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“Think about making a difference, not just a living”

AOP Awards 2019 Newly-Qualified Optometrist of the Year, Joseph Ong, shares insight into striving to be the best possible optometrist

Joseph Ong

What three words sum up your feeling of winning?

Honoured, humbled, heart-warming.

What does winning this AOP award mean to you?

I’m overwhelmed – it was an honour to have been shortlisted for the AOP Newly-Qualified Optometrist of the Year accolade and to have been awarded the prize is just amazing.

Why did you choose a career in optics?

I initially chose optometry because of an interest in science and healthcare. However, it was my involvement in vision screening projects in India and Indonesia later on that opened my eyes to the disparity in eye care services and standards globally, and the important role that optometrists play in primary eye care that further stoked my interest.

I continuously strive to improve clinically and expand my role in the delivery of eye care to best serve my patients


What is the most rewarding part of being an optometrist and why?

Making a difference in people’s lives. This can take on so many forms in the consulting room – from fitting rigid contact lenses for a keratoconic patient to detecting colour vision deficiency in a young child and explaining its implications, for example. Additionally, timely diagnosis and referral of eye disease to save sight and lives, or simply helping an emerging low vision patient come to terms with a recent diagnosis, are both rewarding.

What is your next career goal?

I continuously strive to improve clinically and expand my role in the delivery of eye care to best serve my patients. In the near future, I feel that becoming an independent prescriber would be a step in the right direction.

What are your three tips for being the best possible optometrist?

  1. When in doubt, getting a second opinion from more experienced colleagues is helpful in facilitating learning. As a newly-qualified optometrist, I have benefited tremendously from supportive colleagues with whom I can discuss more complex patient episodes or presentations with. Where opinions differ, there is something to learn and when we agree, it provides validation that boosts confidence
  2. Always prioritise patient care
  3. Think about making a difference, not just a living.

For more information on the AOP Awards 2020, visit the AOP website. Nominations open 1 May.