MAY 2020





Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee

Paul Carroll

Optical bodies reacted with frustration and dismay at last month’s announcement by NHS England that General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) fees would be frozen for the fifth year running – with CET fees and pre-registration grants rising by two per cent as they did last year. Coming at a time of extraordinary difficulty for the profession, the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) described the news as “a serious injustice”. OFNC chair, Paul Carroll, said: “Although everyone is rightly focusing on the Covid-19 crisis at the moment and the optical sector is working hard to protect patients and support the NHS through this difficult time, we have written back to the Department of Health and Social Care about the offhand treatment of primary eyecare services. The OFNC made absolutely clear to NHS England that the ongoing freeze in GOS fees is not in patients’ best long-term interests, with an even greater risk that NHS eyecare will be unviable for some communities.” Paul went on: “The government’s fee letter does not bear any relation to discussions the OFNC has had with NHS England and our response sets out to correct the record. In the meantime, a serious injustice has been done to the primary eyecare sector and eyecare patients. The trust and goodwill of a loyal workforce, who will be key to delivering the Outpatient Transformation Programme and relieving long-term pressures on hospitals, has been further eroded.” The committee continues to discuss with NHS England how practitioners can be deployed to deliver more eyecare in the primary care setting.


Vision Now MAY 2020

Flattering styles for the season

Eyespace has added more than 50 designs across its portfolio of designer and house brands. New, ‘relaxed glamour’ additions to Cocoa Mint in pared-back pastels, crystals and warmer, earthy tones, reference the season’s key looks. Signature model CM9103 combines metal with crystal acetate plus contoured temples featuring a branded cylindrical element in marbled acetate. Offered in the season’s most flattering colours, C1 is a feminine smoked grey crystal with gold accents, while C2 (pictured) is eye-catching pink crystal with gold. * Eyespace has launched a social media campaign – #EyespaceHeroes – in partnership with Aspinal of London which will see Aspinal of London sunglasses gifted to 25 “lockdown heroes”. Head of marketing, Nicky Clement, said: “Heroes can be of all ages, they may wear a uniform but they can also be ordinary people doing extraordinary things. We want to recognise and celebrate their remarkable acts of kindness”. Tag or name a nominated hero in the comments of the company’s latest #EyespaceHeroes post on its Facebook page or Instagram account, explaining why the nominee “has been shining brightly throughout the crisis”.


Heidelberg Engineering

Heidelberg Engineering is offering protective breath shields free of charge to Spectralis owners in the UK. “We are committed to aiding our customers in every way we can during the Covid-19 pandemic,” explained Tosh Vadhia, general manager at Heidelberg Engineering. “We are providing the breath shields free of charge in a special initiative to support the NHS and our optometry customers who are still providing emergency services to their communities. “We hope the breath shields, combined with other personal protective equipment, will help eyecare professionals to continue to provide essential ophthalmic imaging services to patients as safely as possible during this challenging time,” Tosh added. Supporting UK customers Email Info-UK@Heidelberg Engineering.com for more information. Note: the protective breath shield is not an approved medical device and it is not guaranteed to block transmission of viral pathogens, reduce the risk of infection, or prevent disease.

Alcon® are pleased to o昀er FREE DELIVERY OF CONTACT LENSES to all frontline key workers* for the duration of the crisis as they serve the general public through this di cult time. As in-practice collection becomes more challenging a direct to patient delivery will give your patients the ability to remain compliant with wear. We understand that it may be di cult to recognise who out of your patient base are frontline key workers, therefore we will credit 20% of your direct to patient delivery costs to make this process simpler.†

Please contact your Alcon® Representative for more information, or email uk.easy@alcon.com * Key workers are those identi昀ed by the UK government and are: NHS, armed forces, police, 昀re昀ghters, teachers and childcare sta昀, prison o cers, care home workers and supermarket workers including delivery drivers. † This calculation is based on the percentage of the population that it has been suggested fall into this cohort. This information has been taken from the O ce of National Statistics (ONS) and is indicated to be 16.2%. However, we recognise this group is being swelled by the important e昀orts of those within the supermarket sector and hence we have increased this percentage to 20% of all delivery costs to be credited to your account.

14406 © 2020 Alcon Inc. IE-VC-2000009


British Contact Lens Association



Alcon is offering slit lamp breath shields to practices seeing emergency patients. “As many practices remain open to provide emergency eyecare services to patients, protective equipment for frontline healthcare professionals is essential for their continued wellbeing,” stated Jonathon Bench, head of professional affairs, Alcon UK & Ireland. “We are constantly looking for ways of supporting eyecare professionals through these unprecedented times and are pleased to offer a number of slit lamp breath shields for those who are currently seeing emergency patients.” Any practice that would like to register for a slit lamp breath shield, initially limited to one per practice, can email alcon.professionalaffairs@alcon.com. Alcon is responding globally to the Covid-19 pandemic by supporting charitable partners that are serving the most vulnerable populations affected by the outbreak. In the UK and Ireland, the company is also offering free delivery of Alcon contact lenses to all key workers, and donating more than 35,000 units of Systane eye drops to frontline NHS, care home and hospice workers. Luke Stevens-Burt

The new chief executive of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA), Luke Stevens-Burt, has pledged to focus on the organisation’s “exemplary commitment to high standards and guidelines for practice” as part of a drive to ensure the brand is synonymous with career and professional development. Luke, who has taken over from Cheryl Donnelly, started his career in the armed forces. He has since forged a professional background in membership associations across the healthcare, information, education and public sector industries. In an open letter to BCLA members, he said: “The BCLA exists within a similar ecosystem to all other membership bodies and professional associations. They face similar challenges and share experience across the professional spectrum. I intend to tap into the wide amount of knowledge from across this ecosystem to implement positive change...” Read the letter in full at www.bcla.org.uk




Alain in Black Coal Matte/Graphite

Neubau Eyewear, Silhouette’s sustainable eyewear brand, has unveiled its Côte du Soleil collection inspired by La Piscine, the 1969 cult film by Jacques Derary. The collection’s three models are named after characters from the film – Romy, Alain and Maurice – and each is available in two colours. The retro frames also feature Natural3D, which is made from 100 per cent plant-based material – a first for the brand.

CooperVision management, business education, product updates and many more. Where possible, live webinars will be recorded and made available for viewers to access at a time that suits them.

Learning Academy adds webinars

Interactive webinar training is now being offered as part of the CooperVision Learning Academy, including CET-accredited sessions and retail business topics for all practice staff.

The free-to-access service will offer a minimum of two sessions per week, including CET-accredited and bite-sized training topics, such as responding to Covid-19, myopia

Optometrist and CooperVision head of professional services, Krupa Patel, commented: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to bring forward the launch of our new online webinar feature, so soon after launching the platform itself. It’s great to be able to offer richer and even more interactive content to ECPs and support staff during these unprecedented times.” Register at www.academy.coopervision.co.uk Vision Now MAY 2020


TX5 Stepper (UK) Limited 11 Tannery Road Tonbridge Kent TN9 1RF 01732 375975


Frame style shown: SI-30141


Charmant Group


De Rigo

Masculine elegance

Salvator Ferragamo’s spring/summer 2020 sunglasses and ophthalmic frames for men play with luminous materials, unexpected combinations and intricate embellishments. Model SF966S (pictured), crafted from acetate and metal, is an oversized rectangular design adorned with a custom double bridge and metal end-pieces. The frame front is contrasted with ultra-thin temples of varying thicknesses featuring a black enamel or Havana foil; the iconic Gancini detail and plastic end-tips match the colour of the lens. The classic Ferragamo signature is discreetly engraved on the lens, and it’s available in four colourways. Charmant’s bespoke face shield

Charmant has developed a general-purpose face shield, the Charmant Shield, scheduled to be available from mid-May with an initial donation of 5,050 face shields and 2,000 goggles to medical professionals in Japan’s Fukui prefecture. The aim is to be producing 200-300,000 per month from July onwards, increasing to two million units by the end of December. Masakiyo Honjo, president and CEO of Charmant, commented: “We would like to use our technology, which has been developed through our optical frame and medical devices production, to help as many people who are fighting against coronavirus in the field as possible. We intend to move forward quickly. For the moment we will start by supplying within Japan but are looking to develop worldwide distribution as our production capacity increases.”

