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     FrontPage Edition: Tue 22 May 2007

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Optometrists and Opticians Bill


Optometrists and Opticians Bill Factsheet

In May this year, the Ministry of Health will propose legislation, in Parliament, to regulate the practices of optometrists and opticians. If passed in Parliament, it will be called the Optometrists and Opticians Bill.
The Optometrists and Opticians Bill will ensure that Singaporeans continue to enjoy high standard of primary eye care. The legislation will also ensure a high level of competence and standard of practice among optometrists and opticians.
Many developed countries such as the US, UK and Australia already have similar legislation in place.
Outcome of public consultation exercise
In the preparation of this legislation, a public consultation exercise was conducted between Sep and Oct 2005 to gather feedback from the public and the optometry and opticianry professionals.
The consultation exercise attracted more than 100 responses from the public and eye care professionals and practitioners. 80 per cent of respondents expressed support for the proposed legislation.
In our direct outreach to proprietors of optical shops and employees working in optical shops or eye care establishments, a large majority of them (84 per cent) was supportive of the proposed framework.
MOH is strongly encouraged by the response and the feedback received was seriously considered in the drafting of the legislative framework.
Care was also taken to strike a balance between ensuring high standards of primary eye care and minimising disruption to existing optometry and opticianry practices.
Implications on consumers and practitioners
The legislation, if passed, will not significantly inconvenience consumers of optometry and opticianry services.
Refraction and optical aid dispensing services will continue to be available at most optical shops.
However, the public should familiarise themselves with the functions and capabilities of optometrists and opticians. If in doubt, individuals should request to see the qualifications of the attending practitioner to ensure that he is qualified to provide optometry / opticianry services.
For optometrists and opticians, the key changes to the current practice, which will be covered under the proposed legislation include:
(a) All optometrists and opticians are to be registered with the Optometrists and Opticians Board (OOB) before they can engage in the provision of optometry and opticianry services respectively. 

(b) Different categories of registration for optometrists and opticians will be set up, with different conditions and restrictions attached to such categories based on the experience and qualifications of the practitioner. 

(c) An Optometrists and Opticians Board will be established and charged with responsibility for ensuring the standards of practice and professional conduct of all optometrists and opticians.  The Board will have powers to, amongst other things, approve or reject applications for registration, accredit local training courses related to optometry and opticianry, examine complaints against practitioners and, where necessary, take disciplinary action against errant practitioners.

(d) The practice of optometry or opticianry by any person who is unregistered, or who does not have a practising certificate, will be prohibited under the new legislation.  It will also be an offence to employ unqualified persons to carry out a practice of optometry or opticianry.

Further details of the bill will be released later after it has been passed in Parliament.

Source: Press Release 21 May 2007

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