When and where...

Date: Wednesday 22nd November 2023

Time: 9.45 - 15.30 (Registration from 9)

Venue: Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, CF11 9XR



About the presenters:

Gwyn Samuel Williams, Consultant Ophthalmologist.

Gwyn Samuel Williams is a consultant ophthalmologist with an interest in medical retina based at Singleton Hospital, Swansea. He trained in ophthalmology on the Wales rotation and completed his fellowship at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London. He is also an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Swansea.

He has authored a book about the practical management of inflammatory eye disease, written chapters in medical textbooks and also published a novel. Gwyn is a Section Editor for Eye News magazine for which he writes a bi-monthly column. His interests include hiking, reading and writing and he has a special interest in medical education. He lives in Swansea.

Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services

Eluned Morgan was born in 1967 in Ely, Cardiff. She was educated at Glantaf Welsh language comprehensive school. She won a scholarship to the United World College of the Atlantic and gained a degree in European Studies from the University of Hull. She formerly worked as a researcher for S4C, Agenda TV and the BBC.

Eluned's political career started at the age of 27 when she was elected as the youngest Member of the European Parliament in 1994. She was only the fifth woman elected to a full time political position in the history of Wales, and the first full time politician in Wales to have a baby whilst in office. She represented Wales for the Labour Party from 1994-2009. In this role she became the Labour spokesperson on industry, science and energy and spokesperson for the 200 strong Socialist Group on Budget Control matters. She authored the Green Paper on energy on behalf of the EP and led the Parliament's discussions on the Electricity Directive where she ensured new rights for consumers and demanded that Member States of the EU addressed the issue of fuel poverty.

From late 2009 until July 2013 she worked as the Director of National Business Development in Wales for SSE (SWALEC) one of the UK's largest energy companies. During 2013 -2016, Eluned Morgan served as the Shadow Minister for Wales in the House of Lords, and from 2014-2016 she served as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. She was granted a peerage in 2011 and is formally known as Baroness Morgan of Ely.

Eluned Morgan was elected to the National Assembly in May 2016 as regional member for Mid & West Wales. In November 2017 Eluned was appointed Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning. On 13 December 2018 she was appointed Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language. Eluned was appointed Minister for Health and Social Services on 13 May 2021.

David O'Sullivan, Chief Optometric Advisor to Welsh Government

David qualified as an optometrist with a First-Class Honours degree from Glasgow Caledonian University in 1996 and completed training in Leeds general infirmary. Following a short spell in Yorkshire he relocated to Wales in 1998 where he became a practice owner expanding from one practice to a small group of practices within Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

He became accredited to provide Welsh Eye Care Services (Eye Health Examination and Low Vision Service Wales) in the first cohort of practitioners for both services and has subsequently undertaken further postgraduate qualifications in glaucoma management and ocular therapeutics.

In 2001 he became the Optometric Development Officer for Carmarthenshire Local Health group, which has subsequently developed into Hywel Dda University Health Board. This was the first position of its kind in Wales and provided a link between primary and secondary care providing the platform for developing services in the community.

In 2015 he became the Optometric Adviser for Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan University Health Board and in July 2017 became the Chief Optometric Adviser for Wales, leading on the NHS Wales Future Approach for Optometry and clinical reforms for eye care in Wales.

Dr. Nik Sheen, Head of Optometry, HEIW

Nik Sheen is the Head of Optometry in Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW). Nik is an optometrist having qualified from Cardiff University in 1995. Following qualification he worked for independent and mulitple optometry practices before studying full-time in Bristol Eye Hospital for a MSc. Thereafter, Nik completed a PhD at Cardiff University in glaucoma investigation. 

He has significant expereince in teaching, research and leadership over the last 25 years and has previously been the Clinical Lead for the eye care service in Wales since its inception as the Eye Health Examiantions Wales sevice and Co-Director at the Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC). He has served 2 terms on the education committee for the General Optical Council (GOC). He took up his current position in 2019.

Dr. Fiona Jenkins, Executive Director of Therapy, Health Science for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

Dr Fiona Jenkins MBE is Executive Director for Therapies and Health Science in Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Chair of the Planned Care Eye care group. Fiona is a physiotherapist with significant clinical, managerial and leadership experience. She joined Cardiff and Vale UHB in 2010 as Executive Director for Therapies and Health Sciences and has also worked as an Executive in Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB. Fiona has a PhD focussed on NHS Management and completed the INSEAD NHS / Leadership Centre Clinical Strategists Programme. She also holds an MA (Distinction) in Management (Exeter University). Fiona is also a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management. She awarded an MBE for services to Healthcare in 2021. She has both led, and been involved with, a large number of service innovations.

