A vision for the future

14 November 2022
Autumn 2022

A message from Leon Davies, College President - Autumn 2022.

With autumn well and truly taking hold (at least at the time I write this editorial from my windswept office), the warmth of this summer appears to be rapidly fading away into a distant memory. That said, I very much hope colleagues were able to spend time away with their friends, family and loved ones to recuperate and recharge over the summer months. 

For me, other than a week away with family at Dartmouth’s Royal Regatta – as a spectator rather than participant – I have been busy meeting and working with colleagues and organisations from across the sector. In August, the College launched its Workforce Vision for the UK, which places optometrists at the heart of patient-centred eye care. Our vision sees optometrists make full use of their skills, seize educational opportunities to develop new ones, and play a central role in leading and delivering new models of care to improve patient outcomes. I look forward to updating our members on its progress, along with the results of the multiprofessional eye care workforce data model in due course.

The focus of the College this summer was also on the General Optical Council’s (GOC’s) call for evidence on the need for change to the Opticians Act. Our article gathers opinions from stakeholders on the basis for the review, its aims, and the areas that have generated debate within the profession. Considering the extensive implications of the review, we all look forward to the outcomes of the GOC’s consultation, and the potential impact on optometry, and ultimately on our patients.

Our vision sees optometrists play a central role delivering new models of care

Remaining with the theme of regulations, another article considers the question of whether optometrists should be allowed to certify people as sight impaired and severely sight impaired. As optometrists’ scope of practice has developed significantly over the past 20 years, the article probes the existing precept that only ophthalmologists have the necessary knowledge and skills to assess and diagnose the severity and causes of visual impairment.

Finally, while visual impairment is not necessarily the preserve of the older eye, approximately 80% of those living with sight loss are over the age of 64 years (Fight for Sight, 2019), with the number of people living with sight loss in the UK expected to double over the next 25 years or so. Our feature considers these issues and more as part of a first in a series of articles on our ageing population, the implications for eye health and the optometry profession in the UK.

Professor Leon Davies PhD, FCOptom, Prof Cert Med Ret, FAAO, SFHEA

President, Council Member - West Midlands

Leon Davies is a registered optometrist and Professor of Optometry & Physiological Optics at Aston University. A Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, Leon holds fellowships with the College of Optometrists, the American Academy of Optometry, and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Leadership roles at Aston University include Director of Research (2010-17) and Head of the School of Optometry (2016-21). His clinical research is focused on presbyopia and the restoration of ocular accommodation to the ageing eye.

Image credit | Sam-Kerr

References

Fight for Sight. (2019) Facts about sight loss. (accessed 5 October 2022).

Related further reading

From today, optometrists in the whole of the UK will return to the Green phase as we stand down the Amber phase COVID-19 guidance.

The College is asking for feedback from members on changes to its patient leaflets.

We have responded to the Hewitt review: call for evidence on ICSs in England, to help inform a new way of working.