The three-day second World Congress of Optometry 2017 was inaugurated in Hyderabad on Monday. For the next three days, world's leading eye health experts will discuss and present new ideas, share research and knowledge from various facets of optometry. Telangana Health and Medical Minister C. Laxma Reddy, formally opened the conference at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre.

Deliberations will focus on the future of optometry, upgrading optometrists' skills, as well as developing clinical and professional knowledge and skills. The conference will offer opportunities for networking among participants in a collegial spirit, and further the exchange of knowledge and experiences for professional enhancement, education and career development. Eye experts see hope for visually impaired at the World Congress of Optometry.

In his inaugural address, C Laxma Reddy said that allocation of appropriate budget for health and proper implementation of the various programs by the government had resulted in the improvement of the various health indicators like infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate and vaccination in the State.

The Minister said the State government was working towards making the healthcare delivery more affordable, accessible to all. “The government was implementing various strategies like training of ophthalmic personnel, provision of equipment, refractive error screening, glaucoma screening, diabetic retinopathy screening, eye bank activities and free cataract surgeries.” Vinod Daniel, National Organising Committee Chair and CEO India Vision Institute (IVI), said, "Of the national requirement of around 150,000 professionals, there are currently only 40,000 optometrists in India. There is clearly a big shortfall in optometrists, which needs to be looked into urgently."

He said sometimes all it took to address visual impairments was a pair of spectacles. Generating awareness in communities would also help play a catalytic role in achieving faster results,” he said.

Vinod Daniel said there were 10 crore individuals in India who probably have no access to a pair of glasses. Especially in smaller cities and towns  in India where the penetration by optometrists was very low or zero in some cases.

Dr Uduak Udom, President World Council of Optometry,  said, “India, a country which was seeing great developments on all fronts, including strides in optometry and vision care delivery. India should take the lead in leading the world. We have a lot to learn from India.”

Shameem N Razak, President, Asia Pacific Council of Optometry, said challenges remained and these must be overcome. “We hope to address several issues confronting countries around the world at the conference,” he said. – The Hans India 

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