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I am an optometrist working with a franchise group in regional Australia, having completed a Bachelor of Optometry degree in New Zealand.
From early on at school I had my mind set on becoming a healthcare professional. In high school I took a mixture of subjects including the sciences - physics and chemistry, languages - English and French and statistics and subsequently I enrolled in the Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree after completing secondary school. As part of the course, I took a few neuroscience papers and this was where I was first given more in depth knowledge about the eye and the visual system. I was absolutely hooked!
As a spectacle and contact lens wearer I was intrigued by the field of optometry and my local optometrist also played a large role in my final decision to enrol in the course.
Now almost half a year into my career as an optometrist I am thrilled with the decision that I've made. My employer has helped me immensely in making a smooth transition into the career. The profession allows you to practise as a primary healthcare professional and liaise with many other health practitioners to ensure optimum patient care. In addition to prescribing spectacles and contact lenses, optometrists are often the first to detect not only sight threatening conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and tumours, but also systemic conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension. Monitoring for ocular side effects of systemic medications is also a key role of an optometrist.
Recent exciting advances in our profession have expanded the scope of practice and now therapeutically qualified optometrists can prescribe medications to treat a range of eye diseases. A typical day can range from correcting focussing errors of the eye to managing sight and sometimes life threatening conditions which require immediate intervention. I am very excited about the future as optometry is an ever changing field. No one day is the same in the life of an optometrist!