Half -baked optometrists are putting Indian eyes to great risk
Eye Care in India in a Blind Alley – IOF
New Delhi, June 4: It is a unique case of inverted spec (Ulta Chasma). And it is not a laughing matter at all. It has put millions of eyes in India in danger.
It is also a brazen case of surreptitiously changing assigned role of optometrists, who are considered most critical component in eye care the world over, and eliminating the purported files that played havoc with the eye care system in the country. It was done to make way for black sheep in the system.
Surprisingly, in India, eye care system has been put upside down. That is why blindness is increasing by the day. Perhaps, it is also why we are second to none in worst eye care in the world.
Indian optometry foundation has sent SOS to Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda, seeking correction in the eye care view in India. A shot in the arm of optometrists fighting for their rights is that Delhi High Court has taken notice of the perverted anomalies in eye care.
Delhi High Court has issued a notice to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare on petition of Indian Optometry Federation against illegal release of money for deployment of untrained, unqualified manpower in various Vision centers established under NPCB program on Control of Blindness.
In a press conference, Indian Optometry Federation president and a reputed optometrist Ajeet Bharadwaj expressed shock over the way millions of Indian eyes have been endangered by tampering with the globally accepted eye care system created by WHO guidelines. He said, ‘in the beginning, optometrists being trained in different universities in India were assigned genuine role but it was surreptitiously changed in 1992 saying a committee did it. In reply RIT application, optometrists associations were shocked to get the answer to query as to how their role were changed, that related files have vanished from Union Health Ministry. It is a brazen case of ‘Aankh Band Dibba Gayab’.
Bharadwaj alleged that MCI (Medical Council of India) is jealously guarding eye care turf for ophthalmologists (eye doctors) to the detriment of millions of Indian eyes. According to practice world over, eye doctors only focus on surgery part of the eye care. The rest is left for optometrists. Optometrists can diagnose the eye ailments and do non surgical treatment too. In the beginning, optometrists were assigned the globally accepted role but somewhere in between they were put on sidelines through unfair means.
Bharadwaj said, ‘this state of affairs has made way for half backed optometrists. In this unfair state of affairs some NGOs engaged. As government is allowing employment of untrained and unqualified manpower by NGOS, Hospitals and lens manufacturing companies , it is causing more harm to the unsuspecting people who believe that the person advising them is trained medical professional and believing their advice.’
Optometrists are trained health care professionals who evaluate eye health, clarity of vision and importantly, can detect several disorders of eye like cataract and glaucoma as well as identify systemic diseases like diabetes.
Mr. Ajeet Bhardwaj said, “Optometrist in developed countries provides 70 to 90 per cent of total primary eye care independently. We have 143 UGC recognized institutions and approx 40000 plus optometrists in India but as per WHO, India requires about 2 lacs optometrists”.
- S. Berwal, Secretary, IOF, said, ‘Blindness in India can only be reduced or controlled if optometry is given its role of primary health care where they can diagnoses and treat patients for common eye ailments and refer patients who needs specialised care and surgical intervention. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW)had promised the same to Ooptometrists and that reflected in the original duties and responsibilities of optometrists in 1978. MOHFW unlawfully changed our duties, so that optometrists may remain subordinate and assistants in health care system’.