The Three O’s In Optometry

The term “optometry” derives from the Greek words “Opsis” and “Metron,” with “Opsis” signifying “view” and “metron” translating to “measure.” In essence, optometry pertains to the measurement of vision.

According to the World Council of Optometry (WCO), “Optometry 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 diseases in the eye, and the rehabilitation of conditions of the visual system.”

Now, let’s delve into the roles and significance of the three Os in optometry, namely Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, and Opticians, within the realm of eye care services. First and foremost, it’s vital to grasp the qualifications associated with these professions. 

“O” For Ophthalmologists

Ophthalmologists, often referred to as eye specialists, are medical doctors who undergo medical training and choose to specialise in eye care. These professionals are licensed to practice medicine and surgery, with their primary focus being the treatment of eye disorders and diseases.

“O” For Optometrists

On the other hand, Optometrists are healthcare professionals specialising in primary vision care. In Malaysia, optometrists receive comprehensive education on ocular health and are trained to conduct eye examinations. This is typically a four-year degree programme available in public and private higher education institutions. Some optometrists further their expertise through postgraduate studies, delving into sub-specialities like low vision, binocular vision, paediatrics, contact lens fitting, and public health optometry.

“O” For Opticians

Opticians are skilled technicians responsible for fitting and dispensing eyeglass lenses and other vision-correcting devices. They must complete a two-year opticianry programme before being eligible to practice.

In Malaysia, both opticians and optometrists are regulated by the Malaysian Optical Council (MOC) under the Ministry of Health. The Optical Act (1991) mandates that each registered optician and optometrist must prominently display their annual practising certificates (APC) issued by MOC at their respective premises.

Certificates to Practice

To distinguish between opticians and optometrists, one can refer to their APCs. Opticians receive blue and pink certificates. The blue certificate permits the dispensing of glasses, while the pink certificate is exclusively awarded to opticians who have completed the rigorous contact lens examination organised by MOC, allowing them to prescribe and dispense both contact lenses and glasses.

The green certificate is granted to optometrists, enabling them to practice without the need for additional examinations upon graduation. They are qualified to dispense glasses, engage in contact lens fitting, and diagnose vision issues stemming from refractive errors, eye diseases, and squints. Optometrists are crucial in identifying vision problems caused by eye diseases or necessitating surgical intervention, referring such cases to Ophthalmologists for further treatment. It’s essential to note that optometrists do not practice medicine or perform surgical procedures.

By comprehending the qualifications and professional roles of these three essential components in the field of optometry, individuals can make informed choices when seeking assistance for vision-related concerns. This understanding ensures that we access the appropriate expertise and care tailored to our specific needs.

About the Author: 


Lecturer, Faculty of Optometry and Vision Sciences, SEGi University

Law Yi Zuo is a distinguished lecturer in the Faculty of Optometry and Vision Sciences at SEGi University. He has a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Optometry from the National Institute of Ophthalmic Sciences (NIOS), Malaysia, and obtained a Master of Science (MSc) in Clinical Ophthalmology & Vision Research from Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland, UK. Yi Zuo brings a rich academic background and international perspective to optometry. As a dedicated educator, he is committed to shaping the next generation of optometry professionals. His academic journey and expertise in optometry underscore his passion for the subject and his valuable contributions to the academic community at SEGi University.


Spread the love