World Council of Optometry introduces Competency Framework

Designed to aid the development of core curricula for tertiary-level optometry programmes, the framework aims to support consistency in education and practice

An iPad rests on a pile of textbooks on a lecture hall desk

The World Council of Optometry (WCO) has developed a resource to outline essential competencies in optometry, to ensure consistency in education and practice.

Introducing the resource, the WCO suggested it recognised the diversity of optometric education and practice around the world and identified a need for a unified global standard.

The WCO Competency Framework for Optometry provides a guide for developing core curricula for tertiary-level optometry programmes and defines optometry in terms of “essential competencies required to engage effectively in the international eye care agenda.”

The competencies are divided into five domains: refractive error, visual function assessment, ocular health and diseases, public health, and professional practice.

The framework outlines competencies expected of optometry graduates in order to establish a “minimum level of professional identity” across countries and ensure consistency in education and practice, the WCO shared.

Dr Yazan Gammoh, education committee chairman at WCO, reflected on the publication of the World Report on Vision and UN General Assembly resolutions, which outlined challenges facing eye care, the impact of vision impairment on achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the “inclusion of addressing refractive error correction within universal health coverage.”

“This urged WCO to revise its competency model to better prepare optometrists to meet the eye care needs of their communities,” Gammoh said.

The framework is adaptable to the needs of each country and aligns with the World Health Organization Eye Care Competencies Framework.

The WCO pointed to the more than 2.2 billion people experiencing vision impairment worldwide, noting that the demand for qualified optometrists “has never been more critical.”

“The Competency Framework equips optometrists with the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to fully participate in addressing this global burden,” the WCO shared. “By guiding curriculum development and informing policymakers, it facilitates the recognition of optometry as a vital component of integrated people-centred eye care.”

Associate professor Peter Hendicott, WCO immediate past president, said: “Optometry needs to be prepared to participate in multiple roles within health systems, and to work with others in the delivery of care. The competencies described in the framework give optometry opportunity to participate widely, potentially in leadership roles in teams.”