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WCO president overviews eye care advancements to celebrate World Optometry Week


Sandra Block, OD, M Ed, MPH, FAAO, FCOVD, said in a recent statement that global eye care has come a long way thanks to eye care providers.

Group of physicians smiling Image Credit: AdobeStock/DLahoud/peopleimages.com

Image Credit: AdobeStock/DLahoud/peopleimages.com

With World Optometry Week being celebrated from March 17-23, recognition of eye care providers is going global with a statement from the president of the World Council of Optometry (WCO). Sandra Block, OD, M Ed, MPH, FAAO, FCOVD provided a statement to ring in the commemorative week and highlight some of the organization’s resources and initiatives, according to a news release.1

This year’s theme for the week is “Advancing Optometry’s Commitment to Global Eye Care,” which in large part is to promote the adoption of Integrated People-centered Eye Care in countries’ health systems. This adoption was at the recommendation of the World Health Organization via the 2019 Report on Vision.2 Block also reiterated the importance of the eye care profession amid the growing prevalence of vision impairments in her statement.

“In the bigger picture we need to remember that the care given must be appropriate for our patients and their quality of life. We can all agree, and it is shown by the evidence, that many vision and eye health problems do not occur in isolation,” Block said in her statement. “Whether it is a vision problem that leads to loss of independence, the reality that vision issues are often found as a co-morbidity for our patients or may even be the first sign of an impending systemic disease process, receiving care even before there are signs or symptoms can improve overall health outcomes. Even problems that are solely visual, if addressed early can yield better functional outcomes including refractive problems. Starting the process with health promotion, ensuring our patients are knowledgeable and think about prevention and not simply addressing problems after the emerge can improve quality of life.”

Block also detailed the many contributions optometrists have provided to increase access of eye healthcare as a human right on a global scale, particularly after the World Health Organization’s (WHO) release of the World Report of Vision in 2019.1,3 “We have seen several resolutions within the World Health Assembly and the United Nations bringing forward the call to action for challenges that are faced by people trying to access eye care services and to do it in a manner that is integrated patient-centered eye care,” Block said in her statement.

In part of the advocacy, education, and public health initiatives to continue the growth of global eye care, Block highlighted the WHO Eye Care Competency Framework (ECCF) as one of the steps forward, which was officially launched on March 20, 2024. “ECCF was designed to describe the competencies needed at all levels of eye care,” she said. “Optometry was intimately involved in the development of that document along with representatives from many other providers of eye care. While the document does not refer to professions by name, optometry was included in the ECCF at the level of primary eye care based on their definition of optometry that outlines the skills and knowledge of an optometrist. WCO has furthered the focus on competencies by developing an updated curriculum framework which serves to describe in detail the domains that every optometrist would have covered in their professional education with the expectation of lifelong learning.” Additionally, WHO launched a new SPECS program to improve coverage of uncorrected refractive error.1

Block explained that the ultimate goal with the publication of these documents and initiatives is to reduce the discrepancy of resources in remote and underserved regions of the world. This discrepancy of resources can be due to lack of access, caused by disability, transportation, or awareness. “It is hoped that whatever setting a clinician is working, there are opportunities to effect change with respect to scope of practice, recognition of the contributions of optometry that can help solve access, or offering care to those who are often forgotten,” Block concluded.

In part of the World Optometry Week celebrations, WCO has a link for social media resources to continue global eye care advocacy. WCO partner International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness also have an Advocacy to Action toolkit that can be implemented into your practice.2

WCO encourages the sharing of your organization’s celebration of World Optometry Day and Week, which can be sent to communications@worldoptometry.org.2

  1. Statement from the WCO President — World Optometry Week 2024. World Council of Optometry. News release. Published March 16, 2024. Accessed March 18, 2024. https://worldcouncilofoptometry.info/statement-from-the-wco-president-world-optometry-week-2024/
  2. World Council of Optometry Announces Theme for 2024 World Optometry Week Celebration March 17-23. World Council of Optometry. News release. Published January 29, 2024. Accessed March 18, 2024.
  3. World report on vision. World Health Organization. Report overview. Published October 8, 2019. Accessed March 18, 2024.
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