The Global initiative VISION 2020: The Right to Sight was launched on 18 February 1999 in Geneva, Switzerland by Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General of the World Health Organization.
To eliminate the main causes of avoidable blindness by 2020, in order to give all people in the world the RIGHT TO SIGHT.
The Right to Sight will as a global partnership achieve its vision through the development of three major platforms. These platforms have been selected in order to take the campaign to a wider audience and, in a way that generates new financial and other support.
Key to the achievement of this vision is the role of the eye care professionals which include the Optometrist, the ophthalmologist, the optician and the ophthalmic nurse who form the eye care team. As in most developing nations ,the role of the key professionals, to ensure that the eye health of the people is met has been underestimated, making us wonder whether the 80% of preventable blindness especially in Sub-Saharan Africa can be overcome by the year 2020.In view of this, optometrists have been trained to play their unambiguous role. Where are the laws to regulate this profession? I think optometrists need a bill to regulate the profession in Ghana.
WHO ARE OPTOMETRISTS
Doctors of optometry are independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as diagnose related systemic conditions.
The mission of the profession of optometry is to fulfill the vision and eye care needs of the public through clinical care, research, and education, all of which enhance the quality of life.
Optometrists, through their clinical education, training, experience, and broad geographic distribution, have the means to provide primary eye and vision care services for a significant portion of the Ghanaian public.
Optometrists, also known as doctors of optometry, or ODs, are the main providers of vision care. They examine people’s eyes to diagnose vision problems, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness, and they test patients’ depth and color perception and ability to focus and coordinate the eyes. Optometrists prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses, or they prescribe or provide other treatments, such as vision therapy or low-vision rehabilitation.
Optometrists also test for glaucoma and other eye diseases and diagnose conditions caused by systemic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, referring patients to other health practitioners as needed. They administer drugs to patients to aid in the diagnosis of vision problems and to treat eye diseases. Optometrists often provide preoperative and postoperative care to cataract patients, as well as to patients who have had laser vision correction or other eye surgery.
Optometrists should not be confused with ophthalmologists or dispensing opticians. Ophthalmologists are physicians who perform eye surgery, as well as diagnose and treat eye diseases and injuries.
According to VISION 2020 report on world sight day, 2002, “every five seconds one person in our world goes blind… and a child goes blind every minute”. Also “there are 45 million blind people in the world… without VISION 2020 blindness is projected to reach 75 million by the year 2020 with the majority being in sub-Saharan Africa”. What are we doing about it? Optometrists have a keen role to play in the achievement of the goals of VISION 2020 so why has it been so difficult to pass the optometric bill to help regulate the profession? Why are others refusing to accept the fact that without team work they can never succeed?
E-mail: Ikepa2006@yahoo. com