10 NEG Business Club The NEG Business Club has introduced a host of initiatives to support members during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond including a ‘Proudly Part of the NHS’ campaign and Operation Bounce Back. The latter includes a series of live sessions to help independent practices get back into profitability as fast as possible once their practice reopens. Each Monday at 3pm there will be a featured topic, followed by time for questions and sharing ideas. The ‘Proudly Part of the NHS’ campaign enables members to download materials for free, including an A1 Poster, Facebook cover and post, Instagram post, and an email banner. Log in to the NEG Business Club to join in either initiatives, or join the

NHS campaign support

Club today if you haven’t already done so, at www.practicebuilding.co.uk/neg

11 AIO The Association for Independent Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians (AIO) has released a Post Covid-19 Manifesto calling for all eye health care to be structured on a national level in keeping with dentistry and pharmacy. Christian French, AIO chairman, said: “The NHS will emerge from the current pandemic

stretched, exhausted and ill-equipped to deal with a significant backlog of patient cases in hospital eye services. “Primary care optometry can play a full and active role in helping to relieve this pressure and is something already within their clinical capabilities. The time for all

parties to come together to make change happen is now.” The AIO is sharing the manifesto with all other optical representative bodies and calling for their support in a direct approach to Health Secretary of State Matt Hancock. Read more about the manifesto at www.aiovision.org Vision Now MAY 2020



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NEWS 12 Go Eyewear


Optical Workers’ Benevolent Fund

Lab technicians working in manufacturing optics may be eligible for a grant from the Optical Workers’ Benevolent Fund (OWBF). The charity was set up by UK companies some years ago with support from the Federation of Manufacturing Opticians and Optrafair. OWBF chairman, Janice English, said: “Now is the time to support those who are facing very difficult times.

Go-to for PPE

Go Eyewear Europe is supplying PPE visors, to help give optical practitioners more security within their working environment. The visors are: washable and reusable; of optical quality; made in Italy; and CE certified. For costs and to place an order email jan.scott@goeyeweargroup.com or call 07877 750 777.


“It is wonderful that we have such a charity dedicated to helping those who need a helping hand. UK optics is, to many of us, like a large extended family and we want to reach out to those who may be very worried, and struggling to cope financially. In the past, we have supported lab technicians with a broad variety of financial worries.” To apply, email mmacritchie@fmo.co.uk

Help in a crisis

15 Rodenstock

Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee

The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) has welcomed the publication of the Covid-19 Urgent Eyecare Service (CUES) to provide urgent and emergency services in primary care settings during the pandemic. The new service framework is expected to be particularly helpful in those areas of England where there are currently no locally commissioned urgent eyecare services in primary care. It must be commissioned rapidly in those areas, so that patients with urgent eyecare needs can receive care without having to visit a GP or hospital, said the OFNC. The OFNC has issued an updated set of FAQs on primary eyecare services during the Covid-19 crisis, including information on the key features of CUES. Contractors and practitioners are advised to direct further questions to their representative bodies, using the contact details in the FAQs, which can be found on professional optical body websites including the Association of British Dispensing Opticians and Association of Optometrists.

Colour of the Year edition

Porsche Design Eyewear has unveiled a new Colour of the Year edition for model P’8478. First created in 1978 by Professor Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, the P’8478 is described as “the world’s first sunglasses with interchangeable lenses – a true style icon”. The Colour of the Year edition features shiny blue contrasts with silver highlights, emphasising the teardrop shape of the lenses and the characteristic nose bridge. The special edition comes in a high-quality box with silver-mirror interchangeable lenses. Vision Now MAY 2020



r a f w o h t u o b a t o n It’s h g i h w o h t u b , l l a f you . e c n u o you b We will be sharing weekly tools and tips to get you back to break even and beyond, as fast as possible.

Go to practicebuilding.co.uk/neg and get ready to bounce!

NEWS 16 Association of Optometrists The Association of Optometrists (AOP) has launched a webinars programme to support practitioners through lockdown. Covering topics from practical guidance and wellbeing to managing legal issues, the programme provides interactive CET points for the practice team. This month, Dr Nicola Logan will present a CET session on ‘Myopia management: managing the balance of the possible and impossible’ alongside AOP clinical director, Dr Peter Hampson. AOP head of education, Dr Ian Beasley, said: “We recognise that practitioners are facing huge challenges at this unprecedented time – with many having to adapt to extraordinary circumstances and a very different way of life. This new webinar programme has been created specifically to tackle some of those issues and aims to help support practitioners – whether it be by building resilience or ensuring they can maintain vital skills for the future.” Visit www.aop.org.uk/webinars

17 General Optical Council

Tim Parkinson

Tim Parkinson has been appointed as the newest lay member of the General Optical Council (GOC) for a period of four years. He replaces Deborah Bowman, who resigned on 8 February. Tim is the director of his own board-level consultancy business and has more than 20 years of senior leadership experience.

GOC chair, Gareth Hadley, said: “I am pleased to welcome Tim to the council. He brings to us a wide range of corporate experience gained within regulated 24/7 service businesses. I am sure that he will prove to be a major asset to our Council and the challenges that we will face in the coming years in our core task of protecting the public in the rapidly changing field of healthcare professional service delivery.”

18 Menicon Menicon has launched the first in a series of free e-learning modules on the features and benefits of its Miru contact lens range, and how to maximise fitting success. Each module has a mix of video, audio, animation, text and interactive selfreflection questions to guide the viewer through the key wearer benefits in around 10 minutes.

AN INDEPENDENT VIEW Does language matter? The language used in the world of optics says a lot about the tension that exists between clinical and retail based operating models, and how they meet in the middle. Clinical based operators tend to speak about ‘practices’ and ‘patients’ whilst retail based models talk more about ‘stores’ and ‘consumers’ – or perhaps ‘customers’. Whilst independents typically fall into the former category and multiples into the latter, the underlying picture behind the language used is more complicated than that. There are franchisees of multiples who provide a great clinical offering and there are some independents that do not. So it is not really an optical sector conversation. The question: ‘Does language matter?’ is aimed more at a profession/industry level. The words ‘profession’ and ‘industry’ in, and of, themselves are indicative of the confluence of ‘clinical’ and ‘retail’. If, as is widely believed, the future is grounded in primary eyecare becoming embedded in community optometry then perhaps language does matter. As long as there is a perception that ‘an opticians’ is somewhere ‘you will be sold expensive eyewear’ rather than where ‘you are provided with long-term eye health care’, the migration to primary eyecare in community optometry will take a long time. As the retailing of spectacles is increasingly impacted by online sales, and technology in practices is ever-more sophisticated, it is perhaps time to take stock and consider how best we approach the future. Would a universally adopted language help? The answer from the AIO is definitely a ‘yes’. If there was to be a general acceptance of the use of clinically-based language across the optical sector, it may not only be a signal to the outside world that the primary role of optometrists is in eye health care, but also help a clinical culture become more embedded in optics in general. In other words, optometry is a truly clinical profession with patients visiting the practice for an eye exam by the optometrist, and the dispensing optician providing and fitting the spectacles. We – as a profession – often lament that what we do isn’t understood, but we need to take it upon ourselves to educate people. Ultimately, this is not about independents versus multiples, it is about moving to a sustainable and exciting future for the profession.

