Optometrist profiles

Sheriza Khan - Practitioner

Sheriza Khan thumbnailI am an optometrist working with a franchise group in regional Australia, having completed a Bachelor of Optometry degree from the University of Auckland, New Zealand. From early on at school I had my mind set on becoming a healthcare professional.

Sheriza Khan full profile

Sheriza Khan

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!

Dr James Armitage - Researcher

James Armitage thumbnailI studied optometry from 1992 to 1995, which were some of the most enjoyable years of my life (apart from exam time perhaps). I love clinical practice and a highlight of my undergraduate years was a six- week placement working at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Dr James Armitage full profile

James ArmitageI studied optometry between 1992 to 1995, which were some of the most enjoyable years of my life (apart from exam time perhaps). I love clinical practice and a highlight of my undergraduate years was a six- week placement working at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe.

In my final year, I developed an interest in research and decided to undertake post graduate studies that investigated factors involved in the aetiology of keratoconus (a disorder affecting the shape of the eye). This experience was fantastic and led me to pursue a career in medical research.

After a four-month break travelling around Europe in a campervan, I began my PhD, examining the role of omega-3 fatty acids in retinal function. Over the course of my PhD studies, the scope of my project broadened to include the effects of maternal fatty acid intake upon offspring cardiovascular function. After my PhD studies, I took up a postdoctoral position at King's College London and spent three years in London before returning to Melbourne. I now run a research group in Anatomy and Developmental Biology and collaborate with scientists from around Australia and the world.

In the last two years I have visited Brazil, Japan, Chile and the USA to conduct or speak about my research. My studies primarily focus on the manner by which maternal diet can "programme" the development of obesity related hypertension in her offspring but I have not lost a passion for optometry or vision science by a long shot.

I enjoy clinical optometry and over the last fifteen years or so have been fortunate enough to practise in a range of settings: government clinics, private and large chain practices in metropolitan Melbourne, country Victoria and even far north Queensland. I also collaborate with long-time friends to undertake research that considers the interaction between peripheral blood pressure and intraocular pressure in the development and progression of glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in Australia.

This mix of clinical practice, optometric and non-optometric research is, for me, the perfect balance. However, my 'advantage' over many other scientists is the security and earnings potential that comes with being a clinician.

I would recommend optometry to anyone that aspires to a mix of clinical and research work, as the opportunities are enormous.

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