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WCSM Education Trust Bursary Scheme is now open for applicants to the 2017 scheme.
New research confirms Vision Impairment affects 20% of the World's population.
Leeds Rhinos star opens homeless clinic
Volunteers needed by homeless charity.
Leeds Opening for New Homeless Clinic.
WCSM Education Trust Bursary Winners complete their first year of training.

WCSM Education Trust Bursary Scheme is now open for applicants to the 2017 scheme.

WCSM Education Trust Bursary Scheme 2017 is now open for applications.

Bursaries are available to first year students starting courses at UK universities and colleges which will lead directly to work in the optical professions.

25 bursaries of up to £1,000 will be awarded, through a competitive process, with funds being paid in early November to the successful candidates.

Last year’s winners came from 10 UK universities and colleges and we are hoping for wide distribution of bursaries again this year.

Candidates must answer the questions on the application form and the form must be stamped by the relevant department or institution.

Read about last year's successful candidates here.

The form, guidance notes and a statement of process are all now available on the WCSM website:


New research confirms Vision Impairment affects 20% of the World's population.

Brien Holden InstituteNew global estimates of the number of people blind and vision impaired have just been published including near vision figures. Vision impairment affects economic and educational opportunities, reduces quality of life and increases the risk of death. Prevalence estimates are important for the development of public health policies, planning of education initiatives and evaluating their success.

The new research study confirms globally an estimated 36 million (0.5% of the world’s population) are blind and 1.5 billion – 20% of the world’s population – have some form of vision impairment.

This study is the first to include figures on near vision loss due to presbyopia – a condition that affects a person’s ability to read and is associated with ageing eyes – can be treated with spectacles but in many situations this solution does not occur due to contributing factors such as lack of access, lack of awareness and poverty.

Presbyopia makes up the largest proportion of vision impairment with an estimated 1095 million people aged over 35 affected, including almost 667 million people over 50.

The study also revealed gender inequity, across the global scope, with more women than men bearing the burden of vision loss, even when accounting for confounding factors such as their longer survival.

The publication reports an 18% increase overall in prevalence of blindness since 1990. The increase is attributable to population growth and ageing. However, when these factors are accounted for, we find that rates have declined over this time period.

This suggests that the modest investments made in alleviation of vision impairment over this period have reaped considerable benefits. However, the growth and change in age structure of the world’s population is causing a substantial increase in the overall number of people with blindness and vision impairment, highlighting the need to scale up our current efforts in the years to come.

Nina Tahhan, Senior Research Fellow at the Brien Holden Vision Institute, is an author on the new ground-breaking research study. “It is very pleasing to see near vision impairment, due to presbyopia, officially counted in global vision impairment estimates. It is one of the simplest vision problems to correct, as just a pair of reading glasses is needed and it is the largest contributor to vision impairment globally, yet it has been historically overlooked. We take spectacle correction for granted in the developed world, yet globally there are 1.1 billion people who are vision impaired, because they cannot access the reading glasses they need to see clearly.”

Brien Holden Vision Institute were the principle funders of this pivotal research study.

Please click here for full study report


Leeds Rhinos star opens homeless clinic

Anthony Mullally
Leeds Rhinos prop forward, Anthony Mullally, has spoken out about supporting vulnerable people in the community as he officially opened a new optician service for the homeless.

The 26 year old was speaking at St George’s Crypt in Leeds, where Vision Care for Homeless People has opened a centre:

“I believe that people in a fortunate position like myself have a responsibility to give more than we take. I don’t understand why, in this day and age, people are living on the street – it is something that has always bothered me. I was recently trekking in Peru and it gave me a lot of time to think about these things, and I want to make a difference myself. Leeds Rhinos has a policy of going out to the community - Giving people an option in life is great,” said Anthony, who also volunteers with Streetwise in Leeds each week.

Vision Care for Homeless People opened this its 8th clinic, in Leeds to provide eye examinations and glasses in a friendly and assessable environment.

Funded and staffed by the optical profession, the team is grateful to local laboratory, Rawdon Optical which is glazing the specs for all those who attend the clinic and need specs.

Chair of the charity, Elaine Styles explained, “Homeless People do not prioritise eye care and often do not feel comfortable about going into a High Street opticians. The sad reality is that 35% of people we see have a functional vision impairment without glasses, and we have seen power ranges from +17 to -20 Dioptres. There is so much that we can do to help people get their life back on track.“

The Leeds service is being run by local optometrists led by Caroline Clarke.

