It’s a UK first with an £18 million eye clinic which serves the Huddersfield community and provides an unparalleled experience for students.

University Valli Opticians is a unique partnership between the University of Huddersfield and locally-based independent chain Valli Opticians.

The practice, which offers all the services of a high street optician, is open to the public and is based on the University of Huddersfield campus.

University Valli Opticians features an extensive suite of state-of-the-art computerised equipment for eye examinations and specialist vision assessments including imaging equipment.

Patients can choose from a range of contemporary spectacle frames and are provided with a full fitting and aftercare service.

Taking up the whole of the ground floor of the Joseph Priestley (East) Building, the new facility allows students to develop key clinical skills aligned with modern optometric practice in a real-life setting.

The three-year BSc (Hons) Optometry course saw its first intake in September 2019 and the course is now accredited for 68 students by the regulator, the General Optical Council. Demand is high and there were 400 applications this year.

Moin Valli, managing director of Valli Opticians, has always been closely involved with the local community offering free eye tests in schools and recognised the potential of a joint venture with the university.

“We are delighted to collaborate in this innovative way with the university,” he said. “It’s a joint venture company and it’s a first of its kind for the UK.

“The clinic will shape the future of optometry students by giving them substantial real-life clinical and commercial experiences of working in a proper optometry practice and is a fantastic unique selling point of the university course.”

The new practice, which offers spectacles and contact lenses, had a soft launch in August before an official opening by university Chancellor Sir George Buckley in front of an invited audience of industry experts and partners including Hoya, Optos, Keeler, Haag-Streit, Nano Vista, Stepper and The Body Doctor.

Prof John Siderov, head of the university’s Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, said the course – and the wider joint venture – had been well received by the optical community with the General Optical Council keen to follow its progress.

He added: “By working together to develop the field of optometry, University Valli Opticians will benefit the wider community, enhance the student experience and provide placement and employment experiences for our students.”

The practice is open to the public and patients can book an eye test online HERE.

Eye tests carried out by a student, under supervision, are free for everyone but appointments could take up to 90 minutes. Eye tests by a qualified practitioner cost £30 unless you are eligible for a free NHS eye test.

All University of Huddersfield students and staff receive 20% off spectacles and 10% off contact lenses on production of ID.

University Valli Opticians is open Monday to Friday 9am-5.30pm and is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.