Optometry in England
Following on from our last article, we have caught up with an ambitious first-year Optometry student from Aston University, who has provided a detailed outlook of what motivated him to get involved in Optometry and how he seems the profession progressing moving forwards.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hey! My name is Indy and I’m 20 years old and I am a 1st year Optometry Student at Aston University. I am currently the Association of Optometrists Student Committee Member and Course Representative for Aston University – roles which I am loving getting stuck into at the moment! When not at university I work part-time as an optical assistant. I am also a keen member of Aston’s Mandarin Society. You can usually find me at Lidl Bakery or hiking on a mountain somewhere.
What made you choose Optometry as a course?
Volunteering with visually impaired children in an Orphanage during an expedition to Tanzania for a month, showed me the lack of comprehensive primary eye care in developing countries. I encountered children, suffering from a variety of eye diseases and refractive error. During this time I was able to speak to and observe American Doctors of Optometry examine children and dispense spectacles. I also learnt about how the scope of practice is much different across the pond in North America. Witnessing how those children’s quality of life improved, inspired me to want to study Optometry.
What made you chose the university you are studying at? What was it about that university that stood out?
I chose Aston University due to its international reputation in Optometry for both teaching and academic research within the ‘Ophthalmic Research Group’. For students, this is excellent because it means that our teaching is backed up by current research and enables us think and understand deeper about why we may carry out a particular clinical test. Within my first semester I have been able to use unique virtual patient simulators to help develop clinical skills, further reassuring me that I have made the right decision.
What has been the most enjoyable thing about studying Optometry so far?
Definitely how hands on it is! From the first week you have an Ophthalmoscope in your hand looking at the optic disc and this only grows as you learn all the different components of the eye test. From learning anatomy to the physiology of vision there is ample opportunity to challenge yourself and find something you’re really passionate about. At Aston the cohort is the largest out of all the universities so it had been a phenomenal opportunity to meet people from all around the UK and abroad.
What’s keeping you in Optometry? What inspires you to stay in the field?
The role of an Optometrist is evolving in the UK through enhanced optical services so the scope of practice will be rising. Optometrists in primary care will be able to take on many more roles managing patients that were previously done in hospital secondary care. This creates an exciting opportunity to develop and utilise a wider a range of skills. There is a rapid level of innovation within the industry from Orthokeratology to correct refractive error to the development of shared care schemes with Ophthalmologists so there will always be something to keep you on your toes.
What advances in Optical technology do you look forward to in the future?
I am particularly looking forward to the integration of artificial intelligence within the industry. Specifically the development of Google’s DeepMind in conjunction with Moorfield’s Eye Hospital in the diagnosis of macular disease. It has the potential to diagnose similar to or better than that of some of the most skilled clinicians and has the ability to completely transform the efficiency of patient care but also the role of an Optometrist.
Do you see any changes in the way Optometry works in 10 years’ time?
I see Optometry aligning itself closer with Ophthalmology working together to manage patients in primary care setting ultimately to reduce the pressure and burden on the NHS. This also comes with an opportunity to upskill and taken on further qualifications e.g. independent prescribing.
How would you like to see your career progressing in the next 10 years?
Growing up I’ve seen my father go on overseas aid trips and I’d like to follow in his footsteps and keep involved in working with developing countries to help improve eye care.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
I would highly recommend to Optometry students who haven’t had the chance to already, to get some work experience or a part-time role in any aspect of Optometry because it enables you to put into practice those skills you learn at university but makes you more employable too!. i-Seek Recruitment provide excellent interview preparation for when you’re looking to take on that first role post university!
If you would like to follow Indy’s journey further, please check out the links below:
· Link to Blog https://www.linkedin.com/in/indy-singh-993672178/
· Link to Instagram https://www.instagram.com/indyyyy.s/
· Pictures https://indysinghgh.wixsite.com/website