Despite threatened disruptions from airline strikes and volcano ash clouds, more than one thousand delegates from around the world attended the 34th British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Clinical Conference and Exhibition in Birmingham last May.
Organisers, buoyed by attendance numbers, say this was the fourth successive year that the event attracted more than a thousand delegates.
More than 45 of the industry’s leading manufacturers supported the event at the accompanying free exhibition, showcasing a multitude of contact lenses, care products, instruments and related products. This year’s lecture programme offered more than 50 CET points, including more therapeutics CET points than ever before for additional supply, supplementary and independent prescribers.
This year’s conference also experienced a first with the crew from OT.TV, the web TV service of the Association of Optometrists, filming discussions with speakers, exhibitors and delegates. Interviews can be viewed on the OT.TV website at www.optometrytoday.tv
The BCLA Conference is well established as the premier event for contact lens professionals in the U.K. and worldwide. This year saw a slight increase in the numbers of U.K. delegates attending (50 per cent compared with 46 per cent in 2009). Half of those registered were from overseas (2009: 54 per cent) with delegates coming from 48 different countries. The largest overseas delegations were from the U.S., followed by Germany, Switzerland and France. There are also a growing number of delegates attending from Australia.
At the Gala Dinner, outgoing President William Thomas handed his chain of office to Mr. Shelly Bansal, who told delegates that his focus for the coming year would be to connect with everyone who is involved in the contact lens arena – from support staff right through to researchers and educators.
“My objective is to share my passion for the profession as widely as possible, and to encourage others to become as passionate about it as I am,” he said.
“Another of my aims is to see a better representation of eye care professionals, from the ophthalmic, dispensing, medical, independent and corporate sectors, within the BCLA membership and also at our annual conference. As a young, newly qualified practitioner, my enthusiasm for contact lenses really began after I started attending BCLA presentations.
“I hope that during my year as President, I can encourage young professionals to become excited about the contact lens industry and to get involved with the BCLA to help to shape the future of this great organisation.”
The BCLA President Elect is Dr. Catharine Chisholm, lecturer at Bradford School of Optometry and Vision Sciences. 21 new BCLA Fellowships were also awarded, a mark of esteem in the field of contact lenses, which allows recipients to use the letters FBCLA after their names.
The 2010 BCLA Pioneers Conference takes place in London on 23 November, when Professor Lyndon Jones will deliver the seventh Pioneers Lecture.
The 35th BCLA Clinical Conference and Exhibition will be held in Manchester from 26 to 29 May 2011. Keynote speakers will be Professors William Ayliffe (U.K.) and Joe Bonanno (USA), and Drs Kathy Dumbleton (Canada) and Lisa Keay (Australia). Professor Mark Wilcox (Australia) will be the 2011 BCLA Medal Speaker and Dr Jacinto Santodomingo (Spain) will deliver the Irving Fatt Memorial Lecture.