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School of Optometry Hosts Visit by First Minister to ‘Teach and Treat’ Eye Care Centre

3 October 2023

Photos of the first Minister, head and deputy head of Optometry and PVC Biological and life sciences standing outside the optometry building in Cardiff University

The School of Optometry in partnership with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (CVUHB) and the Welsh Government, recently welcomed the First Minister to The NHS Wales University Eye Care Centre (NWUECC) at Cardiff University.

The visit took place to highlight their shared commitment to advancing eye healthcare and optometry education in Wales.

Our award winning centre helps reduce hospital waiting times for patients requiring eye care, while providing the skills required for the changing role of an optometrist in Wales. We are able to provide an excellent training experience in a clinical environment for optometrists who will be integral to providing a greater range of eye care services in the community.

The First Minister visited the clinic where patients were being treated for glaucoma, medical retinal conditions and those who required screening for ocular toxicity arising from the drug hydroxychloroquine.

During his tour of the facility, the First Minister engaged in discussions with Prof. John Wild (Head of School of Optometry and Vision Sciences), Prof. Barbara Ryan (Deputy Head of Optometry and Vision Sciences), and Prof. Ian Weeks (Pro-Vice Chancellor, College of Biomedical and Life Sciences) from Cardiff University, as well as senior management representatives from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (CVUHB).

“The university is delighted to have the continued support of the First Minister; working with the Welsh Government to improve eye healthcare services, reduce hospital waiting times and solidify Cardiff University as a leader of optometric education and research in Wales, the UK and internationally.”

Professor John Wild, head of the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences

The visit also provided an opportunity for the First Minister to interact directly with a patient and an optometrist undertaking a placement for a higher qualification following a consultation, as well as witness a demonstration of state of the art eye imaging technology.

Left to Right: Eye care patient, Prof. Barbara Ryan, First Minister Mark Drakeford, Eye care health professional.
Left to Right: Eye care patient, Prof. Barbara Ryan, First Minister, Mark Drakeford, Sharon Beatty, optometrist.

Additionally, the First Minister engaged in a broader conversation with optometrists currently undergoing training for higher qualifications at the school and how they will use what they have learned while working in the community.

Rachel Thomas, Director of Operations – Surgery Clinical Board for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said:

"For many years, we have worked in collaboration with Cardiff University School of Optometry to support the training and development of optometrists in Wales. Our collaboration will be further enhanced as Welsh Government policy development and reform is embedded.

This will improve the training and skills of our optometrists to provide access to eye health services, enabling patients to access care delivered by the right professional, in the right place across the entire eye care pathway of primary care optometry and specialist hospital eye care services."