The first 12 candidates to complete a new dry eye and contact lens retention course aimed at improving clinical expertise have received their certificates following exams at Aston University.
An Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) took place on June 26 – the first practical examinations since the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) course officially opened online in March.
The OSCE could only be taken once the five online modules had been completed, plus one relevant, GOC approved Dry Eye or Ocular Surface Health (OSH) workshop, peer review or lecture.
The exam involved five OSCE work stations in which participants had to demonstrate their practical knowledge related to dry eye diagnosis.
Puja Bhargava, who became one of the first in the UK to pass the exam and receive her certificate, said: “I wanted to do the certificate to ensure my dry eye knowledge was as good as it could be. I definitely achieved this through the online modules and MCQs. It was the first time I had taken a verbal exam in at least 10 years.
“The certificate has provided us with such a great opportunity and such useful information. I definitely feel much better prepared for every patient I see and very much ahead of the curve.”
The new CET-accredited programme, supported by Associate Partners Thea Pharmaceuticals, focuses on clinical skills for OSH and Dry Eye, allowing BCLA members to gain CET points while working towards a Dry Eye certificate or a higher level to lead to a BCLA Fellowship.
BCLA leaders have already enrolled 200 members who will work through an education resource to allow clinicians access to new specialised avenues supported by training and peer assessment.
Professor Sunil Shah, BCLA President, said: “The Dry Eye Certificate is helping our members improve their clinical expertise which in turn enhances the patient experience.
“Ocular Surface Health is well documented as fundamental in the success of the contact lens wearer; managing this for the patient, may help the retention of contact lens patients in practice and minimise drop outs due to discomfort.”
The free programme for BCLA Members is in response to what is seen as the ‘changing face of the profession’, taking into account research such as the Forsight report and highlighting a need to increase the scope of optometry and contact lens practice.
Christine Purslow, head of medical affairs at Thea Pharmaceuticals, said: “We are proud and privileged to support the BCLA’s new Dry Eye Certificate. We have been at the forefront of dry eye education for optometrists and opticians since the business started 10 years ago, and so this partnership with the BCLA is a great fit with our continued commitment to education for eye care professionals.”