This year I will have been qualified as an optometrist for 30 years. This sobering fact has put me in reflective mood. Has this profession moved forward in those years? It is tempting always to look back and remember all the good things and possibly think everything in the garden was rosy. It is easy to think that nowadays nothing is as good as when we were young. However, I do believe it is sometimes beneficial to stop and appraise where we have got to.As a profession we are almost unique in our support for an almost universally disliked health bill. Most of the medical colleges have openly stated their opposition to it and at the end of last week the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy went public in its disapproval. Why then are we still almost the lone voice in the wilderness? Do we see the bill as the way forward in promoting high standards of patient care? Do we see it as a way of increasing the use of our clinical expertise in high street practices? Certainly 30 years ago the amount of clinical expertise was on the rise but nothing in comparison to what is available nowadays. However, I read an article in another journal where I see that there is an increasing number of practitioners who feel under pressure because they are being required to shorten their testing times and to achieve pre-set conversion rates. I realise that, if anything, optometry has actually gone backwards. With all the shining opportunities that could be ahead of us there are those who would wish to see this profession revert to ‘eye testers’. I assume that these people do not support the profession in its agreement with the health bill. This bill will see us working much more closely with public health. With strategies such as ‘make every contact count’ we will see optometrists spending far more of their time discussing healthy lifestyle issues with their patients. Far from seeing patients with a view to selling them glasses we will be part of a front-line primary health workforce charged with informing and influencing our patients to adopt healthy lifestyles. I wonder how these consultations will fit with the imposed tight timetables and pre-set conversion rates. In 30 years this profession has survived with its two-sided clinical and retail stances. There is no doubt that in recent years those who would have us seen as shopkeepers selling glasses would appear to have won out. However, I believe it will not take another 30 years, and possibly as short a time as 30 months, before we divide into the clinical profession of optometry and the retail trade of optics, most likely accompanied by a de-regulation of our core function of refraction. The future could be so much better if we sort out the present.