Spotlight on South Africa by Kirsty Jean Pienaar

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I am so fortunate to have completed my studies through ABDO as many South Africans before me and hopefully many to come. Dispensing is an integral part of my daily duties and I enjoy it for my own personal reasons, which include helping others(mainly) and having an amazing eyewear collection (let’s face it).

I have written a book to inspire other South Africans to become Dispensing Opticians and reignite the passion in those who have forgotten why we do what we do. The book is developed by OB Malope an Optometrist and business owner of Visionstryt. The title “Visionstryt’s Guide to Excellence in Dispensing’’ will be available to purchase from March 2019.

What makes Dispensing Different?

It all depends on you the Dispensing Optician, and how passionate you are about the profession. On a regular basis I find myself in meetings with Ophthalmologists reminding them about what exactly a Dispensing Optician does and why they can trust one to assist them with their range of prescriptions (which can be pathology types or day to day scripts). Namely because they can trust the Dispensing Optician to have the correct knowledge and scope to Dispense their patients effectively.

Our practice

I work for a multidisciplinary practice based in the Pretoria Eye Institute in Pretoria South Africa. Our team consists of 4 Optometrists and 2 Dispensing Opticians with a fully operational in-house laboratory as well as a reception team of 4.

We are situated on the ground floor of the Eye hospital and have become a support arm for many patients that visit the Ophthalmologists that practice upstairs in the hospital (roughly 30 Doctors).

Some are referred directly to us whilst others stumble upon our services on their way out the lobby, we are always ready to assist the Ophthalmologists and patients as efficiently as required.

The practice is owned by two of the in-house optometrists Anneri Ferreira and Marnus Zwarts and the team could not be better led by these two professionals.

Our practice setup works very well because each staff member has their purpose and does their job according to their title. The Optometrists do the refractions and pathology referrals and opt not to do the dispensing but rather handover to the Dispensing Opticians and give them the freedom to prescribe what is necessary.

The reception are not allowed to dispense in our practice although this is happening in other practices in South Africa. Only the Dispensing Opticians in our practice may work with prescriptions from the Optometrists and the referrals from the Ophthalmologists to safeguard the vulnerable and other patients.

We are actively involved in community work and have been part of the World Sight Day 2018 which was part of the Pretoria Eye Institutes Walter Sisulu initiative. Our practice was used as the first stop for V/A screenings to determine the eligibility criteria for the cataract procedures that were done pro bono.

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We also help with visual screenings for schools to identify early childhood visual corrections and pathology.

But don’t believe for one second it’s all work and no play… we also have a series of team building initiatives to keep the team motivated and together. We recently completed a Ladies 5km walk in aid of charity.

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I feel positive about Dispensing in South Africa and hope that our scope of practice will enlarge to include more responsibilities and I hope to continue to shed light on how important it is to employ a Dispensing Optician in a practice.

Article by Kirsty Jean Pienaar FBDO O/S

Topic: Country spotlight