My experience in the (VERU) Glaucoma Clinics

Upon beginning my second year of university, I was given an excellent opportunity to work in the glaucoma clinics at the Vision and Eye Research Unit (VERU) at Anglia Ruskin University.

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The glaucoma clinic provides screening for patients at risk of glaucoma and monitoring for those with the condition. My role  is highly patient-interactive, as I conduct pretesting (visual fields and fundus photography) before the patient meets with the optometrist. The opportunity to do this has been beneficial in numerous ways. In conjunction with my studies, I am gaining valuable clinical experience. I am able to discuss the results from the tests with the optometrist and ask case-specific questions. I see many fundus photographs, and I am learning how to differentiate between what is normal and abnormal. Working in the clinic has also helped me build confidence when communicating with patients.

When I am practising clinical skills and communication at university, it is usually with another student who often does not have any knowledge of pathology and who has prior knowledge of the tests being performed. It becomes difficult to be sure that I really am able to clearly communicate with a patient and perform the tests correctly. In the glaucoma clinic, I am able to practise these things extensively and with each patient I see, I feel I am clearer with how I explain the tests. Apart from being a hands-on job, I also work alongside an optometrist who exemplifies many of the qualities that makes a great optometrist. She has shown me the importance of taking the time for patients, addressing their concerns, and most of all, showing compassion.

My time in the glaucoma clinic has allowed me to tie knowledge from all aspects of my degree together and apply it in a real clinical setting. For patients that come in with poor vision, I have learned that empathy and understanding of their condition is crucial for appointment success, especially when it comes to completing a visual fields assessment.

Overall, this position has made the study of optometry a reality. It has turned words from paper into useful practical knowledge. It has been a reminder of why I chose to become an optometrist in the first place. If I’ve taken one thing from this experience, it is that beyond the countless hours with my head buried in textbooks, there is a patient who will benefit from my knowledge and skills; and that is what makes becoming an optometrist really worth it.

Nikhita Chavda
College Student Rep 2016, Anglia University

Our student reps are the first people we contact when we want to share key messages with students, and they are able to feed any news, requests, and ideas from their fellow students – and lecturers – back to us. Find out more about our reps.

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