Neil Retallic, Menicon European professional services director said: “In response to increasing requests for information on how to best match wearers’ needs to contact lens recommendations, we have created these modules to help support our customers in a simple, interactive format that can be viewed anywhere, any time on any digital device.” Visit menicon.co.uk/professional/elearning Vision Now MAY 2020


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Developing thoughts As lockdown continues, Phil Mullins has some tips on how to make the best of the situation

Thoughts from the dining room As I write this month’s Developing Thoughts, we have just come to the end of week four of the lockdown – with the NEG and Optinet teams working from home where possible. My dining room is now my office, and I’ve exchanged views of the beautiful Malvern Hills for my front garden and the road outside. In spite of this, I consider myself very lucky: my family are healthy, I have a garden and I can work from home. For many others, the situation is very different. The government will hopefully soon share its plan of how we will come out of lockdown and begin the journey back to normal life and work. The big question is: what will ‘normal’ look like? How will we navigate the period between lockdown ending and a vaccine being introduced? There are great uncertainties ahead but certain rules remain the same for business. The most important of these is: plan as best you can.

JOIN THE NEG BUSINESS CLUB If you haven’t already signed up with the NEG Business Club, I would strongly recommend that you do. Andy Clark and his team are offering a wealth of support, planning tools and campaigns for now and post lockdown. Visit www.practicebuilding.co.uk/neg and make the most of what is on offer.

SUPPORT FURLOUGHED STAFF Next, keep your staff at the core of your business. The optical profession sits where medical meets retail and, as a result, we require highly trained staff. This means that the salary bill is the practice’s biggest cost. Thankfully, the government’s job retention scheme has made a massive difference to practices, enabling them to keep staff on. Do keep in touch with your furloughed staff, reassure them as much as you can,

and consider what changes you might make when they return to work. Since staff can undertake training during furlough, why not increase their capabilities – particularly as many suppliers and industry groups are offering online training portals. CET and training is available for support staff, so make the most of these free materials. Remember though: if you aren’t able to top up the 80 per cent payments, and you ask staff to carry out training, then the 80 per cent must be equal to, or greater than, the minimum wage for the hours of training. If not, you will need to top it up to the minimum wage.

DO WHAT YOU DO BEST Thirdly, do what you do best. I have already come across reports on social media saying practices will need to slash prices after lockdown, heavily promote things, and increase capacity to make up for loss of income. But the issue is: if that’s not the way your business is set up, then it will just make things worse. Undoubtedly, changes will have to be made – but I wouldn’t recommend introducing a business model against type; you may find it a struggle to maintain in the long-term. Instead, take this time to look at what you do well and build on that. Most independent practices survive because of the service they offer – and that is not going to change. Interestingly, many members have said they are the only practice in town offering emergency care during the lockdown. This means they are seeing other practices’ patients, who are really appreciating the care and service on offer. As part of doing what you do best, make sure you are part of your local community. I have seen countless posts about practices

Keeping the NEG wheels turning during lockdown

supporting key workers and helping in the community. This forms part of your message that rather than being just AN Other optician, you are community based serving your local patients. This has always been a strong message, but it’s more important than ever right now. As people are unable to travel, staying local is key. Hopefully this will continue going forwards, with your practice in a prime position to harness this ‘local is best’ movement.

TELL YOUR STORY Finally, communicate, communicate and communicate again. The one thing our profession has never been great at is communication – but communicating your story is crucial. During closure, the message will be very different, but it still needs to be there. And when we reopen, it’s essential to get the flow of patients moving again. It won’t just be a case of beginning recalls again; you will need social media, general mailings, website messages and much more. You might look at targeting your larger spends first, so that you can speed up the cash flow. You could also run special events – perhaps around sunglasses or sports eyewear – all to attract spending back into the practice. In the meantime, stay stafe and well... Vision Now MAY 2020



Duette: the best of both worlds There’s nothing irregular about Duette hybrid contact lenses, writes Phil Thompson

Offering uncompromised optics, the Duette hybrid contact lens corrects virtually all corneal cylinder powers and all axis directions, with vision unaffected by lens rotation. The ideal patients for Duette hybrids are mild to high astigmats, presbyopic astigmats, those soft toric patients who cannot achieve the same level of clarity as with their spectacles and run the risk of dropping out (including those who have already dropped out), sports people and anyone requiring enhanced vision.

FITTING IS SIMPLICITY ITSELF Importantly, it is possible to ascertain the fit of a Duette lens without the use of sodium fluorescein (NaFl). This a potential benefit for practitioners who started practising during the decline of RGP fitting over the last 20 years or so, and is the approach advocated by SynergEyes for its Duette lens. The lenses are assessed initially in the same way as a soft lens: by judging the lens’s centration and movement. The relative alignment of the RGP is then confirmed via over-refraction. The fitting philosophy allows for a tear lens of around +0.50D – 0.10mm steeper than flattest K – and so it is possible to check and adjust the fit based upon the expected over-refraction. Of course, more experienced practitioners can confidently use regular NaFl with the SiH skirted Duette lenses.

Duette lenses combine a GP centre with an SiH skirt

I must admit that I used to be one of those contact lens practitioners who thought that hybrid contact lenses, which combine a gas permeable centre with a soft lens ‘skirt’, were for patients with abnormal corneal conditions such as keratoconus and that they were generally fitted in hospital contact lens clinics. That is probably not surprising, as this was the original application for the lenses and where hybrid contact lens fitting really began. When presented with a rigid gas permeable (RGP) patient achieving 6/5 on the Snellen chart, but complaining they were still ‘aware’ of their lenses, many contact lens practitioners would likely have mused: “If only there was a lens that could give my patient the visual performance of an RGP combined with the comfort of a soft lens. A ‘best of both worlds’ hybrid type lens with an RGP centre and a silicone hydrogel [SiH] skirt perhaps?”


Vision Now MAY 2020

UNIQUE LENS DESIGN SynergEyes launched its Duette hybrid lens in the US in 2010 and has thousands of happy users across the world. Duette uses a unique lens material developed by SynergEyes and not available from other laboratories. Additionally, all lenses are unique designs manufactured in the company’s state-of-the-art facility in California. It’s a proprietary combination of a high Dk gas permeable centre and SiH skirt, bonded by SynergEyes’ patented HyperBond junction technology. HyperBond junction technology means the Duette hybrid contact lens has been tested to 300 per cent of its original size – and is guaranteed never to split at the junction. The lens’s proprietary high Dk material gives it a combined 130 Dk GP and 84 Dk SiH skirt, ensuring excellent ocular health. A UV blocker offers protection from the sun’s harmful rays, while a two-stage plasma treatment enhances comfort and reduces deposition.

PROGRESSIVE ADVANCEMENT The Duette lens has long been available in the UK in single vision and centre near multifocal lens designs with multiple adds. Last year, the range was expanded with the release of the new Duette Progressive Centre Distance (CD) design with FlexOptics technology. The Duette Progressive CD offers maximum flexibility of lens selection to the contact

The Duette family launched in the USA in 2010

PRODUCT PROFILE however, some patients would benefit from a CD design or a combination thereof.

