The way forward for the optometry profession and service to evolve and develop continually is through specialisation.
Dr Charlie Ho, the National Chairman of the Integrated Philippine Association of Optometrists (IPAO) said: “With specialisation, we can expand our market and influence the population.
“We will not just be dealing with patients with refractive errors, but also different groups of individuals, such as athletes, children with learning disabilities, and children and adults with special needs such as autism and ADHD. We can also help brain injury patients like traumatic injury, concussion, and stroke patients.”
Dr Ho was a speaker at the 3rd Asia Optometric Congress (AOC). He gave a talk on Vision Sport, a sub-speciality of optometry. He has been in sports optometry for 25 years and is considered the pioneer of sports vision practice in the Philippines.
The AOC, he said, is in the frontline to help practitioners who want to learn more about the field of optometry, guiding and teaching them about the different sub-specialisation areas available in the optometry field and providing them with opportunities for training.
“Therefore, we want to expose these opportunities and these areas to as many optometrists as possible within the region so that we can do more for the population.”
Optometry specialisation in the Philippines
According to Dr Ho, IPAO actively promotes and guides its members and practitioners to specialisations in the Philippines.
“This is because the Continuing Professional Development Act, passed in 2016, requires optometrists to do at least one specialisation apart from practising primary eye care service.
“So, we are not just addressing errors of refraction. Because of the legislation and with education and training, we are encouraged to perform specialised optometry practices.
“As such, compared to some countries, we are a bit advanced in the specialisation.”
The Philippine government and IPOA work together to coordinate and lead the specialisation programmes for its optometrists.
“I want to share with the delegates from our member countries about the value of sports vision, and with sports vision, we can contribute more and get the government’s attention.
“This is because the government are usually very keen on sports and is focused on the winning spirit and culture and being the best. Hence, the ministry invests a lot on athletes’ health and well-being.
“But they are missing something because optometry services are not part of their regular health procedures. And to be the best athletes must have a healthy functioning and working vision, because the human body movement, coordination, and motor response are all based on vision,” he said.
He hoped governments recognise and utilise the untapped optometry service available in their countries.
“We want optometrists here to return to their country and try to convince their sports officials to tap into their nation’s optometry services and ensure their athletes perform better.” – The Health