As part of Optical Express’ ongoing student placement programme with Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), fourth-year optometry students are given the chance to participate in half-day clinical sessions at our flagship treatment centre in Glasgow. Shadowing a team of senior optometrists and renowned ophthalmic surgeons, they are given the opportunity to observe state of the art surgical techniques and learn about various clinical eye care solutions from industry specialists, in turn helping them develop themselves as future eye care professionals.
During their placement at Optical Express, students Alberto, Mohsen, Aisha and Qasim sat in on pre- and post-operative consultations and observed both laser eye and intraocular lens surgery. While they had some knowledge of refractive surgery prior to their placement, they all felt that experiencing it first-hand allowed them to gain a unique insight into the different procedures and their many benefits compared to outdated vision correction solutions such as glasses and contact lenses. “I did know a little bit about laser eye surgery, because I have thought about getting it before, but obviously getting to watch the surgery is completely different than just learning about it or looking up information about it,” Aisha says. Mohsen agreed, commenting: “It was really good. It helped me understand the benefits and risks involved with different types of procedures.”
One of the main reasons why their knowledge of refractive surgery was limited prior to their placement at Optical Express is the lack of education on refractive procedures in modern-day optometry courses. Explaining that it was only slightly touched on throughout her four years at university, Aisha feels that students are not properly equipped to advise patients on all the different vision correction solutions that are available to them. “Obviously glasses and contact lenses are important, but I think more people go for laser now than they maybe did before. I feel like that should be updated in the course. There should be a little more about laser eye surgery, so that even if you don’t work for Optical Express for example, you can tell patients that this is an option.”
Qasim adds that before coming to Optical Express, his knowledge of refractive surgery was minimal as it had only been covered in one of his lectures. He believes that his placement will help him better advise patients when he comes to work as an optometrist in the future, stating: “I feel as if me coming to this placement has actually enhanced my knowledge regarding it [refractive surgery], and I feel as if I could answer more questions regarding this topic than before attending the session.” Referring to refractive surgery as ‘the future’, Alberto agrees that it should be more widely incorporated in optometry courses at university. “In university we don’t cover many aspects of surgery, but at Optical Express I learned a lot. It was quite interesting to understand all the history and how the laser evolved and how the technology advanced throughout the years,” he says.
Besides gaining an insight into the refractive surgery process, students also learn about the environmental risk factors of glasses and contact lenses during their placement. In a survey of over 3,000 UK contact lens users, Optical Express found that 97%* are damaging the environment through uncontrolled disposal of used contact lenses, which continues to be a major problem as they end up polluting our oceans and endangering marine life. “We talked through all the environmental aspects related to contact lenses, so how many people throw them in bins or down the sink and don’t think about the pollution related to these plastics,” Alberto explains. “We must start to educate patients to help them find a more sustainable way of correcting vision, and I think the best way would be surgery, so we can avoid the plastic build-up of contact lenses,” he concludes.
So, looking back at their placement at Optical Express, how do they now see their career developing over the next years? “My goal after qualifying as an optometrist is to be able to get the IP qualification and also work in a hospital environment, because I really enjoyed the patient interaction here, and probably go down the route of refractive surgery. That would be amazing,” Moshen explains. Alberto is also keen to eventually move into refractive optometry, commenting: “I would like to improve my knowledge and start training in refractive surgery, to be a Senior Refractive Optometrist in the near future, hopefully.”
Have you recently qualified as an optometrist and are you keen to put your knowledge into practice? Optical Express can provide you with the support to develop and enhance your skills and expertise, enabling you to successfully complete your pre-registration period, whilst providing an excellent level of clinical care to your patients.
Why join the Optical Express Pre-Registration programme?
• Industry-leading support from experienced pre-registration supervisors
• Access to world-leading ophthalmic surgeons and IP qualified optometrists
• A unique work environment that fosters continuous learning and professional development
• Tailored programme which focuses on passing your exams the first time
• Fantastic benefits package
• Access to state of the art technologies
• Excellent career opportunities upon qualification