Duette Progressives joined the family in 2018

lens practitioner in order to fully and successfully correct their astigmatic presbyopes at distance and near. SynergEyes believes that fitting astigmats, especially astigmatic presbyopes, opens up a new and currently untapped business opportunity for practices – and that the high performance of this new contact lens will build patient loyalty and retention. Currently, there are very few options for any contact lens wearing presbyope who has an astigmatism of ≥1.00D. Anecdotally, most are fitted into monovision with soft toric lenses, and there are only a few practitioners brave enough to try a soft toric multifocal design due to their limited success. The Duette Progressive CD therefore provides an excellent opportunity to provide superior visual performance for all astigmatic presbyopes who have cylinders greater than -0.75D. Research supports that: 45 per cent of pre and post-presbyopic patients have astigmatism of -0.75D or more; and that 15 per cent of pre and post-presbyopic patients have astigmatism of -1.25D or more. Tear lens optics ensures Duette Progressive CD lenses correct corneal cylinders with 100 per cent accuracy and without the rotational challenges associated with soft torics, enabling patient and practitioner to simply focus on the presbyopic vision correction. Named Contact Lens Product of the Year at the 2019 Optician Awards, the Duette Progressive CD recognises that all eyes are different and that pupil sizes vary. By offering hybrid contact lenses that are customisable for presbyopia, even for those patients with astigmatism, all eventualities can be covered. A centre near design offers presbyopes clear vision at all distances,

The key features and benefits of Duette Progressive CD lenses are: • Intuitive fitting approach providing high performance vision for astigmatic presbyopes • Uncompromised GP optics ensuring astigmatism is fully corrected, enabling practitioner and patient to focus on the progressive performance • Seamless progression of power from distance to near, or near to distance • Centre distance design for early presbyopes available in a wide range of add powers • Centre near design in three add powers for advanced presbyopes The new addition to the Duette Progressive range has proprietary CD FlexOptics technology meaning the CD zone size is completely adjustable, ranging from 1.84mm in 0.1mm steps. The add powers can also be configured from +0.75D to +5.00D in 0.25D steps. The Duette Progressive range offers customisable base curves for the RGP portion in 0.1mm steps, along with a range of SiH skirts to fit most eyes.

GIVING THE ‘WOW’ FACTOR Whilst this lens has a vast array of parameters, it is simply fitted empirically. The ‘wow factor’ of putting a lens onto a patient’s eye, that will give them instant comfort and clarity of vision at all distances, cannot be underestimated. With no need to worry about correcting the cyl, Duette Progressive is easy to fit using the same empirical fitting procedure as single vision Duette with the addition of measuring the photopic pupil size, and selecting CD or CN depending on the add power.

SynergEyes UK emphasises that the unique combination of customisable base curves, add powers and CD zone sizes, driven by photopic pupil size, provide contact lenses to meet almost all presbyopic needs.

PREVENTING DROP-OUT It is disappointing in the 21st century that, when it comes to contact lenses, for many practitioners monovision is still seen as the most effective way to correct an astigmatic presbyope. It is understandable though when you take into account the additional cost of increased chair time, with little guarantee of success, when fitting soft toric multifocal lenses. Having a bespoke lens, but one that is ordered empirically, means SynergEyes can cater for almost any presbyopic corneal astigmat without the chair time and dropout often associated with fitting complex toric multifocals. It is also a great opportunity for practitioners to differentiate their practice to reach more people; thus growing their business whilst enhancing the practice’s profile in the local community. Duette Progressive is not available on the internet. Additionally, with the patient understanding that this is a specialist lens, their perception of the practitioner and practice is enhanced, making them the strong advocates and walking ambassadors who will happily refer friends and family.

DIFFERENTIATE YOUR PRACTICE Duette lenses’ ‘best of both worlds’ approach, combining the visual performance of an RGP lens with the comfort of a soft lens, makes them a powerful tool in the armoury of the modern contact lens fitter in regular High Street contact lens practice. With the lenses utilising empirical fitting and adopting similar evaluation techniques to soft lenses, they can be easy to fit and a useful alternative to oblique and higher cyl powered soft torics, especially when combined with a progressive/multifocal design for patients who are also presbyopic. Differentiation is a buzzword these days, and offering a product that solves problems for patients who may have struggled with other means of correcting their vision can only help to raise the practice and practitioner’s profile.

HyperBond technology means the lenses will never split at the junction

Phil Thompson FBDO CL is professional services lead at SynergEyes UK. Vision Now MAY 2020



Seeing the light Does your practice have a light management story to tell? asks Julian Wiles The February 2020 Mintel report on UK optical retailing clearly shows that prescription sunwear is rarely recommended. It also shows that 61 per cent per cent of revenue comes from the ‘sale’ of appliances. If you offered front surface technologies routinely, as part of the overall eye health package, what could happen to your business? Leaving aside specialist tints, this article concentrates on two specific front surface technologies and poses the question: ‘Does your business have a light management story?’ It’s estimated that photochromic sales account for about eight to 10 per cent of overall lens sales, and polarised lenses around three to six per cent. This is, at best, an educated guess because no specific studies have ever been made in the UK. Is the market so small because most practitioners don’t recommend these technologies as a matter of routine? Is it simply because people don’t ask about them, or know about them? If the latter, why not? This represents a business opportunity closely associated with eye health, and in line with all current professional guidelines.

patients would dismiss your advice? People will buy when they are ready to buy and not a moment before. Your job is to make it easy for them to say yes. If your patient’s clinical information and awareness begins in the consulting room, you are making a great start. If it begins in the practice, on your website, with your recall letters, in your social media activity and in your regular communications, the results over time will be even better. These results would also be measurable with the correct procedures in place.

ONCE UPON A TIME... Do you know a faster way to increase your average transaction value, or potentially double your sales, without seeing any more patients? Some readers will think: “So what?” Or possibly: “Why should I?” But asking yourself – “What if?” or “Why not?” – changes your thinking and gives you a new perspective. So how do you achieve the goal of generating a new, profitable and sustainable revenue stream?

‘Facts tell and stories sell’ is a familiar mantra. Anyone who has dispensed eyewear to an engineer will tell you that facts are the be all and end all. Not everyone is an engineer, dispensing optician or optometrist. They don’t know what you know. They need your professional advice, not jargon. People understand a simple story, remember it and can often recount it later.

If you recommend these potential lens options eight times a day, how many

Sapiens are subject to the laws of physics, chemistry and biology that determine our visual system. We see the same sunlight and we see in the visible spectrum. We are all, to varying degrees, sensitive to light. Too much light interferes with our visual acuity. At worst this is blinding – at best it is discomforting. Understanding this is the key to understanding that almost everyone you see is a potential client. The skill comes in selling the second pair. The first pair is corrective, the second pair is a lifestyle choice – an experience, a discretionary purchase. It’s therefore different.

Show patients the benefits of light management


Vision Now MAY 2020

When your patient presents with a cataract, you might recommend surgery. Your patient returns happy, but is suffering, or is aware

Photochromic lenses boost both business and eye health

of, the adverse effects of glare. Do you always recommend polarised prescription sunglass lenses during the pre-op and postop follow up? If not, why not?

