| Eye Care |
SEPTEMBER , 2022 | THE HEALTH
Optometric care at its full potential
Practicing and delivering best optometric practices lifts the standard of vision care to the community
BY KHIRTINI K KUMARAN
THE World Council of Optometry under the World Health Organisation defines optometry as a healthcare profession that is autonomous , educated , and regulated ( licensed / registered ), and optometrists are the primary healthcare practitioners of the eye and visual system who provide comprehensive eye and vision care , which includes refraction and dispensing , detection / diagnosis and management of disease in the eye , and the rehabilitation of conditions of the visual system .
Optometry courses fully prepare the optometrist to provide primary eyecare services which include examining the eyes and providing care and treatment to maintain , restore and enhance a person ’ s eyesight via prescription of corrective lenses , vision therapy and consultation .
Secondly , an optometrist is trained to screen for eye diseases and refer to ophthalmologists for early intervention and treatment . Optometrists can specialise further in subspecialties like myopia management , low vision , sports vision and binocular vision .
Upon completing a Degree in Optometry , an optometrist can work in a wide range of areas from private optometry centres , public and private hospitals and eye clinics , manufacturers of ophthalmic products , research and academia .
Founder and CEO of Vision Space Optometrist , Woon Pak Seong is a key opinion leader in the eyecare industry both locally and regionally . He frequently speaks and trains at local and international optometry conferences and serves as an external lecturer and examiner at optometry institutions . A past president of the Association of Malaysian Optometrists , he currently serves as an advisor to AMO .
Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Optometry from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 1995 , he worked for nine years as an optometrist for a chain optometry centre and an independent optometry practice before starting Vision Space Optometrist in 2004 . He has two practices and a team of 10 optometrists focusing
on providing complete primary eyecare services .
Incorporating best practices
Describing the current state of the eyecare industry in Malaysia Woon said : ” Currently , the majority of optical centres offer just the correction of vision with spectacles , contact lenses and sunglasses .”
Regarding Vision Space optometry practices and services , Woon said : “ We saw the opportunity to provide comprehensive visioncare as best and professionally as we are taught at the university as well as applying global best practices .
“ By providing comprehensive optometry services which in addition to correction of vision with spectacles , contact lenses and sunglasses , we include eye health screening , myopia management and vision therapy . In doing so , we bring the highest level of eyecare to our patients , by picking up eye diseases way earlier for timely intervention by eye specialists and healthcare professionals .
“ We form strong collaborations with eye specialists , GPs and other healthcare professionals to bring complete and wholesome eyecare and healthcare to the public . We specialise in myopia management , where we help children to slow down the progression of shortsightedness with lifestyle consultation , DIMS optical lenses , Misight contact lenses and Orthokeratology .
“ Together with fellow optometrists and their optometry practices , we learn
Woon Pak Seong
Getting the latest equipment is vital .
from each other , incorporating best practices , improving skills and services , and investing in the latest in eyecare equipment . There is healthy competition as we inadvertently push each other to perform better . At the end of the day , the public benefits from better vision care , and there is a sense of pride in the profession for the services rendered .”
Woon sees the importance of working together with industry partners in lifting the profession .
Mentioning one example of such partnership is with Johnson and Johnson Vision Care ’ s ACUVUE : “ Beyond providing contact lenses , they have helped us in moving our optometry practice forward by inviting us for their conferences and training and giving us their suggestions for improvement . This helps us to continuously evolve our practices to be better based on what we ’ ve learned .”
During the pandemic , Woon said the ACUVUE partnership actively organised seminars and workshops via zoom , teaching and offering ideas to keep the practice safe and solve the logistics of delivering contact lenses to patients .
Technology , digital innovations and artificial intelligence
Woon sees the future where technology digital innovations and artificial intelligence will help optometrists deliver better services to the public .
Teleoptometry and mobile eye examination devices have a role to play where patients , especially those in rural and remote areas , have access to eyecare . Mobile eye examination devices which trained individuals can perform , to send pictures , data to a centre where optometrists and ophthalmologists can check through and decide on who needs the next course of management .
“ Artificial intelligence has also started to play a vital role in optometry services . For example , when we take fundus photography , AI can pick up eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma and analyse what stage it is .
“ We also have another instrument with AI to check for dry eyes . This instrument measures how much tears the eyes have and for how long before the tear surface breaks up and checks the condition of the oil-producing glands to see the type and severity of dry eyes .
“ So , AI is coming in big time and will be a helpful tool for optometrists . I don ’ t see it as a threat but welcome it as a complementary tool to ease the work process and load . “ At the end of the day , you need optometrists to use and interpret the results from these machines , so there ’ s always a demand for optometrists ,” he quipped . – The Health