Eye shops crackdown

Optometrists want authorities to stop illegal selling of corrective glasses

OPTOMETRISTS here have appealed to the local government to crack down on shops that illegally sell corrective eyeglasses.

 Dr. Jovina Sandra Tom, Mindanao vice-president of the Integrated Philippine Association of Optometrists, said they already sent word to Mayor Sara Duterte to help warn the public against the illegal practice.

 Tom said optometrists have also sought the help of the Department of Health (DOH) to certify optometry clinics through the Food and Drug Administration.

 This follows long running calls by other industries regarding the unregulated practice of unlicensed people in fields such as physical therapy, dentistry and law.

 Tom reminded the public that it is illegal for those without degrees in optometry to release corrective eyeglasses, as there are former employees of optical shops that are distributing eyeglasses.

 Corrective lenses are worn in front of the eye, mainly used to treat myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia.

 Republic Act 8050, the Act Regulating the Practice of Optometry, defines the violations of the practice.

 Violations may be penalized up to P40,000, with violators possibly facing jail time ranging from one to eight years.

 Tom cited some cases in areas like Calinan where there are scammers pretending to be optometrists or those who are looking for patients through door to door canvassings.

 Popular modus operandi includes the collection of down payments. Tom said they received several complaints that scammers ran away with the down payments.

 “We’ve received several complaints,” Tom said.

 Section 32 of RA 8050 includes the following acts as illegal:

 (c) Any form of advertisement in media outlets giving information and impression to the public that the particular optometrist is better than the others, is collecting lower professional fees or selling cheaper frames or lenses;

 (d) The use of diagnostic pharmaceutical agents by an untrained optometrist, in violation of Section 31 hereof, whether or not such use results in injury to the patient; and

 (e) The use by any optometrist of pharmaceutical agents other than those which he is authorized to use.

 In August 2015, an association of physical therapists complained to the City Health Office’s Sanitation Division about practitioners engaged in public massage even without NC2 certificates.

 Some of the therapists were also allegedly involved in lewd acts.

 In August, three people were arrested in the city for practicing dentistry without licenses.

 First to be arrested on Aug. 10 in Barangay 23-C in Poblacion District were couple Rezil and Joelan Estoy who were caught by the National Bureau of Investigation for offering dentistry products such as fake braces.

 On Aug. 31, Emilio Pasagui, a son of a license dentist, was arrested for conducting procedure without authorities in his father’s clinic in Bankerohan.

 Two weeks ago, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines formed a task group along with entities such as the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice to crack down on similar illegal practices such as the offering of notarial services by non-lawyers.

 Oct. 12 is World Sight Day.

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