The Professor Lyndon Jones episode

In the tenth episode of The OT  Podcast, we speak to director of CORE at the University of Waterloo, Professor Lyndon Jones

In episode 10 of The OT Podcast, we speak to director of the Centre for Ocular Research and Education (CORE) at the University of Waterloo, Professor Lyndon Jones. We talk about Jones’ career path from DJing to optometry – a journey that has seen him travel almost 3500 miles from his hometown Cwmbran, Wales, making pitstops in Cardiff, London and Birmingham, before settling in Ontario, Canada.

Here are five things we learned about Professor Jones (and CORE) when recording The OT Podcast.

1 Lyndon was once a DJ in nightclubs in South Wales

“I was born and brought up in South Wales in a place called Cwmbran, about 12–13 miles away from Cardiff, and never imagined that I’d end up going to university – that was never in the plan. I went through sixth form and became a DJ – DJing in clubs and at weddings in South Wales.”

On realising that he would not make a living out of DJing, Lyndon applied to study medical physics in Swansea. However, the course was in its infancy when Lyndon applied, and he was advised to take a year out. During his gap year, Lyndon drove trucks delivering sports goods by day, and DJ-ed in clubs across South Wales at night. It was during this time that he decided to move to Cardiff and study optometry, allowing him to continue his evening forays.

“A mate of mine had gone and studied optometry at Cardiff, he said he was really enjoying the course, so I applied and got in,” he shared.

2 Lyndon studied alongside a range of well-known optometry names

Speaking about this time as an optometry undergraduate at Cardiff University, Lyndon told OT that the course class was “quite small in those days.”

“It might have been the smallest optometry course in the UK at the time, and there were only 30 students,” he said.

Of the 30 who started, 28 finished, and three went on to do PhDs, which Jones highlighted as rare. Among Lyndon’s classmates were Fiona Stapleton, Dave Adams, Nevil McBryan, Andrew Millington and Guy Whittaker.

I was born and brought up in South Wales in a place called Cwmbran… and never imaged that I’d end up going to university – that was never the plan


3 “I would never get into optometry nowadays”

After completing his undergraduate degree, Lyndon moved to London for a pre-reg placement at the London Refractive Hospital (now the Institute of Optometry). He later went on to complete a PhD at Aston University. However, reflecting on his academic career, Lyndon shared: “If someone had ever said to me, ‘You are going to do a PhD,’ I would have said, ‘you must be kidding, there’s not a chance…’ My A Levels were not great, I got two Bs and a C. I’d never get into optometry school nowadays, never in a million years.”

4 Being a good clinician

Lyndon credits his time at university and the London Refraction Hospital – both as a pre-reg and working as a qualified optometrist – for giving him the grounding for being a good clinician.

Over his years in the profession, he has observed change in both the UK and Canada, where he is based.

Reflecting on the profession in Canada, he shared: “What I see in Northern American optometry is a real move towards the importance of ocular disease, understanding disease and treating disease, which is absolutely critical, and I am very much a believer in expanding the scope of optometry.

“But, I worry whether we have moved away from the importance of what optometry does, which is paediatrics, doing a good refraction, contact lenses, binocular vision. I think we have kind of downgraded the relevance and importance of those to disease, yet in clinical practice if we see around 3–4% of patients with ocular disease that we can actively manage that’s unusual. The vast majority of our patients need a good refraction, they need to be dispensed well, and you need to be able to understand the importance, I think, of binocular vision.”

Kids have to go outside here for at least 30 minutes a day, unless it goes to below –17 degrees celsius. If it goes to below -17 they don’t have to go out


5 From Canada with love

After buying into and becoming a director of two award-winning practices, one in Sidcup in Kent and one in south east London, in the early 90s, Lyndon’s plan had been to remain in private practice for the rest of his career.

However, he was tempted into academia following a conversation with his PhD supervisor.

As a result, Lyndon and his wife began looking for faculty positions overseas. Within the applications they sent off, they applied to the University of Waterloo in Canada. Flying out for interviews, Lyndon admitted, “all I knew about Canada at the time was it had got snow and mountains.”

Arriving in the country he said he was “blown away by just how much space there is here, how friendly everyone was and how safe it is.”

In 1998, having been offered an opportunity at the Centre for Contact Lens Research (rebranded to CORE in 2018), Lyndon and his wife Debbie relocated to Canada, where they have remained for the past 26 years. In 2011 Lyndon was appointed director of CORE, a position he holds today.

Discussing the relocation, Lyndon told OT: “Canada is a pretty great place to live. The winter sucks and it’s not unusual for us to have snow on the ground from the second or third week of November through to the first week of April. But apart from the cold winter when it can get down to –30, it’s great, people are very friendly, and there’s so much space it’s crazy.”

Sharing a fun fact about the North American country, Lyndon revealed: “Kids have to go outside here for at least 30 minutes a day, unless it goes to below –17 degrees celsius. If it goes to below –17, they don’t have to go out.”

Asked if there is anything he misses about the UK, Lyndon listed rugby, cricket, English pubs, and Marks & Spencer ready meals. “We don’t have those types of ready meals that you can get now – I was over in the UK about five weeks ago and whenever you go to M&S or Sainsbury there’s those types of ready meals that you can get in the evening that are absolutely fantastic when you are in a rush.”

The OT Podcast 

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