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5. The armed services come first in obtaining the services of optometric graduates, and—thanks to the vigorous recruiting efforts of the services, and of the patriotic response of our gradutes—the military services in recent years have been able to fill all of their spaces for commissioned optometrists. Without greater success in attracting capable, scientifically oriented young people into the profession, however, it will be increasingly difficult in coming years—and it is very difficult now-to find the optometric manpower the armed services desperately need for professional care of military personnel and their families; and the recruitment of optometrists into the armed services in recent years in the number required has been at the expense of further imbalance in vision care services for the civilian population, including activities essential to national security.
6. The fact that the population has doubled in the last 50 years and will reach 200 million by 1970 is significant. During 1950-60 the number of people 65 years and older increased by 35 percent. There was a fivefold increase from 1900 to 1960. The prediction is made by the University of Chicago (University of Chicago reports, XII (November 1961)) that by 1980 the number of persons 65-69 will exceed 8.5 million while those over 70 will number almost 16 million. This would be nearly a 50-percent increase in the older population in the next 20 years.
The Better Vision Institute, following a canvas of 1,082 family units, including 3,354 persons, reported the following: Wear glasses
Wear glasses Age: (percent) Age Continued
(percent) 5 to 14. 22. O 45 to 64.
89.1 15 to 24 51. 0 65 and over--
100.0 25 to 44..
64. 6 Thus it becomes increasingly more urgent that the profession of optometry be included in the list of health specialists receiving Federal loans for their students. Because in the competition among all sciences requiring extensive college preparation, and particularly in the health professions, omission from the law implies to the student that the profession is already adequately staffed, if not actually overcrowded.
The American Optometric Association is making a determined effort to attract suitable young men and women into this profession. But we are handicapped by the fact that the Government of the United States does not include this profession among those disciplines urgently in need of additional manpower for essential civilian needs and national security.
Since the purpose of the Health Professions Educational Assistance Act was to benefit the people by making available qualified graduates in the health fields, I would like to call your attention to a 1961 study of health care needs in Texas published by the Texas Research League which points out that the two greatest unmet health care needs in my State are in the fields of dental care and vision care.
In an effort to meet the need, the Texas Optometric Association several years ago contributed out of their own pockets in excess of $100,000 to establish a college of optometry at the University of Houston. This college is now receiving an additional $15,000 to $20,000 a year from Texas optometrists in an effort to assure the citizens of Texas and the South a greater number of qualified optometric graduates.
Five Dixie States have voted legislation to provide scholarships for homeState students to study optometry. They are Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas.
In the past 2 years in the Southern States, 7 had gains of optometrists totaling 60, 1 stood still, and 3 had losses totaling 15. Despite modest gains—and the South fared better percentagewise than the Nation as a whole, this is short-lived comfort when one realizes that the South has much further to go than other sections in order to obtain the proper ratio of population per optometrist.
In spite of all our efforts at every level, National, State, and local, our gains are too few to warrant overlooking any opportunity to increase them. We are proud, however, to report that our student enrollment is growing in spite of the obstacles and handicaps which face us.
An increase in quantity of students is not enough if there is deterioration in the quality of the accepted applicant. The best index we can provide has been given to us by Dr. Henry Hofstetter, director of the Division of Optometry, Indiana University. Deans at our other schools and colleges report comparable results. Of the several criteria which might be used for comparison purposes, he chose "rank in the high school graduating class," a rating which pertains to the applicant's performance at least 2 years prior to his entering the division of optometry. Approximately 85 percent of the applicants show the student's rank and the size of his class. For statistical purposes he converted the ratio of rank to class size into a percentile equivalent, that is the equivalent rank in a class of 100. Thus, the valedictorian of a class of 20 gets an equivalent rank of 5; the rank of 16th in a class of 200 gets the equivalent rank of 8; etc. Accordingly, the results are as follows:
This was an improvement in quality of entering students who in the past 3 years have moved up from the first third of their high school classes to the first fifth. In one sense it represents an advance of more than 3343 percent in rank.
