First Impression on Optometry

Right after SPM, everyone around me started to discuss about university and courses they are interested in. They even compared how a field is more money-making and reputation building than the other. Despite all the debates, my mom wanted me to pick according to my interest but honestly, I was so unsure and indecisive among all those courses.

Then, there’s one day when I heard about optometry in those conversations. First thing came to my mind was “What does optometry mean?”, never did I hear that word before. That one question had led to my friend lecturing me on the differences between optician, optometrist and ophthalmologist as well as the right degree course to pursue for each job and universities that offer those courses.

Slowly, as I researched more, I come to recognise the distinction in terms of job scope for the three careers. According to laws in most of the countries, optician only works on lens fitting and crafting by using prescriptions prescribed by ophthalmologists and optometrists. An optician cannot carry out visual test or give lens prescription. Besides, an optician ought to undergo training for about two years. However, since there is no specific law in Malaysia regarding this matter, optician usually tests vision and prescribes lens too. I am interested to learn more knowledge than the aforementioned skills so I exclude the optician path from my list.

On the other hand, optometrist needs to undergo four years of Bachelor in Optometry in Malaysia whereas some enroll into four years of optometry school to obtain title of O.D. (Doctor of Optometry) in other countries. Optometrist provides primary visual care through sight testing, sight correcting and management of vision changes. Optometrist differs from ophthalmologist in that they do not perform eye surgery. Optometrist’s daily tasks include performing eye and vision exams, prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses and detecting eye abnormalities. Optometrist in certain countries can legally prescribe medications for specific eye diseases but not in Malaysia. Knowing this piece of information, I know that this could be one of the choices. I am kind of excited to set up my own practice. The course outline and duration of study is more preferable as well. Not to mention, the tuition fee is fairly acceptable especially at UCSI University.

Apart from the other two, ophthalmologist is an eye medical doctor. After four years of medical school, they need to go through another four years of residency training in ophthalmology. They are licensed medical professionals to diagnose and treat medical and surgical problems, who are permitted to prescribe corrective glasses and non-invasive. Ophthalmologist can practice surgery and conduct research, actively working with other experts in the field to reveal the causes and cures for eye diseases and vision impairment. Wow! I could not imagine myself study for more than eight years under intense stress, study load and finance burden. Thus, I gave up on considering this path.

After comparing Bachelor in Optometry with other courses on my standby list and discussing with my parents, I finally decided on taking Bachelor in Optometry. I looked up for the universities and colleges in Malaysia which offers this course. I came across a public university but its enrollment process recoiled me. Then, I discovered UCSI University. Due to the scholarship provided, I decided to join Foundation in Science in UCSI before leading to Bachelor in Optometry. I applied for the scholarship and got full fee waiver for Foundation with my excellent SPM results. There goes how I started my university life in UCSI.

I am currently sponsored by UCSI Trust Scholarship and it has been really helpful in easing my parents’ burden. There are times that I love and hate about my school but I am happy that I came here. I get to meet friends who are nice and treat me well, unlike what the elderly back in my hometown warned me on how people from the west looking down on us, the east.