Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust Optometrist wins top national prize

Denise Voon has taken the top prize in the Optician or Optometrist of the Year category
Denise Voon has taken the top prize in the Optician or Optometrist of the Year category

Denise Voon has taken the top prize in the Optician or Optometrist of the Year category at this year’s Macular Society Awards for Excellence.

The prize is in recognition of her exceptionally good practice in the care of people with macular disease.

Denise has been working in the optometry sector for 15 years and is principal optometrist for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

She also works in the research team based in Amersham Hospital’s Macular Suite and arranges learning and development opportunities for her optometry colleagues, to build on their understanding of macular disease and other conditions.

Denise is organising a national education day for optometrists which will be held in Aylesbury on 9 December 2019.

Denise said: “It’s the first time I’ve ever been nominated for anything like this, so to be chosen as one of the winners is really humbling. It still hasn’t really sunk in – I had to

keep looking at the email from the Macular Society confirming that I’d won to make sure it was true!

“We are working on a number of exciting projects relating to macular disease at present. One of the key things we’re going to be launching soon, in partnership with our psychology department, is a study surrounding low mood and depression in patients with macular disease.

"Its aim is to give us a much better understanding of the emotional impact of macular disease and what formal support is needed, which will help enormously with patient rehabilitation.”

Denise will receive her award at the Macular Society’s national annual conference, which takes place at the Leonardo Royal London Tower Bridge Hotel in London, on Saturday 21 September.

Now in its 11th year, the Macular Society Awards for Excellence is run by the charity to celebrate the inspirational work done to provide services and care for people with

macular disease in the UK.

The Optician/Optometrist of the Year prize is one of four honours handed out by the charity. The category is open to practitioners working in any environment, such as a high street business, hospital or local society; who provide outstanding services to people with macular disease.

Alongside Denise, the Macular Suite Team at Amersham Hospital was shortlisted in the Clinical Service of the Year category for the second year running.

Denise said: “I do love what I do, but none of it would be possible without the help and support of the rest of my colleagues, so it’s lovely that the Macular Suite team was

shortlisted in their category too.

“My husband is also an optometrist and our children have been joking that Mummy is the best because she’s won an award! I still can’t quite believe it to be honest – it’s very special.”

Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the Macular Society, said: “The commitment and dedication Denise has shown in caring for people with macular disease is clear from the tremendous feedback we’ve received about her work.

“She thoroughly deserves this award and I’d like to congratulate her on this excellent achievement.”

Macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK. Nearly 1.5 million people are currently affected and many more are at risk. The disease can have a devastating effect on people’s lives; leaving them unable to drive, read or see faces. Many people affected describe losing their sight as being similar to bereavement. There is still no cure and most types of the disease are not treatable. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common form of macular disease, affecting more than 600,000 people, usually over the age of 50.