Optometry 2018

Working in a practice


Ola! Hope you’ve all had a nice Easter break! Quick update, life is manic at the moment! I’ve just sat my OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examinations) which are similar to the pre-reg OSCEs where you’re assessed on different topics such as binocular vision and paediatrics, low vision, contact lenses and clinical skills. There are a mixture of verbal and written stations in which you may be asked to break bad news to a patient, obtain a history and symptoms from a patient, answer questions from your examiner when analysing case records or answer questions based on the theory on these modules. The exam was a bit better than I thought, though as you only have 7 minutes per station there are lots of opportunities to make silly mistakes that you immediately regret when stepping out of the room!

On a lighter note, the OSCEs are done and I’ve submitted my dissertation so it’s only my final exams to revise for then I’m done!

So, in my last blog I mentioned I’d talk about working in practice. I’ve currently been working in Specsavers for just over 2 years and it has definitely helped me progress as a professional. It can be a fast paced environment in which you will dispense a lot of glasses to patients of all ages with a wide variety of lens options, whether that be just single vision, bifocals, varifocals/occupationals or even lenticulars (for patients with very high prescriptions!). You also have the ability to help people with their sight whether that be providing glasses, giving advice on any concerns the patient has or even just adjusting someone’s glasses to make them more comfortable. I find it so rewarding when a patient comes into practice concerned about their sight, and you book them in for a test then dispense their glasses. They come back the following week to pick them up and seeing the sheer joy on their face because they’re now able to see clearly can’t help but put a smile on my face.

A new exciting role I’ve taken up in practice is determining the patients’ prescription. The practice has recently bought a new piece of equipment which is similar to an auto-refractor but uses wavefront technology to assess the vision a patient may see in more detail. I am able to use my skills from university to determine an end-point prescription from the patient by asking questions I’d normally do in my clinics and this provides a much faster refraction (final results obtained in just under a minute!) giving us more time to spend with the patient addressing their concerns and needs.

Working in practice also allows you to put all this knowledge you learnt from university into practice (and vice versa). Using your knowledge of what lens options or frames would suit a patient’s needs when a patient comes in telling you their symptoms, having the knowledge to help that patient by making a recommendation on what they should do next, whether that’s booking in for an eye examination or advising them to see their GP. The optometrists will also call you into the testing room to see interesting conditions. I’ve seen patients with Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy, Asteroid Hyalosis, advanced Glaucoma and even Papilloedema. These are conditions which can be rare to see in community practice and it’s fascinating to see, especially when you’ve only just learnt about the condition.

One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in practice though was when I was in my second year of university. I was practicing my refraction techniques where I’d determine a patient’s prescription and the optometrist asked me if I wanted to try refracting this little boy under their direct supervision. The optom informed me that the little boy was having problems with his distance vision and he could only really see just about arm’s length away from him clearly. I did my refraction and found a prescription that matched the optometrists findings, then took the boy to choose some glasses. I made sure he had two nice pairs that fit really well and I could see the boy couldn’t wait to get his new glasses. He came in the following week to pick them up and I could see the excitement on his face as I was finding them. I put the glasses on him and immediately his face lit up and he said ‘Mummy, mummy! I can see!’ He was so happy as this now allowed him to see the board properly at school, play sports and do all kinds of activities that his vision had prevented him from doing.

He then popped back in the following week to give me a box of chocolates and a card and in the card it said ‘Thank you Mr. for saving my sight!’. This really touched my heart, as I thought I’m only in my second year of studying yet I’m already having a big impact on someone’s life. An experience like that is invaluable and definitely makes me look forward to my pre-reg when I’ll be seeing a lot more patients!

Another benefit of working in practice is developing your key skills that are essential as an optometrist. I work in a very multi-cultural environment in which many patients do not fluently speak English. This often poses a challenge, as not only do you have to convert the information into more lay terms, but find a way to adapt the terminology in order for the patient to understand clearly what glasses they are receiving and how to use them. This enhances your communication skills, as not only are you explaining the options to the patient, but you require patience and good listening skills to determine what best suits the patient’s requirements and make sure they will leave happy with the outcome of the appointment. You also work as part of a team with different roles, where your leadership and teamwork skills can be further enhanced as you all try to deliver the best patient care you can. By developing these skills in practice, I was able to achieve the Gold Employability Award in the Professional Development Programme at City. This opened up many different opportunities, and I had interviews for many multiples, independents and even hospitals for my pre-reg. Similarly, by working in a store as a weekend job, you could potentially secure yourself a pre-reg position, because the team will have gotten to know you and you will have first-hand experience of what it is like to work in that store.

