A to Optometry

“I found myself applying for optometry”

Jack Fowler, second-year optometry student at Cardiff University, on his motivation to study optometry, and his tips for new students


How did you first become aware of the profession? Who influenced or inspired the decision to go into optometry?

I had been aware of the profession since I was young due to check-ups but did not consider it to be the career path for me until my gap year after A Levels. During this time, I would visit my great aunt who received too much oxygen at birth and so is disabled. While growing up in the 1950s, she did not have access to appropriate vision testing and as a result, she experienced rapid degradation of her vision.

I remember thinking that, if someone had just helped her earlier, they could have saved her sight and improved her quality of life. This got me thinking about possible careers to make sure the same did not happen to anybody else, and I found myself applying for optometry.

What have you learned from your experience of optometry so far?

After completing my preliminary and first years, I have found studying pathology to be of the most interest to me. I look forward to acquiring more knowledge in this area.

Do you have a career path in mind? What are your professional goals?

My goals are to work in both hospital and High Street practice; then possibly to start my own practice. Alternatively, I could go into research or possibly take the study of vision forward and pursue ophthalmology. I believe in focussing on the task at hand and now that would be attaining a good result in the degree.

Creating routine

What helped you settle into university?

The best advice I have for new optometry students to settle in is to create a routine. If you timetable study periods with regular breaks you will find time goes quicker and results improve drastically. In first year, it’s tempting to think the exams are far away, but they soon creep up on you. Prioritise study from the beginning.

Additionally, regular exercise brings stress levels down and helps with focus, and most gyms or leisure centres offer student discounts.

Finally, build a network of friends and colleagues. Starting at university can be daunting. I live over 200 miles from home and sometimes you can feel very alone.

Having a solid group of like-minded friends is key to succeeding at university.

Ultimately, optometry is a highly rewarding profession. As long as you work hard and learn how to manage breaks and relaxing, university will be an extremely rewarding time.