100 Years of Innovation from Keeler

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When Charles Davis Keeler left Philadelphia in 1906 with his wife and children to start up the Standard Optical Company in London, he could not have imagined the company he would go on to pioneer. From its foundation as a dispensing optician in London’s West End in 1917, Keeler Limited has evolved out of all recognition.

Looking back over the last 100 years, it’s interesting to see how many innovations the company introduced – from its first patented ophthalmoscopes in the 1930s, the first indirect ophthalmoscope in the 1950s, to today’s world-leading slit lamps.

This brief timeline gives some idea of the company’s evolution over the last 100 years:

1917 – Dispensing optician opened at 47 Wigmore Street, London
1926 – The first patent is registered
1929 – Opening of the Plymouth branch
1930s – First ophthalmic products launched
1935 – Sefton Lawn, Windsor purchased
1946 – Keeler starts selling worldwide
1952 – US operation incorporated
1959 – Fison indirect ophthalmoscope launched
1965 – Micro Ophthalmic surgical unit and Vernon Ingram ruby laser launched
1970s – Keeler won British Design Award for Pocket Diagnostic Set
1986 – Keeler acquired by Dollond and Aitchison Group
1987 – Pulsair non-contact tonometer launched
1989 – Pulsair received Queen’s Award for Technical Achievement
1990s – The first Vantage indirect ophthalmoscope launched
1996 – Keeler acquired by Halma plc
2000s – Keeler launched an array of products, including the first wireless indirect ophthalmoscope and the PSL Classic portable slit lamp
2010s – Symphony range of slit lamps launched
2017 – Keeler turns 100!

At 100, Keeler is certainly not resting on its laurels. The company is in good health and is on a constant innovation drive, ensuring it meets the demands of optical and healthcare professionals for many years to come.

“We’re actively going out, finding out about markets around the world – what do they need and what are their immediate issues? This has really deepened innovation and growth,” says Abbas Sotoudeh, Keeler’s Managing Director.

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Eyecare mission to Uganda provides free eye tests to over 500 rural residents

With only 11 practicing ophthalmologists* and 70 ophthalmic clinical officers** for a country of 36 million people, Uganda is chronically underserved by eyecare specialists. It is estimated that 1.5 million people suffer from avoidable blindness, a problem that is directly attributable to the desperate shortage of eye-care professionals.

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In poorer rural communities, visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive error is accepted as part of normal life. The majority of Ugandans live outside the main cities, where access to services is difficult because the cost of transport is prohibitive and most treatment is unaffordable.
In January, three UK-based optometrists and an administrator set up eye clinics in four rural villages in impoverished areas of the country, in partnership with the local health-care providers. The optometrists were Debbie Young, Kirsty Hutchinson and Fiona Broome. The administrator was Rosemary Gorman, who ensured the smooth running of the clinics.

The clinics were only possible because of help from several UK suppliers, including Keeler, who donated a student ophthalmoscope/retinoscope set, as well as two sets which were purchased by the team. In addition, Ian Livingstone generously funded the team’s equipment purchases, Sussex Vision helped with a reduction on a Perkins Tonometer, and Foster Grant donated several hundred pairs of spectacles.

The short-term aim of the visit was to improve the sight of local people, while the longer-term aim was to share their knowledge with community health care workers to enable them to provide education and improved eye-care services at primary care level; to provide equipment to the Eye Unit at Jinja Hospital, one of Uganda’s 13 Regional Referral Hospitals; to work in partnership with the government’s glazing facility at Jinja; and finally to trial a new design of adjustable prescription spectacles on behalf of a UK charity.

The team tested over 500 patients and screened the vision of a further 168 patients. They also dispensed 322 pairs of spectacles. At the end of the clinics all equipment (from Keeler and other providers) was donated to the Eye Unit at Jinja Hospital. All four village leaders have asked the team to return to do further work in the future.

“It’s been an enormous privilege for the four of us to be involved in a project that has improved and even transformed the lives of hundreds of people, from the 95-year-old man who wanted to peel his vegetables and read his Bible, to the four-year-old girl who can now see to read and write,” said Kirsty Hutchinson. “Collectively, we made some difficult lives a little easier.”
“Many thanks to everyone who supported us. The equipment was donated to the hard working, very poorly-equipped Ophthalmology Department at Jinja Hospital when we left Uganda. You would be amazed by the lack of decent working equipment which with which they work. They were so unbelievably grateful!” added Kirsty.
“We’re always very happy to support this kind of charitable work,” says Laura Haverley, Keeler’s Sales and Marketing Manager. “Eye care and preventing vision loss are critical to overall health and quality of life.”

