Optometry is a healthcare profession which is concerned with eye and vision care. It deals with the testing of eyes for vision related problems and prescribing corrective measures for the same. However optometrists are not the same as ophthalmologists who are specialized eye doctors. Ophthalmologists can prescribe medication and perform surgeries which optometrists are not permitted to do. Nevertheless optometrists help in treatment of eye conditions such as partial sight, hereditary vision defects, squint and weakening of eye muscles, by suggesting the use of proper vision aids such as spectacles or contact lenses. At hospitals and clinics they also provide pre-operative and post-operative care for patients for whom surgery is has been recommended.
Optometry is beginning to be one of the most reputed healthcare professions in India. It is dynamic, competitive and has tremendous growth potential. With every third blind person in the world living in India, 75% of which can be ascribed to ineffective prevention of blindness (cataract, refractive error), the need for timely detection and treatment cannot be ignored. In addition, as other eye related problems continue to rise and people are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of eye care and there is a surge in demand of optometrists all across India. It is estimated that India needs 40,000 optometrists in addition to the 10,000 already there.
Optometrists can work at hospitals and clinics or set up their business as opticians or eye care consultants. Optometrists also find employment opportunities with companies that manufacture contact lenses, ophthalmic lenses, and eye medications. Aspiring optometrists can also aim to choose a career in sports vision, community health centers and NGOs working in the areas of preventing eye related problems. Some optometrists choose research and academics as their area of interest and continue to seek higher educational degrees before they take up those careers. Students who want to pursue optometry need to possess a Bachelor’s degree in Optometry (B.Optom) which is a a four-year course in which the first three years of studies are followed by a year of internship to gain clinical experience. Higher studies in optometry include masters or doctoral level degree. Some renowned medical institutes in India also offer diploma and certifications in several fields related to optometry. Some specializations offered during optometry education are in subjects like contact lenses, low vision, binocular vision, glaucoma and occupational optometry.
A deep interest in understanding functioning of eyes and human anatomy is essential to make a bright career in this field. But besides interest, it is also essential to have the needed aptitude, an eye for detail and patience in understanding other people’s problems. This needs to be assessed and an expert counselors with extensive years of experience can help students in making right career choice.
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