Optrafair 20/20 organisers, the Federation of Manufacturing Opticians (FMO) and MA Exhibitions have placed innovation and adaptation in practice at the forefront of the exhibition’s recently announced conference programme.

The programme content offers what is described as world class presentations and debate from industry experts covering the issues – and hopefully some solutions – facing the optical industry today, and catering for all facets of the optical sector.

A mixture of topics will be covered including business matters, environmental sustainability, social media and marketing, audiology practice, ocular imaging, ophthalmology techniques and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).

Hear from the true leaders

Optrafair 20/20’s central stage, the Iris, will host the showpiece sessions and eminent keynote speakers. The Presidents’ Address provides the chance to hear from the leaders of some of the major industry and membership associations, Colleges and committees to discuss the main priorities for the profession. The session will be chaired by ABDO president Clive Marchant and will feature Colin Davidson, vice-president of the College of Optometrists), Locsu CEO Richard Whittington, BLCA president Jonathon Bench and Mike Burdon, president of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

Optical Question Time sees entrepreneurs and industry experts from corporate and independent practices to offer frank and insightful discussion and debate about the issues that really matter to the industry. Optical communication expert and comedian Sarah Morgan will host proceedings, with panellists Specsavers co-founder Doug Perkins, Optical Express CEO David Moulsdale, Hakim Group chief executive Imran Hakim, along with leading optometrists Lynne Fernandes, Nicholas Rumney and Scott Mackie.

Innovation and the future of eye care

Moorfields Eye Hospital ophthalmologist Pearse Keane will present the inaugural Kanski Lecture on AI and its likely impact on optometry and ophthalmology. The Kanski Lecture has been named in honour of optical educationalist Jack Kanski, who passed away in 2019. Keane will describe the collaboration between Moorfields and Google Health on how the latest advances in AI will transform the diagnosis and treatment of people with sight-threatening eye conditions, as well as explain how AI is currently being implemented in community and hospital settings.

The development of femto-second laser cataract surgery, which allows the reproduction of each step of cataract surgery to be performed with enhanced precision and accuracy, has had a profound impact on ophthalmology. The procedure has been pioneered by Professor Sunil Shah, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre. Professor Shah will be demonstrating the technique by live video link, explaining
the procedures and technical aspects along the way.

Business growth

Two of the world’s leading contact lens and anterior eye specialists, Professors Lyndon Jones and Philip Morgan, will discuss recent research findings across six important areas related to contact lenses which will help optical professionals to optimise patient care, understand contact lens materials, increase compliance in contact lens wear, and avoid adverse effects.

Environmental sustainability is one of the biggest issues facing the industry today, with hundreds of thousands of bespoke eyewear being made every day leading to a trail of plastic, cardboard, electrical and chemical waste. As such, the inaugural Conway Discussion will focus on this hugely important topic. Chaired by Julian Wiles, founder and owner of Performance Lenses and vice chair of the FMO lens focus group, a panel of speakers who place sustainability at the heart of everything they do, will present their ideas and strategies, showcase their products and explore the opportunities of becoming more sustainable. There will also be an opportunity to engage with the speakers and to contribute your own thoughts and ideas.

Integrating audiology and optometry services is of growing importance, particularly with the increasing ageing population. When done right, the combination of hearing and vision care offers an excellent model for effective healthcare provision and huge benefits to patients. It also helps to generate new business and drive customer loyalty and retention. Ryan Leighton, Mel Gregory and Bryony Allen from the Hearing Care Partnership will provide tips about how to make hearing care provision a success, while Jeppe Christensen from Eriksholm Research Centre in Copenhagen will discuss how new, state-of-the-art hearing aid technology can drastically reduce the impact of hearing loss on daily life.

Optrafair’s Business Success Theatre will also host sessions on the analysis of threats and opportunities in eyewear retail, creating and managing a positive social media and online presence, tips on how to retain patients and insights into how changing IR35 tax laws will impact locums and practice owners. •

Optrafair 20/20 takes place the NEC Birmingham on April 4-6. For more information on the programme schedule and to register for the event, visit www.optrafair.co.uk