Gentlemen of the Press,
It is with great pleasure that I address you on behalf of the National Executive Council and the Board of Trustees of Nigerian Optometric Association. Today 23rd March 2023 is a remarkable in every sense of it as it has been dedicated as the World Optometry Day, a day which has been set aside to celebrate Optometrists and highlight the strategic place of Optometrists in the Eyecare sector world over. The theme for this year, “Expanding Optometry’s Role… The Time is Now!”is well thought out due to the dynamic nature of the Eye care sector. This then implies that the increasing complications of vision impairment and it’s burden demands that the capacity of the Optometrist to handle these challenges continues to expand in order to meet up with this burden.
The eye remains one of the greatest creations of God in the human body. Hence eye care is a must and a collective responsibility of both the caregivers and the recipients. Eye health is more than just sight – it is about a vision of the future. Good eye health has a multiplicity of effects, improving education, economic and health outcomes. If the world’s eye care needs were met, the impact would be astounding. The role of the Optometrist as the first point of call in the eye care industry is very strategic. Recognizing and according Optometrists this role by all stakeholders would go a long way in attaining global eye health targets.
Optometry according to the World Council of Optometry (WCO) is a healthcare profession that is autonomous, educated, and regulated (licensed/registered), and Optometrists are the primary healthcare practitioners of the eye and visual system who provide comprehensive eye and vision care, which includes refraction and dispensing, detection/diagnosis and management of disease in the eye, and the rehabilitation of conditions of the visual system. In Nigeria the sole regulatory body for the practice of Optometry, the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Registration Board of Nigeria (ODORBN) equally defined an Optometrist as a health-care professional specializing in the art and science of vision care and whose scope of practice include: eye examinations to determine refractive errors and other departures from the optimally healthy and visually efficient eye; corrections of refractive errors of binocularity by means of vision training (orthoptics); diagnosis and management of minor ocular infections which do not pose a threat to the integrity of the ocular or visual system; and ocular first aid.As the first Eye care contact, Optometry services must be more available, accessible and affordable, while Optometrists must be patient-friendly with good interactive and communication prowess, which enables them clerk, take good history and get useful information on the medical and ophthalmic history of the patient, use scientific methods to apply Optometric and Medical knowledge, and then recommend treatment or professional referral to other medical/health experts as the case may be.
As we join the world in marking this year’s World Optometry Day, it is remarkable to note that self care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what is left of you. By implication this day has been set aside to appreciate and recognize the role and impact of Optometrists in Nigeria and globally in the Eyecare industry. It is an excellent opportunity to be grateful to all Optometrists for your efforts in preventing avoidable vision impairment and blindness. Let us take a pause and celebrate all optometrists for what you do.
I would like to send a heartfelt appreciation to all of you who spend your time to serve others. Your contributions towards proffering solutions to the eye care needs of humanity in the areas of managing eye problems and bolstering the elimination of avoidable blindness from the world, contributions in research, policy, leadership, advocacy and community awareness cannot be wished away. These are traits that are sorely needed in the society, and we look forward to the day when the entire world recognizes the hard work you do.
As the world marks the Optometry Day today, the full integration of Optometry services into the health system of every Country including Nigeria remains critical to ensure that there are clear routes to the right care. This is the only way to attain the global eye care goals and targets thereby expanding the roles of the Optometrist.
Once again, thank you for your tireless work, and happy World Optometry Dayᴉᴉᴉ
Dr. Obinna Awiaka