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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Should optics be taught to optometry students?
Author(s): V. Nourrit

Paper Abstract

Though developed out of physics and optics, the optometric profile in the UK has shifted towards a healthcare professional. As a result, optometry students are now stretched between numerous courses as diverse as microbiology, legal aspects related to practice, mathematics, vision or pharmacology. The importance of optics is still affirmed by regulating bodies and universities worldwide, but many students, particularly those with a relatively weak background in mathematics and physics, question the relevance of this teaching and engage reluctantly with this topic. In order to evaluate the importance of optics as part of the optometry curriculum, to improve the satisfaction of our students and to best suit their needs as future Optometrists, we first reviewed the place of optics in the optometry curricula across Europe. It appears that there are two main divisions: some have adopted a biomedical focus, well illustrated by UK universities while others have adopted a more optics/physics emphasis as in some German program. In addition to this review, we carried out a survey among Manchester Optometry alumni asking them how relevant they consider the classic teaching in optics (geometrical, physical and visual optics) to be to their subsequent career. The results of this survey will be discussed in detail. It appears that though predominantly favourable and against a reduction in the amount of optics taught, a relatively large percentage is in favour of a reduction and consider that what they learnt during their studies has not been useful to them professionally (over 20% for geometrical optics). In this context, a solution could be to increase the profile of the different professional opportunities available to graduates (optics, marketing, customer service, etc.). The simplest solution is however to take advantage of the wonderful potential of relevant optometric situations for the teaching of the fundamental optical principles. To conclude this presentation, we give a number of examples of how optometric applications can be used to introduce all the main optical phenomena.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 June 2009
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 9666, 11th Education and Training in Optics and Photonics Conference, 966616 (5 June 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.2208034
Show Author Affiliations
V. Nourrit, The Univ. of Manchester (United Kingdom)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9666:
11th Education and Training in Optics and Photonics Conference
K. Alan Shore, Editor(s)

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