Conference report: Independent thinking

Tina Arbon Black reports from the well-organised one-day event

Daryl Newsome presenting Julian Wiles with an ABDO Honorary Fellowship

I recently had the pleasure to be invited to the ‘Independent Thinking’ CPD event, which was organised by Eluned (Lil) Creighton-Sims, UK manager for IOT Lenses, and Julian Wiles, founder and owner of Performance Lenses, UK and Ireland manager for Younger Optics. These two suppliers brought four independent labs together in front of specially invited guests for a unique CPD event.

Industry experts Shaun Base, commercial director at Norville; Chris Smith, managing director of Waterside Laboratories; Rayna Greenfield, sales manager at Optimum; and Paul Davies, regional sales manager of Caledonian Optical, provided a wealth of knowledge and experience to the day.

The day started with a fascinating lecture presented by Eluned Creighton-Sims (pictured right) and Julian Wiles on the supporting theory for progressive lenses. It is hard to imagine a time without these lens designs, but we were reminded that it was 1959 when the first commercially viable progressive lens was available and how lens designs of today have improved with freeform technology. The UK saw its first freeform lens in 1996; today this state of the art technology allows customised designs while minimising oblique aberrations meaning so much more is possible in terms of width of visual areas that are tailored to individual patient needs. The second session, ‘Trick or Treats’, was a lecture with discussion workshop covering AR coatings, polarized and photochromic lenses, where delegates had the opportunity to see what damage was caused by taking various abrasives to an AR coat (see below, right).

AR coatings are dispensed everyday in practice, so this session highlighted that time should be given to educating patients how to care for their lenses as this is the most common cause of coating failure. This session was a great use of an often overlooked CPD format very well presented and good fun.

The last session was a peer review with excellent engagement from all delegates. Julian Wiles joined our table and Daryl Newsome ABDO president acted as table facilitator. Five cases were covered: what can go wrong when spectacles are ordered online; highlighting the effects of lens form and centration accuracy; how to avoid re-checks; communicating myopia; and safety considerations for the monocular patient.

Laboratories provide us with expert knowledge of product design and availability often achieving amazing results with challenging and complex prescriptions this event acknowledges their invaluable contribution to the art and science of ophthalmic dispensing.

At the end of the day, Daryl Newsome presented a surprised Julian Wiles with an ABDO Honorary Fellowship for his contribution to ABDO and the optical profession. Julian has been a long time supporter of ABDO and CPD events for dispensing opticians and has also authored a number of books including Thinking Allowed on how to succeed in building a better optical business.

Julian Wiles said: ‘We’d like to thank all those who invested their valuable time to attend the “Independent Thinking” event. Six CPD points was the minimum takeaway. The lessons learned will be a valuable asset to the businesses concerned. We look forward to inviting more specially selected guests next year.’

This was an extremely well-organised day of unique CPD and readers are encouraged to look out for other sessions of this event when it returns in the new year.

Almost all practices, including the national chains, rely on independent labs such Caledonian, Norville, Optimum and Waterside to satisfy the needs of the minority of patients with complex needs, but for independent practices independent labs can provide a unique range of high quality products that may not be available elsewhere in town and allow for a set of unique selling points that can differentiate your practice form the competition.