“I have taken away a new-found interest in low vision”
Ramona Amendra, optometry student at City, University of London, on a visit to the RNIB
12 September 2022
Meet the student
University: City, University of London
Year of study: third year
Why I want to become an optometrist: I wanted a patient-facing job where I could incorporate my interests of both science and maths.
Visiting the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) was incorporated into the third year curriculum at our university. My interest was sparked by our low vision module, which gave me the idea to explore different career avenues within optometry. My family has previously donated to the RNIB, so the organisation was always familiar to me and it was nice to finally interact with all those dedicating their time to the RNIB.
My experience at the RNIB mostly involved familiarising myself with low vision aids and strategies to overcome some of the challenges of being sight impaired or severely sight impaired. I had the privilege of speaking with someone who was severely sight impaired about coping with day-to-day life and some of the societal stigma around blindness, particularly in Asian culture.
Everyone involved with the organisation was so understanding and flexible with their approach to conducting tests. There was so much time and effort devoted to each individual to allow them to express their concerns and have someone to open up to or be redirected to. They carried endless amounts of knowledge around the subject, instilling confidence in the patients that they are in safe hands. The statistics around low vision will forever surprise me. I think there is a massive gap in public understanding of the sheer prevalence of sight impairment within the UK. Further education would create some awareness.
Being able to speak to the volunteers and share experiences was the best part of this visit. Understanding progressive sight impairment and how life must be adapted, as well as comprehending how it creates an external barrier to social life and impacts mental health was very interesting.
The statistics around low vision will forever surprise me. I think there is a massive gap in public understanding of the sheer prevalence of sight impairment within the UK
This placement alerted me to the wider world of optometry and the different career possibilities it entails. It has sparked an interest in areas I would have never considered had it not been for the hands-on experience I gained.
Experience is the key to many things, whether it be having an open mindset or gaining a wider understanding. Having experience allows a person to explore their options and realise what they like or dislike, but also search for interests that could spark new career pathways.
I have taken away a new-found interest in low vision, but also opened my mind to the different pathways I could possibly take in optometry. It has cemented the reason I chose this career path, not only to make a difference to patients’ vision, but also to help their wellbeing and quality of life.
I would tell other students…
The setting, with the Royal National Institute of Blind PeoplePlacement: Royal National Institute of Blind People low vision clinic and resource centre
Location: Royal National Institute of the Blind, central London
Why is it particularly important for students to experience the low vison clinic?
Dr Louise Gow, specialist lead for eye health at the RNIB: “Any good low vision service needs to treat the patient holistically and be able to refer them to other services and support that can be available. These placements are an opportunity for students to talk to patients and also to become more familiar with the broader range of services which are available from RNIB and other charities.”
Conversations between Dr Louise Gow, specialist lead for eye health at the RNIB, and Dr Ahalya Subramanian, visual impairment module lead and associate professor at City, University of London led to a partnership through which third year students are offered the opportunity to attend the low vision clinic and resource centre. Read more about shadowing the clinic and the partnership through Camille’s story on OT.