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The enthusiastic team at University of the West of England scooped top place in last week’s online Out of the Box Optics’ Optoversity Challenge, and reinforced their lead by also being top fundraising team for the associated charity, Vision Care for Homeless People.

The day’s event, and the 63 participating students plus industry support, raised nearly £7,000 to provide optical care for the dispossessed, and importantly engaged the next generation of optometrists in supporting the ground roots charity.

Quizzes and OSCE scenarios for the three year groups put the students through some challenging situations, which is all part of Out of the Box’s preparation for life in practice.

Organiser and co-founder of Out of the Box Optics, Karmelo Modina, was delighted with the success of the day –

“Our team were so impressed by the students and humbled that they trusted us to educate and entertain them simultaneously! To have 12 universities represented this year is unprecedented and has encouraged us to create even better ways within our platform to ‘routinise’ charitable service. Well done everyone, keep going, keep growing!”


Optoversity 2022 UWE team

Ryan Thrower from UWE, who won first place in the year one competition, summed up the mood –

“We had a great time taking part in the challenge. Out of the Box Optics were great hosts and it was good to raise so much by the UWE team – £1268 – for a wonderful cause like VCHP.

“I’m thrilled to have won the extremely generous prize from Keeler of an ophthalmoscope and retinoscope set.  It will help massively on my optometry student journey and, of course, my later career. I’m also happy that I was able to help UWE in winning the team competition.”

Katheryn Rees, captain of the 16-strong UWE team was a driving force, having worked for months raising funds with support from friends and family, plus organising a quiz in her local rugby club.

Rachel Regan, Dublin final year competitor – who came second in her year’s round – enjoyed the interaction with students from the other universities –

“It was lovely to interact with other students from outside our college and was an honour to represent TU Dublin and to fundraise for such a worthy cause. I’d highly recommend the challenge  – a great learning experience to speak out in front of peers and great fun!”

Optoversity Winners:

1st year quiz – Ryan Thrower (UWE)

2nd year quiz- Isa Sheikh (UWE)

3rd year quiz – 4 top scorers took part in OSCE style play off and after a great battle the third year winner was Millie Trotter (Cardiff)

The UWE team is pictured above  left to right – Isabelle Horrocks (2nd year),Gemma Owen (2nd year),Mohamed Abed (1st year),Kieran Bull (1st year),Isa Sheikh (2nd year)

Cameron Dall (1st year),Ryan Thrower (1st year),Molly Patrickson (1st year),Katheryn Rees (1st year)

Karen Gennard, optom volunteer at VCHP new Gloucester’s clinic, played a valuable role as assessor with third year students –

“I was really pleased to be involved as having been qualified for some time, it was exciting to see how the next generation of optometrists approached the challenges. The event was well organised by Out of the Box Optics, with Gajan and Karmelo being knowledgeable and entertaining hosts.

“It really highlighted how far we have come as profession, with the great zoom event uniting students. I was very impressed with their ability to identify various ocular pathologies, the OSCEs and ethical scenarios. They showed great breadth of knowledge – I even learnt a few things!

“All of the assessors and sponsors were given time to talk about our work, and for me explain how the funds raised for VCHP will help us to reduce health equalities by providing eyecare and spectacles to those who are homeless and vulnerable.

“It would be fantastic to see some of the students volunteering in VCHP clinics once they are qualified. One theme that come through in the Q&A at the end was the importance of building connections and reaching out to others within the profession. Optics is a small world and having the opportunity to share the work that VCHP does with this group was very enjoyable. I look forward to helping out again.”

Optoversity co-founder Gajan Singh commented “We would like to thank the sponsors for the event, who donated some amazing prizes and supported the fundraising appeal.”

Sponsors and supporters of Optoversity 2022:

Alcon, Booth & Bruce, Cooper Vision, Haag Streit, Heine, Hoya, Ibis Vision, Lenstec, Millmead, No7 Contact Lenses, Norville, Scope, Theapharma, Tokai, Topcon, Wolf Eyewear, the AOP, FODO and College of Optometrists.



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