The results indicate substantial improvement in quality during the 4-year period. I should add that the high school rank rarely influences the optometric admissions committee, as the committee is guided primarily by the performance in preoptometry college-level courses. This gives even greater validity to the high school rank as an index of trend in quality.
In 1959 the American Optometric Association, recognizing that the situation was becoming exceedingly critical, declared that student recruitment was its No. 1 project. This declaration was repeated in each subsequent year. In 1960 the AOA Vocational Guidance Committee created and implemented a 5-year program called “Operation Manpower" designed as a blueprint for the recruitment of qualified students.
All segments of optometry—the OAO, the doctors, the schools, and the manufacturers and suppliers of ophthalmic goods are cooperating in a hard-hitting program of career guidance and information. Each month we mail out “The Recruiter” a bulletin which enlists everyone's support in “Operation Manpower.” I am providing a copy of the May 1964 issue for this committee's records.
Leading members of the ophthalmic industry have recognized the importance of this program and are giving it their full support.
"Operation Manpower" is reaching prospective students at every level ; through their schools, their vocational counselors, their parents, their optometrists, their health and religious leaders, their clubs and organizations. “Operation Man. power' is using every modern means of communication—the written word, literature, books, word of mouth, exhibits, speeches, radio, television, billboards, motion pictures, magazine and newspaper stories, etc. This is a dynamic program of action.
But many qualified prospects who apply find it financially impossible to enter optometry schools. Some who enter are forced to drop out, usually during or after the freshman year. We have been exploring every possibility for loan plans and scholarships and a number have been made available by various associations, societies, and institutions which are listed in this booklet I am giving the committee. Its title is “Scholarships in Optometry, 1964–65.” Unfortunately, because of the magnitude of the problem with which we are faced, all of our efforts fall far short of meeting the need.
For the many reasons just stated, it is imperative for the future visual health and welfare of the people of the United States that optometry students be granted the same loan opportunities as our sister professions of dentistry, medicine, and osteopathy by passage of H.R. 8546.
A favorable report by the committee on this legislation will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your kind attention to my comments.
WHAT IS AN OPTOMETRIST?
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND AND SERVICE RENDERED BY THE OPTOMETRIST Your optometrist specializes in the examination of the eyes for the conservation and improvement of vision. He makes a complete vision analysis, administering a series of tests to determine the efficiency of your eyes for both distance and near point vision. If deficiencies are found, he prescribes and provides any lenses, visual training, or specialized services needed in order to achieve accurate, comfortable, and efficient seeing. The optometrist also has extensive training in the detection and recognition of diseases in the eye. When evidence of pathology is present, he refers the patient for other professional care.
Optometry is the art and science of vision care. The optometrist's comprehensive training in vision care includes the study of these vital subjects :
Through his study of ocular anatomy, the optometrist has acquired knowledge of the structure of the eye. His thorough understanding of the complex system of the eye is basic to his comprehensive professional studies.
Through his study of ocular pathology, the optometrist has acquired knowledge to recognize diseases in the eye. He has become familiar not only with deficiencies and disease, but also with detection of their symptoms.
Through his study of physiology, the optometrist has acquired knowledge of the normal bodily functions. He has become familiar with the effects of bodily malfunctions on vision and can recognize the symptoms of these.
MEASUREMENTS OF FIELDS OF VISION
Through his study of measurements of fields of vision, the optometrist has acquired the most advanced techniques and knowledge to measure restrictions in total area of vision or indications of actual or impending pathology.
Through his study of contact lenses, the optometrist has acquired the most advanced techniques and knowledge to properly fit modern plastic lenses upon the eye. He supplements his prescribing of conventional eyewear with contact lenses when advisable.
VISION FOR EDUCATION Through his study of vision for education, the optometrist has acquired knowledge to safeguard the vision of our children and assist them in learning. By correcting visual problems, he can assist the child to improve his school achievement.
VIBION FOR INDUSTRY Through his study of vision for industry, the optometrist has gained knowledge to provide employees with vision efficiency for greater safety and productivity. He has been taught the effects of light and environment on specific tasks, and can prescribe effective improvements.
