Are you just another Refractionist?

In this two part series of this article Mr Prasad Sawant writes on how optometrists should exuviate the label 'Refractionist'

As per the medical definition REFRACTIONIST, is a person (as an optometrist) skilled in the practical application of the laws of refraction especially to the determination of errors of refraction in the eye.[1] It is indeed a part of routine Optometric practice and one can even label it is as a bread & butter of this profession. Though doing an accurate and careful refraction is the integral part of our practice, one should not be labeled just as, “refractionist” and to avoid that label, one has to be really set apart his/her practice than others. I would be more proud to be called as, “optometrist” than “refractionist” 

To set these principles in mind, one has to be really focused-right from the undergraduate level. The professionalism should be in practice, delivering ethical and well learned services. As a guest lecturer and external examiner, I am associated with most of the Optometry schools across different states and thus fortunate to visit and view Optometry through various 

reflections. Students often come and ask their common queries regarding the practice and future prospectives of Optometry career. However, one of the most common questions from the first or second year undergraduate students that I always encounter is- “what should I do after my graduation?” I am happy to hear that question as it shows that students are really focused and want to concrete their career in the profession before they move out in practice. However, sometimes the situation is even better as, some students are already clear with their future prospects and they just want to know the correct path to follow to pursue their dreams. In both the scenarios, I try my best to guide them in the best possible way which will help them prove be reputed “Optometrists” in future and not mere refractionists.

 

I feel the current undergraduate Optometry students are more fortunate than the previous decade, because the senior batches have paved different paths. Almost at every further career path, whether it’s in India or abroad, someone is already there from the Indian optometry population, who has pursued the career in that direction and is prospering well, thus  making Indian Optometry proud. Hence, this helps immensely the emerging Optometrists to pursue in their desired direction to achieve their task. 

What is your focus?

Optometry is gaining its awareness than before

When I joined my diploma in 1994 at the Municipal Eye Hospital, Mumbai, other than my family members no one was aware of what Optometry was. When my relatives and friends asked me as to what I was doing -I used to hesitantly answer because every time along with the answer a brief explanation needed to be attached to describe the Optometry course. However, in past 5 years we see Optometry being promoted as an open career option for the science graduates in almost every newspaper, career guide and seminars. The credibility for such popularity in a short duration of time goes to the Optometry Institutes as well as the distinguished alumni. 

Do not limit yourself - explore, learn and grow!

Optometry graduates can either - pursue post-graduation (Masters in Optometry, MPhil) or take up clinical fellowships in specific areas of interest like anterior segments, posterior segment, pediatrics, contact lenses, orthoptics, low vision or ocular prosthesis offered by several eye institutes. These fellowships assist the Optometrist to shine in the field of their specialization.  Also it is rewarding take up lecturing in the Optometry school to share your knowledge and expertise reflecting the gratitude toward the profession which nurtures you. It also inspires the emerging optometrists to pursue their career in best possible direction. 

The training and scope of practice of optometry in India has been somewhat fragmented in the past, however, in the last 5 years, made tremendous progress toward the establishment of a unified, standardized, and regulated profession that will meet its responsibilities for vision care, eye health, and provision of optical services to all those needing vision correction.[2] One can really become a successful Optometrist and eradicating the label of refractionist by practicing ethically and professionally. 

 

In the continuation article projected to be published next month, I will detail on tips and pearls of establishing one’s own optometry practice. 

References:

  1. www.merriam-webster.com/medical/refractionist

  2. The role of optometrists in India: An integral part of an eye health team. Neilsen De Souza et al. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2012 Sep-Oct; 60(5): 401–405.

Mr Prasad Sawant is ‘not just another optometrist’, he established himself from an amateur to a revered professional. During his journey he associated himself with other eye care professionals, academics and also international organizations and associations. 

Prasad started his optometry career by completing a Diploma in Optometry from the Municipal Eye Hospital, Mumbai. Later, he completed Bachelors (2001) and Masters (2005) degrees in optometry from Bharati Vidyapeeth School of Optometry, Pune. Between these two academic degrees he obtained a clinical optometry fellowship from LVPEI (2002). After his post-graduation he also obtained a Fellowship in Scleral Lenses from Boston Foundation for Sight, USA (2008) and British Contact Lens Association Fellowship (2014). 

lens Educators, Australia (2011) and was on faculty panel of Johnson & Johnson as the Vision Care Institute speaker (2010-2014). In addition to presenting in national and international Optometry conferences, Prasad is a guest faculty and external examiner at Bharati Vidyapeeth School of Optometry, Pune. Lotus College of Optometry, Mumbai, Manipal School of Optometry, Manipal, and Nagar School of Optometry, Ahmedabad.

Prasad is practicing Boston Scleral Lenses as a Clinical Associate for the PROSE Clinic (Boston Foundation for Sight), India at The Eye Super-Specialties, Ghatkoper-Mumbai.  Also he is an accredited Fellow of International Association of Contact 

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