OPTOMETRIST AND CONTACT LENS SPECIALIST | B.OPTOM (HONS) | TPA
Rachel is a therapeutic optometrist who graduated from the University of Auckland Bachelor of Optometry and Vision Science program with honours in 2015. Rachel’s interest in optometry developed early in life. As a child, she struggled to see the board in the class which lead to an eye examination to the local optometrist, where it was detected that she was myopic (short-sighted), just like her parents. This experience sparked her passion for optometry.
During her time at university, Rachel developed an interest in diseases that affect the front part of the eye. In 2013, Rachel was awarded the Tom Cat Trust summer studentship to undertake a research project within the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Auckland. Her research, supervised by Professor Charles McGhee, Professor Dipika Patel and Dr Stuti Misra investigated the “Outcomes of Descemet’s Stripping (Automated) Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSAEK): a five year experience.” The results were presented at the annual New Zealand National Eye Centre Summer Student Symposium in 2014, where Rachel was awarded second prize for her presentation. Rachel continued her research with her supervisors into the final year of her degree, completing small research projects and her final year honours research project evaluating the clinical accuracy for diagnosing keratoconus.
In 2016, Rachel moved to the Waikato region to pursue work in a private ophthalmology clinic working alongside consultant ophthalmologist specialising in different eye diseases such as glaucoma. Her experience working there allowed her to develop considerable clinical skills and an appreciation for needs of our aging population in New Zealand, which requires a high demand of medical awareness and access to eye care. In fact, this lead Rachel to become a board-approved glaucoma prescriber, which allows her to manage glaucoma independently in low risk cases and co-manage more high risk cases with ophthalmologists specialising in glaucoma.
Her work in the private sector of ophthalmology lead to a role in the public sector at Waikato Hospital Eye Clinic, where Rachel further developed her clinical skills in cornea and anterior segment, diabetes, general retina and glaucoma. Rachel brings these expert skills with her to Mortimer Hirst but continues to use and develop her expertise through a part-time role at the Waikato Hospital Eye Clinic, where she independently manages her own patients. More recently Rachel has been made an Honorary Teaching Fellow, Department of Optometry and Vision Science (DOVS) at The University of Auckland.
Rachel also has a particular interest in contact lenses, including their use in keratoconus and myopia control options such as orthokeratology.
On a personal level, Rachel is an active sportsperson so she was fitted with contact lenses as soon as she was able to wear them – which was a literal game-changer. Rachel is excited to join the Mortimer Hirst team and grow further as a clinician, learning from some of the best in the industry and looks forward to transferring her clinical-based skillset to optometric practice.