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New MSc course in Primary Care Ophthalmology


Optometrists to gain deeper understanding of the management of eye disease thanks to unique NHS, Higher Education and Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh collaboration

A new MSc course in Primary Care Ophthalmology, accredited by the University of Edinburgh, will launch in September thanks to a unique collaboration between NHS Education for Scotland (NES, the body responsible for supporting postgraduate teaching for optometry in Scotland), Edinburgh University’s College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. 

Donald Cameron, Programme Director for Optometry in NES, said:  

“We believe this is the first time a Russell Group University Medical School has supported a postgraduate degree for  optometrists and the preparation of the six  modules in year one is being shared between consultant ophthalmologists and experienced optometrists.

“The MSc is taught entirely on-line and the modules, focusing on interactive, patient-based scenarios, are written in a way that will encourage self-directed learning and peer to peer tutor collaboration on discussion boards which will be moderated by experienced optometrists and consultant ophthalmologists. The course will be delivered on a Virtual Learning Environment hosted and supported by Edinburgh University so matriculated students will gain all the benefits of being a postgraduate student of this prestigious university.”

The modules covered in Years 1 and two are:

• Ophthalmic  Sciences
• Examination and Investigation Techniques
• Glaucoma
• Macular Disease
• Acute Eye Disease and Vision Loss
• E-Triage and Refinement of Referral Criteria

The final year of the MSc is a research project and the intention is to establish a network of projects all looking at different aspects of a topic so that collating them will result in a piece of work far greater than the sum of its parts.  This will contribute to the knowledge base in primary ophthalmology and drive up standards of patient care.

There are plans to have a summer school session for those supported by NES in our Teach and Treat Clinics around Scotland with the intention that this will earth the theoretical parts of the course in the reality of seeing patients with frank eye disease. These clinics are supervised by consultant ophthalmologists and community optometrists have the opportunity of developing a management plan for patients with a wide variety of ocular problems.

Donald Cameron added: 

“The main aim of this postgraduate degree is to give community optometrists a deeper understanding of the management of eye disease so that more patients can be managed to resolution in the community.

“To encourage the profession, NES Optometry is offering scholarships to cover 50% of the fees for up to 20 eligible students. 

“A secondary but important aim is to help optometry to see itself as a developing profession, part of which requires ongoing education and, for some, higher degrees.  Over 40% of the profession in Scotland has embarked on the Independent Prescribing Course at Glasgow Caledonian University and for many that has been the start of a journey of advancing their education and the MSc is a logical next step for them.

"All of this is exciting new ground and we welcome applications from around the world, trusting patients will be cared for better as a result of the training being offered by this unique course.”

Applications are now open for September 2014 entry to the MSc in Primary Care Ophthalmology.  Please visit the MSc website hosted by our partners at RCSEd for further information and to note your interest:


Reference: PR2014-10

Further Information From:   

Donald Cameron, Programme Director, (Ophthalmology) NHS Education for Scotland,