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Launch of first Postgraduate Education Centre for Optometry

09 February 2009

Practicing optometrists and other eye-care professionals will have access to dedicated, high quality postgraduate education for the first time as a result of a new Centre at Cardiff University.

The new Postgraduate Education Centre for Optometry, based in the £21m School of Optometry and Vision Sciences state-of-the-art building, will deliver a more co-ordinated approach to the education needs of the optometric community and industry.

In utilising the existing facilities the Centre will offer a flexible rolling programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to qualified professionals, and ongoing educational support, within the research-led environment.

The next five years will see the Centre develop and deliver a portfolio of learning opportunities for optometrists and allied professionals including short courses, Diplomas, a modular MSc and further CPD to support Welsh Assembly Government initiatives. The centre will also facilitate an expansion of Primary Care research, utilising external expertise as necessary.

Professor Tim Wess, Head of the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University said: "This is the first time practicing eye-care professionals across Wales, the UK and further afield will have a dedicated centre for postgraduate optometry whose focus is solely on providing high-quality education.

"In an evolving context of healthcare, the optometric practitioner is becoming more empowered as the first point of call for primary healthcare delivery. This role requires enhanced education and training and we are excited that Cardiff University is able lead the way in providing the most up-to-date research-led training for the profession."

The facilities at the School of Optometry and Vision Science represent one of the largest investments in eye care anywhere in the UK and for the first time bring teaching, clinical practice and research under one roof.

Recent years have seen optometrists expanding the services they offer in the community, reducing the need for hospital visits and burden on the NHS. The Centre will enable the University to offer more structured learning to support this move in Wales and elsewhere in the UK and respond to the ever increasing demands for courses from professionals, healthcare commissioners and companies.

Dr David Grant, Vice-Chancellor Cardiff University: "A Post Graduate Centre for Optometry will fill an obvious gap in the provision of healthcare teaching and will ensure the University has a full suite of postgraduate centres for healthcare professionals."

Mr Richard N. Roberts, Consultant Optometric Adviser to the Welsh Assembly Government said: "Since 2002 the Welsh Assembly Government has funded the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences to deliver a program of training, accreditation and re-accreditation to 430 optometrists across Wales for the Welsh Eye Care Initiative (WECI). The success of this is evidenced by the enhanced services offered by optometrists in Wales including the Primary Eye Acute Referral Scheme (PEARS), The Welsh Eye Health Examination (WEHE) and the Welsh Low Vision Service (WLVS)."

Optometrists Nick Sheen and Barbara Ryan, based at the School have played a leading role in the program of education for the Welsh Eyecare Initiative, and will be heading-up the dedicated Centre.


Notes to Editors:

1. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Visit the University website at:

2. The School of Optometry and Vision Sciences is one of the largest schools of its type in the UK and is the only one in Wales. It is based in a £21M state-of-the-art building with outstanding facilities, which upon completion represented the largest single investment in eye care anywhere in the UK. The School’s new premises include teaching facilities for more than 300 undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as housing state-of-the-art laboratories and clinical suites for research and professional optometric training.

In research, the School has an international reputation as a world-leading School. This is built on the research expertise of the academic staff and the quality of the research facilities available in the School. The primary objective of the School is to achieve the highest quality vision research in order to facilitate the early detection and diagnosis of eye diseases and their successful treatment.