National Optometry Centre officially opened by Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin TD

Dublin 22nd February, 2007: Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin T.D., officially opened the DIT National Optometry Centre (NOC), the Republic of Ireland's first dedicated clinical optometry education facility yesterday (Wednesday, 21st of February). Located in the Faculty of Science at DIT Kevin Street, D8 the NOC will serve to advance the scope and level of training of optometry students and will act as a national resource for the entire community of eye care professionals in Ireland. The Centre is part of the DIT Department of Optometry, the sole provider of optometry education in Republic of Ireland.

Pictured at the launch of the National Optometry Centre in DIT Kevin Street are Aoife Burke (aged 10) and Minister for Education & Science, Mary Hanafin T.D.

Speaking at the opening Minister Hanafin said: 'The Optometry Department in DIT has provided optometry education in Ireland for over forty years and has contributed significantly to the expanding body of knowledge relating to vision research. This new Centre, which is fitted out with the highest standards in modern equipment, will make an enormous contribution to the optometry profession as a whole, ensuring that DIT continues to produce graduates of the highest calibre who will practice both here and worldwide.'

Minister Hanafin added that the Centre, "will build on the expanding wealth of experience gained over those years and will be a valuable addition to the Faculty of Science in DIT."

Professor Brian Norton, President DIT,  MsPatricia Mordant, NOC, Minister Mary Hanafin, Dr Mary Cregg, NOC and Professor Matt Hussey, Dept of Science, Kevin Street.

According to Dr Mary Cregg, NOC Centre Manager, 'The NOC will give students access to the latest high-tech equipment and use of ultra-modern facilities. It will provide students with an opportunity to practice their professional skills with patients in a clinical setting at the highest professional standards, using only the latest imaging technology.'

Staff and students of the NOC pictured at the official opening.

It will primarily function as a training facility for students of the BSc in Optometry, the only course of its kind in the Republic. Clinics are open to the general public as well as to patients referred by their own optometrists. Patients will benefit from a broad range of basic and specialist optometric services, including the dispensing of spectacles and contact lenses.

Minister Mary Hanafin has her eye tested with Fundus Camera by Cathal O'Shea of the NOC

The Centre will build upon the existing expertise in the DIT Department of Optometry and as it develops it is also intended that it provide research opportunities for industrial partners. The Department of Optometry has been the sole provider of optometry education in Republic of Ireland for over four decades and has contributed to the expanding body of knowledge relating to vision research. Graduates of the department are trained to the highest calibre. The majority have gone on to work in private practice in Ireland while some have pursued careers in research and hospitals abroad.

The NOC will work closely with the Association of Optometrists Ireland (A.O.I.) the professional body representing about 500 optometrists (previously known as ophthalmic opticians) in the Republic of Ireland. The Centre has been funded by DIT and the Department of Education and Science.

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