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South African Optometric Association (SAOA) December E-News Submission

COVID 19 Pandemic

The National State of Disaster in South Africa  has been extended to 15 December 2020 by Government, as announced by SA President Cyril  Ramaphosa on 11 November 2020.  The President warned  against large parties and events, which he referred to as ‘super spreaders’  as the country heads towards the festive season.

In his address to the nation,  President Ramaphosa  had advised  that infections contracted on a daily basis had been reduced from 12000 during the peak month of July to less than 2000 new infections in November.  The President paid tribute to the efforts of particularly  the frontline workers.

The SAOA continues to provide guidance and assistance to  members as consequences of the pandemic  have significant.

Online Sale of Optical Devices

The Health Professions Council of South Africa ( HPCSA) , the authority that regulates a number of health care professions in South Africa, including doctors, dentists,  physiotherapists , optometrists and dispensing opticians, published draft regulations pertaining to the online sale of optical assistive devices.  The devices encompass  spectacles ( single vision, bifocals and multi-focals), contact lenses ( soft) and low vision devices. The  draft regulations include the following points:

  • The assistive devices can only be sold be registered practitioners in accordance with their scope of practice.
  • Owners of the online sites are to have physical practices where purchasers are to go for the devices to be dispensed.

At the time of drafting this report, the SAOA was in the process of submitting its response..


The expanded scope of optometry to include therapeutics is to be regarded as a landmark accomplishment for the profession  of optometry in South Africa, providing a platform for the profession to embrace its rightful role as the primary  eye care profession. From a practical perspective, a number of challenges arose which gave rise to the necessity for  the SAOA to engage key role-players The Key issues identified to date  have included:

  1. Medical scheme adoption of Therapeutics related codes for 2021
  2. Rejection of prescriptions from optometrists for pharmaceutical products at pharmacy level.
  3. Indemnity insurance to accommodate the expanded scope.
  4. Implementation of practical training
  5. Resistance from Ophthalmology

The SAOA have instituted an extensive engagement programme which have given rise to positive results.