NOW FOR THE SCIENCE BIT Understanding the various types of glare is the key to unlocking these latent sales and increased transactional values. Glare has an adverse effect on how we see. The Unified Glare Rating is a quantitative measure of glare. The International Commission on Illumination defines glare as “Visual conditions in which there is excessive contrast, or inappropriate distribution of light sources that disturbs the observer or limits the ability to distinguish details and objects”. There are four main types of glare (see below), which progressively affect a person’s ability to see clearly. Reaction and recovery times are impaired. Glare is observable, repeatable, verifiable and can be expressed with formulae. Glare is not marketing hype. Glare is science. Glare is a real visual problem, which you can solve. 1. Blinding glare results in severe discomfort and a debilitating impact on one’s ability to see. It is often experienced on water, sea, sand and snow. 2. Disabling (disability) glare occurs when light becomes extreme. Vision and details are significantly compromised. 3. Distracting glare might be light reflected from a spectacle lens. 4. Discomforting glare means the eye is unable to adapt naturally and is uncomfortable and reduces visual acuity. It manifests itself with an instinctive desire to look away from a bright light or immediate task.

BUSINESS MATTERS limitations of each. These questions will be specific to their own lifestyle needs and wants. You are no longer talking about price, but value – especially when you explain all the benefits, every single one.

Weave photochromics into your light management story

It is vital to appreciate that this reduction in visibility is an optical phenomenon. The retina and the rest of the neural system are functioning as normal, but performance is limited by the fact that scattered light has reduced the contrast of the retinal image. It won’t identify itself during refraction or examination, only after the patient has left the practice and suffers in silence. Unfortunately, it is not possible to eliminate disabling glare by an appropriate choice of coloured tint or by anti-reflection coating. Reflection free coatings and photochromic lenses may help, but only polarised lenses are designed specifically to eliminate glare. Photochromic lenses will help with your first prescribed correction. Cynics will observe that recommending photochromic lenses kills the second pair sale. Your job is to explain the benefits and offer your patients multiple ways to solve their visual problems and meet their lifestyle needs. They are two very different skills. There are three new photochromic technologies available to you today, all of which are available from your preferred suppliers list. They are Reactolite from Norville, Transitions Signature Gen 8 (actually the 10th iteration since the launch in 1990 if we include DriveWear and XTRActive) and Hoya’s Sensity 2. Each technology is slightly different, but any or all can be incorporated into your light management story; as can all the other photochromic and polarised technologies currently on the market. This is not about ‘the brand’, this is all about ‘your brand’, which is the reason people trust you in the first place.

and systems, but when you get your story right it becomes much easier. The fastest way to sell more is to think about external factors, internal factors, to use your imagination and create a habit. Resilience is a skill. Patented, award-winning DriveWear has been around for 15 years and still has no serious competition in the polarised photochromic market. Recommending DriveWear is the perfect way to start the conversation, because it uniquely links two great technologies. DriveWear sunglasses are available as plano or prescription lenses. The majority of prescriptions can be fulfilled and serve as an instant demonstration aid. Most lens types, including bifocals, are available and Trivex Drivewear can be glazed into almost all ophthalmic frames. Sunglasses comes with an eight-base option, fade and darken in the car, and retail at a price which allows you to achieve an 85-100 per cent margin. Drivewear has two main features: the task specific colour and the price. This is crucial. When you explain why DriveWear is the colour it is, two things will happen. People will immediately ask questions about the differences between photochromics and polarised lenses and the advantages and

Now think about your patients. How many have contrast sensitivity issues either naturally, or as the result of medication? Maybe your age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa and ‘blue cone monochromate’ patients will benefit from the (subjective) improvements in their vision. How many people will benefit from improved visual acuity if contrast is enhanced and light sensitivity reduced?

TELL YOUR STORY WITH SUCCESS So, how do you tell your light management story successfully? You begin by remembering that no-one is better placed to educate people than you. Nor are there any physical indicators to identify a light sensitive person. People expect you to know this stuff. It is all backed by science. You begin by asking the right questions in the test room: • Do you drive? • Do you squint in bright sunlight? • Do you ever feel uncomfortable when driving during the day or at night? • Are you ever bothered by artificial indoor lighting? • Do you sometimes take a moment to adjust to indoor light after being outdoors? The objective of telling a story is to be believed. Your job is to change what people thought they knew and wanted, and to do it ethically. Facts change and stories can adapt to those changes. If you don’t let people know about all the value added lens options open to them, don’t be surprised if they don’t buy.

INTERLINKED TECHNOLOGIES Recommending daywear and sunwear involves two very different sales processes

To make your life easier your ‘light management’ story must follow a logical sequence, encompass all reasonable objections and offer alternatives. Remember: what you consider an objection may simply be the patient’s way of discovering information that’s important, relevant and meaningful to them. Does it work in the car? Why is it a funny colour? Can I wear them at night? Will they go clear? Can I have them glazed into my own frame? Can I choose a rimless frame? Your story must incorporate all these questions and more.

Drivewear is the perfect way to start the conversation

Julian Wiles BA (Hons) is the founder and owner of Performance Lenses, and country manager UK and Ireland for Younger Optics. Vision Now MAY 2020



Get ready for the new normal BY ANDY CLARK, director, Practice Building They say that we should all expect the best and plan for the worst. It’s a great headline – but I don’t want to be given the choice between two wild extremes. Do you?



So, what might your best expectation be? Maybe it’s: the lockdown ends in a couple of months, we go back to business as usual, avoid a world recession and leave the EU with a trade deal. In other words, the pigs are fuelled and ready to fly.

Just as a patient who survives the virus will do so in four stages – Crisis, Cure, Convalescence, Recovery – the economy and your business is going to have to go through a very similar process. Just one word has changed.

It actually doesn’t matter too much what you think the ‘best’ might be; the truth is that if you are in a situation where you have to ask the question, then your most optimistic best outcome probably won’t be happening any time soon. But at least it might give you something to hang on to at 4am when your mind is at its most vulnerable.

We’re in the cure stage as I write this; we have learned that there isn’t going to be a quick fix and that we must ride it out for now. One day, restrictions will be gradually lifted and people will enjoy a return to a semblance of normal. They will go back to work, get outside, go for highly overdue haircuts, see friends and buy stuff. The soundtrack to it all will be Bill Withers’ Lovely Day.

PLAN FOR THE WORST The worst is a terrifying, ill-formed monster lurking in the depths of your imagination, where every option looks like a catastrophe and none of it is your fault. It leaves you frozen in indecision, and instead of taking action you carry on as if nothing has changed, relying on wishful thinking and your lucky rabbit’s foot to get you through. Instead, determine that whatever happens you won’t be a victim – and then focus on making a realistic plan. While you are not responsible for the virus, you are 100 per cent responsible for your response to the situation that it has created. So decide what the ‘worst’ might really be (it’s usually not as bad as the monster would have you believe), then resolve that if the worst happens you can handle it and that you will do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t occur. Now repeat the following five times on the hour, every hour with gusto: “Things won’t be that different in the end, and until then I can handle it”.


Vision Now MAY 2020

But this won’t last long. After the ravages of the crisis and the cure, the world economy is going to have to convalesce and this convalescence will manifest as a recession. Across the UK, unemployment will go up, pay will be frozen, investment will be blocked and some businesses will fail. Your business will need to convalesce too. You are going to have to treat it differently and take extra special care of it while the economy moves towards recovery. The good news is that recessions are nothing new. Seasoned business owners know: a) what to do when one occurs; and b) that recessions always end.

CONSUMERS IN A RECESSION According to Quelch and Jocz in the Harvard Business Review, April 2009, consumers in a recession fall into four groups or segments:

1. Slam-on-the-brakes These are the most vulnerable and hardest hit financially. This group reduces all types of spending by eliminating, postponing, decreasing or substituting purchases.

