Optometry Director Peter Larsen has been appointed to a newly created role based in the UK, with responsibility for introducing Specsavers Australia & New Zealand’s eye health strategy to all Specsavers markets.

Over the past 12 years, Peter has successfully implemented a model of integrated eye care, health data, equipment, technology, training and collaboration in the Australian and New Zealand markets. In his new role as Group Eye Health Strategy Director – which will be based at Specsavers’ central support office in the UK’s Channel Islands – Peter will be responsible for introducing this model across all Specsavers markets, with a focus on the systematic improvement of eye health outcomes for the company’s 35 million active customers, and the creation of a commercially sustainable eye care model that caters to the needs of optometrists, medical practitioners and health funders.

Speaking of the appointment, Specsavers Co-Founder Doug Perkins said, “Peter has been instrumental in creating and leading the optometry agenda in Australia and New Zealand. In his new global role, his experience will be an invaluable resource to our whole business, ensuring all of our regions are working together to deliver better health outcomes for millions of patients.”

A founding partner responsible for bringing Specsavers to Australia in 2007, Peter has instigated significant change in optometry. As a board member of the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), he and then-CERA Managing Director Professor Jonathan Crowston originated the idea and funding for the Oculo e-referral platform. At a time when the relationship between optometry and ophthalmology was strained, Peter fostered collaborative links with RANZCO under a formal Memorandum of Understanding, contributing to the definition of referral guidelines between optometrists and ophthalmologists.

Over 10 years, Peter has been responsible for developing a health strategy focussed on measurably improving patient outcomes, lifting eye disease detection and referral rates, and enhancing optometry professional development. This has led to the doubling of glaucoma detection and a two-year, $40 million investment to introduce OCT into every Specsavers practice. OCT is now used as a standard element of patient care and resulting eye health data is shared with government, health professions and all eye health stakeholders.

Peter’s work has also helped ensure the viability of KeepSight, an Australian diabetes eye screening program that aims to eradicate avoidable blindness caused by diabetes-related eye disease.

Peter said he was “very excited” to be taking a systematic model for eye care to Specsavers’ European markets.

“Our approach and transparent manner is enabling eye health improvements and outcomes that have never been achieved before on such a large scale,” he commented. “That is what drives me and has driven me to take on this role. And as our knowledge base grows, it is important that we use the data and results of this work to demonstrate measurable change and prove the value of optometry to public health funders, whether they be in Australian, New Zealand, UK or European markets.”

Specsavers Aus / NZ’s Director of Professional Advancement Dr Ben Ashby, PhD, took on the role of Director of Optometry on 1 August. Dr Ashby has worked alongside Peter for five years and has been instrumental in implementing the Specsavers eye health strategy.

Further coverage on Peter’s new role can be found in the ophthalmic publications, Mivision and Insight.