‘I have always been fascinated by optics. As a child I would make up telescopes from old lenses and measure my myopia by finding the furthest point of focus,’ says Richard Poynter. Without high enough grades to study optometry at university, Poynter joined Dollond and Aitchison (D&A) as a trainee and qualified as a dispensing optician in 1979.
While managing the former multiple’s Northampton branch and developing his contact lens fitting skills, Poynter set his sights on optometry again. ‘I realised I was only doing part of the job and I wanted to do all of it,’ he says.
Pointer studied optometry at Aston University in 1982 and passed his professional exams in 1986, before rejoining D&A as a managing optometrist. Within three years, he was promoted to regional director with responsibility for staff training, including writing the optometry part of the optical assistants course.
While carrying out sessions at Northampton General Hospital, Poynter suggested following a similar format to D&A, which had just opened a branch at Leicester Royal Infirmary. After 18 months of negotiations, he launched Eye to Eye Opticians. ‘The original practice was tiny. I worked very hard and didn’t take any holiday for two years. After three years, they gave me more room, which was fantastic as the volume of patients and equipment was rapidly increasing,’ he says.
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