2002-2008:St Marys College, Ballisodare, Co. Sligo. 2008 – 2012: Dublin Institute of Technology Kevin Street-Bachelor of Science in Optometry 2015-2019: Ph.D. in Dublin Institute of Technology
BSc Optometry- First Class Honours
June 2012 to Present- Vision Express. July 2014-November 2014- National Optometry Centre, Dublin Institute of Technology, Kavin Street, Dublin 8. July 2011-November 2011: Optometry Placement in Paul Gill Opticians, 2 St. Patricks Road, Dalkey, Co. Dublin
Optometrist and PhD Researcher
Vision Express and Dublin Institute of Technology
Favourite thing to do in science: Experiments in our new lab to try change the future! (The future of eye care that is, I’m not a magician!!)
About Me: A girl using eyes to make a difference
My name is Saoirse. I am 25 years old and I am from Sligo. I moved to Dublin in 2012 to go to college to study Optometry in DIT and I have lived in Dublin since. However I do love a visit home to Sligo! My main hobbies are going to the gym and travelling. I work two days per week as an Optometrist (also known as an Optician) and the rest of my week I spend doing my PhD research in Dublin Institute of Technology. I love my job and I love how exciting my research is!
My Work: I am trying to find a way to prevent children from having to wear glasses to see the board in school
I work in Dublin as an Optometrist and I am also a PhD researcher in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).
As an Optometrist I test people’s eyes to check the health of their eyes and to examine whether they require glasses or not.
The research I am currently doing is aiming to stop shortsightedness (or myopia) in children. Shortsightedness is when you have to wear glasses to see objects far away, such as the board in school. It is becoming more and more common in Ireland, with over half of us students needing glasses by the time we finish school or college. Last year I did a study around Ireland asking students to keep a diary of their daily activities for 1 week. It turns out technological devices such as mobile phones, laptops, iPads and tablets cause shortsightedness in children. I will be starting a study in January in DIT testing a new eye drop to see if it can stop shortsightedness in children.
My Typical Day: Every day is different, every day is interesting, every day I learn something knew!
I suppose I have two typical days-one spent working as an Optometrist in Vision Express and another typical day spent doing research in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).
In Vision Express I conduct approximately 15 eye exams every day, meaning I get to meet lots of patients. I examine people’s eyes to find out if they need glasses and I examine the health of their eyes to check for any disease or abnormalities. I like doing paediatric (or children) eye examinations best. It is so important for everybody to have their eyes tested as I find many people do not realise there is something not quite right until they have an eye test!
My research work in DIT varies. At the moment I am writing a report based on the results of the study I carried out last year in Primary Schools, which looked at how technology was affecting children’s eyes. Therefore, I am currently doing a lot of reading and writing. I also have to attend lectures every Monday and Friday. In January I will start a new study where I will be working in a lab most days with children, to try and stop shortsightedness. That will be exciting.
So as you can see my week varies a lot- from working in Vision Express, to going to lectures, to doing experiments, to studying! And of course in the evenings I leave time to see my friends, go to the gym and cook!
What I'd do with the money: Design and deliver fun informative posters for a media campaign in schools across Ireland, to inform children, parents and teachers of how they can look after eye health and what they can do each day to prevent shortsightedness
There is a big link between our environment and the increase of shortsightedness in Ireland. We now spend less time outdoors and more time on technological devices such as laptops, iPads, tablets and mobile phones. This is leading to more and more children becoming shortsighted. Yet people are not aware of this.
Simple, straightforward advice and lifestyle changes would possibly help stop us needing glasses for shortsightedness! Therefore it is up to me to make people more aware of this, and you can help! I aim to set up a media campaign in Ireland to make people more aware of the causes of shortsightedness and what they can do to prevent this. I want to design posters for schools as well as developing a project website and social media presence on Facebook/Twitter/YouTube to spread the word!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
A little nuts!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Calvin Harris or The Dublin Gospel Choir -although hmm they are very different aren’t they!
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
My J1 to Boston where I lived and worked in Boston for 3 months in my 2nd year of college, a brilliant experience!
What did you want to be after you left school?
A singer (even though I don’t have a note in my head)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Um, yes! You don’t want to know..
What was your favourite subject at school?
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
I travelled to Mozambique in South Africa to test over 500 children and teacher’s eyes to help stop the problem of blindness in the developing world.
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
My Aunt Helen. She brought me to a science exhibition in Sligo when I was in first class in Primary School
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. Definitely to continue to be happy (in my personal life and career) 2. To make other people happy (be a source of happiness and positivity) 3. I would love to make a contribution to knowledge, to make a difference in the world of eye care!
Tell us a joke.
Did you hear about the carrot that died? There was a big turnip at the funeral!