Practicing optometry in Southeast Asia
There are many opportunities to get involved in practicing optometry abroad with organizations like VOSH and the Brien Holden Institute. VOSH does things all over the globe and Brien Holden likewise, has schools located on several continents.
Dr. Robert Molter has been practicing in Vietnam with his wife following retirement at an early age to provide optometric care and service to patients. Opportunities like this exist for young grads as well who might want to have this experience of providing optometric care in different places around the world.
What it is like practicing in Southeast Asia
Working in a private eye hospital in Saigon, Dr. Robert Molter watched optometry emerge in the country. Optometry is a brand new thing in Vietnam, and they need experienced optometrists who are properly trained to also help train Vietnamese optometrists who are graduating to help elevate the level of knowledge and care they can give.
Working in Vietnam, one can expect to treat and manage a lot of myopia; however, there are many conditions or patients who present with end stage problems because there hasn’t been an eyecare safety net in place as it relates to public health in the country. This means there hasn’t been an opportunity to detect disease early on in this population.
What this means is that eyecare professionals find themselves managing late stage glaucoma or late stage diabetic changes rather than treating and managing the early stages of these diseases.
As it currently stands, there is no culture of preventative care, particularly as it relates to the eyes. There are plenty of refractive services to be obtained, but there aren’t true comprehensive eye examinations happening because there hasn’t been optometry, just refracting opticianry.
The hope is that by educating Vietnamese optometrists, vital preventative and comprehensive care can be facilitated and implemented into their overall healthcare system.