“No one is an expert in everything”
AOP Awards 2019 Optometrist of the Year, Dr Martin Smith, on the everyday impact of great spectacles and his continual quest for knowledge
What three words sum up your feeling of winning?
Excited, happy, relieved.
What does winning this AOP award mean to you?
It is very rewarding and it is massively appreciated after quite a few years of very hard work.
Why did you choose optics as a career?
I’ve always been fascinated by the eye from a biology point of view – I always loved telescopes and the precise nature of optics in lenses. I like people, I find the biology fascinating and it allows me to play with lots of gadgets as well.
Keep learning and always consider doing additional qualifications beyond the CET that you have to do
What is the most rewarding part of your role and why?
It’s making people happy really. In optometry, you have different opportunities. You can improve people’s sight, you can identify and treat sight-threatening disease. You can provide people with fantastic eyewear, which they wear every day; I think getting that right makes a real difference for people.
What is your next career goal?
I’m halfway through doing the higher professional certificate in glaucoma at the moment and my goal is to successfully complete that. I have promised myself a little bit of a break from formal qualifications after that because I have done quite a few over the past 10 years. However, I was eyeing up the medical retina certificate and possibly, at some point, the glaucoma diploma as well.
What are your three tips for being the best possible optometrist?
My first tip would be to keep learning and always consider doing additional qualifications beyond the CET that you have to do. Part of learning is to think critically about your own practice and think what you could be doing better. It is good to learn by seeking the opinions of other people. No one is an expert in everything.
The second is that it is really important is to keep yourself interested. Optometry can be very diverse. There are a lot of different ways to do it. If you are bored, then I think you are probably doing it wrong.
The third thing I would say is to genuinely care about your patients. If you really care about the person sitting in front of you, you will do your best.