THE UNIVERSITY of Portsmouth has opened a new £1.5m optometry clinic to benefit both students and the local community.
The clinic will provide expert training for students and provide cutting edge research and patient service for eye health.
Optometry course leader, Malcolm Maciver, said: ‘The equipment we have is far beyond what you would expect even at the top end of private optometry clinics. Since we opened three weeks ago we have already seen 170 patients and we have over 1,200 currently waiting for appointments.’
Vice Chancellor, Professor Graham Galbraith, believes the provision of a community service is at the heart of the new facility.
‘We identified a dearth of optometrists in the area and it is our duty to meet the needs of employment in the region. It is about meeting the needs of the community as well as providing our students with first class training,’ said Professor Galbraith.
‘I will certainly be enrolling as a patient in the same way as I always use our school of dentistry,’ he added.
Third year student, Raven Sinnanthamby, is part of the first cohort to benefit from the new development.
‘I am really excited to be part of the first group of students to use the clinic. Using such state-of-the-art equipment will provide me with invaluable experience when it comes to my future career,’ said Ms Sinnathamby.
A key focus of the new development is the opportunity for students to work with patients in a professional capacity.
Head of the School of Health Sciences and Social Care, Chris Markham, said: ‘Students are able to cut their teeth working with real live patients during their practice year before becoming fully qualified. The student and patient feedback we have had up to this point has been excellent.’
The clinic was officially opened by Brandon Coleman, 24, who lost his sight at the age of 17 and now plays for Great Britain and England’s blind football team. Having been born and raised in Portsmouth, Brandon started to notice problems with his eyesight at work.
‘I ignored what was happening as I was scared of what I might get told. Eventually when I went to the hospital I was diagnosed with a condition called Leber Optic Neuropathy and now I only have light perception,’ said Brandon.
‘Maybe if I had gone to see an optometrist earlier they could have done something about it or slowed the process down. That is why it is really important to have new facilities such as the optometry clinic being opened,’ he added.
The thought process for the development began three years ago when the university decided to run an optometry course.
The construction of the building took 13 weeks at a cost of £850,000 with an additional £650,000 being spent on the state-of-the-art equipment. ‘We are really excited about the opening of our clinic as it provides a fantastic facility for both our students and the community,’ said Professor Galbraith.