About this event

  • Date and time Wed 9 Oct 2019 from 8:30am to 7:00pm
  • Location Royal Society of Medicine
  • Organised by General Practice with Primary Healthcare, Ophthalmology, Digital Health, Vision UK

This multidisciplinary conference will bring together health care professionals and vision experts to discuss, engage and create positive strategies for the vision sector. The conference will encompass interactive workshops with tangible takeaways, present new research and updates for all involved in eye health and associated care.

This is a joint conference between the RSM GP with Primary Health Care Section, Vision UK and in association with the RSM Ophthalmology Section and Digital Health Section.

The national conference will be themed around the four strategic aims of Vision UK:

  • Evidence and statistics
  • Research, cures and treatments
  • Services, support and care
  • Public perception of sight loss

The conference has been created to allow different professions to pick and choose from a wide spectrum of lectures and interactive workshops which run concurrently but still have the opportunity for all delegates to meet and discuss key issues and how they can work together to achieve better outcomes. This conference is very interactive in its learning objectives.

Speakers will be from a range of organisations and specialities with plenty of time for constructive interaction, question and answer sessions and networking.

All are welcome to attend this conference from medical and optical professionals, social care workers to eye health and sight loss charities.

Follow the conversation and get involved on Twitter with #RSMVUK19

*Please be aware that AHP (Allied Health Professionals) include all individuals from Vision UK members and registered charities.

The RSM is able to accommodate: 

  • Sighted guides are free to attend, please email gp@rsm.ac.uk for more information
  • Guide dogs 
  • BSL interpreters
  • Specific accessibility requirements


Vision UK Thematic Awards and Astbury Award 2019

Vision UK is delighted to invite nominations for their four new thematic award and the Astbury Award, named for former VISION 2020 UK Chair and inaugural recipient Nick Astbury. Vision UK’s new thematic awards will be awarded in recognition of work that is centred around their four strategic priorities: Evidence and statistics, research, cures and treatments, services, support and care, public perception of sight loss and The Astbury Award. For more information on the assessment and background of these awards please click here

Deadline: Friday 20 September 2019

Read the Vision UK Thematic Awards and Astbury Award 2019: Nomination guidance notes by clicking here.

Submit a completed nomination form via email to info@visionuk.org.uk. 

Annual David Burt Award for Advances in Vision Care

Vision UK will present this annual award to either a nominated or self-nominated individual or team working within the vision, eye health and sight loss community who can demonstrate a project, in research or improved methodology and practice in assisting in the cause of reducing sight loss in the community, that has made a significant improvement in the sector. The Award Shield is provided annually by David Burt OBE past Chairman of the General Optical Council, to be kept for one year by the awardee along with a certificate.

Deadline: Friday 20 September 2019

Submissions should be sent via e-mail to info@visionuk.org.uk with the email title ‘David Burt award submission’.


We would like to thank our exhibitor(s):

British and Irish Orthoptic Society, British Wireless for the Blind Fund, Royal National Institute of Blind People, Royal Society for Blind Children, SeeAbility, Thomas Pocklington Trust and UK National Eye Health and Hearing Study

Please note that none of the companies listed have had any influence or involvement over the agenda, content or organisation of this meeting.


For more information on sponsorship options for this event please click here.

Key speakers

Simon Brown

Simon Brown

Communications and Engagement Officer, Blind Veterans UK

Speaker's biography

In Basra, 2006, whilst serving in the British Army a sniper’s bullet almost totally blinded Simon. On the day of his injury, he had successfully rescued six of his colleagues whose vehicle had broken down and it was as he was withdrawing from the area that he was hit by sniper fire. He lost his left eye and was left with 20 per cent vision in his right.

Simon now works for Blind Veterans UK, among other military and sight loss charities, as their Communications and Engagement Officer. Blind Veterans UK helps vision-impaired ex-Service men and women of every generation rebuild their lives after sight loss. Simon travels the UK spreading awareness of the charity’s services to other blind veterans and organisations.


View the programme

Registration, tea and coffee
Welcome and introduction

Bob Hutchinson, President, Royal Society of Medicine General Practice with Primary Healthcare Section and Matt Broom, Chief Executive Officer, Vision UK

Looking forward

Simon Brown, Office, Blind Veterans UK

Group divides
Prevention, cures and treatments

The role of medical research in developing cures and treatments to prevent sight loss

Chaired by Michele Acton, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Society of Medicine and Richard Wormald, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

10:25 am What is the present position of research in the prevention of sight loss what are the issues and opportunities - Neil Ebenezer, Director of Research Policy and Innovation, Fight for Sight

10:35 am What innovations have been achieved and which are in the pipeline - Tina Houlihan, Chief Executive, Retina UK

10:45 Triple A Collaboration how to aim high to cure age-related macular degeneration (AMD). What are the prospects for a cure? - Dr Wen Hwa Lee, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Scientist, Action Against Age-related Macular Degeneration (AAAMD)

10:55 am Question and answer session

Services, support and care

Discussing the variety of services and support for those at risk of or experiencing sight loss. How do we achieve quality outcomes, service efficiencies while providing a good patient experience?