Volunteers needed by homeless charity.  

Vision Care for Homeless People is looking for new trustees – particularly anyone with a keen interest in IT or fundraising.

A very rewarding charity to be involved with, the trustees meet several times a year in London to plan the smooth running of services at the existing clinics in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton, Exeter and soon to be Leeds.

“We have set ourselves an ambitious target of opening a number of new clinics within the next 12 months and are looking for trustees with drive and commitment to help us to achieve this in some of the most deprived centres in the UK,” said Elaine Styles, Chair of VCHP.

In addition to trustees, the eleven year old charity which provides a comprehensive eye examination service and specs, is looking for volunteer optometrists to run the Brighton clinic on Thursdays and the Birmingham clinic on Mondays.

Student ambassadors are sought to raise the profile of the charity amongst young optometrists, particularly with fundraising initiatives.

Leeds Opening for New Homeless Clinic.

Homeless People in Leeds are about to benefit from a new eyecare service, dedicated to their needs, which is widely supported by the local community.

VCFHThe City centre’s St George’s Crypt, in Great George Street, has provided space for the clinic, which will be officially opened on Monday 31st July at 2.30pm.

Vision Care for Homeless People Leeds is the eighth clinic to be opened by the UK registered charity, and is designed to eradicate the totally disempowering problem of poor vision for the homeless in our community.

Yorkshire optometrist, Paul Appleson, is amongst the fundraisers who has made the new venture for the city happen. Paul, who has his own practice in Wetherby, recently ran the Leeds half marathon to raise funds for the clinic.


ApplesonAs he explained “A group of us want to do something to help the local homeless community, and when the opportunity came up to use our professional skills it certainly solved the dilemma of how to help. It feels like a very positive thing to be involved with. Leeds is a great city, but it also has some of the problems of a great city too,” he said.

A tremendous team of supporters includes volunteer optometrists and dispensing opticians to run the clinic – others are making donations: spectacles from Specsavers; glazing and lenses by Leeds lab Rawdon Optical; cases and cloths from Optoplast; eye medications from Three Sixty; and funding from the Charles and Elsie Sykes Foundation.

The comprehensive suite of eye examination equipment has been provided by leading names in UK optics.

Caroline Clarke, Chair of the Leeds VCHP Team, added “The optical community has come together to provide an excellent service. After a year of careful planning and fundraising the clinic will be open from 10.30 to 3pm on Mondays and we aim to make a real difference to the lives of people who need it the most.”

WCSM Education Trust Bursary Winners complete their first year of training.

Chris HullThe academic year has now finished and the WCSM Education Trust has been very pleased to note the progress of its first tranche of bursary winners.

From more than 240 applications received on launch of the scheme in July 2016, 25 award winners were selected to receive a bursary of £1,000. Their courses ranged from block release dispensing diplomas through to degrees in orthoptics and optometry, covering 10 different UK institutions.

On the basis of progress reports submitted to the Trustees in April 2017, two students, Karla Mackenzie and Chioma Ezenwoye, were invited to attend a special lunch at Apothecaries’ Hall in June to meet leading members of optical professions and find out more about the different career paths taken by Liverymen of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers.

Chioma, who is studying for a BMedSci (Honours) degree in Orthoptics at Sheffield University, said, “It was such an honour to be able to meet and chat to many members and guests, including the President of the British and Irish Orthoptic Society, the professional body which represents orthoptists. The bursary has helped to relieve a lot of the burden of accommodation costs both at the University and while I am out on work placements. I really appreciate the support WCSM is giving me as a future employee in the optical sector.”

Karla has used her bursary to help with travel costs from her home in the North of Scotland to ABDO College in Kent to pursue her aim of becoming a Dispensing Optician. She said “Being awarded the bursary has opened so many doors for me. I have just recently celebrated fifteen years in practice and I am eager to learn and do even more. Over the next five years I would like to qualify as a Dispensing Optician and then I would really like to specialise in low vision. Living in the remote Highlands, I see the problems faced by elderly patients and I really aspire to be able to help patients like these live safer lives. I strive to improve in practice every day and I am so grateful for the help this bursary has given me.”

The next WCSM Education Trust Bursary Scheme will be open to applications from late August 2017. Further details will appear on the WCSM website:

Photo: Karla Mackenzie (left) and Chioma Ezenwoye (right) with Professor Chris Hull, Liveryman and Chair of the WCSM Education Trust.

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