Another successful annual conference of the European Academy of Optometry and Optics (EAOO) took place in Rome last weekend and delegates were all aware of the increasing importance of such a body.

Europe is undergoing an interesting yet challenging demographic change at present. While the financial crash has undoubtedly caused a blip, the average life expectancy in Western Europe was 79 years for males and 84 years for females in 2018. So, with most common eye diseases having a strong association with increasing age (75% to 80% of all visually impaired people in Europe are 65 years of age or older), there is an ever-increasing need for a unified and effective trans-European eye health strategy. To underline this, the World Health Organisation estimates there are 26,350,000 visually impaired individuals in Europe. Early disease detection, accurate monitoring of treatment and prevention advice will all help address this ever-growing problem and the EAOO will be instrumental in coordinating unified pan-European eye health services.

So, it was good to see the UK and Ireland well represented at the Rome conference. Keynote speakers included ophthalmologist Professor Ian Flitcroft (of Dublin) who spoke about the latest research in myopia progression and attempts at intervention. Professor Dave Elliott (Bradford) gave an update on his research into falls and the influence of sight loss. And Optician supported a workshop in how to develop a multidisciplinary approach to managing those with sight loss.

With the new president of EAOO, Nick Rumney, being from Blighty, the UK has a great opportunity to support this group in their aim of providing ‘a forum where experts and practitioners can come together to meet, share their successes and challenges, and learn from each other’s experience,’ and working together ‘to ensure we address issues such as an ageing population, a growing need for healthcare, technological advancements and consumer demands.’ Well worth joining at this critical time.