Insightful perspectives: focussing on the important role optometrists play in our community this World Optometry Day

In the realm of public health, the positive and profound impact optometrists have can often go overlooked or undervalued by the broader community, despite the crucial role they play in safeguarding not only our vision but also our overall health at large.

While the primary focus of optometrists lies in the prevention, management and correction of various eye conditions and diseases, the significance of the work they do extends far beyond prescribing glasses or contact lenses.

So, ahead of World Optometry Day this Saturday March 23, we’re shining a spotlight on optometrists and the priceless contribution they make to the health and wellbeing of communities across Australia and the globe.

Guardians of vision 

Optometrists are on the frontline when it comes to people maintaining good eye and visual health; they perform more than 10 million eye checks in Australia annually and are appropriately the first port of call for 80 percent of Aussies when they have eye or vision concerns.  

Through comprehensive eye examinations, optometrists assess not just visual acuity (sharpness of vision) but also screen for a myriad of eye conditions and diseases; identifying these conditions early can be crucial in preventing irreversible damage and preserving sight.

Detecting systemic health issues 

Interestingly, the eyes often serve as windows into our overall health 

Firstly, the retina is the only place in the body where your blood vessels can be seen clearly and secondly, 40 percent of nerve fibres connected to the brain are linked to your retina.  

This means that early changes to eye health and vision can be indicative of other broader health issues going on, with optometrists able to recognise signs of systemic diseases during routine eye exams.  

Symptoms of conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, autoimmune disorders and certain cancers can initially manifest in the eyes. By identifying these early warning signs, optometrists can encourage patients to seek further medical evaluation, potentially leading to prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Advocates for preventative care 

Beyond treating existing eye conditions, optometrists also emphasise the importance of regular eye exams as part of a proactive healthcare schedule. As discussed above, routine eye examinations can detect issues of varying severity before symptoms arise, enabling timely intervention and minimising the impact on one's quality of life.  

Optometrists also educate patients about good eye health habits, the importance of UV protection and lifestyle modifications to maintain optimal eye health.

Collaborators in interdisciplinary care 

By collaborating with ophthalmologists, primary care physicians (GPs) and other specialists to ensure comprehensive patient care, optometrists also contribute valuable insights that enhance treatment outcomes and patient wellbeing. 

Enhancing quality of life 

Optometrists are more than just eye experts - they are indispensable healthcare providers who champion the importance of vision. 

With research estimating that 80 to 85 percent of human perception, learning and cognition is mediated through sight, good eye health is inarguably and intricately linked to our experience and interpretation of the world around us. 

From safeguarding ocular health and detecting systemic diseases to advocating for preventive care and collaborating with fellow professionals, the contribution of optometrists is invaluable.  

As we celebrate their dedication and expertise this World Optometry Day, let us continue to value the vital role optometrists play in preserving sight and enriching lives.  

The next time you schedule an eye exam, remember that you're not just investing in your vision—you're prioritising your health and embracing a brighter future. 

It is recommended that every Australian, from the time they start primary school, pay their optometrist a visit every year until age 18, then every two years as an adult, and then yearly again after turning 65, for a comprehensive eye examination.   

To book an appointment with your local optometrist today, use our easy search tool here.  


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