Earlier this week I saw my last paid patient. I say this with slightly mixed emotions, I like the paid patients as they give me a chance to test my skills on a "normal" person (someone who isn't a student), they have some interesting conditions in their eyes and they are lovely people to have a chat with. However I am slightly scared that they have finished because it means the next time I'm testing a member of the public they won't be being paid for their time and they will expect me to know what I am doing. Thankfully that won't be until October so I have 6 months to practice and stew.
I remember what I was like before I saw my first paid patient back in November - slightly nervous and resigned to my fate. This feeling didn't get much better when I discovered my first patient was low vision due to being aphakic and had nystagmus (the eyes keep moving all the time). However once I got into the routine it was fine, the patient has been through it so many times before, the supervisors are very helpful and I started to believe in my own abilities.
Thanks to the paid patients I have dealt (at least semi) successfully with low vision, nystagmus, small pupils (the bane of optometrists); have used a slit lamp in anger, tried Volk on real patients, been confused by contrast sensitivity and why reading adds don't add up to what they should.
I have also seen pinguecula, the beginning of a corneal ulcer, a patient with bitemporal hemianopia (who had had a pituitary tumour removed),asteroid hyaltosis (think a snowglobe in the eye) and all sorts of variations of normal.
I would like to thank all the patients, staff and supervisors for their time and help.