Young patients, big responsibility

Specsavers has introduced a children’s eye care course for practitioners

Children's eye test

A Specsavers course is equipping eye care professionals with the skills and knowledge to give them confidence when seeing young patients.

The BTEC (level 6) Children’s Eye Care course is available to optometrists, dispensing opticians and contact lens opticians working for Specsavers in the UK and Ireland.

It is offered through awarding body Pearson, which has a suite of vocational qualifications in eye care.

Specsavers director of professional training and development Gill Robinson highlighted to OT that the number of under-16s coming through the multiple’s doors was growing each year.

“With increased volume comes a greater chance of encountering challenging paediatric cases,” Ms Robinson emphasised.

The regulatory landscape meant that there was a lot at stake when seeing young patients, she added.

Ms Robinson explained that a child’s visual and educational development were in the hands of Specsavers practitioners.

“With so much riding on our proficiency in managing children’s eye care, we wanted to give our professionals the opportunity for further accreditation in this important aspect of eye care practice,” she outlined.

The BTEC (level 6) Children’s Eye Care course has three separate qualifications, with optometrists studying five modules, contact lens opticians studying four and dispensing opticians studying three.

Since it was established last March, 62 students have enrolled on the course.

Topics studied by optometrists include children’s eye care examination techniques, principles of professional conduct and dispensing optical appliances and contact lenses.

The course also covers ocular disease and abnormalities in childhood. 

Students learned through the provision of reading materials, mock examinations, short answer questions and the submission of a portfolio of work.

Specsavers Dorking dispensing optician and branch manager Davinia Hadley was one of several clinical staff at the Surrey branch who signed up to the course.

She told OT that she found the training opportunity very useful.

“It refreshes your knowledge. Aspects of the course I had learned before, but you don’t see a lot of these rare conditions in everyday practice,” Ms Hadley explained.

She emphasised: “The optometrist we were doing it alongside felt like he had learned a lot because it is very new stuff compared to when he qualified 20 years ago.”

“I think keeping updated is crucial to the type of work that we do,” she added.

Children could act in a different way to what practitioners were used to, Ms Hadley highlighted.

“That’s something that can be quite tricky…It was useful to learn how to engage with a child. You learned how to phrase something to get the message on board,” she said.

Image credit: National Eye Institute