Save optometry, save India's vision

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Eyes are the windows to the soul. A very apt saying, but are our eyes really being safeguarded? Who is supposed to take care of our eyes? My father is an optometrist. He is the guardian of our eyes as a primary eye care practitioner. After years of practicing optometry, he finds himself in a state of helplessness. WHY?!?! Even after 73 years of freedom, his profession does not have a legal stamp of a council from our government. Even after years of existence of the ministries of higher education, the universities are finding loopholes in the system and engaging in unethical collaborations with industries for short term gains. Are 1.3 billion pairs of Indian eyes still at the mercy of the unethical systems and collaborations? Are we not going to wake up to these misadventures of our universities and the people in power? Will we allow the nexus of inapt education system and industries get the better of our basic right to having healthy eyes? It is not only universities, but corporates too have also got into short term training courses for rural areas with the excuse of poor accessibility. Does it mean that rural India will get inappropriate care than a person living in city?? IS IT NOT UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE: meaning all get the same standard care?? Please sign my petition to the HRD ministry and UGC to rectify the system and stop unethical collaborations between universities and industries and to stop all short term certificate courses run by corporates.

Optometrists are the primary eye care professionals and are the first line of defence in eyecare across the world. They are the first professionals who examine our eyes, diagnose the problems, provide appropriate management, and if required, refer them to other professionals for further management and treatment. This requires a stringent university level education for a minimum of 4 years and further specializations. Minimum standards of curriculum, infra structure, faculty – student – equipment ratios etc are all in place. However, certain universities are able to find loopholes in the systems and circumvent the set norms for short term gains. They are doing the biggest disservice to our nation and the people of India at large. Graduates thus produced will be ill trained to take care of our eyes and will be extremely dangerous to the society.

Recently, Chitkara university (a prestigious private university) in Punjab, entered into an industry academia collaboration with a spectacle chain. The reason for this collaboration is obvious. Students of this program will spend most of their years of education in the spectacle outlets of the industry partner and fulfil their manpower requirements. Optometry being a branch of medical system requires the students to be trained in eyecare hospitals and speciality clinics for most part of their education. At least 3 years of their education requires clinical exposure in facilities which can train them to detect, diagnose and manage any eye related ailment and their systemic manifestations. This stringent clinical training is just not possible in an optical outlet.

Please sign my petition to the HRD ministry and UGC and stop such collaborations which will be detrimental to the eyes and vision of my fellow Indians. Support my petition to save my father and thousands of optometrists like him from helplessness. They are required to guide the vision of India for generations to come.