A message from the BCLA President 

I can remember vividly my first BCLA council meeting. It was the summer of 2009 and I was sat in a room full of my mentors thinking to myself how wonderful it was to be in a position where I could give something back to the profession I love. The room was comfortable and welcoming, but a sense of gravitas filled the air. Despite the comfy chairs and cups of tea, there was one seat in that room I didn’t fancy sitting in, that of the President.  That looked one step too far – the figurehead of our profession, shaping the way eye care practitioners would work in the future. It was a big role and one which came with huge responsibility.

Well, eight years later, I can say I’ve not just become part of the BCLA furniture but I’ve now taken up residency in that very seat. How times change. Being named BCLA President, taking over from my good friend and colleague Brian Tompkins, is a huge honour. I’m thrilled, proud, humbled and excited in equal measure.  The chance to lead such an amazing organisation as the BCLA, revered not just nationally but globally, is an incredible opportunity and one I am immensely looking forward to.

In these days of international discord, I am proud to head a unique multidisciplinary, multinational and multicultural group of members. I want to encourage unity as a profession, to share this common passion of contact lenses and the anterior eye, which we can all utilise to help improve eye care provision for our patients.

High on my agenda is encouraging members to recommend contact lenses for more children, particularly in the field of myopia management. Lenses are truly a cradle to grave solution and I want to see more children given the option of trying lenses – with potentially life-changing effects.

I also want to see more people giving multifocals a try and I am zealous about encouraging practitioners to get serious about their dry eye work.

The goalposts are moving when it comes to dry eye. People are spending the vast majority of their day on a screen, whether it’s a computer at work or an iPad at home in the evening. That is having an impact on tear film and, consequently, contact lenses. We need to keep up with the latest research to stay on top of what can be done to address this.

I am going to spend the next 12 months banging the drum for fitting more children with contact lenses (including myopia management) and dry eye. It’s not going away and we need to be seen to be leading the way when it comes to research and education.

The BCLA is widely regarded as by far the best resource for the latest information on myopia management and Dry Eye and the best way to keep informed about the latest developments in contact lenses. It is now about cementing that position and reaching even more people. 

I would like my legacy to be that more people are aware of the risks of myopia and that more practitioners are equipped to help reduce those risks. Also I would like to enhance the already marvellous reputation that the BCLA has by ensuring that we are at the forefront of everyone’s mind when it comes to the latest thinking surrounding myopia and Dry Eye. 

Within the BCLA we have a talented, ambitious and engaged group of young eye care practitioners and there is an onus on us all to ensure their passion and enthusiasm is used to propel the industry into the future. We want to create the next generation of visionaries – the people who will ultimately be responsible for the nation’s eye health in the years to come.

My predecessor Brian Tompkins has done a wonderful job of inspiring young eye care professionals and attracting them to the BCLA. I want to continue that work and I think I have already made a huge breakthrough. Brian is well known for his fashion choices and rock star antics and as I left the BCLA Conference in Liverpool I was approached by a young lady who told me I had given her something she had never felt before from a man – ‘shoe envy’. 

So Brian, you leave huge footsteps in which to follow but I see your crocodile skin boots and I’ll raise you a pair of bright blue brogues!

Let’s get to work.

Keith Tempany
BCLA President 2017-2018