Diverse optometry

Independent optometrist and visiting lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University, Craig McArthur, on his varied working life and the future of optometry

Craig McArthur

What is a typical working day like for you?

It is varied. I juggle my time between examining patients in our busy practice and helping to run the business. Clinically, my day can range from fitting children with ortho-k and multifocal contact lenses in our myopia control clinic, to fitting punctal plugs and cleaning eyelids in our dry eye clinic, as well as fitting scleral lenses to a complex eye in our contact lens clinic and monitoring glaucoma patients. During the same day I can spend time on digital marketing campaigns, speaking to reps about purchasing new products, training staff members, preparing articles or research papers or preparing for upcoming lectures. Independent practice involves a diverse range of daily tasks.

Which aspect of your current role inspires you the most?

Myopia control. Having dinner with the late and great Professor Brien Holden a few years ago at 100% Optical inspired me to start a myopia control clinic. The possibility of halting or slowing the progression of myopia is very exciting. Providing children with the freedom gained with contact lenses, whether ortho-k or soft, is also very rewarding.

Where do you see the direction of optometry heading in the next five years?

The general up-skilling of the profession in conjunction with proliferation of post-graduate qualifications with additional supply, independent prescribing and the various diploma, MSc and Doctorate programmes will hopefully lead to more shared care schemes and increased integration of primary and secondary care.

"Having dinner with the late and great Brien Holden a few years ago at 100% Optical inspired me to start a myopia control clinic"

What do you regard as being the most influential development to impact upon the clinical role of practitioners in recent years?

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has given us greater scope as diagnosticians, which in turn has improved our early detection of eye disease, reduced our false positive referrals and provided opportunities for shared care schemes for stable glaucoma and macular disease patients. OCT can be utilised in so many ways, from contact lens fitting, dry eye management, clinical research and eye disease detection from the front to the back of the eye.

Who and what has been most influential in steering your career path?

My colleague Peter Ivins offering me the opportunity to build a new independent practice from the ground up has been hugely influential. The challenges of independent practice, both clinically and commercially, have involved a steep, but rewarding, learning curve that early on in my career was priceless.

If you had the power to change any aspect of the current remit of optometrists what would it be?

I would focus on better relationships, stronger ties and improved integration with our ophthalmology colleagues in secondary care. Increased involvement of primary care in pre/post cataract examinations, diabetic screening, stable glaucoma monitoring, stable macular disease monitoring checks and emergency eye care would be beneficial to the patient, ease congestion within ophthalmology departments and utilise the growing level of expertise within our profession.

Craig McArthur is an optometrist working within independent practice. He is a visiting lecturer and clinical tutor to undergraduates at Glasgow Caledonian University where he also teaches the glaucoma module for the independent prescribing course.