What do they do?
The statistics are alarming. According to reports, every third blind person in the world is an Indian and millions of others suffer from defective vision. If you’re keen to work towards alleviating human suffering, a career as an optometrist will be just right for you. In India, the demand for qualified optometrists is expected to rise sharply in the coming years. A recent survey has shown that the population to optometrist ratio in India is two lakh to one whereas in developed countries like the US and European countries, it is 10,000 to one. Industry estimates in India predict a requirement of over two lakh institutionally-qualified optometrists as opposed to the current availability of a meagre 5,000.
Paramedical experts play a significant role in helping doctors diagnose a disease to effectively treat patients. Their role is diagnostic as well as therapeutic. Medical lab technicians, X-Ray technologists, food service workers, emergency medical technicians, dental mechanics, pharmacists, physiotherapists and optometrists are counted as paramedics.
According to Dr S P S Grewal, CEO of the Grewal Eye Institute, which offers the region’s first four-year, full-time professional BSc (Hons) degree programme in optometry and ophthalmic techniques in Chandigarh, there are tremendous opportunities for optometrists today. Optometrists are required to perform regular eye examinations, practice orthoptics, public health optometry, offer counselling services and low-vision aids, assess and diagnose systemic diseases, refer patients to appropriate specialists and act as primary eye care providers.
“We foresee a trained medical manpower crunch in the times to come in India, especially in eye care. An institutionally-qualified optometrist has an important role to play when it comes to eye care,” says Grewal.An optometrist can take up jobs in hospitals or clinics as assistants toophthalmologists. S/he can also work in private optical set-ups or set up independent practice.
After taking a BSc degree, students can opt for MOpt, MPhil, MS or PhD programmes in India or abroad. In addition to this, in the US, students can also pursue an OD (doctor of optometry) programme from any of 18 accredited US universities,” Dr Grewal adds.
“The scope of work for an optometrist in Delhi is enormous. With new hospitals coming up in the city and optical chains opening shops here, optometrists are much in demand. However, the competition is tough. And to stay in the reckoning, an optometrist must constantly upgrade his knowledge,” says Bhavneet S Vohra, a Delhi-based optometrist.
. One should be willing to serve people.
. The job of an optometrist involves working with lenses, which requires a high level of accuracy and precision.
. One should be a hardworking person
How do I get there?
After completing Class 12 (science stream) with at least 50% marks, one should do a bachelors degree in clinical optometry. Those who have completed a diploma course in clinical optometry are eligible for direct admission to the third year of the degree course in optometry.
Typical day in the life of a Optometry
9am: Start the day in the OPD by preparing patients for the ophthalmologist to see
11am: Tea break
12pm: Conduct special diagnostic procedures like visual fields, OCT, FFA and electrophysiology tests, etc
2.30pm: Lunch break
5pm: Assist the ophthalmologist in surgical procedures like lasik etc
5pm to 6pm: Check mails, reply to emails
6pm: Leave for home
Pros & Cons about this career
. Secure job and income
. Recession-proof profession
. Option to choose one’s own timings, work on part-time basis if one has to study further or if life situations demand
. Institutionally qualified optometrists are indispensable no matter where they work – a small, medium or a large eye