Eye care pioneer receives OBE
16 June 2014
Dr Maggie Woodhouse from the School of Optometry has been awarded an OBE for services to People with Disabilities.
For the past twenty five years, Dr JMargaret Woodhouse has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities, especially Down's syndrome, providing eye care and studying their visual development and visual problems. She introduced 'special needs optometry' to the undergraduate curriculum and to optometric practice, and developed tests and techniques to allow people with limited communication to take part in a full eye examination.
The honour follows a lifetime achievement commendation she received last year in the Understanding Disability Awards.
Her research is now held up as an example of how by bridging the gap between research and community, it is possible for research to translate to a real and lasting impact on the life quality and learning opportunities of those with Down's syndrome.
Speaking of the award, Dr Woodhouse said:
"This award is, of course, a huge honour, and the response to it has been breath-taking. I am hoping that the award will now raise awareness of the importance of eye care among people with disabilities.
"My work has shown us the problems; it is up to the politicians to create the solutions. Our clinic is able to provide eye care for people with disabilities only because my colleagues and I are employed by the University, because of the teaching and research aspects of the clinic.
"NHS sight test fees do not cover the costs, so the University is effectively subsidising the eye examinations. Elsewhere, optometrists who have an interest in people with disabilities have to provide eye care at a loss. Other optometrists would love to be able to provide eye care for people with disabilities but can't afford to do so.
"I want this award to make a difference in persuading politicians to fund proper eye care for the vulnerable members of our society."
Vice Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan congratulated Dr Woodhouse on her award:
"I am extremely pleased for Maggie, whose work is a stellar example of how by bridging the gap between research and community, it is possible for research to translate to a real and lasting importance on the life quality and learning opportunities of people with disabilities. It is researchers like Maggie who continue to help drive forward Cardiff's reputation as a world leading institution committed to addressing globally impacting social issues. Her award is deserved recognition of this."