Although lower income consumers typically fall into this segment, anxious higher income consumers can as well, particularly if their health or income circumstances change for the worse.

2. Pained-but-patient These consumers tend to be resilient and optimistic about the long term, but less confident about the prospects for recovery in the near term – or their ability to maintain their standard of living. Like slamon-the-brakes consumers, they economise in all areas, though less aggressively. They constitute the largest segment and include the great majority of households unscathed by unemployment, representing a wide range of income levels. As news gets worse, pained-but-patient consumers increasingly migrate into the slam-on-thebrakes segment.

3. Comfortably well-off These consumers feel secure about their ability to ride out current and future bumps in the economy. They consume at near prerecession levels, though now they tend to be a little more selective (and less conspicuous) about their purchases. The segment consists primarily of people in the top five per cent income bracket. It also includes those who are less wealthy but feel confident about the stability of their finances – the comfortably retired, for example, or investors who got out of the market early or had their money in low risk investments.

4. Live-for-today This group carries on as usual and for the most part remains unconcerned about savings. The consumers in this group respond to the recession mainly by extending their timetables for making major purchases. Typically urban and

NEG BUSINESS CLUB 2. Treats are indulgences whose immediate purchase is considered justifiable: “I really fancy some new specs and the price isn’t too high”. Encourage people to treat themselves with the Style 99 Collection – fabulous eyewear at an affordable price, and other incentives to purchase at higher price points. 3. Postponables are needed or desired items whose purchase can be reasonably put off: “I’ll get some super new specs from you when this is all over, but in the meantime I’ll go to that other place and just get some cheaper ones.” Stop this group from going elsewhere by letting them purchase a more affordable treat from you.

younger, they are more likely to rent than to own, and they spend on experiences rather than stuff (with the exception of consumer electronics). They’re unlikely to change their consumption behaviour unless they become unemployed.

Regardless of which group consumers belong to, they prioritise spending by sorting products and services into four categories: 1. Essentials are necessary for survival or perceived as central to well-being: “My specs are broken” or “I can’t see clearly enough” but “I can’t afford much right now”. Attract this group with an Essential Eyewear Collection of frames complete with lenses at a very affordable price.

4. Expendables are perceived as unnecessary or unjustifiable: “At that price you’re having a laugh. I’m off down the road for something I can afford”. This drift towards treats and essentials drives prices down and your practice should adjust its offering accordingly.

LOYAL PATIENTS IN A RECESSION The loyal patient gives you first refusal on their next transaction, but now their needs have changed. They were happy with the way that you fulfilled what they needed, wanted, liked and paid last time – and if all things were equal, you’d get their custom this time too. The challenge is that their needs, wants, likes and budget will change in a recession and if they come to you and your offering doesn’t deliver to their new criteria, they will simply go somewhere else (albeit reluctantly). Consequently, your loyal patients will: • Leave more time between eye exams • Try to make their spectacles last longer • Choose to reglaze their frames instead of having new ones • Spend less than before when they change their spectacles • Turn up for a routine eye exam determined not to purchase a new pair • Come to you for a great eye exam and take their prescription elsewhere • They might even leave you for a more affordable option The multiples and large groups are in a recession. Your big competitors are very aware of this patient migration and will be expecting to grab market share with lower prices and special offers. They know that after months of lockdown there will be a lot of people looking for new specs, many of whom will be looking for a more affordable

alternative to their ‘usual optician’ and some whose usual optician has simply closed for good. The professional marketeers know that if, while others choose to cut their marketing budgets, they maintain or even increase theirs, they will get a larger share of voice resulting in more market share during and after the downturn. I think it’s going to be like watching a game of hungry hippos: they will go full out to gobble up as much of the market as they can with non-stop special offers. And what of a local independent practice in the midst of this maelstrom? One of my mentors was constantly reminding us that ‘in every crisis there is a golden opportunity if you are only willing to find it and take it’. Here are seven things that you must be willing to do to find the opportunities in this and get your practice through its convalescence:

1. Flex your business model Nearly every business model has to change in order to do get through a recession, but some have to change far more than others. Don’t strive to build your perfect practice, instead build the practice that is perfect for the economy and for the changing needs of your patients. This means looking at new strategies. This means looking at new ways of doing things. And this means letting go of some of the rules that might have controlled your decisions previously. Rules like, ‘If you do discounts you become just like Specsavers’. Trust me, you will never be just like Specsavers because of all of the other things that you do in your own quirky, delightful and original way. Rules like, ‘I’m just going to focus on the comfortably well off’. Actually, this might be a winner for you if your practice is situated in the middle of where all the rich folk live Vision Now MAY 2020


NEG BUSINESS CLUB Rules like, ‘I don’t want to see them if they come to me for an eye exam but take their prescription elsewhere’. Wouldn’t it better to change your offering to one that delivers what they want in the consulting room and at the dispensing desk. You’ve got to try things and you’ve got to learn what works best, so you’ve got to fail faster in order to learn quicker. Don’t strive for perfection; in these turbulent times, 90 per cent will nearly always be good enough. Most of all, you mustn’t wait to see what everyone else is doing and how it works out for them. If you do, you will be too late.

2. Ring fence your database During the lockdown, tell the patients who are due an eye exam that you haven’t forgotten them and that you will call them to book them in as soon as you are allowed. Don’t just wait for the moment when their recall is due to contact them. If you haven’t told them about your new price points and promotions, your recall could simply prompt them to go elsewhere. Send them things like the Pass It On vouchers, a postcard with a special offer that they can use themselves or pass on to a friend. Send them TLC cards simply to get them back into the practice to get their specs cleaned and adjusted and, of course, discover what you are now offering them. You neglect your database at your peril; you must make sure that the people in it are informed and both logically and emotionally attached to you, and therefore far less likely to stray.

3. Actively demonstrate great value for money If this headline makes you uncomfortable, repeat the following to yourself over and over until you feel better: ‘Offering value is all about giving people a lot for their money at a price they can afford’. You must actively feature all of the things that make you outstanding, and therefore more valuable, compared to the competition, so people are in no doubt about what they’d be missing if they went elsewhere.

and, more importantly, where they shop. But if you’re not in this wealthy neverland, relentlessly sticking to this group alone means that you are also relentlessly deterring the other 95 per cent of the population.


Vision Now MAY 2020

Rules like, ‘Marketing doesn’t work, I tried a leaflet drop once and nobody turned up’. In a recession, you have simply got to make sure that your patients, and all the people like them, know that you are doing something different.

An affordable price is only an issue in the absence of value. Celebrate all the things that you do that nobody else can do. Celebrate your specialities, your clinical services, your dispensing skills; celebrate the fact that you are a boutique, that your customer experience is second to none. In the NEG Business Club portal, click on Quality Time and Advanced Optometry.

NEG BUSINESS CLUB number of tests conversion rates, average transaction value and sales per day. And you must plan your profits and manage your cash. In the NEG Business Club portal, click on the Scorecard, the Profit and Breakeven plan and the Cashflow plan in the 7 Systems Toolbox.

4. Get close to your local community Empathise with them, and demonstrate that you understand their fears and frustrations. Show them that you share the same values and concerns – and that you are with them.

7 Polish up your sales system

5. Check your pricing and gross profit model In these more turbulent times, people will want to spend less. If you want to see them at all, you’re going to have to expect to take a lower cash gross profit from them, so you must be ready to work harder to make the same amount. In the NEG Business Club portal, click on Price Planner.

