THE PRIVATE OPTOMETRY PRACTICES IN MALAYSIA: THE PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
The prevalence of private optometry practices that achieve the minimum standard operation procedure (SOP) in eye examination by Ministry of Health Malaysia and number of referral cases by private practices to the hospitals are identified in order to ensure the eye care services from optometrists in Malaysia can be optimized. An online survey has been distributed to all private optometrists with Annual Practicing Certificate (APC) of 2017 through their private email address; through alumni WhatsApp groups of all Optometry schools in Malaysia; and to the members of the Association of Malaysian Optometrists (AMO).The survey included questions on their demographics, available equipment, ophthalmic procedures routinely conducted in practice, barriers to provide routine procedures, special optometric clinic provided and the number of referral cases to hospitals. Respondents answered the questions given within the time frame of 1st September 2018 until 28th February 2019. Seventy-one (N=71) optometrists had responded the survey. Most practices had basic optometric instruments to conduct visual testing and refraction; equipments such as illuminated or projected Snellen chart (95.8%), retinoscopy (88.7%) and complete trial set (100.0%); but not the other essential equipments: direct ophthalmoscopes (78.9%), slit lamp biomicroscopy (67.6%), keratometry (46.5%) and RAF rules (46.5%). The lack of such essential equipment corresponds to the low number of practices conducting the respective procedures routinely. Most of respondents stated the reason for not providing full eye check-up in practices were due to unavailability of equipment (79.1%), lack of time (59.7%) and requested by the customers (34.3%). For the referral cases, private optometry practice only referred 0-20 cases per month. This study brings forward several suggestions to improve the present situation of eye care services in Malaysia. The data elicited in this study may be used as a basis to fulfill the demanding eye-care needs and determining the training and support guidelines for the efficient optometric services in Malaysia.