ST. LOUIS—The World Council of Optometry (WCO) has introduced the WCO Competency Framework for Optometry, a resource aimed at harmonizing the optometry profession and enhancing optometric education globally. Developed with a vision to define optometry in terms of essential competencies required to engage effectively in the international eyecare agenda, this framework marks a significant milestone in advancing eye health worldwide, according to the WCO. “Recent vitally important global reports, such as the World Report on Vision and UN General Assembly resolutions, have outlined the challenges facing eyecare, the impact of vision impairment on the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the inclusion of addressing refractive error correction within universal health coverage," said Dr. Yazan Gammoh, WCO education committee chairman.

“This urged WCO to revise its competency model to better prepare optometrists to meet the eyecare needs of their communities.”

At the heart of the WCO's mission lies a commitment to supporting optometrists and championing eye health and vision care as a fundamental human right. Recognizing the diverse landscape of optometric education and practice across the globe, the WCO identified the pressing need for a unified global standard. The Competency Framework addresses this need by providing a comprehensive guide for developing core curricula for tertiary-level optometry programs.

Divided into five essential domains—refractive error, visual function assessment, ocular health and diseases, public health and professional practice—the framework outlines the competencies expected of optometry graduates. By establishing a minimum level of professional identity across all countries, it ensures consistency in optometric education and practice. Moreover, these competencies are aligned with the WHO Eye Care Competency Framework (ECCF), further reinforcing their global relevance.

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

Adaptable to the unique needs of each country, the Competency Framework serves as a dynamic resource that transcends borders. It empowers educators, regulators and policymakers alike to shape the future of optometry education and practice.

“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 an opportunity to participate widely, potentially in leadership roles in teams,” said associate professor Peter Hendicott, WCO immediate past president.

For more information and to access the WCO Competency Framework for Optometry, visit the WCO website's resources page here.