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NZAO congratulates Ministry over prosecution

Media Release
18 February 2008

The New Zealand Association of Optometrists congratulates the Ministry of Health for successfully prosecuting an Auckland man claiming to be an optometrist without being properly qualified and registered.

The man, Peter Sang Wook Park, of Pakuranga, pleaded guilty to six representative charges and was today sentenced in the Counties Manukau District Court to fines of $48,000 and with reparation and other costs the total was over $60,000.

The Health Professionals Competence Assurance Act provides for public confidence by ensuring the competence of registered health practitioners and prohibiting unqualified people from engaging in a set of restricted health tasks. The prescribing of ophthalmic lenses is a task restricted only to optometrists and medical doctors who are able to make a proper diagnosis of an eye condition. This is due to the high degree of risk posed by treating impaired vision without first defining the cause.

The six charges against Mr Park represent a pattern of offending extending over a year. They relate to Mr Park calling himself an optometrist (a title that only registered practitioners may use), prescribing spectacles and contact lenses (a restricted activity under the Act) and acting in a way calculated to suggest that he was an optometrist.

In sentencing Park, Justice Harvey noted that there were serious health risks to the public. Park had misrepresented himself to people who relied on his false claims. Justice Harvey said that this case should be a warning that 'quacks' would be dealt with seriously.

“The public can be sure that their glasses and contact lenses are safely prescribed by checking the practitioner is a member of the NZ Association of Optometrists,” said NZAO National Director, Dr Lesley Frederikson. “Just look for the NZAO logo to be sure the optometrist is properly qualified and meets current practicing standards”.

“Eyes are too precious for you to take cheap chances. You only get one pair so you should look after them. This prosecution should serve as a reminder to people that vision problems need to be properly investigated by a registered optometrist,” said Dr Frederikson.

ENDS

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