On 10 December 2014, ECOO Secretary General Fabienne Eckert joined Jean-François Marinacce, from the Union des Opticiens (UDO), member of ECOO, in a visit to the French ministry of finance. An interesting exchange of view took place with a councillor of the Cabinet of Mr Macron, Minister of Finance on the future of optometry in France. The comparative and statistical data provided by ECOO from a European perspective was well received and will inform the current debate further.
As already recognised in the study “Comparative Analysis of Delivery of Primary Eye Care in Three European Countries” from the Department of Medicinal Management at the University of Duisburg-Essen, presented by ECOO in 2011 and 2012, the demand for eye care will further raise across Europe due to demographic changes. A wide range of eye conditions are age related and in the context of an ageing population will increase in prevalence. The ability to provide the necessary primary eye care services will depend on the way the professional landscape is organised in each country.
Integrating optometry in primary eye care offers a solution to improve the eye-related care for the population and reduce the cost of training of the respective primary eye care providers. The study has shown that a system that integrates optometrists in the area of primary eye care is safe, cost-effective and, owing to the aging population and the falling number of ophthalmologists, structurally desirable. Working hand-in-hand with other eye care professionals with a clear division of tasks represents an opportunity to provide the necessary attention to patients now and in the future.