Once you’ve brought people through the door either from your database or as the result of your marketing and advertising, you need to think carefully about the sales process. It’s particularly important in a recession to give people solid reasons to purchase by recommending products that they will value. You definitely mustn’t just be relying on small prescription changes to drive your revenue, because people will reject them. In the NEG Business Club portal, click on I Can Help You With That in the 7 Systems Toolbox.

This list isn’t complete. Things are moving so fast that it can’t be. Please do keep an eye on the Bounce Back Programme in the NEG Business Club, as there will be lots of regular updates. In the end, things won’t be that different, and it’s going to be a bumpy road, but with careful leadership you will get through it. The only thing we know for sure is that the world will be a very different place when the doors reopen, and we can make sure of a secure place in it if we are prepared to plan ahead and adapt the way we work.

8 Look after your numbers 6. Get the word out It’s not enough to know that you have a very affordable price list if you’re not featuring it in your window, putting it all over the homepage of your website, or demonstrating it with every nearly every social media post. Otherwise, how will people know? You cannot afford to keep this a secret.

If you don’t manage the numbers that define how well your practice is performing, you’ll be behaving in a similar way to an optometrist who doesn’t measure the numbers that indicate whether somebody has glaucoma or not. You must look carefully at your KPIs (key performance indicators) on a daily and weekly basis, particularly the

JOIN THE CLUB Practice Building is currently helping nearly 500 different practice owners develop their plans, and you can join us at www.practicebuilding.co.uk/neg. Basic NEG Business Club membership is free for all NEG members and only £225 a month for full access. I’ll leave the final words to NEG member, Nishi from Surrey Opticians: “Practice Building are being absolutely fabulous right now, providing us with all the support that we as practice owners need mentally to get through this current situation. Andy’s expertise has given us guidance on many crucial areas and the various spreadsheets and imaginative marketing campaigns have helped us immensely. Lucy deserves a big thank you for all the great campaigns she has designed quickly, which have been highly creative, relevant and colourful. Thank you Practice Building for all the time you have given us and for all of your great ideas for when we are back to work.” To listen to a podcast of this feature, click here. Vision Now MAY 2020



Sustainable eyewear style By Joan Grady Preservation of our fragile planet is among the many issues with which the world now grapples. Sustainability is at the forefront to maintain an ecological balance. For the eyewear sector, this goal is an innovative moment for designers and companies, who dig deep into their creative resources to develop eyewear that will enable relief of the global plastic crisis, and damage to fragile ocean reefs and coral. Responses to this need that will benefit people and the planet have been met with enthusiasm and action. From how materials can be recycled to conserving resources in production, the future for sustainable eyewear that commands a fashion statement is promising.

MEDITERRANEAN STYLE AND FLAIR The sunny, welcoming coasts of the Mediterranean have influenced writers, artists, architects and designers for centuries. Two entrepreneurs – Francisco Marin from Mallorca and Joerdis Neubaer from Germany – share their passion for Mediterranean ambience and lifestyle with Jisco eyewear. Connecting to Nature – Jisco Eyewear

Launched in 2013 and based in Spain, Jisco creates acetate and titanium frames that are bio and ethically sourced. Francisco and Joerdis banter: “The design concept behind Jisco reflects a constant ‘battle’ between German nationalism and Mediterranean

hedonism and passion for life. All our frames show a perfect combination for these two aspects, which manifest in perfection, details, and lightness – plus fun and enjoying the moment. Nature is behind the creative process of every model.” The frames exude elegant styling, with beautiful colourations in both sun and optical designs for men and women, reflecting both a relaxed Mediterranean feel of the landscapes as well as subtle luxury and luminosity. The Jisco founders oversee every aspect of the production process, rigorously monitoring

Joerdis Neubaer and Francisco Marin, Jisco Eyewear founders


Vision Now MAY 2020

Intricate detail on Jisco sun design, Farode

Mediterranean flair – sunglasses by Jisco

all phases, and ensuring that quality requirements are met in each piece. While acknowledging that the sustainable sector is still in the minority, the design duo report: “It is an increasingly global market trend, and opticians are more receptive to the issue of sustainability. Many of them are already asking brands to include models made from sustainable materials in their collections.” Francisco and Joerdis add: “At Jisco, we care deeply about nature and we are committed to making the right choices for the protection of our environment, and we decided to live more sustainably. A critical eye is taken to sourcing raw materials, the production process and packaging; we are always looking for ways to be kind to the Earth. We love, feel and need nature.”

NEW YORK ATTITUDE Gerard Masci spent 13 years working on Wall Street before his fondness for eyewear instigated his desire to create a brand. He reflects on the road that led to the Brooklyn-based company: “The concept for Lowercase innocently came out of my love for eyewear, specifically acetate eyewear, that started with my first frames when I was 13 years old. “After I left finance,” Gerard continues, “and was looking for the next chapter in my work life, I started researching the eyewear industry to see if I could find a job that fitted me. During this period, it quickly became


Tortoiseshell statement by Lowercase NYC

Gerard Masci, co-founder of Lowercase NYC

apparent that there were hardly any frame manufacturers in the US, and that started my long journey to launch Lowercase. “It took my partner Brian and I roughly three years from concept to launch in January 2017,” explains Gerard. “Brian was the driving force behind us always having an eye towards sustainability – whether that is a commitment to small batch production to limit waste from overproduction, or the simple fact of being vertically integrated to eliminate the carbon footprint of frame parts travelling between specialised factories, which is how most frames are made.” Gerard also reports that feedback from the opticians is encouraging. “We have had a great response from opticians about working with a local brand in the US that affords them

the opportunity to tell a unique story that includes a sustainability angle. We are now selling in the UK, Canada, Japan, Australia, and across the US.”

all the while providing the lightweight, durable quality for which Dragon is known and solidifying the company’s commitment to social responsibility.

Each frame is produced individually in Gerard’s Brooklyn factory, across the Williamsburg Bridge from Manhattan. As enthusiastic New Yorkers who appreciate the history, architecture and animation of the city and its boroughs, Gerard says: “Brian creates the designs, pulling inspiration from colour, then perhaps music for the next collection; but there is most often a connection to New York City.” Many of the frame names in the collection reflect landmark sites and buildings in the city.

Upcycling is also the sustainable endeavour at Okia, with its launch of Reshape. The collection transforms plastic bottles into eco eyewear that is durable and flexible, with designs in contemporary shapes and lovely colours.

INNOVATIVE UPCYCLING How products and materials are formulated has established a new by-word in eyewear: upcycling. Upcycling eyewear involved refashioning various plastics into eco frames. The statistics on plastic bottles are staggering: more than one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute around the world. However, it takes 450 years for one plastic bottle to decompose in landfill. California brand Dragon, distributed by Marchon, is recognised for its performance eyewear and has now launched sun and ophthalmic styles moulded with upcycled plastic water bottles. The process begins with five plastic bottles manually separated and selected; the recycled waste is then washed thoroughly and cut into chips. The chips are pressed into small pellets, then melted down and injected into a frame. The procedure helps to reduce Dragon’s carbon footprint and preserve the planet,

Cat eye chic by Lowercase NYC

Eco-friendly frames crafted from regenerated fishing nets and landfills around the world are the initiative of co-founder George Bailey at Coral Eyewear. Streamlined sun and optical designs with glossy finishes highlight the lightweight frames in bright and neutral tones. Sustainability is now the vanguard to combat the worldwide plastic crisis and build a better, kinder world for all. The new processes in eyewear for recycling and upcycling offer independent opticians an ideal opportunity to introduce designs that are contemporary and sophisticated, and contribute to the welfare of the planet we inhabit.

