Katie's student placement at IEC

17 March 2018

Katie Schneider

My name is Katie and I am a fifth year optometry student from Flinders University. As part of my final year of studying optometry, I have been lucky enough to spend six weeks of placement at Innovative Eye Care Woodville. During this placement I have been exposed to some of the highest quality equipment and optometry practice in South Australia, gaining knowledge and experience in areas not seen in many other general practices, such as scleral contact lenses, orthokeratology and binocular vision training.

It has been fascinating to see how the optometrists fit scleral contact lenses and the detail that goes into determining the perfect fit, to provide the best vision and comfort for each individual patient. I even had the opportunity to try a scleral contact lens myself and was quite surprised at how comfortable it was! It has been amazing to see how life-changing these lenses can be for patients too, as many patients with irregular corneas can improve their vision from almost legally blind to normal 20/20 vision. It has also been a great opportunity for me to see some of these eye diseases in real-life practice, as I had previously only seen them in textbooks.

Another area that I have found very interesting during this placement is orthokeratology. I think orthokeratology is a life-changing treatment, allowing many people with poor vision to see clearly throughout the day without contact lenses or glasses. Not only does this provide patients with the convenience of clear vision without correction during the day, it can also be used therapeutically as a means to slow progression of myopia. High myopia or short-sightedness increases the risk of many eye diseases and serious ocular complications, including retinal detachment and glaucoma. Therefore, by slowing the progression of myopia, orthokeratology can prevent many young people from becoming highly short-sighted and thus prevent them from being at high risk of these complications and diseases.

I have also thoroughly enjoyed being able to participate in and learn more about binocular vison training. Binocular vision problems occur when each eye may have excellent vision separately, but the eyes struggle to work properly together to see things. When these binocular vision problems occur they cause eye strain and headaches, and can be quite distressing for patients who otherwise have excellent vision. While we have learnt about binocular vision at university, I have never had the opportunity to see vision training in action, and how to apply this training to help patients overcome their binocular vision problems. This has been invaluable in helping me to develop as an optometrist and I hope to use this knowledge in the future to help patients, particularly children, to improve their symptoms and allow them to excel in their daily visual tasks.

I have also gained a better understanding of ocular imaging and its importance as well as improved my knowledge of ocular therapeutics and dry eye treatments. I am incredibly grateful to the team at Innovative Eye Care Woodville for taking me in over the last six weeks and sharing their amazing knowledge on all things optometry with me. I have learnt so much from this experience and am excited to use the knowledge I have gained in my future optometry career.