“Optometry gives the job satisfaction of helping people”

Dr Christine Astin, hospital optometrist, educator and life member of IACLE, on her international career and the joy of being professionally recognized

helping people

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I had always wanted to help people and was particularly interested in human biology.

When I realized that there were too many barriers to going to medical school and becoming a doctor, I investigated the allied medical professions. Optometry offered a good clinical vocation, without being invasive like dentistry. My career began when I obtained my Honors BA in Ophthalmic Optics from Aston University and then passed the professional exams.

I enjoyed the work of hospital optometry during my pre-enrollment year at Cheltenham General Hospital and Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital, which sparked my thirst for hospital optometry.

I then worked by combining private practice and part-time positions in hospitals such as Coventry and Warwick, Newcastle General and Moorfields Eye Hospital. I was a full-time senior optometrist in the Department of Contact Lenses and Prosthetics at Moorfields from 1982, soon becoming the Deputy Head of the Department, Professor Geoff Woodward. He was an excellent clinician and teacher, and a fantastic inspiration to many aspects of my career in the hospital.

Geoff has involved me in teaching visiting optometrists, pre-reg optometrists, junior physicians and delegates on courses offered by Moorfields and the Institute of Ophthalmology. The teaching proved to be demanding and stimulating. I enjoyed it and therefore taught for several years in student clinics at City University London.

I graduated in Contact Lens Practice in 1981 and also served on the board of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) from 1986 to 1989.

Dr Christine Astin

As a member of the College of Optometrists, I was able to develop my interest in hospital optometry and specialized work on contact lenses. I was also happy to receive the BCLA scholarship.

In 1988, when Geoff Woodward took up the post of professor at City University of London, I became a Principal Optometrist and Head of the Contact Lenses and Prosthetics Department at Moorfields.

My research and clinical work continued and I have supervised pre-registered optometrists and taught ophthalmology courses in Birmingham, Nottingham and London, as well as Moorfields. I have lectured in UK, USA and Europe for several years and have been delighted to be a guest speaker at conferences in New Zealand and Australia.

Since 1992 I have participated in the teaching organized by the International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE), and in 1996 Judith Morris and I were the first UK members to pass the scholarship exam and achieve the FIACLE qualification.

In addition to clinical and managerial work, I carried out research at Moorfields and the Institute of Ophthalmology at the University of London, where I obtained my Masters in Philosophy in 1995.

The main part of my research has studied corneal changes following various methods of cataract surgery, as well as following refractive surgery. The encouragement and guidance from colleagues at Moorfields has helped me grow and grow.

From April 1997 to January 2006, I was also a member of the General Optical Council panel, visiting universities to make sure adequate facilities were available for students, checking exam schedules and schedules, observing procedures and professional qualification exams, and chatting with panels of teachers. and students to ensure that high levels of education and assessment are maintained. At the same time, I was a visitor to an optometric practice for the College of Optometrists

I have given a number of presentations at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology annual world conferences in Florida.

These lectures provided incredible education and incredible experiences. My international experiences led me to take the American Academy of Optometry exam; I then received a scholarship and gave several lectures at his lectures in USA and UK.

I taught at Aston for 14 years and have enjoyed counseling and encouraging students, many of whom I am now proud to see in major positions in optometry.

Over the decades, I have given numerous conference presentations for the European Vision and Eye Research Association and the Hospital Optometrists Association, the College of Optometrists and the BCLA. I also give occasional lectures to local optical groups in the UK.

I have written important contributions to textbook chapters, including for Contact lenses, Contact lens practice, and the Contact lens prescription and fitting manual. Additionally, I have published over 30 articles in international journals and have peer-reviewed articles for OPhthalmic and physiological optics and for Contact lenses and anterior eye.

The next step in my career saw me working as a part-time senior optometrist in private practice, at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham and Aston University.

Working in academia as a guest speaker and clinical teacher has served a long-term goal. I taught at Aston University for 14 years and have enjoyed counseling and encouraging students, many of whom I am now proud of in important positions in optometry.

At Aston University, I also took the opportunity to do part-time research for my thesis on Corneal and Biometric Changes in the Aging Eye, and I obtained my PhD in 2005.

My next step included private practice, university education and a part-time optometry position in the Department of Ophthalmology at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, specializing in corneal problems and the fitting of complex contact lenses. For over four years I have also enjoyed my role as a Visiting Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Optometry at Cardiff University. In 2017, I obtained the status of IACLE Lifetime Fellow.

I feel very fortunate to have combined the practice of optometry, supervising interns, exams for the College of Optometrists, attending conferences and supporting IACLE as part of my professional career.

In February 2021, IACLE informed me that in recognition of my work with them since 1990, it had decided to grant me Emeritus Member status. Such recognition is heartwarming.

Optometry has given me an interesting and rewarding career, meeting a wide variety of people. The highlights of my career include working in several large hospitals, attending international conferences, teaching and obtaining my doctorate. Optometry gives the job satisfaction of helping people and, whether it’s listening, counseling, or improving vision, ultimately improving their lives.

Plan B

I would have focused on a career in biology, encompassing research and university teaching. I might also have started writing articles and books earlier, including fiction and non-fiction.


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