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BSc Optometry / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Visual Optics

Unit code OPTO20292
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Optometry
Available as a free choice unit? No


This Visual Optics unit will provide all students with a firm understanding of the optics of the human eye and develop their ability to carry out relevant calculations related to the imaging properties of a variety of optical corrections, ranging from spectacles to contact lenses


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Geometrical Optics OPTO10151 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Physical Optics OPTO10312 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


·         To outline the optical characteristics of the human eye with regard to:

1)  Refractive error

            2)  Correction of refractive error (using either   

                 spectacles or contact lenses

·         To explore the modern and classical theories behind accommodation, myopia development, emmetropisation and presbyopia

·         To develop an understanding of schematic and reduced eyes, and their use in optical modelling

·         To develop the skills to calculate retinal image size, blur circle diameter and accommodation demands

·         To explore different corneal refractive surgery strategies

·         To better understand how novel

      optometric/ophthalmological equipment works to


Learning outcomes

To gain a detailed understanding of the optics of the human eye and to develop the skill to execute calculations regarding the eye’s imaging properties when corrected by spectacles, contact lenses and corneal refractive surgery.


The following lectures will be delivered to supplement the previous undergraduate ‘optics’ courses (i.e. Geometrical and Physical Optics):

  • Basics of eye design (evolution of eyes)
  • The principal optical components of the human eye
  • Ophthalmic angles
  • Measuring eye optical components of the human eye
  • Keratometry
  • Schematic representations of emmetropic eyes
  • Schematic representations of ametropic eyes
  • Calculating the correction of ametropia
  • Accommodative demand and spectacle-induced effects
  • Essential (rigid lens) contact lens optics
  • Refractive surgery – key calculations
  • Accommodation – theories
  • Presbyopia - theories
  • Emmetropisation – theories
  • Myopia development - theories
  • Constraints on the visual system
  • Aberrations and their effects
  • The latest advancements in optometric/ophthalmological equipment

These lectures will make use of animated ray-tracing diagrams, supported by custom-made animations and videos (where appropriate).

This unit will allow students the opportunity to derive and understand (from first principles) many ‘rule-of-thumb’ calculations used in everyday optometric/ophthalmological practice, over a variety of topics, ranging from RGP contact lens fitting, to corneal refractive surgery procedures.

Students will also learn about how different forms of optical correction impact on retinal image height, retinal blur circle size, accommodation demands and convergence demands.

Additionally, the unit will also cover the ‘optical principles’ behind the latest technological advancement used to image the posterior segment, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT).

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students will be presented with a variety of evidence-based findings regarding the development of emmetropisation, myopia and refractive surgery outcomes. Students will therefore develop the skills to analyse such evidence.
Group/team working
Students will be encouraged to spend time communicating various complex optical concepts to one another in pairs/small group teams.
Students will be exposed to the latest theories regarding the development of myopia and its possible prevention. It is anticipated that this should inspire some students to write their final year dissertation on this topic.
Oral communication
Students will be encouraged to answer questions during lectures, as well as spending time communicating various optical concepts to one another.
Problem solving
Students will be expected to go through (step-by-step) a comprehensive series of worked examples throughout the unit, which will help develop their problem-solving skills.
Students will be presented with a series of experiments and results from previous research studies, which might help them develop an interest in conducting future optometric research.
Written communication
Students will be expected to answer written questions during the mid-semester test, and practise questions set over the Christmas holiday period (designed to aid preparation for their final written exam).

Assessment methods

A 1.5-hour written examination (100% of the total final mark), comprised of: MCQs (weight 40%) and longer, more detailed calculation-type exercises (weight 60%)


Formative assessment:

A mid-semester test, comprised of short, MCQ and calculation-type questions. This test is specifically designed to check student knowledge and the level of engagement with the unit.

Feedback methods

  • Final examination feedback is available upon personal request, on a one-to-one basis.
  • The mid-semester test results will be delivered with individualised feedback, via BlackBoard.


Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Amit Jinabhai Unit coordinator

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