Opinion Regional

Stop Misinforming the Public about Optometrists in Ghana

It is with sadness and such utter disappointment that I have to write this article during such a critical time in the annual calendar of the Eye Care community in our beloved country, Ghana. At a time where there should be effective and efficient collaborations and team work to facilitate the campaign and education on Glaucoma, we are compelled to respond to unmerited vitriol and scandalous misinformation.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/_ZI_17MLFg8

Through a series of well coordinated media appearances, some Ophthalmologists have decided to abandon the actual purpose of public eye health education and instead indulge in pettiness and misrepresention. In both television and radio appearances, these eye care professionals decided to malign the effort and qualifications of Optometrists in Ghana, going even to the extent of labeling us as "just vision scientists" . These slanderous effusions aren't only inaccurate but demeaning and deleterious to the health of the entire eye care community and especially to the reputation and brand of Optometrists in Ghana.

The job description and scope of practice of all eye care professionals including Optometrists is actually public information.

The Ghana Act 829 which established HeFRA (Heath Facilities Regulatory Authority) legally describes an Optometric centre (Eye Centre) as the first line of treatment of eye diseases which emphasized the use of diagnostic and therapeutic methods to treat eye and vision problems.
Additionally, the Allied Health Job Description Document from page 1 to 15 clearly and unequivocally spell out the legal and approved scope of practice for the Optometry Doctor (OD).

A basic and cursory look at any of these documents would have informed anyone especially an eye care professional appearing on an international renowned and nationally respected media platform to accurately educate the public and not to misinform them. It is untenable to assume that this guffaw isn't calculated and deliberate. The worst part is that, this particular series of unfortunate remarks aren't a recent occurrence. Last year, one of the ophthalmologists involved made similar utterances when he got a media slot and was emboldened to repeat them this year. This is particularly unfortunate , unprofessional and Machiavellian.

Whilst eye care professionals in other jurisdictions are collaborating to hit various global eye health targets, it is rather sad that, others here in Ghana, would be more eager to argue on who can prescribe medications and who is a "real" doctor.

It is however worth mentioning that, not all ophthalmologists are involved or endorse this unfortunate remarks. I therefore humbly call on all well meaning ophthalmologists and the leadership of the national body to bring these people to book. We urgently ask the ophthalmologists involved to desist from misinforming the public and instead focus on the important goal of mitigating the effects of Glaucoma especially during this week and subsequently on other eye care goals .

We need each other to save sight. A house that stands against itself will fall.

Lastly to the general public, I want to assure you to disregard any attempt to malign the credibility of Optometry in Ghana. Continue to trust in your Optometrist for all your primary eye care needs. They are very qualified and certified to assist you.

I will end this with a quote from Zen Shin…
"A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms."

Long live Optometry. Long live Eye Care.

By Dr. Samuel Tinagyei OD
Optometrist, Mental Health Advocate, Author and Speaker

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