Finally, it’s always nice to have a bit of money on the side!

Hopefully that provides you with an insight as to what working in a practice can be like. I would highly recommend either obtaining a job or just some experience as early on as your can, because when applying for optometry this will be a highly desirable quality in applicants.

I’ll now be preparing for my final exams, so I am unsure about when I will post next, but enjoy your summer and all the best with your revision and exams. I’ll hopefully see you on the other side!

Hospital Optometry


Hey there! So university is just starting back up after Christmas and starting to get busy with clinics in City Sight, revision for finals and finishing my project dissertation!

I mentioned in one of my previous blogs that I had acquired some hospital work experience so I’ll fill you in on that. The placement was in Luton and Dunstable hospital so the commute was quite long and definitely made me sympathise more for those who commute in to uni from far distances! On the 1st day I was mainly in a glaucoma clinic. Glaucoma is a condition that can lead to permanent sight loss, where the optic nerve head becomes damaged due to mechanical force from increased eye pressure or due to poor nutritional supply. Here you will have a specialist ophthalmologist as well as a few specialist optometrists. We saw some rather interesting cases where we’d either monitor the patient looking at whether the pathology had progressed or whether it had remained stable and the patient could be discharged. In some cases we needed to change medication due to side effects or no signs of the visual loss stabilising. During the clinics, we look at visual field plots, the pressure of the eye by applying a small amount of force with a probe (it’s not as bad as you may think!) and things we would like to look at in terms of ocular health whether that be the front of the eye or the retina. I found these clinics very stimulating as the clinicians allowed me to come up with ideas of what things needed to be checked and give my verdict to the professional on what I think is going on.

The next day I was able to sit in a medical retina clinic. Here they mainly look at conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, hypertensive retinopathy (high blood pressure affecting the eye), retinal artery/vein occlusion (blood clots) and diabetic retinopathy. Again, these clinics were very interesting as I’d just learnt about eye disease in one of the 2nd year modules so putting together my knowledge from studying as well as what I could see on the patient’s retina, I was able to comment on the progression to the specialist and what could be done for the patient. This is a field I’m very interested in as many retinal conditions are the leading causes of sight loss in the UK and so having the ability to monitor and help these patients who have progressed to sight threatening stages, would be very rewarding.

In the afternoon I shadowed an ophthalmologist in an acute eye clinic. This is slightly similar to A&E but the conditions are less of an emergency. I saw a wide variety of cases from people that had brain damage/stroke to people with haemorrhages at the back of the eye! It sounds quite gory but when you’re taught about the conditions, you learn to look past the gore and become more interested in why did this happen and how can we help the patient.

For the rest of the week I spent time in surgery where I saw cataract surgeries, laser iridotomy for patients with glaucoma and a very rare case where the front of the globe had ruptured due to the patient having a fall! This was by far one of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen. From understanding the anatomy of the eye, we were able to work out what structures were damaged and how it could be repaired in order for the patient to have the best visual and cosmetic outcome. The manual dexterity of the practitioners performing the surgery as well as their knowledge was remarkable and quite frankly inspiring.

All in all, the experience was unforgettable. The variation in what I saw as well as actually understanding what was happening during the consultation was incredible and definitely enhanced my enthusiasm for eye care. Hospital optometry is definitely the place for people interested in pathology and how it can be treated/monitored. You are provided with a lot of clinical exposure to these conditions, some of which you’d be less likely to see in a high-street practice. Seeing just how clinicians communicate with patients showing high levels of empathy is definitely something to learn from, as it’ll help you to develop these skills which is a necessary requirement for future practice.

Hopefully this has given you a little insight into hospital optometry and what you could potentially look forward to! Though if this does not sound like something you’d be down for, in my next blog I can cover the high-street version of optometry! Until then, have a great half term!

