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Optometry - New Professional Education and Career

Amod Gogate

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What is Optometry?

Ophthalmic Optics (popularly known as Optometry) is a science, which deals with the structure, function and working of the human eye and specially in relation to Visual, Optical symptoms and Refractive errors and their correction primarily by Optical aids.

Optometry is an independent discipline accepted academically as such by the pattern of education it follows in most countries of the world. World Council of Optometry defines an Optometrist as a primary eye care professional, institutionally educated and clinically trained to examine, diagnose and correct the refractive Optical errors of the Visual system by prescribing spectacles, Contact Lenses, Low Vision Aids and Vision therapy eye exercises to patients complaining of Visual symptoms.

The present scope of Optometric practice is far more than the historic determination of the refractive state of the eyes and the prescribing and dispensing of glasses. Today the practice of Optometry also includes the detection of ocular and related systemic diseases, the fitting of Contact Lenses and Low Vision Aids. It extends to public health-vision screening in school and industry – vision problems associated with driving and flying. It involves Optometric counseling of patients with partial sight and hereditary vision defects. Optometrists are concerned with vision care. Like physicians and dentists, Optometrists are primary eye care and health professionals.

Similar to the professional education in Pharmacy, which is required to run a chemist shop, a professional education in Ophthalmic Optics (Optometry) is necessary to efficiently manage any Optical trade including primary dispensing of spectacles. Like Physiotherapy and Orthopedics, Optometry works hand in hand with Ophthalmology in treatment of Visual disorders. An Optometrist has the following career opportunities

  1. Can start his/her own Eye Clinic, Optical Shop, Lens manufacturing unit, etc.
  2. Can work for eye testing, Contact lenses, squint exercises, etc. with Optician shops, eye doctors, Contact Lens and Ophthalmic lens industry, hospital eye departments, etc.
  3. Can get jobs with Optician shops and hospitals in gulf countries.
  4. Can do post graduation in Optometry and other related subjects.
  5. Can take up teaching Optometry as a career with schools of Optometry.

Need for Optometry? Relevancy, necessity & Scope

According to one of the estimates, India has the following number of professionals in the Eye Care field.

  • Optical traders (Not Institutionally educated & qualified)25,000
  • Optometrists (Institutionally educated & qualified) 5,000
  • Ophthalmic Surgeons (Institutionally educated & qualified) 8,000

For a population of 980 crore, the ratio of qualified eye care professionals to patients with eye problems is very poor. Today the Optical trade needs at least 20,000 qualified Optometrists to man the dispensing Optical outlets.

Consulting Optometrist, Pune

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