For Immediate Release
Vision Exhibition and Eye Screening in Parliament of Malaysia to Advocate for the
Prevention of Blindness and Eye Health Awareness
Kuala Lumpur, 6th June 2023 – The Association of Malaysian Optometrists (AMO), the professional body representing all Malaysian Optometrists, today held an exhibition and eye health screening in parliament for the Members of Parliament and parliamentary staffs. This activity is part of a global initiative supported by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
The purposes of this event were:
- To promote awareness, early intervention, and prevention of blindness practices recommended by IAPB to work towards achieving Vision 2030 (Eye Care for All) and championing United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG).
- To urge for recognition of the Optometrist as Primary Eye Care provider and promote Community Optometrist (CO) Standard Operating Procedures and Benchmarking.
- To create awareness of the importance of comprehensive eye examinations and early detection of eye diseases in relation to blindness.
- To illuminate and highlight the issues faced by Malaysian public related to Community Optometrist (CO) vs optical retail stores.
Optometrists are autonomous, educated, and regulated primary eye care practitioners for the eye and visual system which provides eye and vision care. The field of care includes refraction and dispensing, diagnosing eye disease and abnormalities, rehabilitation, as well as management for aftercare. As many eye diseases remain undetected in the earlier stages, Optometrists also provide improvement in the quality of life for Low Vision patients.
Many legally blind or low vision cases can be prevented and detected in the early stages before the symptoms appear by visiting an Optometrist. Due to the nature of some diseases that are asymptomatic, such as Cataract, Diabetic Retinopathy and Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD), the disease can remain undetected until a later stage. Getting an earlier treatment can prevent or reduce the risk of blindness.
The eye screening today included examination of anterior and posterior parts of the eye using Slit Lamp Biomicroscope, Intraocular Eye Pressure (IOP) test, and Funduscopy. The members and staffs of the Parliament were also given a consultation on their eye conditions and were provided a referral note if necessary. The benchmark for Community Optometrist (CO) practice that was published and promoted by AMO shall include Slit Lamp examination, Funduscopy and Tonometry. This provides a meaningful distinction between Community Optometrists (CO) and optical retail stores. The equipment during this screening event included Eyemager Digital Slit Lamp, Fundus AirDoc with Artificial Intelligence capability, and Reichert Air Puff Tonometer, sponsored by Vitop (M) Sdn Bhd.
Primary Eyecare Services encompasses visual function and eye health comprehensively. Today, one of the challenges faced by Optometrist is that the Rakyat are still unable to differentiate between Community Optometrist (CO) and optical retail stores where it leads to more confusion in term of the services both parties provide.
AMO hopes that this event will create awareness for all Malaysians to have a better life with good vision where eye health is accessible, available, and affordable for everyone. Improving access to eye health services will contribute to achieving many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the goals to reduce poverty as well as increase work productivity, health, education, and equity.
In conclusion, AMO encourages and calls for all parties to work together in empowering the delivery of eye & vision healthcare in Malaysia. The government is called upon to fully utilize available resources including professionals in the private sectors such as Optometrists who can play a key role in primary eye care as Community Optometrist. As we only have the one pair of eyes, it is infinitely better to strive for prevention than to cure.