I spent the end of last week at the annual conference of the British Association of Retinal Screening (or BARS) in Leeds.

The first thing that struck me was the attendance from a range of backgrounds, from managerial and administration through to medical photographers and clinicians. That said, as an optometrist, I got the impression that my presence there was a rare thing despite many schemes relying heavily on optometrist skills. I suspect the main problem here may be lack of awareness, so consider this the first attempt to publicise what is a useful annual event for all eye health practitioners.

I was also very impressed by a presentation from the medical photography team based at Imperial College in London. This focused on the all too frequently ignored area of patient anxiety. They cited studies that suggested that 63% of people would rather not know about an illness than have it diagnosed and treated – something that all involved in health screening need to be aware of.

Reasons for anxiety included confusion about what was going to happen at any appointment, a fear of a poor outcome, a lack of useful information being available and a perceived loss of control, as might be implied for example when a second person is asked to drive the first to an appointment.

A complaint that was repeatedly heard from patients, and was confirmed by recent studies, was about the lack of anything to do in the waiting room – particularly when being asked to wait for dilation drops to work. The team at Imperial have made great strides in patient satisfaction, and therefore indirectly in attendance rates, simply by ensuring people know roughly how long they will have to wait and have a range of things to do while waiting.

Finally, have a read of our paper this week on what can really be said about blue light protection with spectacles based on measured evidence – this might be sober reading for some.