* Source: Dr Susan Kikira, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Jinja Hospital.
**Ophthalmic Clinical Officers have a Diploma in eye-care services which is a one year course offered from Jinja Hospital.

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Help Keeler Celebrate its 100th Anniversary at Optrafair

Keeler is turning 100 just a few weeks after this year’s Optrafair exhibition (1-3 April). There’s sure to be a lot of Centennial celebrations going on at the company’s Optrafair booth (number G50) so please drop by and say hello!

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As well as celebrating its Century, Keeler will of course be exhibiting its extensive product range, including:

  • The Symphony range of slit lamps (Zeiss-type and Haag Streit-type, both with digital capability)
  • The Pulsair Intellipuff non-contact tonometer
  • The Specialist ophthalmoscope and Professional retinoscope, now both with LED lighting
  • The PSL portable slit lamp
  • The Desktop Tonometer
  • Vantage LED and Spectra Iris indirect ophthalmoscopes
  • Volk lenses

Keeler works closely with a number of key optical partners, including Birmingham Optical, BIB, Hanson Instruments, Mainline Optical, Topcon and Bondeye. All will be showing Keeler’s products and offering some special deals at the show.

The company looks forward to welcoming you to its booth and hopes you will join in celebrating 100 years of British ophthalmic success!

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Merthyr Tydfil optician helping the less fortunate in Uganda with Keeler equipment

Ophthalmoscope and retinoscope set used at clinic to screen over 700 people

Eye testing equipment donated by Keeler was recently used by Ruth Easton, an optician from Specsavers in Merthyr Tydfil, on a charitable mission to Uganda. Ruth spent two weeks at the House of Joy charity’s school in the Kasala region running an eye clinic, where she and two friends set up a temporary eye clinic.

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While there they treated more than 700 people using the Keeler ophthalmoscope and retinoscope set. Almost three hundred pairs of frames – all donated from her local south Wales community – were also given away.

“I was inspired to arrange the trip to Uganda after I met the people who run House of Joy; I knew that I really wanted to do something to support them and their fantastic work,” explained Ruth. “As an optician I’m very aware of the importance of having a regular sight tests from a young age and understand that, sadly, not every child has access to eye care services.

“I can’t put into words how much joy there was in giving a 55 year old man his first pair of high prescription glasses, which not only changed the way he had viewed the world for 55 years, but also immediately improved his quality of life – or the gratitude seen in people’s faces when you gave out some simple dry eye drops which alleviated the pain and irritation they have been experiencing for years.

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“And all this would not have been possible were it not for the kind contributions made by Keeler. So, from myself and from the people of Kalagi, “weebale” (thank you) for your contribution – they have literally transformed the lives of hundreds of people less fortunate than ourselves!”

Overwhelmed by the scale of need for eye care services and the positive impact her visit had on the families she met, Ruth is now planning her next trip abroad to help those less fortunate.

“We’re always very happy to support this kind of charitable work,” says Laura Haverley, Keeler’s Sales and Marketing Manager. “Eye care and preventing vision loss are critical to overall health and quality of life.”

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Keeler Turns 100 This Year!

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To celebrate, the company is planning a number of events over the coming months, including a lecture at the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, a lavish banquet for all its employees, and a celebration at its Windsor HQ, where local dignitaries will be invited.

Keeler will also be producing a special limited edition 100th Anniversary brochure listing key milestones in the company’s history and demonstrating how the company has been at the forefront of optometric and ophthalmic technology for a century – and is still innovating to this day.

More news will follow over the coming weeks and months and we hope you will join us in celebrating a remarkable British manufacturing success story!

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Keeler Hosts Optometry Students from University of Hertfordshire

Keeler recently hosted over twenty second-year Masters in Optometry students from the University of Hertfordshire at its Windsor factory. It was the students’ first day back after their summer holidays and they all seemed to enjoy learning first-hand how Keeler’s ophthalmic instruments are made.

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“We’re the only ophthalmic instrument manufacturer in the UK to offer students the opportunity to do a factory tour and learn how ophthalmic instruments are made,” said Laura Haverley, Keeler’s Sales and Marketing Manager, who hosted the students on the day. “We’re well-known for the quality of our optics, so giving the students in-depth knowledge about the manufacture of our optics and the operation of our products helps them make a more informed decision when it comes to choosing which equipment to use during their studies.”

