Cardiff School of Optometry welcomes First Minister of Wales

First Minister Mark Drakeford took a tour of the NHS Wales University Eye Care Centre

Four people dressed in smart attire stand in front of the Cardiff University Optometry & Vision Sciences building: Professor Barbara Ryan, the First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford, Professor Ian Weeks, and Professor John Wild.

The School of Optometry at Cardiff University has hosted a visit from First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, to its ‘Teach and Treat’ Eye Care Centre.

The NHS Wales University Eye Care Centre helps to provide optometrists with training experience in a clinical environment, supporting the development of skills required for the changing role of the optometrist in Wales, the university suggested, while the centre also helps to reduce hospital waiting times for patients in need of eye care.

The visit from the First Minister was held to highlight the collaboration between Cardiff University, the Welsh Government, and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (CVUHB), and a shared commitment to advancing eye care and optometry education in Wales.

The First Minister met with the head of School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Professor John Wild, the deputy head of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Professor Barbara Ryan, and Professor Ian Weeks, pro-vice chancellor for the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences from Cardiff University, along with senior management representatives from CVUHB.

Wild said: “The university is delighted to have the continued support of the First Minister, working with the Welsh Government to improve eye healthcare services, reduce hospital waiting times and solidify Cardiff University as a leader of optometric education and research in Wales, the UK and internationally.”

Mark Drakeford appears in conversation with a practitioner who is sat at a slit lamp with a patient. The practitioner has their back to the camera as they speak with the First Minister. Professor Barbara Ryan stands to his left.
Professor Barbara Ryan provides First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, a tour of the Eye Care Centre
The First Minister visited the clinic where patients were being treated for glaucoma and medical retinal conditions, alongside those who required screening for ocular toxicity arising from the drug hydroxychloroquine.

He also had the opportunity to meet with optometrists undertaking placements for higher qualifications to hear how they plan to use these skills in the community, and to interact with a patient following a consultation.

Rachel Thomas, director of operations – surgery clinical board for CVUHB, commented: "For many years, we have worked in collaboration with Cardiff University School of Optometry to support the training and development of optometrists in Wales. Our collaboration will be further enhanced as Welsh Government policy development and reform is embedded.”

Thomas suggested this would help to improve training of optometrists and access to eye health services, “enabling patients to access eye care services delivered by the right professional, in the right place across the entire eye care pathway of primary care optometry and specialists hospital eye care services."