Spotlight on GCU’s Vision Centre for going beyond the call of duty during COVID-19

Staff and students in the University’s Vision Centre have been praised for their outstanding dedication in continuing to serve the local community during COVID-19.

School of Health and Life Sciences Dean Professor Anita Simmers said she was “extremely proud” of all her staff for showing incredible resilience through COVID-19 but paid particular tribute to those who kept the Vision Centre open for emergency eyecare during the toughest of times.

Professor Simmers said: “Our clinicians and staff in the Vision Centre continued to selflessly work throughout the pandemic to provide continuous care to our patients and training for our students. I am immensely proud of all the team have accomplished.”

The Vision Centre is based in the School of Health and Life Sciences’ Department of Vision Sciences on the ground floor of the Govan Mbeki building.

It provides a valuable service to the community, both through the provision of eye tests to the general public, and supporting the NHS by enabling the referral to the Vision Centre of patients examined as part of a number of specialist clinics.

It is also open to the GCU community. University staff and student can get their eyes tested and purchase spectacles and glasses at discounted rates. It provides training to over 300 students and a clinical service for over 5,000 patients in a typical year.

Following the start of the pandemic in 2020, staff and students in the Vision Centre were the first to return to campus while adhering to strict risk-mitigating measures guided by government, NHS and professional safety protocols, initially to provide emergency, then essential and now also routine eye-care.

Staff and students continue to be fully committed to these measures and there has been no identified case of COVID-19 transmission in the Vision Centre.

Michael Welsh, Dispensing Optician and Business Lead of the Vision Centre, explained: “We just had to continue to provide a community-based optometry service within GCU to the community and the NHS throughout the pandemic, apart from the initial eight weeks of the first lockdown.

“We also managed to keep Vision Sciences labs open to allow our undergraduate and post-graduate students to continue their fantastic research.

“We have patients of all ages from as young as three months right up to 100 who come to the Vision Centre from all over the UK. We see lots of patients here in the clinic with varying conditions.

“We get referrals from optometric practice in the high street and hospitals as we are part of the hospital screening service for conditions like glaucoma and diabetic eye conditions.

“We are very involved with the community and the industry. We have a well-established reputation in Scotland and across the UK as a premium provider of eye-care education.  In fact, GCU is the only institution in the UK that provides training for optometrists, ophthalmic dispensers and orthoptics.”

The Vision Centre’s success is based on a dedicated team consisting of five optometrists/orthoptists, two dispensing opticians, three reception staff and three technicians who maintain the equipment and make spectacles on site.

While continuing to adhere to strict COVID-19 safety protocols, the Vision Centre staff and students are now seeing up to 40 patients a day in the eyecare clinic.

Staff and students are entitled to a 20% discount on the cost of all contact lenses, frames and lenses, including sunglasses. To book an appointment please call 0141 331 3377.

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