What to do on long trips to uni? – Optometry Edition

Author: Cindy Van (Class of 2017)

Although there are a lucky few who live near campus, most students will need to commute considerable distances. T1, T2, T3, T4,5,6,7, 895, 891, M50, M10, M41 – these seemingly random combination of numbers and letters are a way of life for many of us.  Doing that five days a week can take a lot of time out of your study – but it doesn’t have to! Train rides (and bus rides if you don’t get too carsick) can be a great time for you to reflect and maybe even get a bit of work done. Here’s a few suggestions on how you can make the most of it.

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Read ahead on your lecture slides. It takes 20-30 minutes to read through the slides for a lecture, but this way you’re able to circle areas that you might find confusing ahead of time. When you get to the lecture, write down explanations in your own words so that when you revise this in two months’ time, you won’t have any missing info.

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Type up your study notes. Granted, this takes a bit longer, but you’ll still be able to get a good chunk of it done, meaning that you’ll be able to relax a bit more when you get home. On that note, get your tutorial questions done as well!

Catch up on sleep! It doesn’t have to all be uni work. Sleep and taking care of yourself is important so that you can concentrate in class. Twenty minutes is all you need for a power nap to refresh your mind. Just remember to set an alarm so that you don’t miss your stop!

Go through your clinic routine. Time management, flow, and better flow; trying to improve your clinical performance can be difficult if you don’t think about what order you’ll be tackling things like entrance testing. Short bus rides can be a great time for you to reflect on the order of testing; try and imagine yourself actually doing the testing, including when you need the patient to have their spectacles on or off, the equipment that you have in hand as you transition to the next test, etc.

Logbooks. Every year, clinic students let logbook entries pile up and end up having to do 5, 10, or an even greater number of reflections on patients that they’ve seen weeks ago! Most students also don’t write down notes when the supervisor is giving feedback, making it very difficult to remember what to write even after a few days. Do these when you’re on your way home, and save yourself a headache at the end of the rotation.

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Editors: Cindy Van and Celine Zhang

Disclaimer: The views & opinions expressed in this post are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of UNSW OptomSoc or the UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science.


OPTM1001: Budgeting for Optometry Students

Author: Lowana Littlechild (Class of 2018)

So begins another year here at UNSW Optometry and Vision Science. Congratulations to all of you! Whether you are a first-year fresh and excited to experience university, or a seasoned fourth year beginning to see patients in the clinic – studying optometry is an exciting and often challenging journey. Optometry at UNSW is unlike any other degree. Learning is not confined to lecture theatres and tutorial rooms; there are many hands-on clinical skills to learn and perfect (particularly in later years) as well as exciting opportunities to get real life experience outside of the university environment. As you progress through the degree, a number of expenses will arise as you embark on this unique learning experience.

Here at UNSW OptomSoc, we have put together a rough breakdown of the expenses you should be budgeting for each year throughout the course of the Bachelor of Vision Science/ Master’s of Clinical Optometry (and we’re not just talking about the migoreng and late night Maccas runs during STUVAC either).

Year One
You’ve probably sat through introductory lectures and browsed course outlines that talk about recommended and prescribed textbooks. There are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing textbooks in first-year optometry:

  • Many of the courses have all the course content included in lecture slides and on Moodle – make sure you read carefully exactly what you need
  • A number of first-year courses (particularly first semester) are a recap or an extension of Year 12 subjects you have only just done
  • You can often find textbooks online as files if you know where to look (check the UNSW Optometry Class of 2021 Facebook page if you haven’t already)
  • If you find a textbook you feel will assist your studies but are worried about the price, try grabbing a second hand copy through the Facebook page UNSW Textbook Exchange or the UNSW second hand bookshop for a good deal

Year Two
As you move on to more specific learning, it’s time to think a bit more carefully about textbooks. Not only are some of these super interesting, they provide fundamental knowledge for your career as optometrists on the anatomy and physiology of the eye, as well as insight into basic clinical skills and techniques.

On top of this, you get the chance to purchase your very own clinical equipment for the first time! The list for second year will include:

  • Clinic kit: this is used in your dispensing practicals, ~ $80
  • Direct Ophthalmoscope & Retinoscope: two pieces of clinical equipment which very handily share the same battery. The price will range from $750 – $2000
  • Trial frame: these start from around $200 depending on the quality and patient comfort

If this all seems daunting, don’t worry. Manufacturers come and visit us on campus during late semester one for ‘Manufacturer’s day’. Here you will have the opportunity to try out the equipment to get a feel for what you like and talk to the experts about the specifications of each instrument before you place orders for your own (and of course get some free goodie bags along the way).

