Through the lenses of an eye care expert

ACCORDING to the Health Ministry, at least 80% of all blindness or limited vision cases can be prevented or treated.

A national eye survey in 2014 showed that at least 1.2% or 63,000 Malaysians have been diagnosed as blind.

To address this, the role of eye care specialists has taken on significance in fighting preventable vision impairment.

There is much more than meets the eye when it comes to the role of an eye care specialist beyond just examining your eye and prescribing lenses.

An optometrist not only helps you see clearly and detects signs of eye disease, but also assesses how well your visual system – which encompasses the eyes, brain and eye muscles – work.

The World Council of Optometry (WCO) states that optometrists provide comprehensive eye and vision care, which includes refraction and dispensing, detection and diagnosis, management of eye disease, and rehabilitation of the visual system conditions.

The importance of eye care specialists – be it an optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist – is imperative and crucial to the general healthcare of patients in need of eye care.

The need for optometrists in Malaysia is worrying. At present, there are over 2,000 optometrists and the ratio of optometrist to patient stands at around 1:22,000. The WCO recommended ratio is 1:10,000.

As such, UCSI University – Malaysia’s best private university for two years in a row according to the two recent QS World University Rankings – offers the Bachelor of Optometry (Hons) programme to play its role in creating more eye care specialists.

Optometrists are naturally high-income earners with tremendous potential for growth, job security and satisfaction.

During clinical trainings, students at UCSI learn in a simulated optometric environment.

A career in optometry is virtually stress-free and not physically demanding. During clinical trainings, UCSI students learn in a simulated optometric environment, practising on each other before moving on to real patients, under the supervision of experienced lecturers.

This training provides procedural experiences in case history taking, performing eye examinations, employing diagnostic techniques and applying the necessary communication skills to discuss treatment plans and options with patients.

Not all graduate studies are scientific theories; many are very practice-oriented. Students in their final year will be able to manage a practice and work with children and the elderly with a clear knowledge of healthcare laws and policies, ethics and economics that are applicable to the field of optometry.

Asst Prof Shah says optometry is a rewarding career for those who are prepared to care for people to see clearly.

UCSI University’s head of Optometry School Asst Prof Shah Farez Othman pointed out that optometrists, upon completion of the programme, develop specific interests to advance in other eye care areas such as contact lens practice, low vision, sports vision, children’s vision and consultancy in an industry.

“Optometry is a rewarding profession for those prepared to accept the obligation of caring for people’s sight. Optometrists enjoy great satisfaction through helping their patients overcome vision problems,” he said.

The four-year optometry programme at UCSI follows guidelines set by the WCO and is fully accredited by the Malaysian Qualification Agency (MQA).

The four-year optometry at UCSI follows guidelines set by the WCO and is fully accredited by the Malaysian Qualification Agency (MQA).

Graduates from this programme will enter the workforce as an optometrist registered with the Malaysian Optical Council, Health Ministry, giving them an edge to secure jobs much easier.

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