Shehzad A. Naroo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Full text:
There are phrases in daily use today which were not so common a decade or so back, such as ‘ageing population’ or ‘climate changes’ or ‘emerging markets’ or even ‘social networking’. How do these things affect our lives is certainly interesting but for us as eye care practitioners how these changes affect our clinical work may be also relevant and sometimes more interesting. A recent advertisement for recruitment to the Royal Marine Corps of the British Army ended with a comment ‘find us on Facebook!’ The BCLA, IACLE and other organisations as well as many manufacturers have their own Facebook groups. In 2011 Chandni Thakkar was awarded the BCLA summer studentship and her project was based around increasing the contact lens business of a small independent optometric practice where contact lens sales were minimal. The practice typically recruited one new wearer per month. Chandni was able to increase the number of new patient fits with various strategies (her work was presented as poster at the 2012 BCLA conference in Birmingham). One of her strategies was to start a Facebook group and 655 joined the special group she started in just over a month. Interestingly she found that the largest single factor in convincing patients to trial contact lenses was recommendation by the eye care practitioner at the end of the examination, but nonetheless it is interesting that so many people used the social networking site to find out more information regarding contact lenses in her study. Moreover, we already see the use, by some practitioners, of smart phone ‘apps’ or electronic diaries or text messages when coordinating patient check-ups.

Climate change has affected the way we think and act; we now leave out special recycle bins and we hope that the items that are recyclable are actually recycled and do not just join our other refuse somewhere down the track! How environmentally friendly are contact lenses? This was discussed by various speakers at this year's BCLA conference in Birmingham. Daily disposable lenses surely produce more contact lens waste but do not involve solutions in plastic bottles like monthly lenses. It is certainly something that manufacturers are taking seriously and of course there are environmental benefits but the cynic in each of us sees the marketing potential too.

The way the ageing population is certainly something that will impact all healthcare providers. In the case of eye care with people living longer they will need refractive corrections for longer. Furthermore, since presbyopes are not resigning themselves to only gentle hobbies like knitting and gardening, but instead want to continue playing tennis or skiing or whatever, their visual demands are becoming more complex. This is certainly an area that contact lens manufacturers are focussing on (pun not intended!). Again the BCLA conference in Birmingham saw the launch of various new products by different companies to help us deal with our presbyopic contact lens wearers. It is great to have such choice and now with fitting methods becoming easier too we have no excuse not to try them out with our clients.

Finally to emerging markets – well there was not a specific session at the BCLA conference in May discussing this but this most certainly would have been discussed by professional services managers and marketing directors of most of the contact lens companies. ‘How will we conquer China?’ ‘How can we increase our market share in Russia?’ Or ‘How should we spend our marketing budget in India?’ These topics as well as others would certainly have cropped up in backroom discussions. Certainly groups like IACLE (International Association of CL Educators) have increasing numbers of members and activities in developing markets to ensure that educators educate, to that practitioners can practice successfully and in turn patients can become successful contact lenses wearers. Companies also wish to increase their market share in these developing markets and from the point of view of CLAE we are certainly seeing more papers being submitted from these parts of the world. The traditional centres of knowledge are being challenged, I suppose as they have been throughout history, and this can only be a good thing for the pursuit of science. The BCLA conference in Birmingham welcomed more international visitors than ever, and from more countries, and long may that continue. Similarly, CLAE looks forward to a wider audience in years to come and a wider network of authors too.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147
Number of pages1
JournalContact Lens and Anterior Eye
Issue number4
Early online date16 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012

Bibliographical note

© 2012, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


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