THE SA OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION ALERTS THE PUBLIC TO THE DANGERS OF PURCHASING READY MADE AND ADJUSTABLE READERS WITHOUT THE ADVICE OF A REGISTERED OPTOMETRIST OR EYE CARE PRACTITIONER.
Visual impairment is considered the most prevalent impairment worldwide. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 285 million people suffer from moderate to severe vision loss ,with 39 million considered blind. Of these, 123 million (43%) have uncorrected distance refractive errors. In addition, there are 517 million people with near vision impairment due to uncorrected presbyopia ( age related changes).
Uncorrected refractive error is, thus, the leading cause of visual impairment globally which places a financial burden on the economy, is a significant contributing factor to poverty and, very importantly, is avoidable.
The high volume of cases, and consequent scale of disability and economic impact caused by uncorrected refractive error (URE) has led to various attempts to provide short-cut refractive care. Ready- made readers and self-adjustable spectacles have been promoted by several companies and organizations as a potential solution,
The SAOA recognises the good intentions behind these short-cuts and spectacle technology in some cases but advises members of the public and other parties engaged in promoting eye health that they should exercise extreme caution with or avoid adjustable spectacles at this time.
“ The gift of sight is often taken for granted. We have one set of eyes. We have no choice but to delicately look well after them “, says Dollars Boloka, President of the South African Optometric Association ( SAOA) “ In principle, an annual eye examination by a registered eye care practitioner is recommended in order to assess the health of our eyes and vision. Importantly, the comprehensive vision and eye health examination will be able to detect any early pathology and reduce the risk of possible resultant eye/vision related complications. Of particular concern, is that the use of readers, adjustable or not, without the appropriate professional guidance, could mask any underlying eye condition“.
Mr. Boloka continued, “ Furthermore, the selection, fitting, verification and dispensing of visual devices require skill and expertise. For example, ill-fitting spectacles may not result in the desired clear, comfortable, and effective vision and, in some instances, may actually blur the visibility needed for (e.g.) driver safety”.
It is therefore essential for individuals (adults and children) with vision loss or impairment to consult only registered optometrists or eye care providers who will have the necessary expertise to diagnose the vision impairment or loss, determine the degree of severity, identify exact needs, and recommend the most suitable devices to accommodate those needs.
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 disease of the eye, and the rehabilitation of conditions of the visual system . The public should be aware of the factors which impact on vision and are advised to only consult registered optometrists for an eye examination, should they suspect any visual difficulty.
The South African Optometric Association( SAOA) is a professional association representing the professions of optometry and dispensing opticians in South Africa. In essence, the SAOA represent the interests of its members, and in so doing, the interests of the professions, generally, as well as the public. For further information contact the South African Optometric association via firstname.lastname@example.org .