Keeler has also supplied ophthalmoscope and retinoscope sets, several of its new Symphony digital slit lamps and a number of Pulsair Intellipuff non-contact tonometers for use in the University’s training facilities. Interestingly, Hertfordshire is the first UK university to use Keeler’s Symphony slit lamps.

According to Joy-Belle Myint, Programme Lead for the Masters of Optometry, who accompanied the students, “The students start clinical practice in their first year, so they start to use the ophthalmic kit almost immediately – and by the second year they all need to purchase their own equipment. We’re a very clinically-focussed course and know what students need to learn to use, so we have a range of kit from various manufacturers for them to practice with; they can choose which one to purchase in the second year.”

The Masters in Optometry at the University of Hertfordshire is one of the newest optometry degrees in the UK and is only in its second year. The programme includes a pre-registration placement, meaning that upon completion of the degree the students are fully registered optometrists.

Laura added: “It was a real privilege to meet with future optometrists and host them here in Windsor. We had a great day (and great pizza!) and I hope they all left with valuable knowledge to help them with their course and future careers.”

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Winner of Plymouth University Clinical Optometry Prize Announced

Ophthalmoscope and retinoscope set donated by Keeler

The winner of this year’s First Year Clinical Optometry Prize at Plymouth University is Zeno Ivory. Zeno achieved the highest overall mark in the First Year Clinical Optometry Skills module and was delighted to receive an ophthalmoscope and retinoscope set donated by Keeler.

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“The Clinical Optometry Skills module is where our first year students start to hone and develop the key clinical skills they will take forward into their professional careers as optometrists,” said Dr Stephanie Mroczkowska, Lecturer in Optometry in the School of Health Professions at Plymouth University.

“Zeno was delighted to receive the prize for the highest mark in this module and will no doubt be using the Keeler equipment for many years to come!

“We approached Keeler back in 2014, the first year these prizes were awarded, to see if they would sponsor the prize for us and they happily agreed. The company has now provided a prize for the last three years. The ophthalmoscope and retinoscope set always goes down exceedingly well with the students and we are very grateful for Keeler’s support,” concluded Stephanie.

“We’re always happy to support universities and students in this way,” added Laura Haverley, Keeler’s Sales and Marketing Manager. “Cultivating a close relationship with the UK’s optometry schools also helps us understand their needs and the needs of their students.”

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New Z Series Slit Lamp from Keeler

Lower illumination system with 1 mm square aperture and 14 mm slit width

The new Z Series slit lamp incorporates Keeler’s proven quality optics and construction in a lower illumination Z-type system, with flexible features and options for comprehensive examination of the anterior and posterior segments of the eye. Part of the Symphony range, it is the only slit lamp currently available with a 1 mm square aperture and 14 mm variable slit width, the Z Series also offers manual adjustment of both slit length and width, as well choice of binocular type, magnification range, and full digital upgrade capability.

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The Z Series provides a wide range of apertures, both manual and pre-set, quickly adapting to a range of exam needs. Slit width can be manually adjusted from 0-14 mm. Pre-set apertures include 0.2, 2, 3, 5, and 9 mm, 14 mm circle, 1 mm square – specifically designed for assessment of Uveitis, and space reserved for additional pre-set apertures. Slit angle can be continually adjusted 360°. Blue, red-free, clear, and neutral density filters are included, and a flip-up diffuser provides a good visual of the whole eye at low magnification. A yellow barrier filter is included to detect subtle corneal staining.

Keeler offers a choice of converging or parallel binoculars with the Z Series, to suit user preference. It is available with either a 3-step rotating drum for 10 x to 25 x magnification, or a 5-step rotating drum for 6 x to 40 x magnification. Mounting options include refraction arm table mount or rolling table mount configurations.

All of the slit lamp parameters are easily adjusted, with an illumination control rheostat conveniently positioned adjacent to the gliding joystick. The LED illumination provides consistent performance and lowers lifetime ownership costs. The Z-Series includes a digital-ready system, with integrated shutter trigger on the joystick and camera exposure controls on the base.

The Z Series is part of Keeler’s comprehensive Symphony range of slit lamp systems, designed to suit a range of doctor preferences and practice needs. The range also includes the K Series H-type lower illumination systems, Q Series full digital H- and Z-type systems, and PSL handheld slit lamps. Keeler also offers a full range of digital applanation tonometers for its slit lamps.

