CET author Q+A

“I worked with and learned from some great people in my early career”

Jo Mackenzie on her career goals, umpiring, and putting off that PhD

cricket bat and ball

What is your professional passion?

I'm passionate about optometry in general and lifelong learning, but I am particularly passionate about the patient journey and contributing to patients' quality of life – be that through low vision services, vision development, or disease prevention and amelioration.

What are you most proud of?

I was the 2005 recipient of the Giles Van Colle Memorial Award for my work in contact lenses for anisometropic children. This recognised the benefits to the children, not only in acuity gain but also in binocularity and confidence, and was immensely rewarding to do.

Jo Mackenzie
Jo Mackenzie
Jo Mackenzie

What is your next career goal?

My goal is either to stay in research, or move into public health, which has interested me for some time now.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I worked with and learned from some great people in my early career, but I would advise my younger self to just get on and do that PhD.

How do you manage a work/life balance?

It’s still slightly skewed in favour of work, but it is easier now to define work time. Fortunately, I enjoy working.

What do you do to unwind?

I love to play tennis and have played such a lot again this year. Cricket plays a huge part in our lives and last winter I took the ECB umpiring courses. Having recently moved house, decorating has been very therapeutic of late too.

You have won the OT lottery. What are the first three things you would do with the £1m jackpot?

The first thing would be to take a Master’s in Public Health. Secondly, I would fund a trip to Cambodia to volunteer at the Khmer Sight Foundation. And thirdly I’d look to establish an optometry school in a location where there were no eye care services available.

Cricket plays a huge part in our lives and last winter I took the ECB umpiring courses


Did you have your next holiday booked? Where were you going?

We were booked to go to Greece in June, but the pandemic had other ideas. Hopefully we shall make it to the same place next year, where tennis and watersports are on offer along with all you would expect in Greece.

About the author

Jo Mackenzie graduated from UWIST in 1986 and has been a hospital optometrist for the majority of her 30-year career, taking an extended role in glaucoma clinics before becoming senior lecturer at Portsmouth University in January 2016 and returning to the NHS in 2019. She took the independent prescribing qualification in 2009 and regularly facilitates peer discussion sessions for the College of Optometrists. During the pandemic, Jo has been redeployed to the ACCORD Platform, a nationally prioritised rapid drugs testing programme for potential COVID-19 treatments.