How I got here

“It is important to share knowledge as much as you can”

Karan Vyas, optometrist at Newmedica, tells OT  about the value of getting involved and his road almost taken

Karan is smiling in front of a grassy field and is wearing dark blue medical scrubs
Karan Vyas
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I can map out the day that I decided to pursue optometry.

It was results day, in August 2012. Leading up to that, I had planned to do a course in engineering at the University of York. But A-levels were very gruelling, and I got to a point where I was like, ‘I don't want to do that. I don’t want to be at university for five years.’ I started Googling, and optometry came up. There was a clearing spot at Bradford, and I went for it and got in. It was all by chance.   

I have quite a few highlights from university.

I learned a lot, and managed to get involved in so much – including being on the committee of the optometry society, working with the AOP, and taking part in OT features.

Another highlight was setting up the Access to Eyecare charitable event. We tested those experiencing homelessness and provided them with free eye care and spectacles. That was definitely a fun project.

In the next 12 months...

I think optometry will become more clinical, and far more integrated with secondary care

Graduating was a big moment. Towards your final year you do tend to push yourself quite a bit, and there’s a feeling of relief at the end, when you’re finally done.

For my pre-reg, I went to Tesco Opticians, in Hamilton, Leicester, which was a great experience.

Leicester is quite diverse: it has got some really rich places, but it has also got very poor areas. I got to see a lot. In that practice I learned a huge amount that I don’t think I could have got anywhere else. Pre-reg is gruelling for everyone, but actually, it was one of the best experiences and one of the best jobs I’ve had.

Pre-reg is gruelling for everyone, but actually, it was one of the best experiences and one of the best jobs I’ve had


About four weeks after my pre-reg ended, in 2016, I moved to Specsavers in Corby, progressing to lead optometrist.

Aside from pure optometry, I helped with audits and rotas – simple things, but also a lot of the enhanced services work, sorting out contracts and that sort of thing. I was with Specsavers for eight years.

I competed my independent prescribing (IP) qualification in 2020, during lockdown.

Working in practice throughout lockdown, it became increasingly clear that prescribing was going to be needed. I applied and got into Glasgow Caledonian University, and they put me through a fast-track course that they were trialling at the time. The idea was to complete the IP course in six months, which I did. I did my placement in 2021, in Leicester, and qualified as an IP optometrist in July 2021.

In 2023, I started working one day a week at Newmedica.

Working in a multiple and working in a private hospital were quite different environments. Specsavers is an optometrist’s bread and butter. Newmedica gave me the opportunity to start using some of my higher certificates and my IP training, so it expanded that side of things quite well. Also, it was really fun. It was nice to break it up a little bit, and have something different.

In February 2024, I left my Specsavers practice to work at Newmedica full time. I’m still working with Specsavers, doing things like creating CPD alongside the professional advancement team at head office.

It’s something new and something I’ve never done before, so I want to really get my teeth into it and learn as much as I can. It has always been an area of interest. I feel like having the skill is one thing, but it is important to share knowledge as much as you can. Learning from your peers, and learning on the job, you can learn a lot more than you can from a textbook. If you deliver CPD in more innovative ways, you can get a lot more out of it.

I’m also completing my Master's in advanced clinical practice with Moorfields and University College London.

I’m midway through that, so my immediate goal is to try to get through it. Life is quite intense at the moment.

It has been a rollercoaster few years.

I think I have been lucky, because I have had a lot of opportunities. I’ve been involved with the AOP for a long time, and I’ve worked with the College of Optometrists. Most of the time, I’ve sort of stumbled into one thing or the other. I’ve had opportunities that some people would say are very lucky.