There is one view that eye care professionals should stick to what they know – correcting refractive error and referring anything else of concern. This is a blinkered and outmoded view.

An alternative view is that eye care professionals are members of one of the few health care professions who see asymptomatic patients on a regular basis so are well-placed to advise on health issues outside those directly affecting the eye. An example here might be advice on smoking cessation, for example. With training, many have helped influence patient behaviour with long term benefit.

In the news this week, Cancer Research UK projections calculate that in 25 years, excess weight will cause more cancers than smoking in the female population. By 2035, 10% of cancers in women (around 25,000 cases) could be caused by smoking and 9% (around 23,000 cases) by excess weight. What is to stop ECPs from offering appropriate and effective advice – after relevant training of course.

NICE is undertaking a consultation on the management of depression in the UK. Studies such as DEPVIT at Cardiff University have highlighted the strong association between sight loss and depression. It’s great to see the College of Optometrists is listed as stakeholders in this consultation. ECPs should be able to undertake basic depression screening and manage accordingly – with the correct training.

So, as ECP education is being reviewed, lets hope that there is some consideration to the wider healthcare role that ECPs might usefully offer and that suitable training is included in future syllabi.

On a different note. Pre-NHS, healthcare relied heavily on philanthropy to fund research and service delivery. In these increasingly cash-strapped times, it was worrying to see a warning from the Wellcome Foundation about the possible impact of restrictions upon freedom of movement post-Brexit on the UK’s ability to maintain high standards of research and treatment development.