Looking forward and not back is always a good idea so congratulations have to be awarded to Alcon for providing the profession with an opportunity to end the year on a high.

The Alconversation offered one of those rare opportunities where the floor was opened up to questions and topics discussed in an honest and frank fashion. What made the Alconversation a little more special was that the audience also included many Alcon Academy alumni of newly qualified optical professionals giving the event a sense of youth.

The forward-looking nature of the Question Time-style session was its winning move. It’s all too easy, especially at this time of the year, to look back and eulogise about the glories of times past. The Alconversation demonstrated that, panellists and audience members alike, got it. They understood that fundamental change has taken place in optics, technology and the world, which will make the future different. Best of all there were young practitioners there to soak up the sense of self-determination.

There is a renewed confidence within the profession to say that things can be different. The sacred cows of the profession, be they the Optician’s Act, the NHS or General Ophthalmic Services can be criticised. Optometry doesn’t have to be constrained by the past. Practitioners can decide their own future, value their expertise and move on to have a different relationship with their patients.

Chairing the discussion was the comfortably erudite Poolie Richard Edwards who piloted the panellists through the questioning and picked out nuggets of wisdom along the way. He set the scene for a positive 2018 suggesting that if the profession continues with the passion and enthusiasm it has shown in the afternoon’s discussion then the future looked bright.

I’ll raise a Christmas glass to that.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at Optician.