Hospital optometrist

Working in community ophthalmology or in a hospital means you deliver secondary care to patients in clinics which can cover core optometric functions, including contact lenses and low vision to more specialist eye care such as biometry, electrodiagnostics, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetes, AMD and emergencies.

Job roles

Optometrists are increasingly taking on the role that junior or middle ranking doctors in ophthalmology might once have had with eye care patients. You might carry out differential diagnoses, agree treatment and management plans with your patients and have an ophthalmologist overseeing your clinics.

This job role can be very rewarding since it is so varied from day to day and optometrists we spoke to felt they made a real difference to patients.

Community ophthalmology

Community ophthalmology can be based in doctors’ surgeries, separate clinics or at independent practices and offer a range of enhanced services. This is designed to reduce the burden of referrals into hospitals, offer more local services to patients and increase the range of services that can be delivered by optometrists.

Some optometrists join this sector following work in other areas, for example in an academic role or having completed a PhD. This can lend itself to working in an area of specialty such as paediatric eye care.

Working in hospital optometry

Hospital optometry is a relatively small field with close networks. However, many optometrists work part-time in clinics and also work as a community or domiciliary optometrist. This brings interesting cross-pollination of ideas and skills to the workplace.

There are also opportunities to have management job roles, where you are responsible for teams of optometrists and possibly other healthcare professionals.

Dr Gillian Rudduck PhD MCOptom DipTp(IP) Higher Cert Glauc

Consultant optometrist at a university teaching hospital

My role

“I’m full-time and deliver six to seven clinical sessions per week in the hospital. I do on average three days a week in clinic, but the timetable is flexible which gives me time to do other things. It’s not a 9-5 job, but you could have more set hours, if you had parental or caring responsibilities for example.

In my clinics we do: biometry, electrodiagnostics, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetes, AMD and emergency eye care. My area of specialty is paediatric eye care, which is related to the PhD I did, and I also deliver the glaucoma and macular clinics.

Training and qualifications

  • Business management
  • Clinical and patient management skills and topics, such as AMD, cataracts, contact lenses, glaucoma, orthokeratology, and using OCT equipment and interpreting results
  • Communication skills
  • Independent prescribing
  • Leadership and management.

Training and development opportunities may be offered outside the hospital or clinic through clinical conferences and workshops, local optical committees (LOCs) or universities. External development opportunities may also include clinical research fellowships.

Some training might be offered in-house, for example on aspects of specialist care or local protocols.

There are a number of College-accredited higher qualifications, covering the following topics:

  • contact lens practice
  • glaucoma
  • low vision
  • medical retina
  • paediatric eye care.

The College also offers an Independent Prescribing (IP) qualification. This enables optometrists to clinically assess a patient, establish a diagnosis, determine the clinical management required and prescribe where necessary.

College events help you learn, network and gain CPD points. We have a blended programme of both online and in-person events which include: Optometry Tomorrow - our annual national conference and exhibition; peer reviews; webinars; CPD events tailored to Independent Prescribers; and much more.

Online learning [LINK TO CPD HUB], using College and Docet materials can be an efficient way of keeping your skills up-to-date, as well as earning CPD points. The College offers training for assessor, examiner and supervisor roles.