October marks my 10-year anniversary since I qualified, yet the memory of opening my pre-reg results is still a vivid one. I am not sure where the time has gone, but what I can say is that optometry’s continued progression has been an endless journey of education and learning for me.
I remember in week one of being a fully qualified optometrist that I experienced my first intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation post mydriatic drops. Very quickly I had to exercise all those textbook lessons for a scenario we were told rarely ever happens. With IOPs spiked up to 42mmHg, week one’s lesson was to not panic under pressure, calmly arrange the appropriate management and follow through with the patient to ensure their wellbeing.
Many refractions and eye examinations later, and the introduction of ground-breaking contact lenses like Alcon’s Dailies Total 1 and Johnson & Jonson Vision’s Oasys 1-Day have changed my prescribing habits. Being lucky enough to visit a contact lens manufacturing plant brings a level of appreciation to the technology that goes into producing a contact lens.
“Very quickly I had to exercise all those textbook lessons for a scenario we were told rarely ever happens”
CooperVision gave me the opportunity to trial its Biofinty Energys contact lens as part of its European trial in 2016. The project allowed me to talk to optometrists from across Europe and encounter a range of practice techniques. Really listening to the needs of the patient and figuring out what their day looks like is a skill I have developed as I saw more contact lens patients.
I enhanced my skills further when I started fitting ortho-k lenses. It is still a fairly niche speciality, which sees many of my patients travel from afar to come see me. Yet the moment a patient can see the letter chart after they take the lens out is a feeling of satisfaction that never gets old.
When I first started using optical coherence tomography (OCT) in standard practice, I had to hit the books again. I re-learned the layers of the retina and attended as many courses as possible. This changed how efficiently I could manage my patients within my own clinic. The use of Optos’ Optomap was another learning point. Seeing further out to the peripheral retina in fascinating details, the technology enables the optometrist to see things we may not always spot. Differentiating what is normal or abnormal was another point of learning.
“Being assessed by my old lecturers when I was a university student was just as nerve-wracking now as it was then”
In 2016, I undertook the professional certificate in glaucoma at the University of Bradford. Going back to university and sitting station exams was a surreal feeling. Being assessed by my old lecturers when I was a university student was just as nerve-wracking now as it was then.
In the more recent years, my interest in myopia management has continued to grow. I continue to do CET on the topic and keep up with the latest developments. I have exercised practice with ortho-k lenses for many years, so when CooperVision’s MiSight lens launched I was really excited as I already had a list of patients that I knew I could help.
Apart from general practice, the last decade has, to excuse the pun, opened my eyes in to the UK industry of optometry from a teaching and business prospective. It is still a profession that I am proud of and incredibly grateful to be a part of. The advancements in optometry will always keep me learning and progressing.