Overview of your role?
I am the lead optometrist at Optegra Birmingham which is primarily a clinical role, seeing patients for pre and post op assessments for cataract and vision correction procedures; but also managing the optometry team and contributing to the leadership of the hospital.
What first attracted you to work in optometry?
I always wanted to be involved with people rather than sitting at a desk and was naturally strong at sciences at school. When I started exploring jobs, a relative suggested optometry and after some work experience, it really appealed.
After my A levels I had a bit of a crisis about career choices, but a summer job with Vision Express encouraged me to stick with optometry and I am really glad I did! I did my degree in
Manchester and then went into practice. First as a pre-reg with Boots in Scotland and then once qualified, moved to Birmingham and have been here ever since!
I was with Boots for seven years, including their laser surgery business, then went to Aston University to manage a new project at Aston Academy of Life Sciences running the refractive surgery side of things. After about five years, this enterprise was bought out by Optegra.
What do you like about working at Optegra?
I’ve now been with Optegra for 12 years. At Aston Uni we set everything up to the gold standard at the time and Optegra was keen to maintain those standards which was reassuring.
Optegra has invested in Zeiss technology which leads the field as far as vision correction is concerned and so I feel confident to recommend these treatments. Our patient care is excellent and I enjoy being able to work directly with ophthalmologists.
Also, we are prepared to look at new technologies for improving patient services and outcomes through Optegra Eye Sciences. We thoroughly explore if new treatments are right for patients, we evaluate data and reported outcomes. It is a very rigorous and reassuring approach.
Do you also work with other companies?
I also work for the College of Optometrists in the training and education of optometrists. I am a Docet adviser and present on the monthly podcast ‘Sound Optometry’ which is available to all registered optoms.
We launched about two years ago and have had almost 40,000 downloads to date. It really made a big difference during Covid to keep people engaged with professional training.
What brings you joy in your work?
I enjoy the variation every day and especially patient contact, making a difference to patient lives. Our cataract services give them vision back and we see so much relief and joy in patients. It is a real privilege to be part of the team that delivers that.
Likewise, with vision correction surgeries and the fact that people have such frustration with a dependence on glasses, to free them from that bind, can be life-changing for them.
On top of these, the way I can contribute to training of the profession keeps me really engaged in my work and both of these roles really support and feed in to each other.
Your top eye health advice for patients?
Have a regular full eye examination with an optometrist. People assume that because they can see that there is nothing wrong but sadly that is not always the case.
There is the risk of systemic conditions which are slow to progress, so people may not be aware. Conditions such as issues with blood pressure and diabetes, can be picked up in an eye exam. Optometry is not just about spectacles, but eye health as well.
Greatest achievement of your career?
It was a highlight at the College annual conference recently when the chief executive did a summary of the year and highlighted the podcast, how it reached so many. I was very proud of that.
But every week I feel proud – when I meet with patients, help them understand their eye conditions and help them achieve better vision. These are mini highlights on a regular basis!
Hobbies outside of work?
Pre-kids I really enjoyed open water diving. I travelled the world and did about 130 dives in places like Egypt and the Maldives. I hope to go back again when the children are older!