Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guest coloumn

Times Ascent :Optometry being a health care profession has been among the few sectors that did not get affected much by the recent slowdown.

Nilesh D Thite, Professional Services Manager with Bausch & Lomb Eye care (I) Pvt. Ltd discusses careers in the Optometry industry in India

1. Did the recent recession have an impact on the optometry sector in terms of hiring?
Optometry being a health care profession has been among the few sectors that did not get affected much by the recent slowdown. Eye care is an important health need of the people. Hence, the impact of recession has been limited to high end spectacle frames and fashion accessories.  Most of the top optometry colleges have a 100 per cent placement record as of today. 
2. What kind of career opportunities exist in this sector? What are the various job profiles?
Most of the fresh graduates initially work as employees of optometrists in private practice or with large optical chains or in public clinics. Occasionally, they may work with ophthalmologists. Most optometrists are self-employed or work for other optometrists in private practice. Sometimes, their work may involve visiting the homes of bed-ridden or house-bound patients, acting as a consultant to firms or factories at their premises or working at health care institutions such as hospitals, community health centers or special clinics.
Thus, a qualified optometrist can independently choose from options such as private practice (spectacle and contact lens clinics), working with eye hospitals, spectacle or contact lens manufacturing units, spectacle, instruments or contact lens industry, working overseas, working at teaching institutes or as research scientists.

3. What is the level of pay one can expect as an optometrist?
The remuneration of a fresh graduate in optometry depends on his/her own abilities, interest and also the choice of field. By and large, the profession offers satisfactory pay, which is at par with other professional courses.

4. What is the educational qualification and skills required for practicing Optometry or working as an Optometrist in India?
Optometry courses are based on Sciences, including Biology, Physics and Chemistry. Therefore, a thorough background in these subjects is essential for students entering the course. All the leading institutes in Optometry offer a Bachelor degree course in Optometry. As for skills, perhaps the most important personal quality an optometrist should have is a liking for people of all ages and a genuine desire to help the patients. Optometrists also need a willingness to continue learning, not only clinical knowledge which helps in caring for the patients, but also practice management where business acumen can be an asset.

5. What do you foresee for the future of Optometry in India? Which particular segments of this industry are likely to grow most?
Optometry today, although an unlicensed profession, in future will be a licensed and regulated profession in India.  With a population of over one billion, there is no dearth of growth here. Every single human being above the age of 40 will require ocular care in one way or the other, and considering that we are today the youngest nation in the world, we will also have the largest number of people above the age of 40 years in the world in the near future. Hence the industry looks quite promising.

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