The 100% Optical student experience

First year optometry undergraduate and AOP student representative, Indy Ghuman, shares insights from his visit to 100% Optical 2020

100% Optical 2020 guests

As an optometry student and the AOP’s student representative for Aston University, I saw attending 100% Optical as a fantastic opportunity to immerse myself in the broad range of issues and topics that optometry is facing in 2020. This inspired me to organise a trip for a group of my fellow first year optometry students and head to London for the first day of the three-day show (26 January).

The education on offer

My first port of call was the AOP Lounge to attend a student session that was led by optometrist and AOP clinical adviser, Kevin Wallace, and provided an introduction to peer discussion.

I found the talk incredibly eye-opening.

Despite being a first-year optometry student, I could make clear links between the talk and the content that has been covered at university so far, providing real-life context for what I learn in lectures. I was also able to have informative discussions on a variety of clinical scenarios, from characteristic symptoms to the best ways of managing patients, and learn from fellow students.

I found it particularly beneficial to talk to other students who were at different stages in their career, from third years working in primary care clinics to pre-registration optometrists, which provided me with a real flavour of what is to come.

I found the talk incredibly eye-opening. Despite being a first-year optometry student, I could make clear links with the content that has been covered at university so far


Across the exhibition hall

I then ventured around the exhibition to learn more about what was on offer.

With optical coherence tomography (OCT) being recently rolled out across Specsavers, those within the group that I was with who work in practice found it the perfect opportunity to learn about exactly how the tool works and how it is best used in practice.

We observed how the development of the new optical technologies have the power to completely revolutionise the way that eye care is delivered. As a group we found this exceptionally valuable because it was clear how this would have a direct impact on the way we practise optometry as we move throughout our careers.

A tool that we were particularly intrigued by was the Oculus Myopia Master, a device that incorporates autorefraction, keratometry and axial length measurement in myopia management.

Indy Ghuman on the Leightons Opticians stand
Indy Ghuman on the Leightons Opticians stand at 100% Optical

Moving through the exhibition there was ample opportunity to network and speak to leaders within the optical industry. As a group, we found that these conversations were helpful because they informed us about the variety of career paths available within optometry, as well as career development opportunities. Having this exposure so early on within our degree gives us something to aspire to – having ambitions is important.

In addition, being able to speak to representatives from multiples was useful and enabled us to find out more information about the pre-registration programmes they offer. This knowledge will certainly play a part when we decide what environment we want to enter.

I had a particularly engaging conversation with Rebecca Sharp, managing director of Leightons (pictured above), on how different practices operate within independent optometry, which is something that isn’t often at the forefront of students’ minds when considering their career options.

A review of 100% Optical 2020

One timely issue that many people in optics were talking about at the show was the proposal of an optometry apprenticeship. Therefore, we made sure we attended the Future Practice Hub to listen to a debate on the topic.

During the discussion, lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, Peter Black, shared insight into what he felt there was to gain from the apprenticeship and where it stands in modern education provision today, whilst optometrist and clinical and regulatory adviser for the AOP, Roshni Kanabar, outlined the Association’s views. The debate provided more clarity on the situation and sparked a healthy discussion on our train journey back.

Overall, I highly recommend attending 100% Optical for all optometry students and I will certainly be attending next year.