Year Three
In preparation for more practical learning and your clinical course over summer before fourth year you will be required to deck out your clinical kit with some more fundamental items:

  • Clinic kits: Binocular Vision kit for use in practical lessons and later on in clinics for a range of binocular vision tests and exercises learnt in third year (~$200); Primary Care kit which contains basic supplies for consultations with patients (~$120)
  • Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscope (BIO) + Pan Retinal Lens – this is a big one, and with a student discount you’ll be looking at anything between $2000- $6000 depending on the model and manufacturer you decide to go with. This price includes a student discount with many suppliers, and keep an eye out for those who include the retinal lens you need when you use the BIO.
  • Fundoscopy lens: an important lens for checking the ocular health of the posterior eye, fundoscopy lenses come in varying designs and prices range from $200-$700

Manufacturers Day will be relevant for you once again, as suppliers will come with samples of each of the different BIOs and lenses for you to get a feel of, and can answer any questions you have.

Year Four (Year 1 of the Masters of Clinical Optometry)
Now you are a fourth year, you have the exciting new challenge of working in the clinic and seeing real life patients. Clinic shirts will set you back $35/shirt – you’ll generally be in clinic two days a week in fourth year, so most people will recommend you order two shirts to start. Once you get to fifth year you might need a few more, as you’ll be in clinic 4-5 days a week.

Fourth year also brings with it the opportunity to undertake a voluntary rural preceptorship. Part of your budgeting for this will include transport, accommodation and living expenses for 2 weeks. Overall costs of the placement will vary depending on where you go; set aside ~$1000 for accommodation pp and account for flights to some locations (<$500 return).

Year Five (Year 2 of the Masters of Clinical Optometry) In your final year of optometry you will participate in a

In your final year of optometry you will participate in a 4-week preceptorship to further your skills in a unique clinical environment. There are a wide range of locations for the preceptorship, with the possibilities of travelling interstate or overseas. With this amazing opportunity comes with expenses (transport, and 4 weeks of accommodation and living expenses). Exactly how much you will need to put away all depends on how much ‘fun’ you have during your preceptorship. For some placements, it can range from $2000-10,000. Before it all feels too overwhelming, we’ll give you some promising news: OS-Help is a government based loan where you can receive up to $7000 for an overseas placement (it goes on your HECS-HELP total). Some examples of specific preceptorships and their costs are listed below:

  • UK,US, Canada > $5000 to 10,000 in previous years
  • China ~$4000
  • Australia: cost is highly variable and can be budgeted closely by you depending on where you go. One placement run by the Brien Holden Vision Institute provides accommodation and transport.

External placements are another key (read: compulsory) part of your final year optometry experience. You will visit Melbourne and Tasmania throughout the year, so it is important to factor in transport and accommodation costs. Previous students have reported that with some shopping around on Airbnb you can be looking at around $800pp and flights ~$200-300 return for each placement, with other expenses up to how much exploring you want to do and what you’d like your final budget to be. Just remember that you might need to factor in purchasing some business attire as well, as you aren’t able to wear clinic uniform at any of these placements, which are two weeks each. Likewise, placement at the Centre for Eye Health is a six-week rotation where you’ll need business attire.

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Editors: Cindy Van (Chief Editor) and Celine Zhang

Disclaimer: The views & opinions expressed in this post are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of the UNSW OptomSoc or UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science.


What I’d Wish I’d Known Series – Part 4 (Final)

Our lucky last article is for the 4th years! 4th year is a whirlwind of a year rife with existential crises, self-discovery and friendship. Here’s the advice our current UNSW OptomSoc Treasurer, Tyson, has to give you.

