The future of optometrists


Mr Paul Folkesson, President and Ceo of ECOO, the European organisation which represents the interests of optometrists and opticians from 26 countries, reveals to WMIDO the hot topics of his associations.

Which are your latest actions to support optometry?

According to World Sight Day we did together with our stakeholders an activity inside the EU Commission’s building where we did put up an exhibition where the civil servants had the opportunity to get their eyes screened and got information about the necessity of checking once eyes regularly. ECOO does a progressive work where needed to support our members too. This winter we have for example been involved and supporting our members according to the work at EU Commission about“Mutual evaluation of profession”. It’s an important work while, once when decision is made in EU Parliament it will affect us all in each country. And thirdly we are working with European Diploma and to get more universities accredited and to teach accordingly.

What is the role of the optometrist in Europe?

Optometrists role vary a lot over Europe. Up in the Nordic countries they are a natural source in the health and care sector, many of them are now employed at hospitals as well and there is a good co-operation with ophthalmologists. But this isn’t the situation in all countries and here ECOO have a great mission to fill, in letting the well established examples to be informed about and hopefully to be established in more areas to meet the needs from patients about easy access and adequate care when needed.

Which are the currently hot topics?

We are finalising the“ECOO Blue Book”which is result of a survey over how profession are defined and have possibilities to work within the EU market. ECOO was even asked by EU Commission about this information according to their work with project“Mutual evaluation of profession”. We are preparing it for the soon upcoming committee and general assembly meeting mid May in Budapest.

Which is your future plans?

During my presidency I tend to work for the knowledge about profession among civil society. An important factor for that is continuing education and training, CET, by profession on it’s own. Also to continue the work with more accredited universities on the list for the European Diploma accreditation. From ECOO’s side we support the thoughts about CET and will work for that to be more spread over Europe.