On this week’s podcast, Dr. Darryl Glover speaks with optometry students Daniel Laughlin and Gagan Uppal, the founders of the Primary Eye Guys Podcast. Their show launched in December 2018 from Gagan’s idea to provide a student perspective on the career of optometry in the hopes of drawing more students to discover the profession. Originally, they were focused on optometry in Ireland but it’s grown into a globally focused show, interviewing guest speakers and presenting learning tools for fellow optometry students.
Though their podcast is based out of Ireland where they are both optometry students at the Technological University of Dublin, both hosts are actually Canadians. Daniel Laughlin is from Vancouver and Gagan Uppal is from Toronto. They just wrapped up their third year in optometry school. Even though there are two optometry schools in Canada, the Ireland optometric program attracted them because the four-year degree track had less science undergraduate pre-requisites and they both found the career later into their educational track. Gagan actually started out in medical school, but was drawn to the optometry program due to his personal experiences with having keratoconus.
Optometry is different in Ireland than the degree in the United States, even though the patient care and clinical skill sets are quite similar. In Ireland, Australia, and the United Kingdom an optometrist is not given a doctor title and the career is often confused by patients with opticians. Their goal in starting the podcast was to spread the word about optometry as a profession in Ireland and the UK, and educate patients about the importance of a comprehensive eye exam and the difference between the care optometrists provide versus opticians.
Their optometry school program has about 25 students in each class. The first year of coursework is mostly basic sciences and preclinical labs. The second-year expands more into medical studies and patient care clinical skills. To pass from 2nd to 3rd-year proficiency they have to perform a full eye exam. In the third year, students start seeing patients at the National Optometry Centre in addition to practice focused scholastic coursework. The final fourth year is split 50% on campus at the National Optometry Centre and 50% rotating at practice externships. They must also complete a research project before graduating.
At first, Gagan and Daniel didn’t share their podcast for fear of how it might be received, but their fellow classmates discovered the podcast online and immediately embraced it. The positive reception from their peers gave them the confidence to start sharing and promoting their podcasts more actively.
Some of their favorite podcasts to date?
Optometry Around the World –This early podcast quickly became their break out episode, outlining the misconceptions about optometry in different countries.