College of Optometrists president Dr Mary-Ann Sherratt promoted high street optical practices but called for better communication from hospital eye departments during a panel discussion at the annual England Vision Strategy conference in London this week.

High street optometrists, she told the England Vision Strategy Conference in London, were ideally placed to help reduce pressure on hospitals.

Addressing around 200 delegates across the sight loss and eye care sector, Dr Sherratt said: ‘We feel that optometrists have a vital part to play in intervention pathways right through to rehabilitation.’

Also on the panel, Royal College of Ophthalmologists trustee Melanie Corbett said standards must be set for eye care delivery across the eye care professions.

Dr Sherratt stressed that a competency framework was already provided by the College, adding: ‘Optometrists are well set up for this and the College has worked hard to provide this framework.’

Communication and IT were continuing to pose barriers between optometrists and hospitals.

Dr Sherratt added: ‘Communication and collaboration between professions is the way to make it work on both sides,’

Panellists were also asked about the potential for the government to appoint a chief eye health officer in the same way there are chief medical officers. Dr Sherratt said that having established better links with NHS England, this idea now ranked among the ‘what’s next’ topic for optics.