OT speaks to Preeti Singla about her experience as a hospital optometrist working in a range of clinics
What do you do on a typical working day?
Currently my role is purely clinical. The thing I love about hospital optometry is that you can be involved in a range of clinics, which adds real variety to your day. Some days I will be carrying out cataract surgery follow-ups and others are a mixture of glaucoma clinics and core optometry refraction and low vision clinics. Although I will often find a random contact lens patient booked in which helps to keep me on my toes.
Which aspect of your current role inspires you the most?
Seeing low vision patients is definitely the most emotional and rewarding part of my role. Being an avid reader myself, if I can help even one person pick up and read a book again or regain the ability to enjoy their hobbies my job has been worthwhile.
Where do you see the direction of optometry heading in the next five years?
With excess pressure on the NHS, optometrists have the perfect skill base to be able to co-manage many eye conditions. This is already the case with the increasing number of shared care clinics being established. However, with the access to more and more enhanced qualifications, I can only see the optometrist-ophthalmologist working relationship moving from strength to strength.
Who has been most influential in steering your career path?
Making the switch from primary to secondary care was a leap into an unknown career path for me. Working at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel gave me the perfect stepping-stone. I was encouraged and supported by a great manager and wonderful colleagues, which enabled me to build up a breadth and depth of clinical knowledge and skills, which I can transfer to any future position I take on.
What do you regard as being the most influential development to impact upon the clinical role of practitioners in recent years?
I think this depends on what area of optometry you are involved in, but for me it would have to be the use of macula optical coherence tomography. No longer do we have to debate the cause of reduced vision post cataract surgery. Diagnosing and treating macula oedema has become much more clear-cut.
If you had the power to change any aspect of the current remit of optometrists what would it be?
In my opinion optometrists should be thought of at the forefront of ocular healthcare and not just when someone needs new glasses. I still come across so many people that say they are planning to book an appointment with their GP when they have an eye problem. I can’t wait for the day that changes.