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ARU postgraduate contact lens optician course sees first graduate

Anglia Ruskin University’s postgraduate course launched in September 2019 aiming to help dispensing opticians specialise in contact lens fitting

Alex Stewart
Anglia Ruskin University has celebrated the first graduate from its contact lens optician postgraduate certificate course.

The course, described as the first postgraduate course of its kind in the UK, is designed to help dispensing opticians specialise in contact lens fitting.

The course began in September 2019 and combines online study with blocks of face-to-face teaching at the university’s purpose-built contact lens teaching facility in Cambridge.

Alex Stewart, 28, has become the first in the pilot cohort to complete the course, enabling his registration as a contact lens optician with the General Optical Council (GOC).

Mr Stewart works at the Huntingdon and St Ives branches of Specsavers as a manager, dispensing optician, and now as a contact lens optician.

Commenting on his achievement, Mr Stewart said: “I’ve always wanted to diversify my role and the clinical aspect of becoming a contact lens optician appealed to me.

“In future I’m keen to be involved in training dispensing opticians and contact lens opticians, whilst continuing to work in High Street practice with my large base of contact lens patients in Huntingdon and St Ives.”

Mr Stewart thanked colleagues for their support in ensuring he received the clinical training hours he needed for the course. He noted: “As a result, I’d gained many of the necessary clinical supervised hours and case records before the first COVID-19 lockdown, so when restrictions started to ease in the summer, I was able to have one last push to gain the remaining hours and records.”

Course leader and senior lecturer in the Department of Vision and Hearing Sciences at the university, Dr Holly Price, shared her “delight” for Mr Stewart and satisfaction that the course has seen its first registrant.

Dr Price commented: “The whole pilot cohort has worked exceptionally hard this year and are on track to register shortly. Despite changes to the course that needed to be made due to COVID-19, we have managed to clear these hurdles to ensure our students can register as contact lens opticians. We look forward to the course moving from provisional approval to registrable status from the GOC in 2021.”

The university is accepting applications for September 2021.