Optometrists receive tips on patient care

26 April 2010

STAFF from GCU’s department of Vision Sciences will help optometrists improve their bedside manner and communicate more effectively with their patients.

A series of 19 tutorials and workshops, starting at Ayr Hospital this week, will cover aspects such as delivering bad news to patients and enhanced examination techniques.

Since opticians must refer life and sight-threatening cases to specialists, they require great skill to explain the need for further investigation to patients

Eye examinations can detect systemic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and a range of other conditions. This was demonstrated recently when GCU optometry Andy Hepburn spotted a 12-year-old girl’s brain tumour.

The classes will run across Scotland, from April 2010 to March 2011, and are being funded by NHS Education for Scotland (NES).

Dr. Nadia Northway, a lecturer at GCU who is involved in delivering the programme, says: “Glasgow Caledonian University is the only university in Scotland to teach optometry and as such has worked with NES on several occasions to develop the skills of practising opticians.

“This particular series of workshops concentrates on communication and practical clinical skills – essentially building on those opticians already possess.”

In a separate move, GCU is also delivering a new postgraduate course, which will allow opticians to prescribe for eye conditions such as glaucoma that previously had to be referred to eye hospitals.

The postgraduate Therapeutic Prescribing for Optometrists course is designed to enable qualified opticians to prescribe independent of a medical practitioner

Dr. Gunter Loffler, the course organiser, said: “The aim is to make better use of the skills of health professionals and in turn to provide patients with quicker access to treatment.”