Denmark gets its first Master’s degree programme for opticians
Opticians can for the first time further their education here in Denmark when Aarhus University establishes the first Master’s degree programme in optometry and vision science this summer. The degree programme, which has just been approved, will give opticians the opportunity to relieve the pressure on ophthalmologists.
Soon opticians who dream of improving their skills will no longer have to look towards the USA and the UK for a Master’s degree programme, as they have had to until now. Aarhus University has received approval for a Master’s degree programme in optometry and vision science, with the first class already starting this summer. The degree programme will benefit patients by building bridges between the respective areas of expertise of the opticians and the ophthalmologists.
New areas of work for opticians
The new Master’s degree programme has been established to meet the developments that have taken place in eye disease and in the opticians’ area of work. Ophthalmologists have typically focused on treatment, while for opticians, their perspective has been on vision aids in the form of glasses or contact lenses. But this distinction is changing.
Opticians are increasingly employed in hospital ophthalmology departments and in the private ophthalmology clinics. One of the reasons is that technology has made its entry, meaning that part of the ophthalmologists examination is now carried out via specialist equipment.
“Ophthalmologists can benefit from leaving feasibility studies and ongoing monitoring to opticians, so that they can instead focus on treatment and reducing long waiting times. With the new degree programme they will be well equipped for that work,” says one of the driving forces behind the degree programme Toke Bek, who is clinical professor at Aarhus University and senior consultant at Aarhus University Hospital’s Department of Ophthalmology.
Faster clarification for the patients
The opticians’ field has also changed over a period of many years. The craftmanship aspect has been outsourced and eye tests are carried out via specialist equipment. Guidance has become the new core area. Here, an increased insight into eye disease and treatment options will also e.g. benefit customers in the optician stores.
“If a patient wished to be operated on for short-sightedness an ophthalmologist would typically focus on the pros and cons of laser treatment, while an optician will look at vision aids in the form of contact lenses or glasses as an alternative. The graduate in optometry and vision science can, however, provide both guidance on various types of operation and advise on vision aids. In this way the patient or the customer can receive an overall assessment from the start and will not need to run back and forth between ophthalmologist and optician. This applies both at the optician store and at the ophthalmologist,” says Toke Bek.
In addition to working at optician stores, hospitals or in private clinics, graduates with the new Master’s degree will also be able to choose to follow a research path and take a PhD or participate in research projects at the hospitals.
About the Master’s degree programme
- Admission requires a professional Bachelor’s degree in optometry
- Opticians and registered nurses with two years of experience from an ophthalmology department may be admitted to the degree programme following an individual academic assessment.
- There are 25 places available on the Master’s degree programme
- The application deadline for the first class is 1 April, 2014
Clinical Professor, head consultant Toke Bek
Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Medicine and
Aarhus University Hospital, Department of Ophthalmology
Direct tel.: +45 7846 3223