Propagating the benefits of good vision and regular care

Propagating the benefits of good vision and regular care

Propagating the benefits of good vision and regular care

Earlier known as ophthalmic opticians, optometrists are primary healthcare specialists trained to examine the eyes to detect defects in vision, signs of injury, ocular diseases, abnormalities with general health.

A detailed examination of the eye can reveal conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Optometrists make a diagnosis, offer advice and when necessary, prescribe, fit and supply contact lenses or glasses.

Optometrists study for at least three years and participate in a full-year of training and supervision, called the ‘Pre-registration’ year, before qualifying. Once they qualify, they have the opportunity to develop an interest in specialisations such as contact lenses, eye treatment, low vision, children’s vision and sports vision.

The course is called a Bachelor of Science in Optometry or a Bachelor of Optometry (BSc Optometry).

In the first and second year of the professional programme, course work is concentrated on Basic Health Sciences (anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, pharmacology and public health), optics, and vision science.

Students begin their clinical experience in a clinical simulation laboratory with fellow classmates serving as patients, and then proceed to clinical training with actual patients. This training includes taking case histories, performing examinations, learning diagnostic techniques, and discussing treatment services.

In the third year, students spend part of their time in the classroom and part of their time in the clinic, examining patients. Fourth year students continue their clinical training, which may include off-campus clinical externships.

 With favourable working conditions, regular hours and minimal emergency calls, it offers many career options and much freedom while choosing a location to live and practise.  As the population ages, optometry services will be in increasing demand.

Optometrists are highly valued by a population that is increasingly conscious of the benefits of good health and regular vision care. There are many suffering from uncorrected refractive errors, thereby creating great demand for specialisations in low vision, binocular vision diseases, sports vision, etc.

Optometrists enjoy the benefits of financial security, independence and recognition in their communities. It also offers immense satisfaction to the practitioner of having benefited the population with vision correction.

Career options

A career in optometry offers flexibility in work environment — from solo practice to institutional work. It also offers a range of work patterns — from clinical practice to research and teaching.

The solo private practitioner usually is a primary care optometrist with a stand-alone practice. Such practitioners may specialise in fields such as:

*Routine prescription eyewear dispensing
*Primary eye care
*Contact lenses
*Low vision/geriatrics

Retail/optical settings: Optometrists can also rent space from or are employed by a large retail outlet.

Professional settings: The optometrist practises in conjunction with the ophthalmologist and co-manages patients in this setting.

Military/public health optometrists are commissioned officers who work in a hospital or clinical setting with other healthcare practitioners.

Academic research: This practitioner either teaches about primary care or performs research in a university setting. Academics pursue further training after optometry school and have completed an MS or PhD programme.

Corporate or industrial optometrists are employed by large corporations to perform clinical research or to provide patient care in a clinic within the corporate setting.

Consultants: Some work as consultants to the ophthalmic industry through education, sports, or the government.

Though most optometrists either set up their own practice or find work in a hospital, a practitioner may choose to concentrate his/her practice on treating a selected population or visual condition such as pediatric optometry, cornea and contact lenses, vision therapy, geriatric care, low vision rehabilitation , occupational vision, etc.

They could start a practice on their own or be a part of a clinic, retail chain or MNC within the optometric industry. They could also serve as faculty in various science colleges.

Students with a pass certificate in class 12 or the equivalent degree with a combination of Physics, Chemistry, Biology / Maths can pursue a career in optometry. Colleges offering the course include:

*School of Medical Sciences, University of Hyderabad
*All India Institute of Optometrical Sciences, Kolkata
*Sankara College of Optometry, Bangalore
*Nethradhama School of Optometry, Bangalore
*Aditya Jyot Institute of Optometry, Mumbai
*All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi