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ARU academic is Eye Care Professional of the Year

Published: 23 May 2024 at 13:13

Dr Jane Mcnaughton

Senior Lecturer Dr Jane Macnaughton receives prestigious award from RNIB charity

Dr Jane Macnaughton of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) has been named Eye Care Professional of the Year by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

The RNIB See Differently Awards, supported by People’s Postcode Lottery, recognise and celebrate outstanding work to assist people with sight loss.

Dr Macnaughton, Senior Lecturer in Vision Sciences at ARU, combines her academic teaching role with clinical hospital work, and she was recognised by the judges of the Eye Care Professional of the Year award, sponsored by Roche, for helping to develop low-vision services across the UK over the last 30 years.

Dr Macnaughton was first motivated to get involved in the development of the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) role after an encounter with a patient who had just been certified blind, and she was a member of the very first working group which sought to provide better support for blind and partially sighted people.

Supervised by Professor Keziah Latham at ARU, she was awarded a grant from the College of Optometrists to research the changes in rehabilitation needs following acquired sight loss, after which she was awarded a PhD from ARU in 2019.  

In addition to Dr Macnaughton’s role on both the Optometry and Dispensing Optician courses at ARU, where she teaches around 80 students a year at ARU’s Sensory Sciences Centre in Cambridge, she works as a Specialist Optometrist at Leicester’s Royal Infirmary. 

The NHS low vision service at Leicester is delivered in partnership with Vista – Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland’s charity for people with sight loss – to support patients to live safe and independent lives. 

Dr Macnaughton has also written textbooks for optometrists, dispensing opticians and vision rehabilitation students, and is now busy writing a children’s book about a visually impaired dragon.  

On winning the award, Dr Macnaughton said:

“This has truly been a career highlight for me. It was quite nerve-racking because I wasn’t expecting it at all! I’ve spent so much time working in the sight loss sector and it’s such an enjoyable and rewarding career. I’m very grateful to be recognised with the Eye Care Professional of the Year Award.

“One of the greatest takeaways from the awards night itself was to have been shortlisted alongside two other eyecare professionals each from the ophthalmology and vision rehabilitation professions. As an optometrist, I am delighted that the obstacles that once existed between our joint professions are finally breaking down and that we are working better together for the long-term care and support of our patients and service users.”

Dr Helen Keyes, Head of School at ARU, said:

“We are incredibly proud of Jane's accomplishments. Her dedication and expertise, as well as her commitment to optometry education, have been instrumental in shaping the future of Sensory Sciences at ARU. This award is testament to Jane’s hard work and the impact she has had for students and the eye care profession as a whole.”

RNIB CEO Matt Stringer said:

“The RNIB See Differently Awards celebrate the amazing stories and achievements of so many people and organisations who generously share their lived experience and professional knowledge. 

“A huge congratulations to all our See Differently Award winners. Whether it’s in the world of employment, the world of influencing, or the world of generating more volunteers, there are some cracking stories to tell, and the ceremony was a great way to trumpet real achievement.”