Biographies

Dr Cindy Tromans, ECOO President and Immediate Past-President 

Cindy Tromans PhD BSc(Hons) MCOptom DipTp(IP) FEAOO

Cindy Tromans graduated Aston University with a BSc(Hons) in Ophthalmic Optics in 1985 and received a PhD from the University of Manchester, Faculty of Medicine in 1991.  She is currently Consultant Optometrist and Head of Optometry Services  at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital Honorary Clinical Lecturer in the University Department of Ophthalmology, University of Manchester, where she specialises in emergency eye care, therapeutic contact lenses, keratoconus and ophthalmic ultrasound and maintains an active clinical and research role in these areas. Cindy has held a number of national roles which include President of the College of Optometrists from 2010 to 2012 and is currently the International Clinical Representative of the College.   In her international role she is the Chair of the UK’s Joint Optical Committee for the European Union and represents ECOO as a Director of the World Council of Optometry.


Dr Matjaž Mihelčič, ECOO President-elect

Dr Matjaž Mihelčič, M.Sc., optometrist

Matjaž studied Optometry in Munich / Germany in 2001 – 2003. Simultaneously, he completed the certification for Master in Eye – optics at the Handicraft Chamber in Ljubljana. In 2008, he completed the Master-programme in Aalen / Germany, organized by the American universities New England College of Optometry and Pacific University College of Optometry. During the studies, he attended summer programmes at these two colleges in Boston and Forest Grove / Oregon and at adjacent clinics. In 2010 – 2015 he did an interdisciplinary PhD at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana, at the Experimental Psychology programme in the subject Visual Stress and Cognition. During this period, he completed the external subject at the University Eye Clinic in Tübingen. Among others, he made his proficiencies in Freiburg University eye clinic and at Miller Institute in Innsbruck.

Matjaž is author of several innovations in the optical field. From 2008 to 2020, he was regular lecturer at University of Velika Gorica at the Optometry programme and works in a private practices »Optika Mesec« in Bled and in Jesenice / Slovenia. His interest fields are prescription of special contact lenses, binocular vision correction and the problems of visual near point – stress and myopia growth. Since 2006, he is the president of Optical Association of Slovenia, organizing conferences, seminars and workshops in optical and optometry topics yearly. He is founding member of European Academy of Optometry and Optics. Every year, he visits several professional or scientific conferences in Europe or in the USA. In the years 2004 – 2019 he held over 80 Presentations and workshops at national and international level and has published several papers.

Besides, he is former professional windsurfer, also doing kitesurfing, snowboarding, jogging and cross-country skiing. Matjaž has a family; his wife Vida is a singer and an optician; they have four sons.


Peter Gumpelmayer, ECOO Treasurer

Peter Gumpelmayer

Peter Theo Alfred Gumpelmayer is the President of the Federal and Upper Austrian Council of Allied Health Science Practitioners, having held this position since 2010. Previously, he acted as President of the Upper Austrian Council of Opticians, Hearing Aid Specialists and Orthopaedic Technicians, from 2004, and as Chairman of the Scientific Association of Optometrists and Opticians in Austria, from 2002-2010. Mr. Gumpelmayer earned his Bachelor of Optometry from the University of Durban-Westville (South Africa), and has been practicing as an optometrist and hearing aid practitioner for over 12 years, with professional stints in his native Austria, but also the UK, New Zealand, and Africa. He has also been involved in academia, teaching at the WVAO Easterakademie in Hall in Tirol (Austria), as well as writing, compiling and translating examination items of the ECOO European Diploma (German/English).  Mr. Gumpelmayer was the Chairman of the ECOO Professional Services Committee until October 2014, after having previously been a member of the ECOO Education Committee between 2006-2010. He was the ECOO President from 2016 until 2018. He speaks German, English, French and has an understanding of Afrikaans.


Sylwia Kropacz-Sobkowiak, Chair of Professional Services Committee

Sylwia Kropacz-Sobkowiak

Sylwia is an optometrist and contact lens specialist. She studied for her B.Sc. in Ophthalmic Optics at Adam Mickiewicz University, where the then gained an M.Sc. in Optometry. In addition she has an M.Sc. in Clinical Optometry from Salus University and is currently a candidate for a Ph.D. degree from Poznan Medical University.

On a daily basis, Sylwia runs a private practice, where she fits speciality contact lenses for children and adults. In addition to working as an optometrist she is also an academic lecturer at Adam Mickiewicz University.

Sylwia is former President of the Polish Optometric Association. She is currently Education Consultant for the Polish Society of Optometry, Board member of the Polish Association of Contact Lenses and a member of the Accreditation Commission for Optometry and Optics in Poland. She has been an ECOO delegate for Poland since 2011.