What I Wish I’d Known in Fourth Year – Tyson Xu, Class of 2017

    1. Keep your logbooks up to date – Do them straight after you test a patient so that you don’t have to rush through them all the day before it’s due and so that you can also start implementing the things that you’ve learnt into your next consultations
    2. Be curious – If you don’t know why – ask! Also, expect all supervisors to be slightly different and that’s what makes this career so dynamic and exciting. If we did everything the same we’d be technicians but because we’re all unique in the way we choose to practise, we are clinicians. Find out why some supervisors have certain preferences and learn from them!
    3. Take initiative – Read up on areas which you are unfamiliar with and reach out and discuss cases with peers, lecturers and supervisors for their take on diagnosis and management
    4. Form study groups and learn from each other – You’ll often find that you will complement each other in that you’ll know something that someone else doesn’t and they’ll know something that you don’t.
    5. Be a scientist and perfect your craft – I want to finish on this note because there will be times when you feel like you’re just “filling in the boxes” and rush through tests so that you don’t get a U for time. However, I encourage you to use this opportunity (especially during first rotation) to be a scientist and experiment performing tests in different ways to perfect your craft. Find out other ways of conducting tests and implement them to help you decide what works for you. Then, use all of your knowledge and extract clinically significant information to address your patients’ concerns. Make the most of this opportunity and become the optometrist that you want to be.

Editors: Cindy Van and Celine Zhang

Disclaimer: The views & opinions expressed in this post are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of the UNSW OptomSoc or UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science.


What I’d Wish I’d Know Series – Part 3

To all the 3rd years, you’re coming to the end of your Bachelor of Vision Science program and you’ve heard some scary things about what this year brings.

What I Wish I’d Known in Third Year – Nancy Liu, Class of 2018

There’s a lot to balance in third year, especially with ocular diseases and binocular vision coming into play, try and:

1. Learn how to work effectively in a group. This becomes incredibly important in the second semester, so why not start early? Delegated tasks, set deadlines and share all your files amongst your cohort. Organisation and keeping to deadlines are key, because there is simply too information to cram.
2. Understand why things occur, rather than blindly memorising. Try organising information in categories based on the reason as to why they happen, and photos are always helpful.
3. Try to have some down time. It can be a simple nap or joining a society, because Optometry is really stressful. It is important to have a little escape from Optometry now and then, to remind us of why we did it in the first place.

Editors: Cindy Van and Celine Zhang

Disclaimer: The views & opinions expressed in this post are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of the UNSW OptomSoc or UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science.


What I’d Wish I’d Known Series – Part 2

This is for all those 2nd years out there. You’re no longer a fledgling first year student and lecturers are starting to expect more of you.

When your friend is practicing on you and you try your best not to blink…

What I Wish I’d Known in Second Year – Vivian Kong, Class of 2019
Second year is when the real clinical work starts, so get ahead by:

  1. Make the best use of your time in the preclinic labs – read the manual beforehand and come prepared.
  2. Required readings are definitely assessable, don’t forget to revise them before exams!
  3. Share notes and ask each other for help, grade cohesiveness is so important to survive this huge step up in workload – try a shared Google Doc for example!
  4. Practice for your practical exams. Practice at the clinic and if possible practice at the practices you work at. Practice practice practice makes perfect!
  5. Make sure you read course outlines and make a note of all the assessments so there are no nasty surprises!
  6. Echo360 is your friend; download lectures and listen to them on the bus/train to uni.

Editors: Cindy Van and Celine Zhang

Disclaimer: The views & opinions expressed in this post are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of the UNSW OptomSoc or UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science.


What I’d Wish I’d Known Series – Part 1

This year, we’re introducing monthly articles by student editors. Here’s our first series detailing what Optometry/Vis Sci students wished they knew. Oh boy, I wish us final years had access to these tips earlier on…We’ll be releasing one article per day this week (for 1st,2nd, 3rd and 4th year), so keep tuned!

What I Wish I’d Known in First Year – Veronica Giang, Class of 2020
Here are a few things I wish I’d known so that I could start first year on a good note!

  1. There are plenty of people in the same boat as you, so don’t feel nervous. Try and get out of your comfort zone and talk to someone; it could really make their day and turn out to become a great friendship!
  2. Don’t stress too much about work and exams. Obviously, do the best that you can and study hard, but try to really enjoy first year! The workload gets heavier as the years go by, so go make some memories while you have plenty of time!
  3. Be friendly and get to know your lecturers well because they’re there in the background throughout your degree to help you!
  4. Manage your time wisely to reduce stress levels. Likewise, try to get a healthy balance of social and educational activities to get the best out of uni.
  5. You can eat in lectures – there’s no need to try hiding your food.

