I have been a clinical orthoptist all my working life, but over the years have increasingly moved into research into the science behind the development of binocular vision. I trained as a clinical orthoptist in Cardiff and then worked at the Birmingham & Midland Eye Hospital in Birmingham on leaving college. In those days orthoptists were trained in small training schools based in hospitals, although now all UK orthoptists are graduates. I moved to London in 1977 and trained as an Orthoptist Teacher at Moorfields Eye Hospital and then stayed on as a Teacher, before moving to Reading as Senior Teacher in 1981.
What is an Orthoptist?
Orthoptists are State Registered Allied Health Professionals who diagnose and treat problems of binocular vision such as squint (strabismus), “lazy eye”, and eye strain. These can affect people of all ages, but are especially common in children, so we have special expertise in testing vision in children. Many orthoptists have moved into many other aspects of hospital eyecare, such as vision screening, glaucoma work, low vision, visual aspects of learning difficulties, and paediatric assessment, although I have concentrated on mainstream orthoptics and research. For more details about orthoptics as a profession, as a career, or for general orthoptic information for patients got to https://www.orthoptics.org.uk/ . Further information about childhood squint is available on to http://www.squintclinic.com/
Clinician to researcher
I have always done small-scale clinical research and published in orthoptic journals, editing the British Orthoptic Journal for nine years. I became increasingly interested in the research process, which led to taking the MSc in Research Methods in Psychology at Reading in 1995, when I renewed contact with Dr (now Professor) Tricia Riddell as my supervisor; after first meeting when she was a PhD student coming to Reading to do her research.
Tricia invited me to work on her MRC funded project to develop the lab to study infant convergence and accommodation, which eventually led to a PhD. We now have a well-established and successful collaboration with many joint publications on work which followed on from this original project. I now run the Infant Vision Laboratory and our work has moved into many areas of clinical and theoretical research.
Over the years my research has included many topics such as compliance with glasses wear, neonatal ocular misalignments and validation of clinical tests, but has increasingly concentrated on work with Tricia on aspects of the development of ocular convergence and accommodation. The combination of many years of clinical experience, ongoing part-time clinical contact with patients and research background makes me ideally placed to carry out the science behind a little-researched topic and communicate our findings quickly to the clinical community.
National and International Recognition
I was promoted to Research Professor of Orthoptics and Visual Development at the University of Reading in 2017.
I have been awarded two major personal Fellowships (a post-doctoral Research Capacity Development Award by the National Institute of Health and, recently, a Clinician Scientist Award from the Medical Research Council), as well as grants from Fight for Sight and the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers. I have presented our work to clinicians and clinical conferences around the world (the US many times, Canada, Australia, The Netherlands, Belgium, Romania, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Germany, France, India, Mexico, Bahrain, Portugal and New Zealand). I have been awarded seven national and international prizes, have been invited to give many keynote and invited lectures. I gave the Burian lecture at the 2016 International Orthoptic Congress in Rotterdam – the highest honour awarded by the International Orthoptic Association and will give the 13th Beilschowsky Lecture to the joint AAPOS/ISA Meeting in Washington in 2018. I have been awarded a Fellowship of the British and Irish Orthoptic Society.
Professional & Scientific Association Memberships
- British & Irish Orthoptic Society
- British Isles Paediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus Association
- International Orthoptic Association
- International Strabismological Association
- European Strabismological Association
- Child Vision Research Society
- Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
- Council for Allied Health Professional Research
- Allied Health Professions Research Network
- National Association of Educators in Practice
Other Professional Involvements
- BIOS Research and Innovation Director
- BIOS Professional Development and Education Committee Member
- BIOS Curriculum Development Lead
- Partner (Registration Assessor) for the UK Health Professions Council
- Strategy Committee Member of the Council for Allied Health Professions Research (formerly the Forum for the Allied Health Professions).
- Regular reviewer of scientific papers for the British & Irish Orthoptic Journal (Associate Editor), Strabismus (Associate Editor), JAAPOS, The British Journal of Ophthalmology, J of Vision, BMJ Open, Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics, Optometry & Vision Science, Investigative Ophthalmology & Vision Science, Eye, Vision Research, PLOS One, Graefe’s Archive of Ophthalmology, Acta Ophthalmologica, Clinical Ophthalmology, Scand J Optom Vis Sci.
- Former visiting lecturer at Buskerud University, Kongsberg, Norway
- Faculty Member of ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital and have been on a teaching visit to the BW Lions Eye Hospital, Bangalore, India
When not at work
I live in the countryside outside Reading with my husband, a cat and a variable number of chickens (foxes permitting!). We have two grown-up children. My hobbies are travelling, walking, growing vegetables and eating and cooking the food we grow (as long we get there before the chickens do).