An increasingly larger number of pre-school children are being diagnosed with short-sightedness, while office workers with good vision are becoming vanishingly rare. While the demand for eye care professionals and experts of optometry is on the rise, inappropriate regulation of the latter profession leads optometrists to problems regarding the definition of their functions.
Representatives of the Ministry of Health (MOH) discussed the present issues with experts in the field.
All Links Must be Reinforced
Having introduced participants to the latest techniques in manufacturing eyeglass lenses, as well as the supply of medical devices, head of Baltic Optical Dimension – the company behind the discussion – Vytautas Tuminas had argued for the crucial role optometrists play in addressing problems with vision experienced by patients. “It is obvious that today, in order to meet all market needs, and offer appropriate eyeglass lenses to consumers, all links related to ocular correction, including the role played by optometrists, must be reinforced. This should be an integrated part of the process with clearly defined functional limits,” said Vytautas Tuminas.
President of the Optometric Association Bronislovas Daukšas claims there is currently a need for regulation capable of clearly specifying which functions can be discharged by optometrists, and which cannot. “Optometrists are responsible for selecting eyeglasses and contact lenses for their patients. However, since prescriptions for eyeglasses can only be issued by doctors, optometrists are reduced to the role of consultants. Granting them permission to write prescriptions for eyeglasses could significantly reduce the workload of doctors, allowing them to focus on treating their patients, and providing optometrists with a greater degree of autonomy,” claims President of the Optometric Association Bronislovas Daukšas.
Pursuit of Autonomy
According to Tautvydas Monkeliūnas, Sales Manager at one of the most modern eyeglass lens factory in the Baltic States – Baltic Optical Dimension – optometrists can not only select appropriate eyeglass lenses, but also expertly identify symptoms of ocular disease, and immediately refer the patient to a doctor. “Given our cooperation with the Cyprus Optical Council, I know that in Cyprus individuals without a degree in optometry are not allowed to open optical shops because of a lack of knowledge about customer service. Good optometrists are experts capable of not only selecting appropriate lenses to their patients, but also of discriminating between the symptoms of various diseases, and referring their patients to an ophthalmologist. Studies in optometry allow them to obtain the necessary knowledge – in school, they study both physics and medicine. Lack of regulation, however, prevents them from working autonomously and applying their knowledge,” claims Tautvydas Monkeliūnas. Representatives from the MOH who took part in the discussion confirmed the signature of legislation set to change the regulation of optometry within two years’ time, providing a higher degree of clarity for optometrists.