Optometrists want to be a means where the public can refer to and obtain factual information from eye care professionals.
Healthy eyes and good vision are essential in life, as we rely on our eyes to see and make sense of the world around us. It also contributes to societal development and economic productivity.
Therefore, apart from raising awareness and encouraging people to care for their vision, it is equally essential to ensure that everyone has access to primary eye care services.
Optometrists are primary eye care practitioners who play an essential role in patient’s eye health, vision clarity and even general health. They are university trained to treat, manage and correct disorders and impairments concerning the visual system and organ, the eyes.
Optometrists deliver eye care services to the community from hospital eye departments, private practices and health clinics. The role of the optometrist profession and service is key for public eye healthcare.
Hence, it is vital for the optometry industry to continuously develop its skills and knowledge and adapt to the evolving needs and demands of the digital era.
The Association of Malaysian Optometrists (AMO) unites all optometrists in every sector throughout the country to promote, encourage and advance the science of optics in its application to the preservation of sight.
Optometrist Anna Bong shared: “Back in 2013, when I was working in Singapore, there was a Paediatric and Therapeutic Optometry Symposium in Kuala Lumpur organised by AMO, and I was interested in joining it.
“So, I joined AMO as an annual member to attend the workshop, and since then, I have been renewing my membership till the lifetime membership was introduced. Later, I was elected as an Exco Member in 2020.”
Public and private collaboration, said Anna, will positively impact the effectiveness of the eye care service rendered to the public.
“At the primary eye care level, the aim is the prevention of blindness. We want to detect any eye disease as early as possible.
“There are around 40 per cent of private optometrists registered in Malaysia. We can be the first contact with the general public when they come in for vision correction glasses and contact lenses.
She believes eye care services in the government and private sectors can be optimised when primary, secondary and tertiary care are streamlined between both sectors.
“Optometrists are primary eye care practitioners, and we are trained to examine eyes and detect any abnormalities related to vision or eye diseases. We can also provide visual rehabilitation for specific issues.
“And when necessary, we refer patients to public healthcare professionals such as ophthalmologists and neurologists for further assessments, diagnosis or treatment.
AMO has also collaborated with the Ministry of Health (MoH) for the Amblyopia and Visual Impairment Screening (AVIS) programme to identify children with vision problems so that they can be treated early to prevent squinting.
A neutral and supportive platform
According to Anna, AMO is not just a platform for optometrists but also the public.
“AMO strives to be a safe, neutral and supportive platform for optometrists while committed to improving the profession.”
Part of its professional development programmes includes conferences, workshops and seminars on industry best practices, scientific paper sessions, and eye health issues such as myopia prevention, presbyopia, orthokeratology, etc.
“From our most recent exco meeting, we have planned a series of programmes and workshops for our members for the next two years,” she shared.
“At the same time, we promote public awareness of vision and eye care and the importance of regular eye examinations.
“Because no matter what or how much we do to improve our skills and service, it wouldn’t matter if the public is unaware of the role and importance of primary eye care.”
AMO aims to be a platform where public members can refer to and obtain factual information from eye care professionals.
“We also do eye screenings and organise National Eye Health Awareness (NEHA) campaigns for the public.”
Anna Bong runs her practice, Anna Eyecare Optometry, in Kuching, Sarawak. She is also a member of the Sarawak Optical Traders Association. – The Health