Taking low vision skills to the next level

Course leader and lecturer, Robin Rohu

Bradford College recently announced that its inaugural Low Vision (Honours) programme had been successfully delivered – with Zainab Himdan, head of the School for Ophthalmic Dispensing, stating: “We are delighted to be able to widen our offering of programmes to optical professionals at Bradford College.”

Among the first student intake was Joshua Smith. “The low vision course has allowed me to build upon skills learned throughout the FBDO qualification and take my knowledge base to the next level,” says Joshua. “This has allowed me to deliver a greater range of support to the patients I see, while providing me with the knowledge that underpins the practice.”

For Joshua, the support he received was “second to none, with interactive training sessions and fantastic learning resources, allowing me to learn at a comfortable speed. The online assessments fitted in around both my work and social life, and having the teaching delivered online saved me time out of practice and money.

“The experience has provided me with new insights into low vision practice and allowed me to develop as a low vision optician,” Joshua continues. “I highly recommend the course to any dispensing optician thinking about taking their next steps: you won’t regret it.”
Robin Rohu is programme leader and lecturer for the Low Vision (Honours) programme, as well as a lecturer in Ophthalmic Dispensing and the Contact Lens Certificate at Bradford College. He says: “I am immensely proud of the students’ hard work throughout the programme, which is even more impressive given the challenges that the pandemic has created.

“Postgraduate study can be challenging for busy working professionals. The pandemic has highlighted that teaching, learning and assessment in higher education institutes can be delivered in new ways and still be highly effective. The course has been designed to allow eyecare professionals the opportunity to gain a postgraduate qualification in a highly rewarding specialism using Microsoft Teams to deliver the theoretical content remotely currently on a Wednesday evening outside of normal working hours.”

Vital skills and knowledge

Students on the course hit-the-ground-running as the programme requires their first case record, which is based on a local directory of low vision services, to be completed shortly after commencing the course. Students gain a deep insight into who their local secondary and tertiary care professionals are and how they can help the visually impaired. “This knowledge is vital as low vision rehabilitation requires a multidisciplinary approach to patient care,” says Robin.

Students also take two theoretical assessments during the programme, which are included in the course fees. These are assessed remotely using a combination of Moodle, which is the college’s virtual learning environment, and Microsoft Teams.

“The practical element of the course is designed to prepare students to deliver low vision assessments in community practice, whether it is through a private service or through the enhanced service pathway,” Robin explains. Fundamental practical skills on low vision assessment procedures, optical appliances and low vision rehabilitation are taught during a short block at Bradford College.

“RNIB sight loss data 2021 estimates 2,190,000 individuals are currently living with sight loss in the United Kingdom, and this figure is predicted to grow by almost 22 per cent by 2030,” says Robin. “The demand for eyecare professionals who specialise in low vision is therefore almost certain to grow in the future.

“Bradford College would like to extend its thanks to its partner, ABDO Examinations and Registration, who were incredibly supportive with our assessment strategy. We now look forward to continuing working with ABDO to support our students who are about to undertake their external low vision practical exams before the start of the next semester.”

This article first appeared in the August 2021 issue of Dispensing Optics.