A to Optometry

“I was introduced to optometry at a very young age”

Palak Kapadia, final year optometry student at Cardiff University, shares how her family’s background in optics inspired her entry into the profession

Palak wears blue medical scrubs and is seated in a clinic setting in front of a range of instruments including a slit lamp. Against one wall is the test chart
Palak Kapadia

How did you first become aware of the profession?

I was introduced to optometry at a very young age, surrounded by family involved in optical businesses, which immersed me in the optical field. Holidays were not just a break from school, but also an opportunity for me to gain firsthand experience working at eye hospitals and retail optical stores. As I observed the impact optometrist had on individuals’ lives, it became clear to me that I want to follow this path. This early experience not only fuelled my interest but also gave me a deep sense of purpose to contribute to the world of vision care.

Who influenced or inspired the decision to go into optometry?

I want to give full credit to my dad for influencing and supporting my decision to pursue optometry. I vividly recall a challenging moment in second year when the overwhelming stress of exams led me to consider whether optometry was the right path for me. In the midst of a meltdown, my dad played a pivotal role of providing unwavering support and motivation. His encouragement not only helped me navigate through that stressful period but also remained a constant throughout my journey.

My dad played a pivotal role of providing unwavering support and motivation


What were the main reasons you wanted to become an optometrist?

The main reason I wanted to become an optometrist was rooted in the excitement I find in the profession. The dynamic nature of the job involves constant learning and enhancement of skills that align with my passion for ongoing learning.
The image is taken from above and through an optical instrument as Palak gently touches a cotton bud to the eyelid of a patient
Palak Kapadia

What placements have you carried out, and what have you learned from your experience of optometry so far?

I have completed hospital placements in both Cardiff (through the university) and Kenya. I have learnt the importance of effective communication and active listening to understand the needs of patients.

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What is your favourite aspect of optometry so far? What are your professional goals?

My favourite part so far has been observing in medical retina clinics organised by WOPEC at my university. I never expected to enjoy looking at OCT scans, but I enjoy learning how to interpret OCT scans with my amazing clinic tutors and professors at Cardiff. I am inclined to specialise in medical retina after my pre-reg.

Realistic routines, finding the fun, and planning ahead

What helped you settle into university or the workplace?

Setting up a realistic routine and trying my best to stick to it. I really struggled in my first year at university with this. Since I had lectures online, I used to postpone all my work to the last minute. But as a third-year student, I am confident to say that I have tried my best to stay updated with my work, even on days when it is really hard to motivate myself.

Is there one thing that you wish someone had told you about optometry before you started?

Optometry is a very exciting field. I got overwhelmed with all the reading in my first two years of university. However, it becomes more practical and clinically oriented, especially in your third year, and that’s where all the fun is.
A side-on picture of Palak in blue scrubs, looking into the viewfinder of an instrument in clinic
Palak Kapadia

How do you approach balancing studying and work, with socialising and making time for yourself?

I try to finish all my tasks as early as possible during the day, since I am most efficient early. It is also very motivating to get done with all your work in the morning to have the evening free to do things you enjoy – like working out, going for dinners, and watching movies. Try planning your day ahead and look at your timetable a week in advance so you know what is coming up and plan accordingly.