Launch of Foresight Project sparks debate on the transformation of eye health and future eye care services in the community

22 March 2016

A project designed to look at the impact of technology on the entire optical sector has been launched today by the Optical Confederation and the College of Optometrists and with joint funding from the Central (LOC) Fund. 

Alan Tinger, Chairman of the Foresight Project said, ““The foresight project is part of everything we are doing. It is about starting to make space for the transformation of eye health and eye care services in the community to meet future need.”

“This report is only the start. It can only move from being a document of interest to be of serious benefit if it is widely read and debated by all parts of the sector including educators, regulators and beyond with a view to the future. What it will lead to is for readers and debaters to work on - knowledge is power.

During the launch event, Alan Tinger said: “Notwithstanding the case to remain in or to leave the European Union in the forthcoming referendum we operate in a global economy where:

    The largest retailer in the world has no shops and holds no stock       – Alibaba

    The largest marketing company in the world makes none of              its own content – Facebook

    The largest taxi company in the world has no vehicles – Uber

    The largest hotel company in the world has no hotels – Airbnb

“Will we be able to say in the future that the largest opticians in the world has no practices? We don’t know but what we can say for certain is that the practices of the future will be far different from today’s models.

“It naturally follows that the roles for practitioners in the future will not be the same as today. That goes to the heart of the Foresight Project which is to inform the debate on what optical education should be about going forward. We will seriously fail both patients and recruits into the sector if we are training for jobs that will simply not exist in the same way in the future.

“One piece of kit alone being developed has the potential to revolutionise care. It is hand held binocular optical coherence tomography (OCT) that in only a fraction of a second undertakes whole eye imaging, refraction and all aspects of an eye examination. Coupled with detailed analysis via artificial intelligence, it will lead to pin point diagnosis and without the need for an operator or the space required for current style refraction.  This imaging is much greater resolution than CT or MRI scanning.

“Technology of this type can either frighten the horses or inspire the practitioners of the future to upskill and become true doctors of the eye. The Foresight Project is definitely for inspiring.”

The full report can be downloaded here.