My name is Dave Adams and I’m an Optometrist at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust. This title, Optometrist, is probably confusing some people at this point. So briefly, let me clear up some of the differences between the roles that sound similar!
Optometrists: We test eyes and dispense spectacles and contact lenses – working in hospital, independent opticians and multiple opticians (like Boots, Specsavers and Vision Express).
Orthoptists: They measure squint angles and take on the role of measuring visual development in children.
Ophthalmologists: Eye doctors who have done a medicine degree and then specialise in eyes.
We all work together with the goal to help people see better, or to save and preserve their eyesight. Hospital Optometry is very much a team sport and that is because of how important our eyesight is – in my opinion vision is the most important sense as 70% of the world is taken in via our eyes.
I guess the aim of this blog is to get you, the reader, an insight into what I do, and why I enjoy doing it.
No doubt about it, careers fairs and the like do not prepare you for a very competitive job market. Optometry is available as a degree at 10 universities and there is (for now) still a shortage of Optometrists. Yes we sit in a dark room all day (sounds dull), but the job is interesting (honest!). Every pair of eyes is different, and 30 years on since qualifying I still find the next patient as interesting as the last.
So this week I’ve seen, amongst others, a contact lens patients with an eye disease called keratoconus – the only way they can see to drive is with gas permeable contact lenses.
I ran a paediatric clinic and prescribed a strong (really strong) pair of glasses to a five-year old, which were his first pair of glasses. This has enabled him to be able to see the blackboard now.
I’ve got an ongoing saga with patient who also wears super-strong prism glasses to prevent her seeing double vision (Diplopia). I’ve sorted out the Diplopia, but it has left her with slightly blurred vision for distance; this is probably due to the way the lenses have been manufactured but I’ll need her to trial the new prescription first.
And, very recently, I managed to even spend the whole day without using any lenses at all (I hear the gasps). New patients suffering with Macula disease (commonly known as age-related Macula degeneration, or AMD) are screened by the Optometrists in the hospital for potential treatment (including laser, injection or surgery). Half of our work in the hospital involves these extended roles with not a spectacle or contact lens in sight!
David is writing as part of the #WeCare2 campaign that will be running across our Trust communications. Look out for more from Optometry, and their AHP and HCS colleagues, on our social media pages, Trust screensavers, Daily Email, Vital Signs and much more.