Lorcan Butler

Lorcan is a dispensing optician and optometrist working with The Brain Tumour Charity where he is responsible for aiding practitioners in identifying and managing patients with signs and symptoms that may be associated with a brain tumour. Lorcan has spoken extensively at optical conferences throughout the UK and Ireland. He has worked with numerous optical bodies and organisations including the AOP, ABDO, Optometry Wales, Optometry Northern Ireland and the European Academy of Optometry & Optics. 

Dr Claire Nollett

Claire currently works in the Centre for Trials Research where she is a Research Fellow and the Academic Lead for Public Involvement & Engagement. She has a background in managing research into interventions for mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety and eating disorders. She has a particular interest in studying the psychological impact of low vison and has completed a number of projects in this field. These include collaborations with the Low Vision Service Wales, third sector and local authority to develop and evaluate mental health training. Claire routinely involves the patient and the public in her research. She also has clinical experience in treating anxiety and depression using cognitive behavioural therapy in the NHS. 

Sandy Davies

Sandy Davies is Chair of Welsh Rehabilitation Officers Forum(WROF) the professional body representing VRS’s across Wales. She was working in the fitness industry until she had a very personal experience of sight loss. During this time she volunteered with Wales Council of the Blind delivering awareness training across Wales and volunteered with Sight Life. Sandy trained as a Rehabilitation Officer (ROVI) in Birmingham and then went on to complete the BSc in Rehabilitation Studies in Visual Impairment. Sandy is a Vision Rehabilitation Specialist formally known as a Rehabilitation Officer (ROVI). She initially worked in London as a ROVI and then returned to Wales working in Neath Port Talbot. Sandy worked in Care & Repair as a Managing Better Caseworker and was part of the service when it was originally set up over 6 years ago. She is currently in Bridgend Sensory Services and chairs the Bridgend Professionals meetings bringing Health, Social Care and Third Sector together supporting people with sight and dual sensory loss. Sandy is passionate about sight loss and is constantly working to better co-ordinate services and other professionals to the benefit of vision loss. Sandy enjoys travelling and visiting friends across the world.

Liz Williams, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, RNIB Cymru

Liz currently works at RNIB Cymru, leading on campaigns that aim to reduce the everyday barriers faced by people with sight loss. This includes lobbying policy and decision makers around the importance of accessible health information, as well as the importance of ensuring blind and partially sighted people are not disproportionately impacted by the cost of living crisis. 

Nick Lancaster, Service User

Nick Lancaster was born with an eye condition call Aniridia, which led to a number of other degenerative sight conditions developing. Registered blind as a teenager and becoming a Guide Dog owner in his 30’s he has many years of life experience with sight loss and actively advocates for vision impaired people in many ways to improve their lives.

Rachel Jones, RNIB

Rachel Jones is a Policy and Campaigns Officer for RNIB Cymru and lives in a rural part of Powys, near Machynlleth. She was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa and developed Macular Oedema and Posterior Sub-capsular Cataracts (PSC), all of which resulted in her being registered blind in her early 30s. She has just qualified with her first Guide Dog and is passionate about advocating for better awareness and accessibility for blind and partially sighted people in rural Wales.  

Sarah Hughes, Head of Vision Impairment, SenCom

Initially enjoying almost a decade of teaching as a mainstream Secondary Teacher of Science, Sarah progressed to the role of Head of Science in a specialist school for blind and vision impaired children and young people. Having qualified as a QTVI (Qualified Teacher of Vision Impaired) she then spent a number of years successfully leading QTVI Science Specialist Teachers of Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Next came a move to Scotland to take up the post as the Deputy (more correctly 'depute' in Scotland) Head Teacher at the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh. As Depute Head Teacher, it was her responsibility to coordinate the delivery of outreach across the country. She also led the development and launch of the national learning hub for those supporting the education of children with vision impairment. 

This experience prepared her for her current role in Wales, as Head of a regional vision impairment service, leading a team of QTVIs, Habilitation Specialists and Specialist Support Staff. Together they deliver support to hundreds of children and families across five local authorities.  

She is the Chair of WAVIE (Welsh Association of Vision Impairment Educators). WAVIE are engaged with various organisations to promote equity for children and young people in education, across Wales. 

In June 2023, she won the VIEW (Vision Impairment Education Workforce) UK award, for "Educator who has shown leadership in promoting vision impairment education". 

Pippa Anderson 

Pippa is a health economist in the School of Optometry and Vision Science at Cardiff University and is the lead for Health Economics Research and Innovation at Swansea Centre for Health Economics at Swansea University. Through her career her research has informed and supported a wide range health and care services. Her focus over the past decade has been to utilise health economic thinking and methods in the context of interdisciplinary research that provides evidence to support the implementation of more efficient and cost-effective services, especially so in supporting people with vision impairment and diabetes.

Prof. Barbara Ryan

Barbara is an optometrist. She was the founding Clinical Lead for the Low Vision Service Wales and a founding Director of WOPEC. Currently she is Deputy Head of School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University and has a broad remit covering health services research, teaching and practice. Barbara practices one day a week in Aneurin Bevan Health Board and is an independent prescribing optometrist.

