Southgate dispensing optician shortlisted for national award

A dispensing optician from Southgate, north London has been shortlisted for a national award from sight loss charity, the Macular Society.

Jayshree Vasani is one of the nominees for this year’s Macular Society Awards for Excellence. Jayshree has been shortlisted in the Optician or Optometrist of the Year category, which is open to practitioners working in any environment, such as a high street business or hospital, who provide outstanding services to people with macular disease.

Jayshree has been a dispensing optician for three decades, qualifying in 1989. She divides her time between working in practice in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, and in several roles for the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO). She is an ABDO practical examiner, assessing the work of trainee opticians. She is also a practice visitor for the organisation, helping to ensure that dispensing opticians are trained to sufficient standards and providing appropriate advice and care to customers.

Jayshree is also ABDO’s sub-regional lead for London, which sees her working with a range of healthcare professionals to explore any examples of best practice which could be used successfully in the eyecare sector. In addition, Jayshree has been a sessional optician for the RNIB for almost 10 years.

Most recently, Jayshree has been working alongside patient advocate Daniel Williams, founder of Visualise Training and Consultancy, to deliver ‘Seeing Beyond the Eyes’, a nationwide roadshow aimed at giving eyecare professionals a greater knowledge and understanding of sight loss and patients’ needs. To date, Jayshree has helped deliver 54 roadshows, training around 3,800 professionals in the process. It was Daniel who nominated Jayshree for the Optician or Optometrist of the Year award.

Jayshree said: “Daniel did tell me he’d put my name forward to the Macular Society for one of its awards, but I didn’t really think anything of it. It was a nice surprise to find out I’d been shortlisted though; I’ve long been impressed with the way the Society engages with its members and the information and support it provides, so I’m very pleased to have been shortlisted.

“I still enjoy being in practice, but a huge part of what I do now is making sure that our sector continues to give patients what they need. Many conditions can have common touch points – diabetes, for example, can lead to sight problems and other health conditions. So understanding how other healthcare professionals approach certain conditions, and seeing if we can apply anything they are doing to help people with sight loss, is a key area of focus and one that can have enormous potential benefits.”

Jayshree will find out in the next few weeks whether she has been chosen as one of the winners. If successful, she will be presented with her award at the Macular Society’s national annual conference, which takes place at the Leonardo Royal London Tower Bridge Hotel in London, on Saturday 21 September.

Now in its 11th year, The Macular Society Awards for Excellence is run by the charity to celebrate the inspirational work done to provide services and care for people with macular disease all over the UK.

Optician / Optometrist of the Year is one of four honours handed out by the charity as part of the awards. There are also prizes for Clinical Service of the Year; Rising Star of the Year, and a Chairman’s Award for Volunteering.

Jayshree said:“Technology has made low vision cool and sexy – people are amazed by what you can do with smartphones and apps and the benefits they can have for people with sight loss. And the technology is getting better and better all the time, and at such a rapid rate, so it’s really exciting to think what may come next.

“It’s essential for me to stay up to date with any new gadgets and equipment that can help visually-impaired people, so I try to get to any events where I can see them in action if I possibly can. I love the networking, listening to what others are doing and sharing ideas. Learning should never stop, whatever you do.”

Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the Macular Society, said: “The commitment and dedication Jayshree has shown in caring for people with macular disease, and all that she does to help increase the skills and knowledge of her fellow professionals, is clear from the tremendous feedback we’ve received about her work.

“She really has made an incredible difference and it’s only right that her efforts have been recognised with this richly-deserved nomination.”

Macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK. Nearly 1.5 million people are currently affected and many more are at risk. The disease can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, leaving them unable to drive, read or see faces. Many people affected describe losing their sight as being similar to bereavement. There is still no cure and most types of the disease are not treatable. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common form of macular disease, affecting more than 600,000 people, usually over the age of 50. 

For more information on the Awards for Excellence, or macular disease, call the Macular Society on 0300 3030 111 or email help@macularsociety.org

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