AMO committed to supporting AOC in promoting optometry and eyecare knowledge and skill development programmes in Asia.
The Association of Malaysian Optometrists (AMO) is a professional optometrist organisation under the aegis of the World Council of Optometry (WCO) and Asia Optometry Congress (AOC).
AMO President Ahmad Fadhullah Fuzai said: “AOC is a platform for the Asian optometry profession and service and consists of several Asian optometry organisations under its umbrella.
“AMO represents Malaysia under AOC, and we actively collaborate with AOC to support and implement optometry and eyecare activities and programmes organised in the Asian region.”
AMO, formed in 1984, functions as a platform to connect optometrists throughout Malaysia and to promote and encourage the advancement of the science of optics in its application to the preservation of sight. It also advocates and protects the optometrist profession’s rights and the public’s best interest for eyecare in Malaysia.
“Our role under AOC includes facilitating the organisation of events and disseminating information and knowledge to AMO members. AMO is therefore honoured to co-organise the 3rd AOC conference on Nov 15-16, 2022.
“It aligns with AMO’s commitment to providing continuous professional education to its members to advance the Malaysian optometry profession and services.
“We are very excited about this year’s conference as it is back to a physical format, which was initially postponed for the AOC conference in 2020 due to the pandemic,” said Ahmad.
“This will be the biggest AOC conference since the pandemic, and it has been well received by members and participants. Early registration for the conference was full within three weeks of its launch.”
Private and public collaboration is key
According to Ahmad, the private optometry practice and public health sector complement each other to improve general eyecare.
“We need a way for the public to clearly identify primary eye care centres to get comprehensive visioncare services.”
“It is in the public’s best interest to streamline the primary, secondary and tertiary eye care services between the private and public sectors.”
He said the level of integration is non-existent as the public eye care sector handles all levels of eye care services, from primary to tertiary care. He believes this is ineffective and defeats the purpose of primary eye care.
“Primary care is for early detection and intervention. However, people visit hospitals when they are already experiencing severe eye or vision problems.
“For example in the private sector, community optometry practices can provide effective primary care services to the public.
“We are the first meeting point for those who want to get their corrective lenses. Hence, we can create eye health awareness and provide comprehensive eye examinations, effectively detecting early symptoms of eye diseases or vision impairments.
“At the primary care level, optometrists can also make early interventions for other health problems such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
“And for issues that require secondary or tertiary examination and treatment, we will provide an accurate and direct referral to the optometrist and ophthalmologist at the hospital.”
Pushing for equal recognition
There is a shortage of optometrists in the country despite having six higher education institutions that produce optometry graduates.
“We have three public and three private higher education institutions. These graduates expect to obtain a placement in the public eyecare sector and work in hospitals. However, there are limited vacancies in the public sector.”
The next option for the graduates, he said, would be to work in or open a private community optometry practice, which is currently registered and categorised as a spectacle shop under the Ministry of Housing and Local Government.
Hence, optometrists in the private sector are not recognised as certified health professionals, unlike those in the public sector. And this hinders community optometrists from providing effective eye care services to the public.
“When optometrists in the private sector are only considered shopkeepers, they find their expertise undervalued. And therefore, we see less intake for optometry in higher education institutions, especially in private education institutions.
“We need to address the inequality in recognition of optometrists between the private and public sectors. As President of AMO, I’m actively pushing for equal recognition, and I hope my efforts will be successful.” – AOC