Leading eye surgeon Dr. Wasantha Gamage called on the Association of Ophthalmic Opticians to act in service of the nation. He noted that any inferiority complex the Optician industry had about their profession in comparison to doctors was unfounded.
Dr. Gamage noted that over 70% of blindness-causing problems can be prevented through early detection by the optician community. Dr. Gamage was speaking on December 4 at the Annual get-together of the Association of Ophthalmic Opticians.
Dr. Gamage called on the optician community to keep abreast of the ongoings in the scientific community. He noted that there were a large array of podcasts and other free resources on the World Wide Web supporting the eye care industry.
In the same vein, Dr. Gamage noted that providing people with glasses to improve their eyesight was not in fact a medical treatment. He said, “Refractive errors are not a disease. You are helping a customer see things more clearly.”
Dr. Gamage called on the profession to do more than just correct refractive weakness. He called on the entire optician community to without fail carry out multiple tests. He noted that testing both eyes and with a range of procedures including a mechanism to isolate single eyeballs was vital for getting an accurate diagnosis and early referral to a specialist eye doctor could save someone’s vision.
Dr. Gamage challenged the profession to surpass the widespread understanding that all opticians do is provide spectacles. He called on the opticians to look into unaided vision, eye movements, covered tests, uncovered tests, and other optical exams. He said, “Through these tests over 70% of the blindness-causing diseases can be identified.”
Spectacles are a very expensive item and the price is largely driven by the monopolistic market structure of the major manufacturers. The manufacturers in turn through the usage of dealers maintain a highly elevated price regime. The lower income segments that were otherwise unlikely to have purchased expensive spectacles are placated through the provision of free spectacles. The actual cost of manufacturing a pair of spectacles with modern technology is minimal.
Dr. Gamage critiqued the business focus of the current optician community. He noted that more could be done through the community in improving the vision for the vast majority of people. The industry would also benefit if more people were inclined to test their eyesight in order to identify any underlying condition early.