Hamza Alil
A Journey to: Pakistan by Hamza Alil


Pakistan is renowned for its people who are contributing towards the betterment of some high demanding professions around the world. Vision Sciences (Orthoptics) is no different and it is amongst one of prestigious disciplines which have established deep roots in Pakistan. B.Sc. (Hons) in Orthoptics was launched in 2004 for the very first time in Pakistan as an extension to an existing programme
“Vision 2020 – Right to Sight (Prevention of Blindness)” run in collaboration with various international NGO‘s. Prof Dr Asad Aslam Khan has been kindly patronizing this programme at the College of Ophthalmology & Allied Vision Sciences (COAVS) run under King Edward Medical University Lahore, Pakistan which is one of Asia‘s top ranking medical institutions.
Due to the success and international recognition of this programme, similar courses have been launched by other local government and private health based medical institutions all over Pakistan. In particular courses around the subject of Orthoptics are undertaken in some of the bigger cities  including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, and Karachi where the set curriculum  meets the requirements of international standards. The course content for degree programmes include; theoretical and clinical Orthoptics, Optics, Ocular Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology, General Anatomy and Neuroanatomy, Ophthalmology, Electrodiagnosis, Paediatrics, Visual Perception and Epidemiology, Research Methods and Information Technology. Theoretical and clinical work is assessed in many ways during the Orthoptic course. Theoretical knowledge is assessed by the means of formal written examinations, oral examinations, continuous semester based assessment and project work. Clinical practice is assessed throughout the degree programme.
By the end of 2010 three batches have been successfully graduated from the  College of Ophthalmology & Allied Vision Sciences. The graduates are trained by highly qualified national and international faculty from UK, USA and Canada who are famous for their qualifications all over the world. Today Orthoptists qualified from COAVS are working at teaching hospitals and tertiary level hospitals where patients are referred from district and smaller hospitals. In addition they are also working in paediatrics, Neurological Impairment Investigation Clinics and private practices.
Recently a joint platform has been launched with the name of Society of Optometrists, Orthoptists and Ophthalmic Technologist Pakistan (SOOOP) – Lahore Branch giving a common venue and voice to representing vision science professionals from all over the Pakistan.
The purpose of the Society (Orthoptic Wing) is to develop and enhance the profession of Orthoptics and to contribute towards the excellence in eye health care for patients in public hospitals, ophthalmology practices and throughout the community. This society has been very active since its formation and it has already arranged the 1st International Vision Science Congress which was held in Lahore in November 2010. Many international speakers were invited in the conference. More than 30 research papers, tutorial sessions and an exhibition were arranged at the conference.
Although Orthoptics in Pakistan has a history of just over a decade, determination and team efforts behind the programme will raise its standards and bring it in line with Orthoptics worldwide in near future.

Hamza Ali

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