Optometry postgraduate education marks a new milestone

Over 10,000 learners walk through the doors of WOPEC

Eye exam

The Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC) has reached 10,000 registered learners on its website.

WOPEC was launched in September 2009 as a partnership between the Welsh Government and Cardiff University to offer CPD courses for optometrists.

Demand for the courses run by the organisation has steadily grown and has hit a new high with the 10,000th learner registering for an online CPD course.

WOPEC remains the only dedicated postgraduate education centre in the world that caters for all the professional learning needs of optometrists. 

One of the two founding directors, Dr Nik Sheen, said: “The objective of the centre is to ensure the provision of excellent further education and training for optometrists and other eye care practitioners, to produce a workforce of professionals who are able to deliver the highest quality of eye care to their patients.”

The other founding director, optometrist Dr Barbara Ryan explained: “Optometrists from Wales, England and Northern Ireland, funded by the Local Optical Committee Support Unit, local optical committees, governments, health boards, clinical commissioning groups and/or companies have done distance e-learning courses on glaucoma, pre and post-operative cataract management, minor and acute eye conditions, low vision and eye care for people with learning disabilities.”

Dr Ryan continued: “In addition, we have accredited over 4000 optometrists in clinical station assessments – over 2000 in the last year alone.”

She added: “Demand has increased steadily because of the increasing prevalence of eye conditions and the need for optometrists to operate at the top of their licence and provide enhanced community services to take the pressure off the hospital eye service. WOPEC is proud to be supporting these initiatives.”

The 10,000th learner, Chris Davey, said: “It's fantastic that WOPEC has been there to facilitate the upskilling of the profession in the UK, and to subsequently support the provision of community services.”

Apart from CPD courses, postgraduate taught courses have also been very popular, especially those accredited for higher professional qualifications in glaucoma, low vision, medical retina, paediatrics and independent prescribing, with many over-subscribed each semester, according to WOPEC.

Through Cardiff University, WOPEC offers distance learning, as well as practical training in its state-of-the-art clinics. Last year they achieved 100% student satisfaction in the Postgraduate Teaching and Education Survey.

Up to 30 modules can be studied one at a time or learners can work towards a certificate, diploma or an MSc. Many modules are accredited by the College of Optometrists for higher professional qualifications and most have CET credits. In March WOPEC will have 15 modules running.

For more information, visit the WOPEC website.