Editors: Cindy Van and Celine Zhang

Disclaimer: The views & opinions expressed in this post are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of the UNSW OptomSoc or UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science.


O-Week 2017 – Optometry and Vision Science

Orientation Week is all about getting to know the faculties, school, campus all while having a bit of fun! This year’s O-Week will be held from 20th February to the 24th February 2017, and the UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science will be there with our very own stall which runs from 9am to 4pm. You’ll be able to find us opposite Red Centre/Built Environment, adjacent to the Robert Webster Building. Come say hello!

You will have the chance to talk to current optometry students and learn what we get up to! There will be games and competitions to play and chances to win some prizes! The Optometry and Vision Science Talk will be held on Thursday 23rd of February from 4:00pm at Physics Theatre so be sure to come along and get involved. There will also be a tour provided by fourth stage students followed by a FREE Welcome BBQ generously sponsored by OptiMed and run by the UNSW OptomSoc team!

OptiMed is an Australian owned, fully independent wholesaler of Ophthalmic diagnostic and therapeutic instruments as well as pharmaceuticals. As students, OptiMed is a supplier of the diagnostic equipment we need to buy during our course (BIOs, retinoscopes, direct ophthalmoscopes etc.).

Come along to the BBQ and feast to your heart’s content! Thank you OptiMed!

Don’t forget to sign up for the Peer Mentoring Program as well! It’s a great way to meet fellow students and ask any questions to our amazing 4th year mentors.  https://www.optometry.unsw.edu.au/intranet/peer-mentoring-programme

If you’re looking for information on O-Week in general, use this link:
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Ringing in 2017!

Welcome back everyone!

There is a buzz at Rupert Myers as a new year unfolds… 2016 was an amazing year for OptomSoc, with the executive team led by Henri, Vincent, Ron and Sarah taking our cozy society to greater heights!

We have great plans for 2017 including an inaugural Eye-Patch Pub Crawl, a fresh new hoodie design and the traditional favourites, our Annual Cruise and Eyeball, education nights and of course, plenty of BBQs. Keep in touch via our Facebook page and group, as well as our other social media pages. You don’t want to miss out!

To the soon-to-be first years, a big welcome and congratulations on making it into Optometry and Vision Science! You’re about to embark on an exciting, sometimes difficult but rewarding, journey at one of the best (well, we like to say THE best) Optometry schools in Australia. We are all here to help each other out and make the most of our time in uni. Please join this Facebook group to chat with your future colleagues! Feel free to ask any questions you may have on this page – https://www.facebook.com/groups/409757842707435/

To our generous sponsors of 2016, we thank you for your continued support. We can’t do what we do without you. Special shoutout to Optometry Australia, Provision, Luxottica, Opticare, Designs for Vision, Device Technologies, OptiMed, Coopervision and Young Optometrists!

2016 and 2017 Exec


UNSW OptomSoc Cruise 2016 – Which Side Are You On?

It’s that time of the year again where everyone dresses up for a fun night out on the harbour.

WHEN: FRIDAY 1st of April 2016

WHERE: Man O War Steps, Circular Quay

The theme for this year is………. IN THE SAFARI vs UNDER THE SEA! So it’s time to pick a side and come in your BEST costume. There will be amazing prices for best-dressed on the night.

If you’re coming as part of the “UNDER THE SEA” gang, come dressed up anything related to the ocean. This can be anything from a mermaid, pirate, octopus or submarine.

If you’re on Team “IN THE SAFARI”, come dressed up as a lion, tiger, hunter, hippo, monkey, or even dress up with your friends to recreate a scene from The Lion King.

Ticket pricing is as follows:

  • 1st release
    • $45 (optom/vis sci)
    • $55 (non-optom)
  • 2nd release
    • $50 (optom/vis sci)
    • $60 (non-optom)

As always there is FREE pizza and UNLIMITED DRINKS (Bourbon, Vodka, Beer, Wine & Soft Drinks) with your ticket purchase. If you had fun last year – get your tickets ASAP because it’s going to be even better this year! If you haven’t been to a cruise before, get ready… because you’re in for a treat!

Tickets will be released early next week through your year reps, so remember to be fast because tickets are LIMITED!

[ Unfortunately this is an 18+ event only 🙁 ]

Bring your A-game and get ready to win some A-mazing prizes. See you all on the the night!




  • Specsavers for sponsoring our prizes!

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