The MSc in Primary Care Ophthalmology Guidance for Ophthalmic Nurses

The MSc has received Accreditation from the Royal College of Nursing (London, UK). The University of Edinburgh belongs to the Russell Group of universities and is delighted to welcome ophthalmic nurses and allied health professionals as postgraduate students.

Accredited by RCN


Ophthalmic services require and heavily rely upon the clinical services of ophthalmic nurses. Ophthalmology is the largest provider of NHS outpatient services and cataract surgery is the commonest intervention in the NHS. Below is a summary of the activities currently undertaken by the nursing profession within the UK and around the world. Completion of the MSc in part or full is in keeping with the Ophthalmic Common Clinical Competency Framework as recommended by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (2019) and supports independent nurse pathways as below. On completion you should receive the MSc in addition to one to four of the OCCCF outcomes (cataract, glaucoma, macula, emergency eyecare).


Patient Management and Clinical Skills provided by Ophthalmic Nurses


1. Triaging electronic referrals and interpreting attachments (ophthalmic images, computerised fields and Optical coherence tomography (OCT) images) to emergency care, specialist one stop care and advice only outcome.

2. Supporting patients in one stop cataract clinics with biometry, examination and listing for cataract surgery. Managing patients with post-operative complications.

3. Assessing patients in macula clinic with interpretation of OCT results and listing for anti VEGF intraocular treatment. Administering intraocular anti VEGF injections to patients

4. Examining patients in glaucoma clinics with full anterior and posterior segment assessment. Undertaking computerised visual field examination, corneal pachymetry testing and OCT.

5. History assessing, examining and triaging emergency care patients. Undertaking all basic tests and investigations in an emergency care setting.

6. Shared decision making and evidence based practice thereby managing and discharging patients independently.

7. Administering medication supported by individual patient directives.

8. Educating nursing, optometry, orthoptic and medical students, at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

9. Promoting audit for best service delivery and actively participating in ongoing and new research.

10. Attending and representing department at national meetings. Adhering to national guidelines and best practice at all times.

11. Keeping up with IT skills and new developments in hospital IT systems including new and evolving patient electronic records, teleophthalmology and virtual clinics.

12. Managing and taking leadership roles in all of the above subspecialties.



Recommendations for nurse applicants working within their sphere of practice in accordance with NMC Code (2018)

Lead Nurse Supporter (Senior Ophthalmic nurse, Specialist Ophthalmic nurse, Charge Nurse/Matron)

- To look at your weekly work schedule and ensure you have a reasonable mix of clinical activity that will support your study through the MSc

- Ensure that you have study days at times when you require to complete course work

- Highlight to the department the asset of having qualified nurses to provide a higher level of skill set

- Support routes for funding through the Trust, postgraduate departmental funds and charities

  Ophthalmologist Mentor (Senior ophthalmic trainee, Middle grade ophthalmologist, Consultant ophthalmologist)

- To help with clinical training at outpatient clinics

- Suggest small pieces of audit and research that will compliment the MSc work and your subspeciality interest

- Support publication of collaborative work

- Highlight to the department the asset of having qualified nurses to provide a higher level of skill set

- Support routes for funding through the Trust, postgraduate departmental funds and charities

- Aid with paperwork and practical competencies to achieve the stated OCCCF competency declared



The RCN cannot confirm competence of any individual practitioner.


Time Allocation & Study


We estimate a weekly time allocation of 15 hours for study time during the two semesters of the academic year: there are 15 teaching weeks from September to February (Semester 1) and 15 teaching weeks from February to July (Semester 2) in Years 1 and 2. The Masters Year 3 during which students conduct an independent, self-directed research project, runs from September to April (24 weeks). As there are holiday (non-teaching) periods during the academic year (including a 5-week Winter break and 2-week Spring break) this allows for some flexibility during study weeks for study to be carried over. We are aware that all students are fulfilling a day time job in parallel to their studies and have made the online access as flexible as possible. The access to the virtual ophthalmic library that houses monthly journals and relevant books has continuous access to aid flexible study.


Prof Roshini Sanders
Prof Baljean Dhillon
Dr Heather Ellis
University of Edinburgh, September 2020


Updated October 2021



An Ophthalmic Nurse Education by Penelope Stanford from the Royal College of Nursing

Please watch this video by Penelope Stanford from the RCN which is entitled "An Ophthalmic Nurse Education"


Video: An Ophthalmic Nurse Education P Stanford RCN
A Lecture Recording by Penelope Stanford from the Royal College of Nurses titled "An Ophthalmic Nurse Education"


My Ophthalmic Nurse Education Journey by Sarah Matheson a graduate of the MSc in Primary care Ophthalmology

Please watch the video below by Sarah Matheson which is entitled "My Ophthalmic Nurse Education Journey"


Video: Sarah Matheson - My Ophthalmic Nurse Education Journey
Sarah Matheson described her ophthalmic nurse education journey.

A PDF is also available for downloading.