My day: I’m lucky that my typical day starts with a cup of tea in bed, I’ve never really been an early morning person!
On the days that I work in Chester, I walk to work which is a great way to get myself ready for the day ahead.
I start at 9am and see patients through until 1pm and then from 2pm through until 5pm. My appointment list will be a mixture of regular sight tests, contact lens fitting and aftercare and emergency appointments such as people experiencing flashing lights in their vision. Twice a week my clinic is spent providing diabetic retinopathy screening; this looks for changes at the back of the eye related to diabetes. The last half hour of the day is spent making any orders and writing referral letters followed by the walk home.
I generally take my lunch with me to work and always like to get out for some fresh air, an effect of spending the majority of the day in a windowless room.
The day I spend at the hospital is very different as I’m a small part of a very large team each providing different aspects of eye care. Generally, I spend the morning helping sight-impaired patients with magnifiers and practical help with everyday tasks like switching the cooker on safely. My afternoon is then often a paediatric clinic working with an orthoptist treating children with lazy eyes and squints.
A lot of people think of my job as being about supplying spectacles for vision correction but that is really only a part of what I do. An optometrist also looks after the health of people’s eyes by screening for and detecting both eye and general health problems. We may then give advise on how to treat a minor problem such as dry eyes or refer on to a specialist for assessment and possible treatment. A lot of eye conditions such as Glaucoma have no symptoms in the early stages, I can’t stress the importance of having a regular eye examination is, even if you think your eyesight is good.
Dress: Smart and professional to make sure patients feel at ease as they meet me.
What is the favourite part of your job? Meeting lots of different people. I’ve worked here for seven years now so have a good relationship with a lot of our regular clients.
What is the least favourite part of your job? Having to give people bad news, especially when they’re not expecting it, can be very hard. There can be times when I need to make sure that people get to see the correct specialist without creating panic. In 17 years of practice, I’ve detected two brain tumours, which is two too many.
What would be your dream job if you weren't doing what you do now? I think maybe something like a taster for Hotel Chocolat although I may have to run more if I did that!
How do you relax when you are not working? I love to spend time with friends and family. I like to run and am also a member at Dynamics Dance & Fitness in Hoole where I attend a mix of kettle bell, circuit, pilates and Zumba classes. Last year, I completed both the Chester and Capesthorne Hall half marathons… who knows maybe I’ll do the marathon itself this year?
To counteract that I also find baking really relaxing.
What is your favourite song? Reef - Place Your Hands. This song has lots of great memories associated with it over different parts of my life.
What is your favourite book? Victoria Hislop’s The Island. It’s set on a Greek island used as a leper colony which I’d visited on a family holiday.
If a film was made of your life, who would you like to play you? My husband suggested Helena Bonham Carter!
Have you had your 15 minutes of fame? Has it taken 15 minutes to read this? It’s the closest I’ve got so far…
Name: Helen Kirk
Job: Optometrist at C&G Mullen Opticians in Chester and also at Warrington Hospital.
Born: Portscatho, Cornwall. I was lucky enough to grow up next to the lighthouse where they filmed Fraggle Rock.
Education: School and sixth form college were both in Cornwall followed by a degree in Optometry at Aston University in Birmingham. I completed my training in Ipswich hospital.
Family life: I married my husband five years ago and we have a cat.
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