BCLA UK ‘Resilience’ of contact lens category highlighted

L&T news
January 29, 2021

Eye care professionals are described as “bouncing back from the initial impact of COVID-19”, with contact lenses playing a crucial role in the rebuild – according to new data presented at the virtual BCLA UK Conference and Exhibition. The BCLA organisers said that hundreds of people logged in to attend the online conference on 8th November 2020 and hear from a range of speakers discussing the latest evidence-based research, with lectures promoting best practice to maximise success with modern contact lenses, including confidence with myopia management and the management of dry eye disease. As part of the programme, immediate BCLA past president Jonathon Bench chaired a session looking at contact lens retention, which featured talks from Professor Philip Morgan, Paul York and Zoe Bull. Data shown during the session revealed that despite a 702,000 drop in appointments in the first half of 2020 due to lockdown restrictions – which threatened a £145.7m year-on-year revenue hit – the UK only saw a three per cent fall in contact lens sales during the first lockdown and early reports indicate year-on-year growth in July and August due to pent-up demand. This is thanks mainly due to the prevalence of subscription-based models which allowed business to continue as close to normal as possible for many practices. The session saw Zoe Bull showcase a ‘Protect, Rebuild and Reignite’ roadmap to allow practices to bounce back, focusing on providing increased use of ‘out of practice’ services such as tele-medicine and remote care – citing that 71 per cent of patients say they are happy to be consulted over video calls. Lockdown restrictions meant the event, which had originally been scheduled to be held at The Vox in Birmingham, was switched to become an online-only event, made possible by live streaming technology and opening up the conference to eye care practitioners across the globe. Luke Stevens-Burt, chief executive of the BCLA, said: “As a truly global organisation it was great to welcome eye care practitioners from around the world to BCLA UK. Although clearly it’s a shame we couldn’t meet in person this was definitely the next best thing and has helped bring our members closer than ever before. “The combination of an exciting new format and some fascinating lecture content ensured thus year’s BCLA UK was a huge success. It highlighted the resilience, enthusiasm and positivity that abounds in the category and shows that by demonstrating a willingness to adapt and evolve, we can continue to grow for many years to come.”

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