I have been going for eye tests every year since I was little and never really thought anything of it until my brother, all of a sudden, became very myopic.
I remember being sat with him when he was diagnosed and being really shocked by it. As I got older, I became aware that my mother was a dispensing optician and when I began applying for university, unsure about what career path I wanted to follow, she suggested that I tried optics.
I arrived at the University of Bradford with no real expectations, but an open mind. As I began to learn more about optometry, it grew on me and I was hooked.
What I liked about optometry was how I could immediately apply it. Every question that I had in my mind could be answered and applied to the real-world situation and I liked that. I’m not one for theory-based things so going in with questions and coming out with answers was key for me.
I completed my pre-reg period at Specsavers in Llandudno, north Wales.
I learned a lot from being in a multiple setting, but I knew after the first few weeks that it was not the environment that I wanted to be in the long-term. Therefore, as I worked towards qualification, I explored what options could be available to me afterwards.
“You are faced with people with many different pathologies and requirements and therefore it can be challenging to feel good enough to do all of it”
Prior to applying for optometry at university, I completed a work placement shadowing a hospital optometrist at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and from that experience, knew it was a setting that I wanted to explore in the future.
As a patient, you go for your eye test and have your vision corrected, but when you go into a hospital you realise what else can be done – it was quite eye opening.
When I started applying for hospital positions after my pre-reg, I heard that hospitals preferred to take on optometrists who had completed a hospital pre-reg and while that initially made me hesitate, it didn’t deter me. The advice that I would give to others is to go for it because if the hospital setting is where you want to be, you won’t be happy with what the High Street can offer.
As a newly-qualified optometrist I was really nervous about moving into the hospital setting as I knew it would be completely different to what I was used to.
As a High Street optometrist, you go into practice every morning and you look through your patient list and mostly know what will present. However, when you are in the hospital, you have no idea who is going to come and sit in your chair.
On my first day in the hospital, I had a macular clinic in the morning and it was so different from anything that I had previously experienced.
On the High Street I was used to people coming in with vision that could be corrected to close to 6/6. In this clinic, people were using eccentric viewing, which I had never seen before, and only correcting to 6/60, which was good for the patient – that was quite a shock.
“When you are in the hospital, you have no idea what is going to come and sit in your chair”
I find the low vision clinics that I work in particularly rewarding.
People in this clinic have been referred because they are struggling to complete tasks that they used to enjoy. They may be used to sewing and now can’t even thread a needle, for example. When you can do something to and help them achieve these tasks with their deteriorating vision, it is the most rewarding experience.
Working in a hospital setting itself can be challenging.
You are faced with people with many different pathologies and requirements and therefore it can be challenging to feel good enough to do all of it. However, I enjoy the challenge and the opportunity to think on my feet.
I am very new to hospital optometry and would like to complete additional qualifications, such as medical retina and paediatrics, in order to progress myself as a clinician.
I feel that the hospital setting is the best place for me to achieve that.
I am taking each day as it comes and the longer I am here, the more I will learn.
One of the main reasons that I came to the hospital is to learn more. The more I pick up, the more I will know what I want to do in the future. There are so many options for optometrists nowadays that anything is possible.