This article was written by Sayeed Tajik, a 3rd year optometry student at COAVS, King Edward Medical University in Lahore, Pakistan. Optometry school in Pakistan is a four year program. There are seven institutes that offer a degree in optometry, most of them being Medical Colleges. Practical training in hospitals and labs accounts for 60% of their education. Similar to our American Optometric Association (AOA), Pakistan has the Pakistan Optometric Association (POA). The scope of practice of optometry in Pakistan isn’t nearly as limited as in other countries, yet optometry still lacks the visibility and recognition that is received by other medical fields in Pakistan. Here is Sayeed’s message:
Optometry! An emerging field of eye care, which is not only about prescribing glasses or contact lenses, but giving sight. In developing countries like Pakistan, optometry and other healthcare
professions are not well known to the community. My admission to College of Ophthalmology and Allied Vision Sciences was almost accidental. Before attending Allied Vision Sciences, I wasn’t
even aware of the field of optometry. The day I found out that the Chief of Staff of the hospital didn’t know about optometry, I was extremely surprised. I just hope it won’t take more than 100 years for the public to become aware of this field! As optometry students, our professors underestimate us, and we’ve even had them shame us for being students of this profession.
So, I would like to provide knowledge for those who are still ignorant of optometry: According to World Council of Optometry (WCO), optometry is a health care profession that is autonomous, educated and regulated and optometrists are the primary healthcare professionals of the eye and visual system who provide comprehensive eye and vision care, which includes refraction and dispensing, detection/diagnosis and management of diseases in the eye, and the rehabilitation of conditions of the visual system. Optometrists are the primary healthcare specialists in eye care, who are trained to find out defects in vision, signs of eye injury, ocular diseases or abnormalities.
I was very surprised to read some of the statements published in our College’s Prospectus this year and I wonder what they mean to say by writing that: “Optometrists can only prescribe glasses or contact lenses.” Such a Prospectus seems to be written by professionals not aware of our field. I would like students to not lose hope, as performing refractions is not only an optometric practice, but an art which can only be mastered by sedulous and painstaking practice. It forms a sizable portion of the day-to-day practice and let me tell you that to determine the correct power and axis of lenses and grant comfortable vision to your patient will give you an inner satisfaction. Today’s Ophthalmic and Optometric practices are almost incomplete without the use of these optical lenses.
Last but not least, students need not be demoralized or lose hope! It’s you, the young generation who have to strive for the development and dignity of your profession, and this is only possible with hard work. Optometrists are sight givers, best said by Helen Keller: “There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.”
Sayeed Tajik, 3rd year Optometry
COAVS, King Edward Medical University, Lahore, Pakistan.