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How I got here

What OCT can offer

Optometrist, Mariam Bhojani, on how learning to use and interpret OCT has given her increased confidence in the testing room

24 Feb 2019 by Emily McCormick

My interest in optometry was sparked from the first time my father tested my eyes. He is also an optometrist and I was diagnosed as being slightly myopic.

I was in awe of the different equipment that was used during my eye examination. As I grew older and became more myopic I started to realise that vision is an amazing collaboration of the eyes and the brain. It highlighted how much we take our sight for granted, when it seems so effortless to many.

Optometry was always a career option for me. However, it was not the only option that I explored.

I knew that I wanted a vocation and something in healthcare. As well as optometry, I looked into other options such as radiography and dentistry, but, overall, I preferred optometry. I love the style and the fashion aspect of optometry and I have an extremely keen interest and passion for the clinical and pathology side too.

“As an optometrist, people from all walks of life come in to see me with the expectation of having better vision afterwards”

After graduating from the University of Plymouth in 2016, I completed my pre-reg at an independent practice.

On qualification, I moved to another very clinical independent practice, Pinders Opticians in Nottingham, where I work today. There, I was welcomed as a newly-qualified optometrist and thrown in the deep end with eye tests that involved optical coherence tomography (OCT) and Optomap. I started to slowly understand in more detail and began to learn in depth how to interpret these scans – with the help of the other experienced optometrists who work there, I was able to grasp a good understanding of OCT and Optomap.

As my understanding of OCT grew, so did my recognition of the importance of the technology.

The ability to capture a wide angle image from the optic disc to the macula contributes to a more effective eye examination. Analysis of the macula and retinal nerve fibre layer are very useful in detecting common eye conditions early such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma. This made me even more interested to study and learn how to interpret OCT further and explain scans to patients in a way they can understand and appreciate. I think I would struggle to work in a practice without an OCT now.

I decided to complete my Professional Certificate in Medical Retina firstly due to my passion for ocular pathology.

I have a keen interest in conditions at the back of the eye such as AMD and diabetic retinopathy. I would love to be able to work in AMD treatment-retreatment clinics in the future. My knowledge was also fresh out of the pre-reg period and I didn’t want to lose the study ethic I had. As OCT is becoming a wider used piece of technology in hospitals, independent practice and also multiples, it is probably one of the best qualifications I can have as interpreting OCT and Optomap has become a lot more easier for me.

“I have become so much more confident in managing and referring patients with conditions such as acute macula and retinal pathology, and I can explain a range of eye conditions in much more detail and depth than I was able to previously”

I love interpreting OCT and Optomap scans.

I have become much more confident in managing and referring patients with acute macula and retinal pathology and vitreo-macular interface disorders, and am able to explain in much more detail and depth to patients and colleagues about certain eye conditions. My knowledge on treatments of medical retina disorders has improved massively and now when a patient asks me what is the likely outcome of their problem, I am able to advise and guide them more confidently.

The most rewarding aspect of my job is definitely the smile and appreciation on a patients face after a thorough sight test.

Where I work we carry out 30–40 minute sight tests and these extra few minutes enable me to build a genuine relationship with every patient. Not only does it allow me to discuss their eye health in depth, it enables me to connect on a more personal level when necessary. It’s the best feeling when a patient tells you how much they appreciate your efforts and recommend you and your services to their friends and family afterwards.

I get great job satisfaction from helping people by improving their quality of life.

Whether it’s an elderly person wanting to be able to read with more clarity, or a school child wanting to be able to focus better on the board and with school work, people from all walks of life come in to see you with the expectation of leaving with better vision and the majority of the time we are able to do that.

Looking forward in my career, I want to carry on working in clinical environments and hopefully branch out to hospital work in the future.

I would love to be a College examiner for pre-reg students. Giving talks on OCT interpretation to the Local Optical Committee and wider optometry community would also be a brilliant step forward in my career.

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