Chaired by Matt Broom, Chief Executive Officer, Vision UK and Louise Calland, Deputy Chair, Industry Vision Group, Novartis

10:25 am Hospital services and clinical capacity, the issues for ophthalmologists and service users- Mike Burdon, President, The Royal College of Ophthalmologists 

10:35 am Sensory services in local authorities - integration and pathways to support and care - Simon Labbett, Chair, Rehabilitation Workers Professional Network 

10:45 am Mental health and sight loss - the taboo of mental health and breaking new ground to support service users - Amanda Hawkins, Specialist Lead for Counselling and Wellbeing, Royal National Institute of Blind People

10:55 am Question and answer session

Tea and coffee break
Summary of morning

Michele Acton, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Society of Medicine and Matt Broom, Chief Executive Officer, Vision UK

Improving services

Eye health and sight loss as part of the larger picture of healthcare, the forward plan and ISP’s. What can be done to increase and promote the profile of sensory services to improve the lives of those with sensory loss? - Carol Reece, Head of Dental and Optical Services Commissioning, NHS England

Group divides
Sight loss and multiple conditions

Eye health and co-morbidities. People with learning disabilities, stroke survivors, people with diabetes and many more experience higher levels of sight loss. How should we address this? 

Chaired by Dr Renata Gomes, Head of Research & Innovation, Blind Veterans UK

Dementia and sight loss in the ophthalmology clinic - Paul Ursell, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, The Royal College of Ophthalmologists

Learning disabilities and sight loss what are the issues and opportunities -Lisa Donaldson, Head of Eye Health, SeeAbility

Prevalence of Visual Impairment in Dementia (PrOVIDe) the prevalence of dementia and sight loss and the role of optometry - Michael Bowen, Director of Research, The College of Optometrists

Training professionals about sight loss and complex needs - June Neil, Training and Development Manager, Older People Complex Needs in the UK Adult Social Care Practice and Development Team, Royal National Institute of Blind People

Signposting for the professionals

How can I help as a professional? From high street to hospital to social care. Looking at pathways and models of providing information, the evidence of what works and what are the barriers for professionals

Chaired by Jenny Pearce, Vice Chairman, Thomas Pocklington Trust, Vision UK

The role and opportunities for eye clinic liaison officer’s (ECLO's) in supporting people with sight loss - Ceri Hudson, Eye Clinic Liaison Officer, Royal National Institute of Blind People

Issues of interdisciplinary communication - Jayshree Vasani, Dispensing Optician, London Local Lead, Association of British Dispensing Opticians, Continuing Education and Training Facilitator, Visualise Training and Consultancy, Local Optical Committee Support Unit

How can ophthalmologists support patients in the clinic and beyond? - Dr Waqaar Shah, General Practitioner, Royal College of General Practitioners

What is the role of the third sector in provision of services, signposting and support? - Jamie Dormandy, Head of Advice and Customer Service, Royal National Institute of Blind People

12:50 Question and answer session

Vision strategy across the United Kingdom; how professionals can work together

How we join up the eye health and sight loss pathway in the four nations covering health, social care and the voluntary sector. Integration and filling the gaps between services

Chaired by Phil Ambler, Director of Evidence and Policy, Thomas Pocklington Trust

12:15 pm Similarities and differences between the countries of the UK and the different approaches to same needs for support  - James Adams, Director, Royal National Institute of Blind People Scotland

12:25 pm Partial devolution in Wales/Cymru, opportunities and issues - Ansley Workman, Director, Royal National Institute of Blind People Cymru

12:35 pm Political policy and promise, sight loss and support in Scotland - Richard Baker, Policy Manager, Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded

12:45 pm The role of the third sector and collaboration across borders - Niall Foley, Policy, Campaigns and Engagement Manager, Guide Dogs Scotland

12:55 pm Question and answer session

Children's vision screening; are we fiddling while Rome burns?

What are the current priorities in children’s eye health across the UK. Is vision screening the only game in town?

