WCO’S Role in Legislation, Registration and Standards
Optometry is a healthcare profession that is autonomous, educated, and regulated (licensed/registered), and optometrists are the primary healthcare practitioners of the eye and visual system who provide comprehensive eye and vision care, which includes refraction and dispensing, detection/diagnosis and management of disease in the eye, and the rehabilitation of conditions of the visual system. The focus of WCO’s role in the development of Legislation, Registration and Standards has been to work closely with Regional and National Associations to support the development of regulation. The principles of regulation are to “assure the quality of professional services in the public interest. The regulation of a professional involves the setting of standards of professional qualifications and practice: the keeping of a Register of qualified persons and the award of titles; determining the conduct of registrants, the investigation of complaints and disciplinary sanctions for professional misconduct” (UK Interprofessional Group, 2002)
- In particular, WCO has supported the Indian Optometric Association to petition ministries to initiate regulation for the profession, supported the campaign in Mexico to ensure that the profession of optometry is degree-based and has worked with National Associations in France, Moldova, Lebanon, Poland, Mexico, Brazil, Croatia, Peru and Korea and has supported the development of the Eastern Mediterranean Optometry Region.
- WCO continues with the review of the Global Competency Based Model of Scope of Practice in Optometry and the development of indicators. The intention is to consider developing Level 5 competences and to continue to articulate the developing international standards in optometric practice. The Global Optometry Competence standards Levels 1 -4 have provided an international bench-mark for optometry practice.
- A critical new resource has been developed – Why Optometry? the case for delivering quality, advanced and equitable eye health and vision care for patients. (WCO, 2015) This is be available on the WCO website to support globally advocacy to highlight the scale of avoidable visual impairment and the role of optometry to meet primary health vision needs. It will also provide a resource for Regions and members to use for local advocacy.
- Going forward, WCO wishes to continue its support for regional and national associations to ensure the widest adoption of optometry standards within a regulatory framework that supports the interests of both patients and the profession. This would also involve the encouragement of new associations and increased membership in WCO.