SUBNORMAL VISION Through his study of subnormal vision, the optometrist has acquired the knowledge to aid the partially sighted. Through the use of telescopic spectacles and other means, useful sight can often be restored to patients with severe vision handicaps.
NEURAL ANATOMY AND PSYCHOLOGY OF VISION
Through his study of neural anatomy and psychology of vision, the optometrist has acquired knowledge of the mental processes involved in seeing. The brain plays an integral part in the total function of seeing.
PHYSICS AND MATHEMATICS Through his study of physics and mathematics, the optometrist has acquired knowledge of light and the action of lenses and prisms on light. He has become familiar with the scientific use of lenses for producing varying visual effects.
Through his study of physiological optics, the optometrist has acquired knowledge of the function of the vision mechanism. He has become familiar with the intricate system of seeing and the uses of optics for improvement of functions.
Through his study of geometrical optics, the optometrist has acquired a theoretical knowledge of lenses. He has become familiar with the mathematical calculations necessary in vision correction.
Through his study of mechanical optics, the optometrist has acquired a practical knowledge of ophthalmic glass, lens grinding, adaptation and fitting. With this knowledge he ascertains that the prescription he writes is properly filled, and fits the eyewear to the patient's face.
Through his study of theoretical optometry, the optometrist has acquired knowledge of the principles of examination and refraction. He has been taught the elements of evaluating and correlating the results of tests to arrive at a proper optometric diagnosis.
Through his study of practical optometry, the optometrist has acquired the knowledge of procedures and techniques of examination, refraction and analysis. He has been taught methods for determining your vision status and the application of corrective measures, if necessary.
BACTERIOLOGY, BIOLOGY AND CHEMISTRY Through his study of bacteriology, biology, and chemistry, the optometrist has acquired a knowledge of these extraneous factors and their effect on the
human system. He has been taught the chemistry of the body and its relationship to vision.
Through his study of general pathology, the optometrist has acquired the knowledge of the relationship of bodily disorders to vision. He has been taught the interrelationship of human organs in order to evaluate the possibility of more remote causes of vision deficiencies.
Through his study of visual training, the optometrist has acquired the most advanced techniques and knowledge to prescribe best procedures for enhancing and developing vision skills and eye coordination.
Your optometrist, after receiving a minimum of 5 years specialized college training, has graduated from one of the 10 schools of optometry accredited by the Council on Optometric Education of the American Optometric Association.
The curriculums and standards of optometric colleges have been steadily augmented to keep pace with scientific advancement, and postgraduate instruction in the advanced techniques for vision care is available.
Each State and the District of Columbia requires the graduate optometrist to pass a State board examination to prove his skill and competence. He must renew his license annually to qualify as a vision specialist in that State.
Having thus established his qualifications, your optometrist can competently care for your complete vision needs and assure you of maximum efficient seeing. His knowledge applied to your individual vision requirements will further your enjoyment in living—in your work, in your study, and in your leisure activities.
Next to life itself, God's most precious gift to man is sight. To the care of this great gift of vision your optometrist sincerely and faithfully dedicates his service.
THE OPTOMETRIST'S EDUCATION Not less than 5 years of specialized college education required-available at the finest colleges and universities.
Examination and certification for competence by the State board required in every State of the Union and the District of Columbia.
CODE OF ETHICS
It shall be the ideal, the resolve, and the duty of the members of the American Optometric Association :
To keep the visual welfare of the patient uppermost at all times;
To promote in every possible way, in collaboration with this association, better care of the visual needs of mankind;
To enhance, continuously, their educational and technical proficiency to the end that their patients shall receive the benefits of all acknowledged improvements in visual care;
To see that no person shall lack for visual care, regardless of his financial status;
To advise the patient whenever consultation with an optometric colleague or reference for other professional care seems advisable;
To hold in professional confidence all information concerning a patient and to use such data only for the benefit of the patient;
To conduct themselves as exemplary citizens ;
To maintain their offices and their practices in keeping with professional standards;
To promote and maintain cordial and unselfish relationships with members of their own profession and of other professions for the exchange of information to the advantage of mankind.
(Adopted by the House of Delegates of the American Optometric Association, Inc., at Detroit, Mich., June 28, 1944.)