Jesus Garcia Poyatos, Chair of Public Affairs and Economic Committee

Jesus Garcia Poyatos

JESÚS GARCÍA POYATOS is the International affairs Advisor of the Spanish General Council of Optometry (CGCOO), as well as its meeting planner for issues including continuing education. Jesús has been active for 10 years in clinical optics private practice, complemented by academic and public policy work in the field of optometry and optics. During the past 15 years, he has also been involved with the CGCOO in various capacities, including as the representative to the European Council of Optometry and Optics (ECOO) and to the World Council of Optometry (WCO). In 2008, he was appointed an executive member of the prestigious Spanish peer-reviewed Journal of Optometry. Jesús holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Optometry from the European University of Madrid (Spain), a BSc in Optometry and an MSc in Clinical Optometry from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (U.S.), as well as a Masters in Corporate Events Management from the Complutense University of Madrid. Since 2010, he has enjoyed the status of member of the European Academy of Optometry.


Dr Julie-Anne Little, Chair of the European Qualifications Board

Dr Julie-Anne Little

Dr Julie-Anne Little graduated with a BSc (Hons) Optometry from Ulster University in 2002, and received her PhD in 2007.

She is currently Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in the Centre for Optometry & Vision Science at Ulster University, UK, where she teaches Ophthalmic Dispensing, visual perception and function, and clinical optometry on the undergraduate BSc and MOptom programmes, and is course director for the MSc in Advanced Clinical Optometry. 

She also pursues research and has supervised several PhD researchers.  Her work has a focus on investigating refractive error, accommodation and visual function in childhood, those with special needs and visual impairment.  Her research also highlights the unmet need for eyecare services both in the UK and with a European and global focus, and overall aims to optimise vision, educational attainment and quality of life through effective eye care and interventions.

Over 40 publications in high-impact journals and international presentations disseminate this work.  She has a strong external profile in optometry as past President of the European Council of Optometry & Optics, and nationally as a Chairman of the Association of Optometrists.  She has significant experience in the development and implementation of Optometry curriculums as Chair of the ECOO European Qualifications Board and Co-Chair of the ECOO Accreditation Agency, in external examiner roles, and as a previous Educational visitor for the General Optical Council, UK. 


Fabienne Eckert, Secretary General

Fabienne Eckert

Fabienne Eckert has been closely involved in the day-to-day activities and projects of the ECOO Secretariat since October 2010. She has been serving as acting Secretary General from January 2013 and was elected Secretary General in April 2013.

As a German national who lives in Brussels, Fabienne has in-depth knowledge of EU Public Affairs and experience in the management of European associations and stakeholders engagement.

Fabienne holds a Master’s degree in European Political and Administrative Studies from the College of Europe in Bruges and a Bachelor’s degree in International Management and Modern Languages from the University of Bath, UK.


Elaine Grisdale, Secretary of the Public Affairs and Economic Committee

Elaine Grisdale

Elaine is ABDO’s Head of Professional Services and International Development.  She qualified as a dispensing optician and first registered with the General Optical Council in 1985. She is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a Fellow of the European Academy of Optometry and Optics. She is a Trustee of the Board for the European Academy of Optometry and Optics, Secretary of JOCEU (Joint Optical Committee on the European Union), Scientific Committee Member of the Silmo Academy in France and a member of the Jury Verres for Silmo.  Elaine is also the Director of Development for the International Opticians Association whose role is “to enhance and develop the optical profession around the world” She is based in Manchester in the UK.


Pavel Šebek, Secretary of the ECOO Professional Services Committee

Pavel Šebek

Born in Prague, a civil engineer by education, an events organiser by heritage and a party-creator and music-provider by heart, Pavel Šebek started his career within optics and optometry as an interpreter for the Association of Czech Opticians and Optometrists in the early nineties, only to soon become their foreign affairs manager and events and congress organiser.

He represented the Czech Association for the first time at the ECOO meeting in Bergen, Norway (1995) and while there realised* that the Eastern part of Europe was not participating in international optometry affairs. Therefore, on behalf of his national association, he organised from scratch seven congresses for Central and Eastern European opticians, optometrists, their professional associations and educational institutions.

These congresses created a joint platform for optics and optometry of the individual and then uncooperative countries of Central and Eastern Europe and subsequently brought them to become new members of ECOO. The congresses grew into three Twinning Universities Project for Optometry ‘TUPO’ congresses organised in Brno, Czech Rep. in cooperation with ECOO, financially supported by CIBA Vision, which were then absorbed by European Academy of Optometry and Optics.

In the meantime, Pavel became the secretary of the ECOO Education Committee chaired by Prof. Roger Crelier and Prof. Roger Anderson, respectively. After a short break and apart from his work for the Czech Association, he became active within ECOO again as secretary of Professional Services Committee, chaired at present by Dr. Peter Gumpelmayer.

Pavel’s contribution to the international optics and optometry might not be directly through the academic knowledge of the professional matters, but rather through his knowledge of many other fields and aspects of life and its happenings.

* Within Pavel’s optics and optometry career it is necessary to mention Mr. Beno Blachut, the current president of the Association of Czech Opticians and Optometrists who, with his association, has been supporting Pavel’s international activities down the years and stood behind him even at outset of many of the events, such as the Congresses for Central and Eastern Europe etc.