So you’re going to uni…


It’s October already!? Where did the summer go?!?! It really is true what they say- time flies faster, the older you get. Hence, with the end of summer, it’s back to studying, which I imagine for some of you, you’re absolutely dreading, but for others, you may be looking forward to it!

I’m now in my final year of Optometry and it’s fair to say I’m quite terrified as, this time next year, I’ll be testing a lot of patients and doing the job I’ve been training for, for over the last 4 years! Nevertheless, I am very excited, as this year we get to test our own patients in our very own clinics! While this is very nerve racking, it is also exciting, as you get to start applying all of this knowledge you’ve acquired and actually start making a difference to people’s lives.

So as it’s a new academic year, I thought I’d give you guys some tips for surviving university!

  • Make the most of it! You’re paying £9250+ a year, so why not get your money’s worth? This is not just from an academic perspective, but a social one as well. Many people are in the exact same position as you, and may be apprehensive about meeting new people too. Nevertheless, once that initial ‘Hi’ is out the way, you end up meeting people who you’ll probably be friends with for life! Join societies and get involved with the uni! Your 1st year is probably the best time for you to try new things, as well as entertain old hobbies. See a society that you’re quite interested in but maybe feel embarrassed about? Give it a shot! It isn’t a commitment, and if it’s not what you thought it would be, that’s fine! You can easily leave and do other activities with your time instead. Universities can be the place where people find themselves, and by doing things that may be slightly out of your comfort zone, at least you can walk away and think at least I tried if things don’t go as intended, rather than regretting not giving it a go. You never know, you may enjoy it!
  • Organisation is key! You may have heard your parents or other adults nag on about how important it is but trust me, it really does make life so much easier. Your entire university life doesn’t have to be consistent studying but by finding a good balance between studying and chill time, it makes it so much more enjoyable. Often I would leave my studying to the last minute, thinking I’d be ok, then  look back and be very frustrated with ‘past me’ for not doing the work. I’d be in the library for ridiculous hours trying to cram as much information as I could until I’d simply crash. Try your best to get into a routine early on, so when it comes to revising for exams, you’ll feel already ahead of the game and will find you can fit in some fun on top of your studies.
  • Check out sites for student discounts! You’d be surprised just how much you can save from discount cards-whether it be for travel, food or even clothing! Check out what banks offer student accounts as well- some may offer you a railcard, others may give you a larger overdraft (though I would strongly recommend not ‘’banking’’ on this as once you’re in, it can be hard to get out!) Most people get a UNiDAYS account as they notify you which stores and restaurants offer discounts. Nevertheless, don’t be afraid to ask restaurants and stores as well, if they offer student discount. I mean if it’s going to save you  20% off your bill, why not ask? What could go wrong?!
  • Living out? This can be quite daunting- not having your parents to cook and clean for you is definitely something I missed! It may also be intimidating living on an allowance every week. You may think, I can’t get a cheeky nandos or go wagga’s, but if you plan your spending, you definitely can! It may also help to get a tastecard, which offers sometimes 50% off meals when eating out across London. Moreover, if you have the time, I’d recommend getting a Saturday/Sunday job. This can really help with some extra cash, so if you fancy a treat every so often, you can treat yourself.
  • Finally, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. You may only be in London for a limited time, and though you may think ‘oh I have 3 or 4 years of uni’, those years will fly by! Take advantage of all the attractions London has to offer, check out different websites to see if there are any events on for a discounted rate and why not give it a go! London is an amazing city and definitely accommodates a wide variety of people with different interests. Go exploring, you never know what you may find!


A lot to take in, but hopefully this has shed some light on university and living out. Best of luck to those who are in their first year, and congratulations on getting there! And for those who are hoping to go to uni in the future, study hard and hopefully you can use these tips when it comes to your time in the future as well!



Hi there!! My name’s Dan, I’m an Optometry student here at City, University of London and I’ll be telling you about my experiences while I’m here.

For any of you that would like to know more about my experience at City and Optometry, I have a student profile here where you can read about me, but if you don’t want to do that, I’ll try to give you a ‘brief’ summary!

