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Day in the Life of an Optometrist

Working Mum, Sarah Leppard, is an Optometrist caring for a range of patients throughout East and West Sussex. Through her work, which includes both hospital, clinic and home visits, Sarah helps identify and rectify a variety of optical conditions and illnesses and assists in helping her patients make positive and practical lifestyle changes.

First thing in the morning…..I ask Martin, my Husband, to check on our Son Ethan, then turn over for a cheeky extra five-minute snooze.

My journey to work…..depends on where I’m working.  I could be at Crawley Hospital running the Children’s Refraction Clinic or working as a Locum at a Lewes opticians or out making home visits for a home testing optician in the community for elderly and disabled patients who are house-bound.

When I get to work…..I catch-up with my Colleagues and Reception Teams, then go to set-up my room and equipment. I check my Clinic and Patient Lists, so I know what the day ahead will entail and go through all previous records. The equipment I use includes a Retinoscope, Opthalmoscope, a Slit Lamp and a Visual Field Machine.


No two days are the same…..I deliver a range of optical tests and services which include home eye testing, general eye tests and check-ups, contact lens fitting and, when needed, Emergency Primary Care.  For example, if a patient visits me for an assessment with an urgent condition or damaged eyes, I carry out a range of examinations and, if I can, help the patient myself or refer them on to hospital for further treatment and tests.

I see a variety of patients each day…..of all ages and backgrounds.  My patients range from five to 105+-years-old, on Fridays, the average age of those I visit in their homes is 88.

There are many benefits of an older person getting their eyes tested regularly…..I screen for sight threatening disorders which are much more common as we get older.  We are an ageing population and conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) are on the up and often, early detection and intervention can prevent further sight loss and complications.

In addition, if an elderly patient is prone to falls, changing the way they use their glasses or finding the onset of eye disease and treating the problem, can help prevent further falls.

As you get older, life can become more insular if you can’t see well, even watching TV or doing crosswords can be a problem, and the person’s quality of life will be significantly affected, having an eye test can change this.

I have a number of Carers who attend appointments with their elderly parents and relatives…..particularly so with my home visits.  It’s totally normal for me to work alongside family as well as District Nurses or Carers. We have a good camaraderie and a common goal of looking after the patient.

image3My work is very rewarding, and I have some lovely success stories….one elderly patient had not been happy with her glasses and vision for years.  During a home visit, I gave her an eye test and was having a good natter when I noticed the distance her chair was from the TV and also the quality of the room’s lighting. I suggested some practical changes which have made a huge difference to her viewing pleasure – sometimes it’s not just about changing a pair of glasses but assessing the full situation.

I love my job because…..what I do makes a real difference to somebody’s life – I can improve a person’s quality of life by helping them see better.

I wanted to be an Optometrist…..since I was young.  I was a bit of a Nosey Parker as a child and I have a vivid memory of going along with my Mum for her eye test.  I kept asking the Optician “what’s that?” and “what does that do?” and the ever important “why?”.  He let me have a go on some of his equipment and I was hooked, even from an early age.  It took me five years of hard work to qualify as an Optometrist, but it was totally worth it.

In one word, my work makes me feel…..proud.

If I wasn’t an Optometrist I’d be…..a Wedding Planner.  I’ve always loved a good party.