Chaired by Mary Bairstow, National Development Manager, Vision UK

Professor Anna Horwood, Professor of Orthoptics and Visual Development, British and Irish Orthoptic Society, University of Reading

Professor Bruce Evans, Director of Research, Community Optometrist, Institute of Optometry, Visiting Professor, City, University of London, London South Bank University

Dr Annegret Dahlmann-Noor, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Paediatric Service Director, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Honorary Clinical Associate Professor, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Clinical Trials Lead Paediatric Ophthalmology

Comparing primary eye care provision across the United Kingdom; strengths, weakness and where can we learn from each other?

Discussion of the different commissioning and delivery models for primary eye care across the UK

Chaired by Richard Whittington, Chief Operating Officer, Local Optical Committee Support Unit, Chair, England Vision Strategy

12:15 pm The priorities in Northern Ireland, how does Northern Ireland compare to the rest of the UK? - Raymond Curran, Head of Ophthalmic Services, Health and Social Care Board Northern Ireland

12:25 pm Can we view England as a single entity with diverse commissioning and priorities in different regions (sustainability and transformation partnerships, clinical commissioning groups, international citizen service etc.) - Zoe Richmond, Interim Clinical Director, Local Optical Committee Support Unit 

12:35 pm How has Wales taken on the issues of eye health and care with partial devolution? - Sali Davis, Chief Executive, Optometry Wales 

12:45 pm With the gradual and increasing devolution of Scotland how has the country taken up the challenge of eye health and care - Hal Rollason, Chair, Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians (FODO) Scotland, Treasurer, Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians (FODO), Member of Executive Committee, Optometry Scotland

12:55 pm Question and answer session


Networking with new vision technology and solutions on display

Public perceptions of sight loss and barriers faced by blind and partially sighted people

Bhavini Makwana, Engagement Manager, London Vision 

Group divides
Evidence and statistics

How we can best use evidence and statistics to reduce prevalence of sight loss and improve patient outcomes. What are the issues and opportunities around presently available statistics and the way they are used?

Chaired by Dr David Parkins, Vice Chair, Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning  and Dr Catey Bunce, Reader in Medical Statistics, King’s College London

2:20 pm The United Kingdom national eye health and hearing survey, why is a survey necessary, what difference can it make? - Professor Rupert Bourne, Professor of Ophthalmology, Anglia Ruskin University, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, Cambridge University Hospitals   

2:35 pm Using statistics as public health indicators, portfolio of indicators, system and assurance framework for eye-health (SAFE). Providing useful, usable information to commissioners - Parul Desai, Public Health and Ophthalmology Consultant, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

2:50 pm Statistics around children and young people, how they can be used to ensure support for children, young people, parents and carers - Sue Keil, Research Lead and Executive Committee member, VIEW

3:05 pm Question and answer session

Public perceptions and sight loss

How do we raise the importance of eye health with the general public? How do we challenge public perceptions around sight loss?

How do we influence policy makers?

Reaching the hard to reach, making a difference

Messaging, what works

Work to agree 3 public perceptions/campaigns we can all take forwards

Chaired by Lee Kumutat, In Touch Producer, Radio 4, BBC

Harjit Sandhu, Managing Director, Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians (FODO)

David Cartwright, Chair, Eyecare Trust

Bob Hutchinson, President, Royal Society of Medicine General Practice with Primary Healthcare Section

Steph Cutler, Head of Employment, Thomas Pocklington Trust

Tea and coffee break
Summary of afternoon

Summary of the issues to take forward from the afternoon, objectives for Vision UK and the wider arena from chairs of the groups

Dr David Parkins, Vice Chair, Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning  and Lee Kumutat, In Touch Producer, Radio 4, BBC

Panel discussion: Is integrated health and social care for eye health and sight loss services a reality or an impossible dream?

Chaired by Dharmesh Patel, Clinical Director (Interim), Local Optical Committee Support Unit

Stephen Clark, Optometrist, NHS England North East and Yorkshire, Chair, West Yorkshire and Harrogate Eye Health Network

Sue Sharp, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Royal Society for Blind Children

Graham Findlay, Chief Executive Officer, North East Sensory Services 

David Probert, Chief Executive Officer, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Chairman, World Association of Eye Hospitals

Dr Waqaar Shah, General Practitioner, Royal College of General Practitioners

Robert Cooper, Community Services Director, Henshaws

Dr Andrew Dodgson, Head of Skills, Information and Support Services, Guide Dogs for the Blind 

Closing remarks

Matt Stringer, Chief Executive Officer, Royal National Institute of Blind People

Vision UK and Royal Society of Medicine reception and awards ceremony

Including the Astbury Award and the David Burt OBE Vision Award

Presentations made by Michele Acton, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Society of Medicine and Nigel Clarke, Chair, Vision UK

Close of meeting



Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole St, Marylebone, London, W1G 0AE, United Kingdom

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