Sustainable endeavour: Okia Reshape from plastic bottles

Upcycling plastic bottles: Dragon Eyewear Vision Now MAY 2020




Preferred Suppliers’ Directory

Preferred Suppliers are suppliers who, by prior arrangement, offer members of the PK National Eyecare Group preferential terms. For full details and terms offered to the membership, please call 01580 713698 Directory listings are available free of charge to all preferred suppliers, with a larger listing available to Vision Now Advertisers. To make changes to the directory listings, please call Sally Spicer on 01580 713698 or email s.spicer@nationaleyecare.co.uk





Tel: 0371 376 0017 Fax: 0871 351 1005

Tel: 0121 7723888 Fax: 0808 2801865

Tel: 01604 646216 Fax: 01604 790366

Tel: 0800 9178270


sales@bondeyeoptical.co.uk www.bondeyeoptical.co.uk

orders@davidthomas.com www.davidthomas.com


DE RIGO UK LTD Tel: 01923 249491

sales@assopt.co.uk www.associatedoptical.com

OPTICAL CENTRE SUPPLIES LTD Tel: 01923 239267 Fax: 01923 253951


sales@centrostyle.com www.centrostyle.com

Tel: 02920 362 136 Fax: 02920 362 137


info@atlanticoptical.co.uk www.atlanticoptical.co.uk

Tel: 020 8992 9222 Fax: 020 8896 0287


sales@charmant.co.uk www.charmant.co.uk

Tel: 01628 605433 Fax: 01628 665077

Tel: 0800 056 5569



Tel: 0151 426 3907 Fax: 0151 426 9340

info.uk@derigo.com www.derigo.com www.my.derigo.com

HEIDELBERG ENGINEERING Tel: 01442 502 330 Fax: 01442 242 386 www.HeidelbergEngineering.co.uk



Tel: 0116 251 8936 Fax: 0116 262 4205

Tel: 01388 420420 Fax: 01388 810101

info@henrybeaumont.com www.henrybeaumont.com

dunelm@dunelmoptical.co.uk www.dunelmoptical.co.uk

ESSILOR Tel: 01454 281281 Fax: 01454 281282

HILCO EUROPE Tel: 0800 591150 info@hilco.co.uk www.hilco.co.uk



sales@continental-eyewear.co.uk www.continental-eyewear.com




Tel: 01527 870550 Fax: 01527 837012

Tel: 0845 330 0984 Fax: 0845 330 0977

Tel: 01438 740823

Tel: 0870 9000 055

info@eyespace-eyewear.co.uk www.eyespace-eyewear.co.uk

Tel: 020 8781 2900 www.bausch.co.uk


sales@bibonline.co.uk www.bibonline.co.uk

Alcon are pleased to o昀er free delivery of contact lenses to all frontline key workers*

enquiries@hoya.co.uk orders@hoya.co.uk www.hoya.co.uk



A refreshing perspective To help you enhance your contact lens practice, CooperVision offers an extensive product range designed to meet the needs of even more of your patients.

For more information 0870 9000 055* www.coopervision.co.uk

*Calls cost 2p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge. 14406 © 2020 Alcon Inc.


Vision Now MAY 2020

T 01527 870550 eyespace-eyewear.co.uk

01580 713698



Tel: 0121 585 6565 Fax: 0121 585 0954




Tel: 01332 295001 Fax: 01332 295158

Tel: 01884 266130

Tel: 01865 714620

sales@pro-optic.com www.pro-optic.co.uk

info@tgsports.co.uk www.sunwise.co.uk


orders@midoptic.com www.midoptic.com



Tel: 02920 883009 Fax: 02920 889798

Tel: 01424 850620 Fax: 01424 850650



Tel: 01132 883094 Fax: 01132 883095

Tel: 01279 653785 Fax: 01279 658308

RawdonCC@rawdonoptical.co.uk www.lenstecopticalgroup.co.uk

TantCC@tantlabs.com www.lenstecopticalgroup.co.uk

Tel: 01452 510321

LenstecCC@lenstec.co.uk www.lenstecopticalgroup.co.uk

info@no7contactlenses.com www.no7contactlenses.com




Tel: 0845 313 0233

Tel: 024 7601 0103

sales@optinetuk.com www.optinetuk.com

dean@retailexperiencedesign.co.uk www.retailexperiencedesign.co.uk



Tel: 0161 773 5555 Fax: 0161 773 5544

Tel: 01474 325555

Tel: 07780 338656 franchising@lloydsbanking.com www.lloydsbank.com/business

LOUIS STONE OPTICAL LTD Tel: 029 2073 5293 Fax: 029 2073 1446 info@louisstone.co.uk www.louisstone.co.uk

LUNEAU TECHNOLOGY UK/IRELAND – VISIONIX Tel: 07383 555659 infouk@luneautech.com www.luneautech.co.uk

info@orange-eyewear.co.uk www.orange-eyewear.co.uk

PENNINE OPTICAL Tel: 02920 857122 Fax: 02920 920480 sales@pennineoptical.co.uk www.pennineoptical.co.uk

THE NORVILLE GROUP LTD sales@norville.co.uk www.norville.co.uk

THEA PHARMACEUTICALS Tel: 0845 521 1290 Fax: 01782 717 944

sales@rodenstock.co.uk www.rodenstock.co.uk



Tel: 01686 627595 Fax: 01696 610015

Tel: 01452 610033 Fax: 01452 638250 orders@seiko-optical.co.uk info@seiko-optical.co.uk www.seiko-optical.co.uk

THREE SIXTY Kieran@calotherm.co.uk www.calotherm.co.uk




Tel: 01525 381112 Fax: 01525 370091

Tel: 0808 165 8555

Tel: 01536 529696 Fax: 01536 310033

info@ultravision.co.uk www.ultravision.co.uk



Tel: 020 8987 8899 Fax: 020 8987 2430



Tel: 0800 72 2020

Tel: 08446 696907



sales@positiveimpact.co.uk www.positiveimpact.co.uk

Tel: 01392 460806




office@uk.silhouette.com www.silhouette.com

info@speccareservices.co.uk www.speccareservices.co.uk

Tel: 0800 3280610 Fax: 0800 3280649

Tel: 0115 989 9772


mkservices@markennovy.com www.markennovy.com

andy@practicebuilding.co.uk www.practicebuilding.co.uk

Tel: 01732 375975

WEBPOST Tel: 0800 074 2425 annie.mackervoy@webpost.com www.webpost.com

XACT Tel: 01698 574 655 IMcGleish@xact.uk.com www.xact.uk.com



Suppliers’ directory


Open your eyes to



Love Your OCT. Guaranteed.


Andrew Davies F.B.D.O UK Country Manager +44 (0) 7583 076 132 a.davies@michael-pachleitner-group.com

0845 3130233 sales@optinetuk.com


Vision Now MAY 2020


Advanced Practice Management Software

Fashion’s always evolving So is our software Intuitive dashboards, intelligent reports and individual staff permissions. Optinet FLEX keeps your business at the cutting edge.

For further information and to book your no obligation, in practice demonstration, please call 0845 3130233 or email sales@optinetuk.com

0845 3130233 sales@optinetuk.com www.optinetuk.com

Profile for Vision Now

Vision Now May 2020  

Vision Now is the members publication of the National Eyecare Group, the UK largest purchasing group for independent opticians

Vision Now May 2020  

Vision Now is the members publication of the National Eyecare Group, the UK largest purchasing group for independent opticians

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