So before coming to uni, I was a little unsure of what I wanted to study. I was deliberating between Optometry and Pharmacology so I decided to take a gap year, to work out what I really wanted to do with my life and decided I’d rather look at eyes all day than medication! I always loved coming to London, seeing the different attractions, restaurants, musicals & jazz bars it has to offer and so I thought being on the doorstep to all these amazing facilities is too good to turn down. I decided to visit City, meet some of the lecturers and look at the amazing facilities they had for teaching. They were just opening a new sight clinic with state-of-the-art testing equipment, to provide a lot more comprehensive eye examination for our patients in final year where we test the general public! (EXCITING!!!) This coupled with studying in an amazing city and learning material from experts in their fields that are so passionate and so friendly convinced me to study at City!

While at City, I’ve managed to juggle studying and exploring quite well! I remember one of my first days traveling, I was going to meet my cousin in Chinatown not having a clue how to get there and decided to leave an hour earlier than I needed to (just to be on the safe side)! I knew roughly how to get there from Kings Cross Station though what I failed to realise was Old Street Station (a 5 minute walk from me) was on the same line, and only a few stops away! I caught a bus all the way to Kings Cross, got on the tube and then realised my stupidity. I was then 45 minutes early and had to stand around, looking like a fool while I waited as London transport is a lot more frequent and reliable than transport back home.
My 2nd stupid moment was catching the Megabus home on quite a few occasions. I decided to use google maps and worked out I needed the Northern line to Kings Cross, then Victoria line to Victoria Coach Station. I knew it was £2.40 to travel on the tube in zone 1 and so thought I would be smart and catch a bus to Kings Cross, then take the underground, thinking I would have a cheaper journey as I needed to take 2 different lines. What I didn’t realise though is I could use any combination of lines to get to my destination for £2.40 as long as I stayed in zone 1. So I ended up taking longer to get to where I wanted to go and also paid more for it. Following these events, I found out about an app called CityMapper which has since saved me a lot more money and time on travel!

Studying at City has been a great experience so far, the level of knowledge you’re taught is incredible and though at first you may think, ‘Why are we learning this??’ it all is very relevant and pops up later on in the course (so stay on top of it)! From week 1 you’re taught how to work out someone’s prescription using retinoscopy, then shortly after you’re already looking at the health of the eye in fine detail with an ophthalmoscope or slit lamp! You are then introduced to other interesting techniques such as subjective refraction where you refine the prescription you found on retinoscopy asking if the letters are clearer with lens 1 or lens 2. This is all very fun as you’re already doing part of your future job. You’ll then work further on these tests in 2nd year in greater detail, learning how to further refine the prescription between both eyes, completing a full routine eye examination as well as tips and tricks if the patient is not straight forward and so your routine isn’t going particularly to plan.

Some of my favourite clinical techniques I’ve learnt so far is indirect ophthalmoscopy, where you use a slit lamp as well as a volk lens to view the retina with a wider section and in greater depth. Another technique has been determining the pressure inside the eye either by using the dreaded puff of air or anaesthetising the eye then flattening it with force. It may sound a little scary but it’s actually incredibly interesting and once you’ve learnt the mechanism behind the techniques, it becomes a lot more fun. Finally, retinoscopy has become one of my favourite clinical techniques where you’re able to determine a prescription, whether it be simple or complex and so improve the patient’s vision with some lenses. I find it very satisfying reaching the end point where the patient can see clearly though there are times where you do get it wrong 1st time, but the patient doesn’t need to know that was your attempt to get it right 1st time, we’re only human!

So despite a busy, stressful exam period, I’m now done for the summer. I’m currently on work experience at a hospital in Luton, shadowing optometrist, orthoptists, ophthalmologists and other healthcare professions, helping me to understand the role in a hospital environment while seeing extremely interesting cases which can be very rare. I hope to work in a hospital during my pre-reg and so over the summer, I shall be applying to many different hospitals until I acquire a placement (hopefully the one I want!). Fortunately, I have 2 interviews at the moment, one next week and the other in a couple weeks’ time so I’m busy preparing for them and hoping they go well.

I also looking into a Specsavers summer placement to gain experience in that area as well as hospital optometry. I shall update you guys about my work experience, hospitals and the placement in my next blog!

Until then, enjoy some Optometry memes!

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.

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