Starting My IP Journey

Today I started my training to become an Independent Prescribing (IP) optometrist. It’s something I have wanted to do for a long time but you know how it is; the time has never been right. I’ve finally decided that I need to stop making excuses and get on with it. The practice I work in is a centre of excellence for digital imaging, dry eye services, specialist contact lenses (including eyeprint pro sclerals), and myopia management. One of my colleagues already has his IP qualification and he was instrumental in nudging me towards doing it myself.

I’m registered to train with Aston University. Registration was easy aside from the fact that following a house move my degree certificate had gone missing! Fortunately admissions accepted my professional certificate instead. The Aston course involves two four-month long modules: OP4OPT1 Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and OP4OPT2 Prescribing for Disorders of the Eye. Both of these modules feature online learning material and lectures, each followed by a multiple choice question (MCQ) examination. After OPT1 I also have to submit 2 case records, a critique, and an essay. After OPT2 I have to submit three case records and sit a VIMOC (Visual Identification and Management of Ocular Conditions) type exam. If all goes well and I pass all this I can then complete my clinical placement and sit a final exam.

Clinical placements have to be secured before starting the course and agrred in writing prior to registration. I am fortunate that our practice has a good relationship with the local hospital and the consultant Tristan McMullen was kind enough to volunteer to be my mentor. But that’s some way off yet.

Hallucination, Illusion or Misinterpretation?


Most people viewing this pattern feel visually uncomfortable and disorientated because it’s designed to make you feel that way. Now imagine feeling like that all the time, as though every surface has that pattern on it. To a person with dementia changes in colour, or shadows on a path,  or the pattern on wallpaper can produce the same effect. The world can be a visually terrifying and uncomfortable place for them. Continue Reading →

Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks

I was saddened to read of the death of the wonderful Oliver Sacks today. He announced in February that he had terminal cancer. He was a brilliant neurologist and speaker and I enjoyed his books and lectures. Visual hallucinations are very common among the mainly elderly patients I examine in practice. Often these patients are too frightened to admit to them unless questioned directly. The perception among the general public is that hallucinations = going mad. In fact some 10% of visually impaired people experience hallucinations and these have a name; Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Oliver Sacks himself was visually impaired and experienced these hallucinations first hand. Continue Reading →