The Role and Challenges of Optometrist in India

According to the definition of the World Council of Optometry (WCO), an organization that represents over 250,000 optometrists worldwide,

Optometry is a healthcare profession that is autonomous, educated, and regulated (licensed/registered), and optometrists are the primary healthcare practitioners of the eye and visual system who provide comprehensive eye and vision care, which includes refraction and dispensing, detection/diagnosis and management of disease in the eye, and the rehabilitation of conditions of the visual system”


Bachelor of Optometry passed graduates can able to perform

  • Prescribe the latest advances in spectacle lenses including progressive, aspheric, and safety/protective spectacles based on the visual needs of the patient,
  • prescribe rigid and soft contact lenses including orthokeratology, frequent replacement, and extended wear contact lenses,
  • conduct complex contact lens fitting for paediatric eye conditions, keratoconus, postsurgical complications, eye trauma, and corneal ectasia,
  • prescribe vision therapy, vision training or orthoptic treatment for children with learning problems or common binocular vision disorders, including strabismus and amblyopia,
  • provide low vision and rehabilitative services-vision aids assisting visually impaired people to use their functional vision more effectively,
  • detector diagnose ocular conditions and associated systemic health conditions, and refer them to appropriate health care professionals, and
  • offer counselling services on preventive vision care.


The services offered by an optometrist vary from country to country. The scope of practice of optometry in India is still poorly defined. The public does not have a clear understanding of the role and responsibility of optometrists in the healthcare system. There are multiple cadres of optometrists providing eye care services with varying levels of skill and training.

Optometry in India

Optometry in India is making progress toward regulation. The Optometry Council of India, which is due to commence in late 2012, will serve as a peer-reviewed independent statutory body to promote high standards of professional practice and conduct and assure quality control in education and in the practice of optometry. The council will deal with complaints against registered optometrists regarding matters of professional misconduct, and implement disciplinary action against those who do not adhere to the code of practice. Therefore, the scope of practice needs to be clearly defined.


Registering optometry as an independent health care professional is needed in India. 

As based on the articles The role of optometrists in India: An integral part of an eye health team Currently, optometry is considered by some to be allied health or paramedical profession in India. Considering the primary access by the public, the skills and services provided by optometrists, and the contribution to knowledge by optometric research, optometry must be considered an independent profession and be afforded an independent government-controlled council such as pharmacy and dentistry. The optometrist, being the first line of contact in eye care, must be legislated to work independently in order to provide essential eye care service across the country, detect various systemic diseases in the population and work collaboratively with ophthalmologists.


  1. Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness in India. 2008

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