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Newsletter issue 1

Whilst some distracted Paul the other kids sneaked a free eye test

Our first 18 months in Keyworth

There’s no denying we were facing a challenge when we took over the practice on Main Street.

After years of working in our first practice near the QMC in Lenton we had assumed that our way of working was how everyone did it. In Lenton you see the same person every time for your eye test. We get specs ready as soon as possible in our own on site lab and have an in depth knowledge

of frame styles that you wont easily find on the High Street.

Add to that years of experience solving issues like “Why can’t I get on with varifocals?” it came as something of a surprise to find our predecessors didn’t always work that way.

When Paul and I set up our opticians near the QMC in Lenton back in the 1980’s optics was very different from what it is today.

Equipment was much more basic and people were used to waiting weeks for their spectacles which was a bit tough if you’d just broken your only pair of readers.

We were one of the first opticians in Nottingham to get a retinal camera although in those days it produced a polaroid photo which people always forgot to bring to their next appointment.

We were also one of the first practices to set up our own in house glazing facility so we could offer specs sometimes in as little as a half an hour.

For Keyworth we try to have most jobs ready within 24-48 hours, the main delay is when a lens is tailor made to your prescription with high end varifocals normally taking a week to ten days.

We were also one of the first practices in the country to embrace the newly invented disposable contact lenses.

Our two optical assistants joined us from school and are still with us today.

We decided to try to offer the most personal service and we pride ourselves on knowing practically every patient who comes to us by name, something we haven’t quite mastered quite yet in Keyworth I’m afraid.

We have people who have been coming to us for nearly 35 years and in that time Paul has performed every single eye examination we have done.

Hardly the norm in an age when you seem to see someone different every time you go to the GP or opticians.

We take longer over our eye examinations 45 mins (versus the NHS norm which is 20-25 mins) as we feel people appreciate a thorough knowledge of what is happening with their eyes and vision.

Paul will write several pieces in future issues covering various eye conditions such as cataract and glaucoma, how we test for it and how to treat it.

Dry eye (and hayfever) and steps you can take to alleviate the worst of it.

He will also cover various focussing issues and how best to solve them.


A guide to choosing specs (part 1)

I intend to write an ongoing guide to choosing specs over the next few issues, in these I will cover topics such as:

Why do so many people struggle with varifocals?

A simple change or upgrade of design can usually resolve any issues.

Why do specs vary so much in price?

Like cars, which perform the basic function of getting you from A to B, no one needs a top of the range car but if you spend a lot of time in it you appreciate the refinement. In the same way specs have the one requirement of giving you clear comfortable vision through your working day. But there are differing qualities of frames and lenses.

There’s no point in spending a lot on a pair of readers but top end varifocals will pay for themselves over and over once you have experienced how much of an improvement they make.

Choosing eyewear.

I have recently completed the Eyewear Styling course which makes me one of only a few in the East Midlands with this qualification. Something you wont find anywhere on the high street.

My Eyewear Style Consultation takes into account things like your colouring type, based on the world-renowned Colour Me Beautiful system of colour analysis, your style personality and your facial features – and offers you an inspirational way to discover eyewear that you look and feel great in!

Speed of service

We have our own glazing workshop which means we are able to provide a speedy service and many repairs.

We have also been complimented locally on our level of service.

We try to get most specs ready within 24-48 hours the main delay comes when the lenses have to be made to order which can take up to 10 days for a bespoke pair of varifocals.


A life in optics (By Paul)

After leaving college in London in the early 70’s I had to do a one year pre-registration training period before I was let loose on the general public, this meant working under an experienced optician with the prospect further exams at the end of it

Given the choice of a year in London or on the Isle of Skye and against all the advice of my university professors I naturally chose the latter.

A 24 hour train, boat and bus trip and I arrived at my new home, a small cottage on the shore of Portree, the largest town on the island

With just a heron to keep me company I set about getting used to the relative quiet after living in London

Fortunately I was quickly accepted by the locals mainly because, in the interests of self preservation I let it be known my nickname in college was “Taffy” and being seen as a fellow Celt did my cause no harm whatsoever

This was back in the day’s when the Scotland v England football rivalry was at it’s height and being seen as a Sassenach deep in the heart of Scotland was not good for ones ongoing life expectancy.

When I first arrived the local economy was mainly fishing but that quickly changed as north sea oil was just taking off and most of the local lads soon went to work on the mainland building oil rigs.

When I started as a nervous graduate this change was still months away and I quickly got to know the locals who were a friendly enough lot even if the accent was a bit of a challenge.

Evenings were spent fishing on the harbour wall whilst getting eaten alive by midges, then it was off to the Saturday night ceilidh which seemed to mainly involve a folk band, energetic dancing and lots of whisky.

I began work with Roger, my pre-reg supervisor and Catriona a local lass (who quickly became “Katie” much to her annoyance) who pretty much ran the practice and doubled as translator for me. With her help I managed to grasp the basics of communication:

“So tell me Mrs MacKinnon, can y’see it the noo?”


“And can ye see it the noo?”


“Now tell me is it better the noo1 or the noo2?”


The evenings on the other hand were filled with a deep silence.

The kind of silence that seemed all enveloping after the hustle and bustle of London. My trusty BASF cassette player

(look it up kids) had blown a fuse on arrival and there was no way of making any other kind of entertainment. TV hadn’t yet arrived and radio stations if you could get them were all in Gaelic. The odd car passing outside my window shattered the silence so badly that after 3 nights my nerves were in shreds. In desperation I broke open the cassette case and jammed a length of wire across the terminals which was probably not a great idea from a personal life expectancy point of view but never had music been so welcome.

What life must have been like in the old days before radio and suchlike I can scarce imagine.

The following year proved full of colourful characters and strange adventures on which I’ll expand a little next time.

In future issues Ill tell you how I annoyed a fisherman, how a cleaner got the better of Einstein and how WG Grace got a pair of spectacles.


Free test or best test with loyalty discount ?

A fairer fee structure for a more thorough eye examination.

Most people reading this will be entitled to a “free” NHS test.

Unfortunately a large part of the eye examination that we provide is not covered by the very basic NHS fee we receive.

None of the equipment I use is paid for by the NHS and photo’s, fields and I-care are not covered. As in the world of dentistry, what we can provide under the NHS is now becoming too limited.

Recently I have been busy gaining further qualifications. These are in the field of enhanced services which in turn has given me a wider range of tests to perform in my standard routine and shown me what tests I would expect if I were having my own eyes tested.

From now on we will offer as standard our full enhanced eye examination which will cost £20 if NHS entitled or £40 for a private test.

Both will attract a £20 loyalty discount off any spectacles purchased so anyone needing specs will get the best test possible and be no worse off.

If spectacles are not required my fee will reduce to £25

We will still offer a “free” NHS option to remain within the terms of our NHS contract but this will not include: Visual field tests as routine, retinal photo’s or i-care tonometry as none of these are funded by the NHS.

Under 19’s in school will still get a free test with photos

An example of how it works: Currently Free NHS test specs @ £120 total £120 New system NHS test + £20 fee specs £120 less £20 loyalty discount total £120

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