What UK optometry can learn from the Italian model of care

OT  explores what it is like to practise in a country where optometrists do not routinely conduct a comprehensive eye health assessment

As part of the General Optical Council’s call for evidence on the Opticians Act, the optical regulator asked for sector views on separating refraction from the eye health check.

OT spoke to Dr Riccardo Cheloni for the December/January 2023 cover feature, Great Expectations. Read it here


To explore this question, OT spoke with Dr Riccardo Cheloni, who trained and practised as an optometrist in Italy before moving to the UK.

Cheloni is a co-author on the paper, Referral in a routine Italian optometric examination: towards an evidence-based model.

Cheloni shared that, in Italy, optometrists are not legally required, trained or allowed to conduct a full ocular health assessment. Ophthalmologists are the only professionals responsible for the detection and management of ocular conditions, he added.

“There may be a significant portion of patients visiting optometry practices who are asymptomatic but still could be at risk of eye conditions that could result in preventable sight loss,” he said.

As part of the research, Cheloni and his co-authors were commissioned by an optometric society to create suggested referral guidelines for Italian optometrists.

“Due to the lack of regulation in the Italian setting, there is no clear guidance for referrals,” Cheloni shared.

“The main limitation within optometry in Italy at the moment is the lack of specific regulation determining what exactly optometrists can do, which also hampers the possibility of assessing or checking the standard of practice that is delivered,” he explained.