Original Research

Ocular therapeutics and the profession of optometry in South Africa

Rekha Hansraj, Nokulunga Dlamini, Shoaib Khan, Phumelele C. Mtolo, Nqobile G. Ntuli, Cherise Prithipal, Husnaa Salajee, Zamadonda N.Q. Xulu-Kasaba
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 16, No 1 | a4140 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v16i1.4140 | © 2024 Rekha Hansraj, Nokulunga Dlamini, Shoaib Khan, Phumelele C. Mtolo, Nqobile G. Ntuli, Cherise Prithipal, Husnaa Salajee, Zamadonda N.Q. Xulu-Kasaba | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 May 2023 | Published: 16 January 2024

About the author(s)

Rekha Hansraj, Department of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Nokulunga Dlamini, Department of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Shoaib Khan, Department of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Phumelele C. Mtolo, Department of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Nqobile G. Ntuli, Department of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Cherise Prithipal, Department of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Husnaa Salajee, Department of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Zamadonda N.Q. Xulu-Kasaba, Department of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Abstract

Background: The role of an optometrist as defined by the World Council of Optometry includes the management of ocular diseases. In 2015, the scope of optometry in South Africa was expanded to include ocular therapeutic drugs. To date approximately 27 optometrists have obtained full certification to exercise ocular therapeutic privileges.

Aim: This study aimed to determine the interest, readiness, as well as challenges, of optometrists for the inclusion of ocular therapeutics into daily practice.

Setting: The study was set in South Africa.

Methods: A descriptive, cross-sectional study design was employed. Convenience sampling was used to recruit 420 participants from a study population of optometrists registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa, with data collected using an online questionnaire hosted on social media platforms and distributed by professional organisations. Data were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Science version 27.

Results: The majority of respondents (73.3%) reported keenness for ocular therapeutics certification. While 75.7% of respondents had obtained diagnostics certification, only 9.5% were registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) with ocular therapeutics certification. Most (92.1%) respondents reported the required minimum of 600 h of clinical training as a major challenge to obtaining ocular therapeutics certification. Almost all (96.9%) of the respondents agreed that ocular therapeutics certification will improve provision of optimal eyecare.

Conclusion: South African optometrists support and are personally interested in ocular therapeutics certification. However, while there is a preponderance of diagnostically qualified optometrists, very few are certified for ocular therapeutics with completion of the required clinical training for certification perceived as the greatest challenge.

Contribution: This findings in this study highlight that, current requirements to support ocular therapeutics certification of South African optometrists should be reviewed to ensure an enabling environment for the completion of the clinical training.


Keywords

ocular therapeutics; certification; optometrists; primary eye care; prescribing; optometrists; South Africa; clinical training

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities

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