Rhianon Reynolds

Rhianon Perrott-Reynolds qualified as an Optometrist with a degree from Cardiff University in 1997. Following a pre-registration year in Community optometry she undertook a full time PhD at Cardiff investigating ocular blood flow in patients with type 2 Diabetes. During this time she decided to start a medical career and graduated with honours from Cardiff University medical school. Her training in Ophthalmology started in the Wales Deanery in 2010 and after completion of training and a fellowship in Medical Retina and Uveitis at Bristol eye hospital Rhianon took up a consultant post with Aneurin Bevan at the start of 2020 where she is now clinical lead. Her main clinical interest is Medical retina, Retinal imaging, Uveitis and cataract surgery. 

During training Rhianon maintained a strong interest in research. She has been investigator on many clinical trials and  She is part of the Welsh Eyecare Pathway Research Network who recently won am RfPPB grant to look at the impact of the changes to legislation allowing low vision optometrists to register people as sight impaired.  Rhianon is also a senior lecturer in the Department of Optometry and Vision Science at Cardiff University on projects including imaging in Age related macular degeneration. Since September Rhianon is the new Llywydd of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists in Wales. 

John Dixon, NHS (Wales) Engagement Manager, RNIB

John is RNIB Cymru’s NHS Engagement Manager, responsible for RNIB’s strategic priority to innovate and embed a quality, timely and effective eye care support pathway alongside the clinical pathway, so that blind and partially sighted people are able to quickly access quality practical and emotional support they need at any point. His role sits alongside RNIB Cymru’s ongoing work to prevent avoidable sight loss, to ensure people can access information, advice and services that improve wellbeing and independence. 

Prior to this post John was RNIB’s UK Policy Lead for Health and Social Care. Before joining RNIB, John spent 7 years as Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Wellbeing at Cardiff Council, responsible for local health partnerships, children’s and adult social care, public health and cross-cutting wellbeing issues. During this time, he also acted as the chair of the Cardiff Health and Wellbeing Alliance, Welsh Local Government Association deputy spokesperson for Adult Social Care, the chair of the WLGA Social Services Policy Group, a council member of the Care Council for Wales, and a non-executive director of both the Local Government Data Unit and Social Services Improvement Agency. 

Tim Morgan

Tim Morgan is a National Clinical Lead for Wales General Ophthalmic Services, employed by NHS Wales.  Additionally, he is an Optometrist performer and contractor in North East Wales.  

As well as enjoying his strategic role with NHS Wales and his clinical role in practice, Tim maintains a special interest in Sustainability within Healthcare.  He is undertaking research in this area, supported by the Intensive Learning Academy in Swansea University.  

Tim has recently been appointed as Primary Care Green Champion, for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.  He will work alongside Public Health Wales to support positive change across General Medical Services, Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Optometry in that region.

Wales Vision Forum

The purpose of the Forum is for organisations representing people with sight loss to come together to share, discuss and outline work programmes and priorities to enhance joint working and reduce duplication to maximise our collective reach and impact.

The Forum is a platform for sharing information, sharing good practice and expertise, consulting and identifying opportunities to support service and campaign planning.

The group will also focus on the work of relevant work-streams in the sight loss sector. Task and finish groups will be established for specific areas of work, as agreed at meetings or via email by a majority.


Low Vision Service Wales

Low vision simply means not being able to see as well as most other people even when you're wearing glasses or contact lenses. For example, you would probably have low vision if you have age related macular degeneration (AMD).

If you already have a vision impairment or low vision, or are registered as either sight impaired or severely sight impaired a specially trained and accredited Low vision optician/optometrist) can help you make the best use of the sight you have.

Optometry Wales

Optometry Wales is the professional umbrella organisation for the primary care eye health profession in Wales. We represent and work on behalf of all community optometrists, opticians and dispensing opticians across Wales. 

We are funded by contributions from each of the Regional Optical Committees in Wales, and from the UK optical bodies.

Our key working partners are Welsh Government, the Welsh Optometric Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC), NHS Wales, the voluntary sector and the Welsh Optometric Committee (WOC).

Working in partnership with all of these organisations and bodies we are committed to excellence in eye care in Wales.

UCAN Productions

UCAN Productions (Unique Creative Arts Network) is an award-winning cooperative founded in 2005 to address the lack of performance and creative opportunities for blind and partially sighted children, young people and adults in Wales. Since then, the organisation has grown to over 700 visually impaired members of all ages.

UCAN Productions develops specialised drama workshops and theatrical performances that challenge the perceptions of the sighted world. By improving physical and vocal confidence and raising the aspirations of its members, UCAN has proved, many times, that visual impairment is no barrier to success in the world of performing arts and beyond.