World Sight Day, 11 Oct 2018, is an opportunity for the eye health community to come together. In the lead up to world sight day, we asked two European leaders from the NGO community “what would be the one big thing you would change in eyecare in Europe?
Harmonisation for healthy eyes, a view from Fabienne Eckert
Tackling the growing burden of preventable sight loss in Europe warrants high-quality, common standards of eye care across the continent. Therefore, eye care in Europe would greatly benefit from further harmonisation of European optometric and optical education and clinical practice. The legal scope of practice of eye care professionals varies greatly from one country to the other, which means that the standards of vision care differ as well.
Historically, optometry schools across Europe developed professional criteria according to local principles and curricula. However, both patients and professionals increasingly move across-borders, either to seek professional care abroad or to offer services in another country. There is a growing need to ensure that patients can benefit from high-quality eye care wherever they go. We at ECOO are driving the change to meet this challenge. In order to do so, we developed the European Qualification in Optics and European Diploma in Optometry to stimulate uniform practice.
Much work is still to be done, and it is important that eye health is integrated in various other policy agendas, including the one for healthy ageing and road safety.
It’s all about prevention, a view from David Hewlett
With an ageing global population, increasing levels of myopia amongst the urban young and large populations without access to elementary forms of eye care, these global challenges require global solutions. To achieve this, each World Health Organization Region must play its part.
In Europe, we still have a lack of public knowledge about eye health, vision and how to prevent impairment. Low levels of access to services for too many people, and the late presentation of issues, result in unacceptable levels of avoidable visual impairment.
Eye diseases are ‘hidden diseases’ and, without regular eye examinations, only manifest themselves to the sufferer at advanced stages. As ever, the key is prevention and early detection by eye health professionals. In our modern, tech-focussed and high speed lives, good vision is imperative at all ages.
If there is one thing we would change about eye care in Europe today, it would be better public awareness of how to look after eyes and vision. Regular eye examinations with eye care professionals will enhance everyone’s quality of life now and for their whole lives.
Prevention and harmonisation are two key areas that we call on European politicians to think about and act on in healthcare. We are delighted along with ECOO and ECV to be strongly supporting World Sight Day 2018 and its commitment to Eye Care Everywhere.