David Hillel Burns | Optometrist BSc (Hons) FCOptom DipCLP MPhil DOptom

David is a consultant optometrist, which is a person who does anything or everything for eyesight (except most surgical or medical treatment). He chose this career as a child – it seemed the natural choice since his favourite toys were the ones with lights in, or lenses, and he was keen on measuring anything.

Since qualifying in 1974 David has gained wide experience of clinical vision science. His research has included the focusing range of the eye, and how it changes as the years go by. Children can normally see well over a great range of distances, from just a few inches away to beyond the horizon.

That range of sharp sight, known as ‘accommodation’, gets less as we grow up, and is gone by middle age. David invented a simple and most accurate measure of accommodation.  That was during research leading to a doctorate in optometry at London South Bank University in 2018.

His previous areas of special interest included the subjects of looking at computer displays and varifocal lenses, in practical research commissioned by City University. How do computer screens affect the eyes? How are they best viewed? Evidence-based and individual-centred answers are increasingly important.

David’s work in this field helped in the design of varifocal spectacles and changed how we see specs for deskwork. It led to RangeReaders – spectacle lenses giving maximum performance at the desk. People who would benefit from these advanced lenses can find out and discuss them with David at an appointment.

David believes that research in clinical practice can help everyone to see better. He led a team that took a look at the emerging possibility of drug-prescribing by community opticians, producing groundbreaking results published in the 1990’s.

As Clinical Lead for NHS optometry in North London, David is aware of other vision services available locally. Further afield, he has worked in Sri Lanka where contact lenses took six weeks to arrive, and in a high-altitude Bolivian shanty town where, in that thin atmosphere, the local football team won all their home matches (but lost most of their away games). Now he works in East Finchley, and loves it.