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Cardiff centre offers new focus for optometrists

30 September 2009

The UK’s first centre offering optometrists access to dedicated postgraduate and professional development opportunities will be officially opened by the First Minister for Wales, Rhodri Morgan today (Wednesday 30th September).

The new Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC), based at Cardiff University’s £21m state-of-the-art School of Optometry and Vision Science, will deliver a co-ordinated approach to the education needs of the optometric community and industry.

Utilising existing facilities, it will offer a flexible rolling programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to qualified eye-care professionals, and ongoing educational support, within Cardiff University’s research-led environment.

Professor Tim Wess, Head of Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, said: "This is the first time practising 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."

Over the next five years a portfolio of key learning opportunities for optometrists and allied professionals will be developed including short courses, diplomas, a modular MSc and further professional development to support key Welsh Assembly Government initiatives.

Optometrists are increasingly expanding the services they offer in communities which are helping to reduce the need for hospital visits and reduce the burden on the NHS.

The Centre will enable Cardiff 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. The centre will also facilitate an expansion of Primary Care research, utilising external expertise as necessary.

Mr Richard Roberts, Chief Optometric Advisor to the Welsh Assembly Government, added: "Optometrists in Wales will be able, through continuing professional development, to obtain recognition for their engagement with the Wales Eyecare Initiative.

"This Initiative, funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, has resulted in an accreditation programme for optometrists working in primary care, to enhance their skills and to provide for a higher standard of care of their patients. The success of the Wales Eye Health Examination and the Wales Low Vision Scheme has challenged practitioners to enhance and develop their clinical skills.

"The establishment of the Postgraduate Centre will further develop their skills with recognition through postgraduate study.

"This is an exciting development for the profession and further evidence of the collaboration between the Welsh Assembly Government and the University in the development of eyecare services in Wales."

1. Cardiff School of Optometry and Vision Sciences

Cardiff School of Optometry and Vision Sciences is the only optometric training department in Wales and one of the largest in the UK. Pioneering research is carried out at the School to further understand the cause, prevention and treatment of a wide spectrum of vision conditions.

The School has an outstanding record of achievement. Teaching provision has been independently assessed as ‘excellent’ and it is ranked among the top optometry schools in the UK in the latest government assessment of research quality. The School also plays a vital role in the provision of continuing professional development for optometrists and general practitioners through its Postgraduate Centre.

In addition to teaching and research, the School provides specialist clinical services for patients across Wales who have special educational needs, diabetes, glaucoma, epilepsy, low vision, partial sight or blindness. At the School’s extensively-equipped public Eye Clinic, patients can choose to be seen by a resident optometrist or a supervised final year optometry student.

In May 2007 the School moved into a custom designed state-of-the-art £21M building which is now home to all school teaching, research and outreach activities.

2. 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:

The Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC) will be officially opened by the First Minister for Wales, Rhodri Morgan AM on Wednesday 30th September at 3pm.

For further information or to attend the event, please contact:

Barbara Ryan

Co-Director, Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre

Tel 02920 870233



Chris Jones

Public Relations Office

Cardiff University

Tel: 029 2087 4731