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CL practitioner of the year.

Brian Tompkins

A GREAT believer in spreading knowledge, Brian Tompkins is a larger-than-life character and popular lecturer--or 'edutainer' as he prefers to be titled.

"I use, what I believe every optometrist and CLO should use, education and proactivity. It is our role to explain how contact lenses (CLs) suit many aspects of modern life better than spectacles. Patients often have little understanding of the range of modern CL design, and so miss out on the freedom available for sport, occupation or simply the enjoyment of life. It is our job to explain this, better still demonstrate it by letting patients try out CLs. As a BCLA councilor CL consultant, working closely with industry and CL educators, it is my job to help others get the best out of the huge array of options we have, so they can give the same benefits to their patients.

"I try to mix a sense of fun and enjoyment into our glorious profession. I still get a buzz from the rapid development of technology that enhances our skills; from the latest varifocal designs to the clever (and profitable) new diagnostic technology, such as OCT.

"Social media marketing is used to update patients on all aspects of eye care and our practice. We have a growing number of Twitter followers and fans of the business' Facebook page and many patients now use this as a contact point. It is important to be available, and social media is an easy way to take messages at any time--which is appreciated in this 'conveyor belt' era.

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"Our patients expect the latest technology, and appreciate updated products that make life better for them. They tell their friends about us, and the practice grows in an organic process.

"I really strive to excel in practice, and when 'on stage'. If this nomination is recognition of my efforts, then I am deeply honoured and grateful. 'Thank you' to all who have helped me get here, and hopefully all who will vote."

Alexander Levit

"Contact lens (CL) practice was one of the main reasons why I chose optometry as a profession. I was excited about the prospect of being able to correct and restore anomalous vision to its most natural state.

"Hospital CL practice involves treating complex ocular and visual pathologies; it has been part of my professional life since 1996. The benefits and positive impact that CLs provide for patients have always inspired me to strive for excellence in this field.

"Throughout my career, I have advocated the benefits of CL wear in both my hospital and private practice, hence, CL treatment of visual disabilities has been at the forefront of my clinical work. The promotion of the almost unlimited scope of vision correction by CLs has led to their use by about 85% of my private patients and 100% of my hospital patients. Barnard and Levit also promotes CLs to professional colleagues; ophthalmologists, orthoptists, optometrists and GPs.

"I have invented and developed several CL designs, most important of which is the ALK; a specialist CL design and fitting system for patients with keratoconus, manufactured by Ultravision CLPL. These lenses are used by many specialists in the UK and overseas.

"I have published several CL articles in Optometry Today, and have lectured at the BCLA conference for Bausch and Lomb and Menicon. I have presented lectures on the benefits of CL wear to ophthalmologists and other health professionals at St George's Hospital, London. I have also presented lectures on the ALK system during several hospital optometrists' conferences in the UK and abroad.

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"Positive feedback and recommendations from patients are the main driving forces to growth in my contact lens practice. Although my colleagues put me forward for this award without my knowledge, I am deeply honoured and humbled to be selected and nominated by such a distinguished group of my peers. I hope always to be worthy of their trust."

Nick Howard

OT asked Nick Howrd what matters to him. "It is important to me to stay at the forefront of technology, product development, fitting techniques and current fitting trends--my aim is to continually look for something new and innovative.

"I'm never afraid to take on a challenge, and I work with some of the most extreme and challenging cases, including keratoconics, post-graft and traumatic injuries. This has meant forging excellent links with local ophthalmologists and LOCs.

"I have worked on a number of promotional, information and marketing campaigns. Probably the most successful initiative to date has been the formation of a like-minded peer group, which meets on an informal and voluntary basis to debate and share up-to-date thoughts and ideas.

"My background in practice management and ownership means that I am always mindful of the commercial aspects of contact lenses, as well as their visual, social and psychological benefits.

"Just over three years ago I decided to branch out and formed my own independent company (Icontact Ltd) to develop a teaching and coaching role. While maintaining a few days per week in a clinical setting, I joined Cibavision's Practice Academy, and over 18 months delivered 200 CET-accredited presentations to hundreds of professionals and support staff across the North. Simultaneously, I developed a close link with No 7 contact lenses, and I've lectured on subjects such as orthokeratology, myopia control, and hybrid and semi-scleral lenses at conferences, seminars, and universities across the UK and recently Europe.

"Patient feedback comes in many forms; letters, testimonials, emails, even postings on Facebook. My teaching work is monitored and measured on a sessional basis and has consistently proven very positive. However, the best feedback a patient can give is, simply, loyalty.

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"The year 2012 has left me quite breathless at times. The nomination and shortlisting has made me proud, yet humble. My recent work outside the confines of the consulting room has allowed me to meet and work with highly skilled and dedicated professionals, many of whom would be capable of filling this slot. I am fortunate indeed."

All three contact lens practitioners are greatly appreciated by their peers and all are worthy winners. Vote for the contact lens practitioner you think the most deserving by September 14, at www.optometry.co.uk/awards/contactlens-practitioner-of-the-year-2012 or send your vote to AOP Awards, 2 Woodbridge Street, London, EC1R 0DG. Results will be announced at the NOC in October and also in OT, following
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Title Annotation:AOP AWARDS; contact lenses; Brian Tompkins, Alexander Levit and Nick Howard
Publication:Optometry Today
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 17, 2012
Words:1063
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