The global eyecare professional network’s “unquenchable thirst for learning” ensured the success of the first in-person BCLA Clinical Conference & Exhibition in four years, with delegates from around the world gathering to hear the latest research and guidance from industry-leading experts.

Having been moved online due to COVID restrictions during the pandemic, the conference bounced back in style with delegates from around the globe enjoying a packed programme featuring some of optometry’s leading names.

Held at Manchester Central, the three-day event featured keynote presentations, lectures, peer reviews and hands-on workshops detailing the latest clinical insights and demonstrating the latest technology available to practitioners.



BCLA chief executive, Luke Stevens-Burt, said: “Bringing together the leading lights in contact lenses and anterior eye for the first BCLA Clinical Conference in four years has been a huge honour. 

“The world has been through so much since everyone was last together here in Manchester but our members have shown incredible strength and resilience to not just withstand everything thrown at them but to thrive under that pressure.

“Their seemingly unquenchable thirst for learning continues and the standard of lectures and presentations has been incredible – showcasing cutting edge science and research and translating that into impactful techniques for use in everyday practice.

“Myopia management, dry eye disease and the tear film remain key areas of interest and the BCLA is as determined as ever to give our members access to the insights that can make a difference to the everyday lives of their patients. This has been a real agenda-setting conference. These three days will drive evidence-based best practice.”



This year’s BCLA Medal address was given by Professor Eric Papas, entitled ‘How football, luck and good people saved me from the golf course’.

Eric discussed his career path from his early days in practice to his key role in developing silicone hydrogel lenses, citing major influences including Ross Maskell, Richard Abadi, Graeme Young and Brien Holden.

Dr Sonia Trave-Huarte delivered the Irving Fatt Memorial Lecture, which looked at dry eye management and treatment studies and how they can support evidence-based dry eye practice.

Rabia Mobeen delivered this year’s Da Vinci Award presentation on the subject of how dendritic cells’ response to immediate soft contact lens wear is impacted by their physical contact with nerves in the human corneal epithelium.

The wider programme, which included an application track, ‘cutting edge’ track, peer review track and skills development workshop track, featured more 100 speakers from around the world.

Among other highlights was Professor Gregory Sawyer, who used his extensive bioengineering background to deliver two powerful keynote presentations.

The first, on the art of contact lens comfort, explored the biological history of the tear film and the similarities shared by “soft, wet and squidgy” contact lenses and jellyfish. He explored the opportunities for AI and machine learning in treating cell damage before demonstrating the concept of friction co-efficient. The second session gave a more advanced understanding of the tear film and how it interfaces with a contact lens.

Data revealed during a session looking at contact lens wear in children showed that eye care professionals around the world are growing increasingly confident in fitting contact lenses in children but there remains a need for greater proactivity around discussing the potential myopia management options available to young patients.

Sessions focusing on patient-reported outcomes included seeing the myopia management contact lens journey through the eyes of 12-year-old patient Maddy Stickley, who shared her experience of wearing contact lenses over the past four years.



Kah Ooi Tan and Jong-Mei Khew gave practitioner perspectives of myopia control in a session that exemplified the global reach of the conference, showcasing the latest research based on 90 practitioner interviews carried out around Asia, with this qualitative study exploring the potential barriers and determinants in offering myopia management in practice, including cost, and stressing the need for a strategic advocacy and professional education plan to advance patient care. 

Dr Etty Bitton asked delegates how well they know their ocular lubricants, discussing the pros and cons of the various options available to eye care practitioners and highlighting the impact of Vitamin A on meibomian gland dysfunction. 

Frank Schaeffel - head of The IOB Myopia Research Group in Basel – delivered the final day’s keynote presentation on the topic of ‘visual cues for emmetropization and mechanisms of myopia control’. The session considered factors such as choroidal thickness changes and the impact this has on allowing the retina to inhibit eye growth in positive defocus.

As a new initiative for 2023, the BCLA offered attendees micro-credential certificates in four topics; Advanced Contact Lenses, Dry Eye, Myopia Control and Ocular Health.

These bite-sized chunks of learning are designed to help eye care practitioners to develop knowledge and skills in a specific area and identify that an individual has focused their learning on a particular specialism. 

The conference, held from 9-11 June, also saw the inaugural ‘BCLA Celebrates’ a new social event held at the Imperial War Museum North.

Sharon Flora was named the winner of the Dry Eye Practitioner of the Year Award, sponsored by Scope, while Kathryn Webber received the Myopia Management Practitioner of the Year Award, sponsored by CooperVision.

Martin Rubenstein was Hospital Optometry Practitioner of the Year while the BCLA Industry Award was given to CooperVision’s Project Sunflower team in recognition of their work to combat the reliance upon single use plastics in the contact lens industry.

Former BCLA president Andy Yorke was also named an honorary life member while Fakhruddin Barodawala and Mhamed Ouzzani were named the winners of the BCLA poster competition and the Diane Gould photography competition respectively.

A total of 33 new Fellows were formally welcomed at the event, bringing the total number of FBCLAs, globally, to more than 250. The BCLA Fellowship programme continues to go from strength-to-strength and 25 long-standing Fellows were honoured for 15-years continuous commitment during the conference.

The BCLA AGM, held on the second day of the conference, saw outgoing president Neil Retallic hand over the reigns to Rakesh Kapoor, who will lead the association for the next 12 months – a period that will see the return of BCLA Asia, to be held in Chengdu province in China next Spring.

Alcon, Bausch + Lomb, CooperVision and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care were Platinum sponsors of this year’s conference. Gold sponsors were Menicon.

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