Scotland’s only Ophthalmic Dispensing course returns to Glasgow in with industry support

A degree course in ophthalmic dispensing is making a welcome return to Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) in September 2020 as the industry seeks to attract new recruits into the profession.

Ophthalmic dispensing is the study of ophthalmic appliances such as spectacles, low vision aids and contact lenses.

GCU’s ‘Ophthalmic Dispensing Management’ course brings in a management element to expand dispensing opticians’ technical abilities in an increasingly demanding optical industry.

While the role of a dispensing optician has historically been the sale and fitting of spectacles and contact lenses, the role has since evolved to encompass a much wider range of duties. This is particularly the case in Scotland as a result of changes to eyecare provision in the high street.

Today the scope of practice activity includes the need for supervising staff, taking on managerial roles and acting as gatekeeper for the practice by ensuring appropriate actions are taken before examinations, or problems that arise after dispensing are dealt with. Looking to the future, ever increasing needs around eye health, contact lenses, low vision and the upsurge in diagnostic technology can all fall within the remit of tomorrow’s dispensing opticians.

Prof Gunter Loffler, GCU, said: “We are excited to invite applications for next year’s programme. There is a strong demand from the industry from qualified dispensing opticians and therefore excellent job prospects for graduates.

“We have designed the programme with the expanding professional responsibilities in mind – students are trained to a level of expertise that supports them to undertake emerging roles in eyecare and equip them with the skills and knowledge required to be at the forefront of their profession.”

The programme has been structured to deliver face-to-face teaching in a “compact” way that enables students to work in the optical industry during term time as well as during the non-teaching period.  Although not a formal part of the programme, this allows students to be in paid employment parallel to their studies.

GCU has partnered with the optical industry and is excited that a number of companies and employers have offered paid practical placements to students on the programme.

David Quigley, Chair of Optometry Scotland, the non-profit making organisation which represents the views of the optical sector in Scotland, said: “We are delighted that GCU has made the decision to reintroduce an ophthalmic dispensing course and especially welcome the fact that this latest course has been tailored to the needs of today’s graduates. It’s great news for Scotland’s optometry sector.”

The course was officially approved by the General Optical Council this month and prospective students can now apply via UCAS*.

Apply here