Dr Claire Howard

Orthoptist motoring ahead with specialist advice

Orthoptist and researcher Dr Claire Howard is taking on a prestigious new role advising on driving and visual disorders.

She is one of the first orthoptists to become an expert member of the Secretary of State for Transport’s Honorary Medical Advisory Panel on Driving and Visual Disorders.

The advisory panel provides the Department of Transport and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), with advice that aims to maintain and improve road safety.

Claire qualified as an orthoptist in 1997 and has worked in Salford since qualifying, in a variety of roles. She currently holds a unique post where she provides specialist clinical care to stroke patients, alongside working as a clinical research fellow for the NCA Centre for Clinical and Care Research.  She also chairs the Greater Manchester Council of AHP Research hub.

Specialist in stroke-related visual impairment

She is a specialist in the field of brain-injury related visual impairment, particularly stroke-related visual field loss. These impairments typically affect a patient’s ability to drive, which means Claire frequently has to discuss driving with patients in line with DVLA medical guidelines. She has worked tirelessly to support many patients to return to driving following a stroke-related visual impairment and last year published a research paper on this.

Claire said: “It is an absolute privilege to be invited to be an advisory panel member, and especially to be among one of the first orthoptists on the panel. My research and clinical work highlights how important returning to driving is to patients in their rehabilitation journey.  I consider it an honour to be representing the patients I have been working so hard to support and to provide guidance to DVLA on vital issues such as assessment of visual field and driving ability.  I am excited to take up this role where my voice can be used to ensure patients are well supported and to support an equitable and safe process for those wanting to consider a return to driving following a visual impairment.”

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