These 3 UK universities nurture tomorrow’s optometrists with clinical excellence

optometry careers
Source: University of Bradford

The human eye is the only place in the body where blood vessels can be clearly observed without the need for cutting into the tissue. Due to this, doctors and optometrists can spot life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and even tumours by observing crucial clues about your health through your eyes.

If the idea of protecting and maintaining one of the most valuable organs in the body excites you, you might want to consider a career in optometry.

Optometry is a vital healthcare profession focused on examining, diagnosing, and treating the human eye and visual system. As our population ages, the need for eye care is anticipated to rise significantly, making optometrists indispensable in meeting this growing demand.

Among the esteemed institutions nurturing the most accomplished and sought-after graduates, three universities stand tall for their rigorous and esteemed Optometry programmes:

optometry careers

The department boasts an impressive faculty, with almost all teaching staff being Optometrists. Source: University of Bradford

University of Bradford

At the University of Bradford, students gain valuable skills that are highly valued by employers through hands-on practical experience. Courses are accredited by professional bodies, ensuring students have the best start to their careers — best exemplified by graduates of its School of Optometry and Vision Science. With over 90 years of history, today this is a school that’s ranked ninth in the UK in the Complete University Guide’s  Optometry, Ophthalmics and Orthoptics Subject League Table 2024. It boasts the second-largest intake of its kind in the UK, many drawn by its remarkable reputation for producing outstanding graduates proficient in the science of sight.

Here, students learn from highly qualified staff who are also experienced optometrists and are actively involved in academic research. Pair it with state-of-the-art facilities including an integrated eye clinic and Directed Learning Suites, and students have a world-class environment that prepares them to make an impact upon graduation.

Spanning four years, the Master of Optometry prepares students to register as fully-qualified optometrists with the General Optical Council (GOC). Right from the start, students benefit from a strong emphasis on clinical training. They hone essential practical competencies alongside scientific theory during the first two years. During the third year, they gain hands-on experience in the university’s eye clinic and in hospitals under expert supervision. In the fourth year, students participate in a 44-week extended clinical placement, in collaboration with the College of Optometrists.

The best part? Students can apply their learning in real-world settings through paid employment outside the university in this final year. The College of Optometrists and the university’s dedicated Career and Employability service actively assist students in securing these placements. Click here to learn more about the School of Optometry.

optometry careers

Cardiff University is a leading optometry and vision sciences school that offers opportunities for undergraduate, postgraduate, and research study. Source: Cardiff University/Facebook

Cardiff University

Zoom in on the southeast coast of Wales, and you’ll be greeted by a captivating sight — the vibrant and awe-inspiring capital city of Cardiff, the youngest capital in Europe. Delve deeper, and you’ll see a haven for aspiring optometrists: Cardiff University‘s esteemed School of Optometry and Vision Sciences. This renowned institution is dedicated to empowering students from diverse backgrounds and training the next generation of optometrists.

Here, programmes are consistently ranked as some of the best in the UK — making its graduates sought-after by employers, more so than most other major UK universities. Programmes offered here include: Optometry (MOptom), Optometry with Preliminary Year (MOptom), Clinical Optometry, Eye Care Governance, Therapeutic Prescribing for Optometrists, and PhD in Vision Sciences.

With access to hands-on experience, guidance from internationally renowned academic staff, and state-of-the-art facilities, it’s no surprise that 98% of graduates secure high-skilled jobs within 15 months of completing their courses (Graduate Outcomes 2018/19 survey). More impressively, the pass rates for the optometric Professional Qualifying Examinations have consistently been higher than the average pass rate, further underlining Cardiff’s reputation in the field. 

Aside from exceptional teaching and research activities, students also benefit from on-site eye clinics, open to the public, and offering in-house placements and research opportunities for students. 

optometry careers

Ulster University Coleraine campus grounds. (Photo: Nigel McDowell/Ulster University)

Ulster University

The Department of Optometry and Vision Science at Ulster University offers a comprehensive and highly-regarded Optometry degree programme. Here, students gain a well-rounded education through lectures, practical sessions, and clinical placements. Students can pursue various academic pathways, including MOptom Hons Optometry, TThe Theory of Independent Prescribing for Optometrists – PgCert, professional certificates and PhD opportunities

Students learn from experienced academic staff, with about 59% of them having PhDs in their subject fields, and many also have professional body recognition. Pair it with a limited intake of students each year, students gain personalised learning which fosters meaningful interactions between students, faculty, and patients. This way, students are better equipped to reach their full potential and excel in their studies.

The teaching process is further enhanced by the exceptional research carried out by the academic staff within the Optometry Clinic and the Vision Science Research Group. The graduates from this programme are now working for 

The optometry programme is accredited by the General Optical Council, ensuring  top-quality training for aspiring optometrists. Much of the clinical teaching is undertaken in the University of Ulster Optometry Clinic. The clinic contains a wide range of ophthalmic equipment for both teaching and research and is a public access primary care clinic. Students also gain valuable clinical experience in NHS hospitals as part of their training.