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Keeler Donates Ophthalmic Equipment to Charitable Belize Mission

Binocular indirect ophthalmoscope and portable slit lamp used at clinic to screen nearly 1000 patients

Donated equipment from Keeler’s US business was recently used by a team from the New England College of Optometry (NECO) during a charitable mission trip to the Stann Creek District in South-eastern Belize. Members of NECO’s Fellowship of Christian Optometrists (FCO) partnered with His Servants Ministries to provide eye care in this desperately underserved region.

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Headed up by Lee Peplinski and Nathaniel Pelsor, the team of 13 NECO students, plus a support staff of three, spent five days conducting exams, dispensing medications, providing protective and prescriptive eyewear and referring patients for follow up care. A key aim of the mission is to establish a sustainable eye care system to provide sight-preserving early intervention and ongoing follow- up treatment.

The team saw 745 patients for comprehensive eye exams. Most were provided with readers, safety goggles, artificial tears, glaucoma, allergy or other topical medications, or custom prescription lenses using donated blank frames. One hundred were referred for additional treatment or surgical intervention. In addition, the team administered comprehensive vision screenings to over 200 students, setting them up for academic success unhindered by vision impairment. All told, the team provided eye care to nearly 1000 people.

“Many of the patients we see have undiagnosed or poorly controlled systemic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and other vascular diseases,” explains Jessica Hahm, the 2016 Belize Team Leader. “Therefore, dilated eye exams are all the more important for our patient population. Without the Keeler Vantage Plus BIO, it would have been impossible for us to conduct dilated fundus examinations. The optics allowed us to easily obtain clear views of the periphery and posterior pole of the retina, cutting down on our exam time and allowing us to diagnose diseases and conditions with greater accuracy.

“The Keeler PSL portable slit lamp also allowed us to check the anterior segment of the eyes, and to assess whether or not it was safe to dilate patients,” added Jessica. “The slit lamps were crucial in helping us see the microscopic details of the cornea to get a proper diagnosis.”

With LED illumination and wireless designs, the Vantage Plus and PSL are particularly well suited to clinic and mission work. The LEDs consume very little power, meaning a long battery life. Being wireless also makes it easy to move quickly from patient to patient.

“We’re happy to support the students and doctors doing this important charitable work,” says Laura Haverley, Keeler’s Sales and Marketing Manager. “Eye care and preventing vision loss are critical to overall health and quality of life.”

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Keeler Donates Ophthalmic Equipment to Bangladesh Eye Hospital

To assist with the kitting out of the Just Help Eye Hospital currently under construction in the Sylhet District of Bangladesh, Keeler Limited has donated two ophthalmoscope and retinoscope sets.

Sheik Rahman, Tameside Hospital Foundation Trust’s Community Optometrist (left) with Mizanur Rahman, Founder and Chair of Just Help Foundation, with the Keeler ophthalmic equipment.

Sheik Rahman, Tameside Hospital Foundation Trust’s Community Optometrist (left) with Mizanur Rahman, Founder and Chair of Just Help Foundation, with the Keeler ophthalmic equipment.

The equipment was donated to the UK-based Just Help Foundation. Founded by British people of Bangladeshi origin, it is an independent, non-profit charity dedicated to helping individuals and families in the poorest communities to get out of poverty.

The hospital, under construction in Gowainghat in the Sylhet Region, is scheduled for completion by the end of 2016 and will provide people living in extreme poverty the opportunity to get free eye examinations and treatment, including cataract operations.

The majority of the local population works in manual labour and earns an average of £1.50-£3 a day. For basic eye care people currently have to travel to the city (Sylhet) which is extremely costly as it involves travel costs, accommodation and, most importantly, doctors’ fees, which can be up to three day’s wages; that is before the costs of any medications, lenses or additional tests. The new hospital will therefor provide an urgently-needed local healthcare service.

“On behalf of the Just Help Foundation, I would like to thank Keeler for donating this equipment,” says Mizanur Rahman, Founder and Chair of the Just help Foundation. “These types of ophthalmoscopes and retinoscopes are not readily available in Bangladesh and will be put to good use helping poor people with sight problems.”

Keeler’s Managing Director, Abbas Sotoudeh, added, “To be able to contribute to this sort of project, which will help so many poor people who would not otherwise get their eyesight checked, is a genuine privilege.”

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