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ABDO wishes to retain link between eye health and refraction but wants its members to refract

ABDO wishes to retain link between eye health and refraction but wants its members to refract

The Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) has highlighted the need to protect the public by ensuring that the sight test continues to involve a refraction and eye health examination and welcomed the General Optical Council (GOC) consultation on enabling dispensing opticians to refract as part of the sight test under the oversight of an optometrist.

Alistair Bridge, ABDO head of strategy, says, “Allowing dispensing opticians to refract as part of the sight test is a change which ABDO has long called for and by ensuring that this happens under the oversight of an optometrist, patients will continue to benefit from a sight test that involves both an eye health examination and a refraction. This is a major strength of the UK’s system of eyecare, and enables eye and other health issues to be addressed at an early stage, in line with the wider policy focus on preventative health care.”

ABDO supports the GOC’s position that refraction by dispensing opticians, “could free up the time of optometrists to support a wider range of clinical activities.” To support optometrists and medical practitioners in carrying out refraction as part of the sight test, dispensing opticians would also need to be appropriately trained, competent and indemnified.

Debbie McGill, ABDO head of policy and public affairs, says, “It is important for the whole profession to think about how we envisage the future delivery of eye health care, which includes the provision of spectacles and contact lenses, when responding to this consultation. We need to get this right to futureproof the legislative and regulatory support to enable optometrists, dispensing optician and contact lens opticians to deliver services as they extend their scopes of practice through their continued professional development in line with the public’s future eye health needs and safety. This is an opportunity for the profession to work together for the patient benefit to continue to provide the highest, safest, standards of eye health care and the provision of spectacles and contact lenses from optical practices throughout the UK.”

ABDO will be providing a detailed response addressing the full range of issues covered by the call for evidence, including voicing the need to protect the public by:

  • ensuring that dispensing spectacles to children or visually-impaired people, continues to be by or under the supervision of dispensing opticians and optometrists;
  • ensuring that treatments involving the use of spectacles and contact lenses, such as myopia management, require the involvement of dispensing opticians and optometrists in all cases, given that they may be of value to patients over 16, as well as to children;
  • requiring the involvement of dispensing opticians and optometrists in the dispensing of optical appliances to additional patient groups where there is a need for enhanced skills and knowledge, such as people with learning disabilities, people with dementia and people in domiciliary care;
  • maintaining the requirement for dispensing opticians and optometrists to be involved in the dispensing of sports eyewear to children on the basis that this is fitted not only to ensure optimum vision but to afford protection to the wearer and other participants and is therefore more rather than less complex to fit;
  • specifying what constitutes appropriate contact lens aftercare, including the maximum time that can be recommended prior to an aftercare appointment;
  • introducing a consistent and proportionate approach to regulating optical businesses.

The GOC’s call for evidence includes views on the protection of title and restricted activities, remote care and the regulation of businesses. The review is also seeking evidence on the sale of supply of optical appliances and the fitting of contact lenses.

The call for evidence closes on 18 July 2022 and submissions to the consultation can be made online.

Read ABDO’s fuller statement on the consultation in the Consultation section of the ABDO website.

Members with any questions or comments should email Alistair Bridge at abridge@abdo.org.uk

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