22nd March, 2016
As the nation strives to stem cases of visual disorder that ultimately leads to blindness, Nigerian Optometrists gathered in Lagos to explore ways to advance their skills and address issues of common interest
To further rev up the widely applauded complementary Eye-Care service that Optometrists provide the Nigerian public, N-CONSULT and Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Registration Board of Nigeria, ODORBN, on 17 March, 2016, gathered at least 250 registered Optometrists drawn from Lagos and its environs, at Samanth Hall, Ikeja, Lagos, for a capacity building conference and practical demonstration workshop.
The gathering was aimed at sustaining the laudable developments in the profession since Decree No. 34 of 1989 affirmed Optometry as a healthcare profession specializing in the art and science of vision care.
The N-CONSULT ODORBN conference also aimed to further advance the professional interests of Optometrists which for some inexplicable reasons, older healthcare professionals as well as entrenched quacks that have dominated the industry have tried to stifle without success.
As it has been the norm with the leading lights of the profession since its birth to carefully single out and address the most critical issues affecting practitioners one after the other, the conference of 17th March spoke to three critical issues. The first was unity of purpose. Here, the conference strove to wield the growing number of practicing optometrists into one united front under ODORBN, to speak with one voice and continue to fight for their collective interests and completely retrieve their profession from charlatans.
The second issue the conference dealt with was effective management of conferee’s professional practice as a business distinct from the practitioners themselves. And the third and by no means less important, was the art of Contact Lens fitting; a growing trend in society particularly among elites that requires care because of the sensitivity of the eye.
All three resource persons that graced the event included Dr. Ronald Nze Eyime, former Registrar, ODORBN and winner of the 2003 World Optometrist of the Year; Dr Nkem Okoroafor, pioneer professional, leading light in the industry and Chief Executive Officer, N-CONSULT, co-organizer of the event. Mr Tony Ifeacho, a financial expert and a Chartered Accountant completes the list of three wise men.
Dr. Ronald Eyime’s paper was titled: “Advocacy In Optometry-The Nigerian Example”. The paper told the tortuous story behind the making of the profession and emphasized that the onus is on the current practitioners to cooperate with ODORBN and keep the flame for the struggles and fight for their interest aglow.
He highlighted how unity, doggedness and a common sense of purpose led the profession of Optometry to its present status in the matrix of professions in Nigeria; and how the same doggedness earned the profession its global reckoning at the WHO. And citing example from older professions like Law, Medicine, and Accounting, he underlined unwavering commitment, continuous self improvement, self confidence and respect for older colleagues as ways to excel and hold one’s own in professional practice.
Mr. Tony Ifeacho’s paper was titled: “Finance for Non-Finance Manager”. The paper emphasized the importance of good financial management in successful practice of Optometry like in any other business. Mr. Ifeacho stressed that personal monies must be treated separate from monies belonging to the business. The paper noted that although most Optometrists are young starters in business, it recommended that they must be acquainted with basic accounting and Book-Keeping terms and principles so that they will get to know how to apply them to manage the business aspect of their practice.
The paper noted that as a business, costs of diverse nature are incurred through purchases and payments made on behalf of the business. All these as well as the revenues generated from sales including the cash flow of the business must be properly recorded so that profit margin can be determined even as adequate room is created for new policy direction to be made. The paper recommended that at least, an Ordinary Level Diploma (OND) graduate of accounting would be better than not having anyone at all to help man the ledger and straighten the records.
As the option of fitting contact lens continues to trend among Nigerian elites as in other parts of the world, the need to have the device professionally fitted to avoid unpleasant consequences has come to the fore.
The third paper at the N-CONSULT ODORBN CERTIFIED CPD PROGRAMME was therefore titled, The Art of Contact Lens Fitting. It was delivered by Dr. Nkem Okoroafor, one of Nigeria’s frontline Optometrists and renowned expert in Contact Lens fitting. Dr. Nkem Okoroafor’s paper gave graphic description of how contact lens is fitted to correct visual eye defect and avoid unpleasant consequences.
The paper outlined and discussed the required tests that must be carried out to ascertain whether a contact lens would be suitable for a patient or not. Among the tests enumerated were, Ocular Examination, Refraction, Keratometry, Tear BUT/Shimmer Tear Test, Lid Tension Test, Corneal Diameter and Pupillary Diameter.
In the paper, Okoroafor enumerated the basic equipment needed for contact lens fitting, the Typical Initial Data, Fitting Procedure as well as Visual Assessment of the exercise. It treated in details how to handle patients’ over reaction to contact lens fitting as well as patient’s education on how to fit and remove contact lens on their own. The paper recommended occasional Rewetting of the eyes where dryness sets in as a result of inadequate production of tears and emphasized the importance of making reference to the standard fitting guidelines provided by contact lens manufacturers including a schedule for check up with clients to expose them to new trends.
The conference ended with a demonstration workshop session where trending Optometric equipment that N-CONSULT deployed to the venue were practically used to teach attendees.