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   Table of Contents      
Year : 1976  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 41-42

Role of optometrist in ophthalmic practice

Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi 110060, India

Correspondence Address:
Narendar Kumar
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi 110060
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 1031386

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How to cite this article:
Kumar N. Role of optometrist in ophthalmic practice. Indian J Ophthalmol 1976;24:41-2

How to cite this URL:
Kumar N. Role of optometrist in ophthalmic practice. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1976 [cited 2023 Dec 10];24:41-2. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/ijo/pages/default.aspx/text.asp?1976/24/1/41/31110

Right from vision recording to correction of refractive errors with lenses, of muscular anomalies with orthoptic exercises, and treat­ment of pathological ocular conditions with medical and/or surgical measures, constitutes the ophthalmic services. The term "ophthalmic services", thus, includes optical, orthoptic, medical and surgical means to remedy ocular defects and malformations.

  Role of optometrist Top

The optometrist plays an important role in rendering ophthalmic service to the masses. In a hospital, he records case history and vision, does refraction and (as orthoptist) orthoptic check-up, and refers to the ophthal­mologist cases having or suspected to be having ocular pathology. At an optical show-room, in addition to doing refraction, he supervises dispensing of prescriptions for corrective glas­ses, and does contact lens fittings.

  History of optometry Top

As an important aspect of ophthalmology, optometry-the art and science of vision care­ was introduced in the country in the year 1958 with the establishment of the first school of optometry at Gandhi Eye Hospital, Aligarh. The Government of India took the decision to create practitioners of this discipline with the immediate aims of:

  1. eradicating the malpractices with regard to the supply of spectacles to our people by persons without institutional training; and
  2. reducing the work-load on busy ophthal­mologists, so as to enable them to discard time-consuming processes of refraction to be able to devote more of their time on surgical operations.

Attached to ophthalmic hospitals, successive institutions were opened at Sitapur, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Madras, Trivandrum and New Delhi. A two-year diploma course with almost identical syllabus was started, with entrance qualification of intermediate in science.

  Present-day atmosphere Top

The present-day atmosphere of non-regu­lated practice of optometry continues to attract unscrupulous person's entry to the field of optical dispensing; and any Tom, Dick and Harry, without institutional training or for that end even without optical background, can come and join the race of making easy money at the cost of people's precious eye-sight.

Optical show-rooms which do employ opto­metrists, usually pay them meager sums not enough to make their both ends meet. Eye departments even in big hospitals continue to be run on the old pattern having `extra' load of refraction work on ophthalmologists. In gene­ral, leaving aside a very few number, optomet­rists continue to be paid miserably low emolu­ments; they face bitter working conditions and constant fear of victimization.

  Scope Top

The very idea of creating two separate dis­ciplines of optometry and orthoptics appears, to be the result of hurriedly taken decision. Orthoptics is very much a part of optometry A comprehensive 4-year degree course in opto­metry with entrance qualification of inter science, can very well resu-It in creating an army of professionals in a position to effectively reduce the work-load on ophthalmologists, and to effect accurate dispensing of optical aids.

Posts for optometrists should be created at all district hospitals, in all medical colleges and possibly at all primary health centres. It should be made obligatory for every optical show­room to employ an optometrist.

Optometrists should be accorded a reason­able living wage and the dignity and status that their skills demand. The question that must be asked is not whether the Government can afford to pay the optometrist better, but whether the country can afford any longer to be without a better eye-care service which is so largely dependant on the optometrist at the base?

In addition to the usual refraction and orthoptic work, the optometrist can very well do perimetry, scotometry, tonometry and vision screening in schools. He can be helpful in detecting cases having ocular pathology for referring them to the ophthalmologist, and in rendering ocular first-aid and providing ocular treatment at tines of emergency.


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