I have not been able to write as many articles as I used to do in the past, because since 15 April 2010 I have been appointed as the Head of the Optometry School, International University College of Technology Twintech at Sri Damansara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I received the call from the Acting Vice Chancellor of the University on Monday requesting me to take over the post. I came to see her on Tuesday the following day, and I started my work as the Head of the School on Wednesday. I have never imagined that I will ever come back to the academic line. I graduated as an Optometrist in 1979. I joined the Optometric Unit, Department of Ophthalmology Faculty of Medicine National University of Malaysia as a tutor in 1981. I completed my postgraduate studies from University of Melbourne, the same University as I graduated in 1984. I became the lecturer in Optometry in the Department of Optometry Faculty of Medicine National University of Malaysia in 1984. I open my private practice in 1987 in Medan Mara Kuala Lumpur. The Department of Optometry National University of Malaysia produce its first batch of graduates in 1986 and that was the first batch of Optometrists graduated from the local University in Malaysia.
Later the Department of Optometry becomes one of the departments in the Faculty of Allied Health Sciences National University of Malaysia. The Department of Optometry awarded the degree Bachelor of Optometry with Honors and with this degree; they are qualified to register with Malaysian Optical Council and to practice in Malaysia as an Optometrist. Many Malaysians are still not aware the presence of Optometrist in the eye health care system. Many cannot differentiate the different between Optometrist and Optician and the different between Optometrist and the Ophthalmologist. Since 1986, the Malaysian Government has created the post of Optometrist in many hospitals in the country. The Optometrists work in the eye clinics in the hospital with the Opthalmologist. The Ophthalmologists are the medical doctors specializing in the treatment of eye diseases and surgery. Optometrist is a profession specializing in the treatment of anomalies of visual function. Although legally Ophthalmologist and Optometrist are qualified to prescribe spectacles and other visual aids but the Optometrist is more well train to prescribe visual aids such as spectacles, contact lenses, prism, low vision aids and to assess other vision anomalies than Ophthalmologists are. Ophthalmologists are train to treat eye diseases using drugs and to perform eye surgery. Opticians are trains to dispense the spectacles prescribe by Optometrists and Ophthalmologists. Legally Opticians cannot prescribe any spectacles, contact lenses or other visual aids to patients but in Malaysia, they do, as there are few Optometrists. In Malaysia, the opticians that can prescribe spectacles are only the registered Optician and there are about 3000 opticians, and most are not registered. There are only 700 Optometrists in Malaysia. Many opticians particularly in the rural areas of Malaysia are not registered. In many undeveloped countries, Ophthalmologist writes the prescription and Optician will dispense the prescription to the patients .In countries where there are few number of Ophthalmologists to meet the demand of the population, Opticians takes over the role of Optometrists.
Optometrists are primary eye care provider. Whenever we have any symptoms of blur vision, we should go to visit the Optometrist and not the Optician. Optometrist will examine the eyes thoroughly to ensure the causes of the blur vision are purely due to refractive error and not due to any systemic and ocular diseases. Optometrist will only prescribe spectacles when the patient’s eyes are healthy or the patients have undertaken treatment. Optometrists are train to detect eye diseases and are able to refer the patients to the Ophthalmologists for treatment. Optometrists are also train to detect signs in the eyes related to systemic diseases and are able to refer the patients to doctors for treatment. Eyes are the most transparent part of the body and by using ophthalmoscopes; the Optometrists and the Ophthalmologists are able to see the fundus and the blood vessels of the eyes. Diabetic and hypertensive patients may have signs of the diseases in the fundus of the eyes and Optometrists during their routine eye examination may be able to detect those signs and thus be able to refer those patients early, to doctors for treatment. As blur vision, is among the early symptoms of diabetic and hypertension, a patient with early diabetic or hypertension may pay their first visits to the Optometrist instead to the medical doctors. In case these patients go to the Optician instead of Optometrists, their medical condition will goes undetected, as Opticians are not train to detect ocular and systemic diseases. Those Malaysians particularly who live in Kuala Lumpur and are interested to have their eye examined thoroughly by our students and supervised by our Optometrist can contact Twintech Vision Centre at Wisma Twintech, Sri Damansara, Kuala Lumpur at +60362749033.
International University College of Technology Twintech is the only private institution that has the accreditation to run the course of Bachelor of Optometry in Malaysia. Twintech School of Optometry has produced two batches of graduates. At present there are more than one hundred students including foreigners studying Optometry at Twintech. Twintech School of Optometry will continue to expand to become among the best School of Optometry in the region. They are very few locals who have postgraduate’s degrees who are interested to become academicians. Most locals are more interested to run their private practice instead of joining the teaching professions. I hope those Malaysians with postgraduate’s degree who are currently living abroad and interested to join academic lines are most welcome to join Twintech School of Optometry. Since there are very few Malaysians with postgraduate‘s degrees who are able to become lecturers, Twintech School of Optometry are looking for foreigners with postgraduates degrees in Optometry to join us as lecturer. We are looking forward to have you with us in Malaysia. Twintech School of Optometry is also looking for one resident Optometrist; one Ophthalmic Technicians and one Dispensing Optician. Those who are interested may contact Dr. Zulkifly Omar, Deputy Vice Chancellor +60362861200 ext. 606. Fax +60362747055 and please visit our official website http://www.twintech.edu.my/index.php
Dr. Nasoha Saabin
Dean of Faculty of Optometry
International University College of Technology Twintech
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia