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UC Optometry Clinic doubles in size to offer specialty consultations for the Canberra community and enhance student learning

Emma Larouche

15 September 2023: The University of Canberra’s Optometry Clinic has undergone an expansion to offer more consultations for the Canberra community and cater for growing student numbers in optometry and vision science .

The optometry clinic opened in 2020, with four consultation rooms, one special instrument room, one dispensing room, and a frame room. The expansion has seen four more consultation rooms and another two special instrument rooms added to the clinic.

“The expansion has meant the UC student-led clinic can offer more specialty services for the Canberra community, while enhancing the education and training of our students,” said Dr Mei Ying Boon, Associate Professor and Discipline Lead in Optometry and Vision Science in the University’s Faculty of Health.

The specialty services on offer include a Functional and Low Vision Clinic for people who want to improve vision for activities and for people with vision impairment who require additional support, and advanced specialty contact lens clinics for conditions such as keratoconus, myopia control and binocular vision training.

“We now have a new dry eye clinic, that includes an Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) device and we’re excited to be adding virtual reality vision training to our suite of offerings,” Dr Boon said.

The consultations are led by Master of Optometry students, under the guidance of clinical supervisors. Master of Optometry student Esman Ayan said having extra clinics has resulted in getting more hands-on experience to better prepare for external placements.

“This semester we have been so much more productive with the four additional rooms up and running,” Mr Ayan said.

“Instead of playing an ancillary role and offering support to the clinic when there aren’t enough testing rooms, students are getting even more opportunities to run consultations.”

Scott Yates has attended the clinic for regular eye tests for the past three years, switching from his regular optometrist to support the students’ learning.

“I’ve worn glasses for 30 years and the students here are excellent – my last appointment was the best I’d ever had, as the student had exceptional bedside manner and was able to explain things to a layperson,” Mr Yates said.

The expansion benefits the University’s collaboration with Canberra Health Services, where people with eye problems or chronic visual conditions like glaucoma are referred to the clinic to get the care they need without going to hospital.

“This alleviates some strain in public ophthalmology so doctors can provide more surgical interventions,” Dr Boon said.

The clinic is also utilised for vision-related research projects, primarily with the Faculty of Health and Faculty of Science and Technology. Current studies include determining the effect of diabetes on eye health and function, and how vision affects reading and comprehension.

Retail chain Specsavers is a major donor to the optometry clinic and provides external placement opportunities for students.

“Specsavers shares the University of Canberra’s ambition for clinical excellence and is committed to accessible, affordable and quality care. We are very proud to be supporting the expansion of this clinic to help develop the next generation of Optometrists,” said Dr Benjamin Ashby, Director of Optometry for Specsavers Australia and New Zealand.

Anyone can access the clinics. Regular eye tests are free-of-charge and glasses can be purchased on-site. For more information, visit: