Expedite plans to let optometrists use diagnostic eye drops

Optometrists' main task is to manage and control myopia.

Under the Optometrists and Opticians Act, only optometrists and ophthalmologists can refract the eyes of young children below the age of eight ("Myopia at young age carries risk later"; last Friday).

Under the Act, optometrists are also responsible for detecting common ocular diseases and referring patients to other healthcare professionals for follow-up.

Optometrists can play a significant role in the war against diabetes.

They are required to look into the eyes of their patients during eye examinations, to look out for diabetic retinopathy, and to refer patients to ophthalmologists if there are symptoms.

Early detection can prevent blindness.

Optometrists, no doubt, play an important role in primary eye care.

However, we are handicapped by not being able to use diagnostic eye drops. Unlike other developed countries, Singapore does not allow optometrists to use diagnostic eye drops.

There are two types of diagnostic eye drops that can help optometrists perform their roles more efficiently.

Cycloplegic eye drops can help optometrists get more accurate refraction results in some young children and to rule out pseudomyopia.

Mydriatic eye drops enlarge the pupil so that optometrists can examine the retina better and detect if there is any retinopathy or other potential retinal diseases.

I urge the Ministry of Health to expedite the implementation of the plan to let optometrists use diagnostic drugs ("MOH may let optometrists use diagnostic eye drops"; Nov 25, 2011).

Koh Liang Hwee (Dr)

President

Singapore Optometric Association

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2016, with the headline 'Expedite plans to let optometrists use diagnostic eye drops'. Print Edition | Subscribe