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Ophthalmologists and optometrists—interesting times?
  1. DAVID V INGRAM
  1. Sussex Eye Hospital, Brighton, UK
  2. Ophthalmologist member of the General Optical Council
  3. Head of Optometry, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK
  1. LOUISE E CULHAM
  1. Sussex Eye Hospital, Brighton, UK
  2. Ophthalmologist member of the General Optical Council
  3. Head of Optometry, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK
  1. Mr Ingram

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As the ancient proverb entreats, “May you live in interesting times.” We do. The relation between the two professions has never been in greater flux. We have, in the United Kingdom, moved from conflict and intolerance to (relative) harmony and cooperation in a very few generations. We are all contending with changes to the climate in which we work, compounded by changes in legislation, enacted or threatened.

There are references in the literature to “turf battles” and “strained relations” especially in the United States.12 In general, in the UK we are fortunate to have a relatively peaceful alliance which more often than not is mutually beneficial. The services offered by the two professions are complementary and any animosities that used to exist should be consigned to history. In looking to the future it seems that there is potential for both hospital and community based optometrists to become involved in some aspects of ophthalmological care. With an ageing population, and therefore increasing prevalence of eye disease, it would appear essential to have an extended workforce undertaking screening for and monitoring of eye disease. This is particularly relevant to the UK in which the organisation of ophthalmic care is different from most other countries in the developed world. Why should each group be defensive towards the other or afraid that their work will be usurped or negated? Clearly, there is plenty of work for all of us.

In order to encourage cooperation, communication and mutual respect are essential. Teamwork is of course much easier in the setting of the hospital where communication and feedback are part of daily routine. Interaction across different environments is more challenging and even with the revision of the referral form GOS18, non-communication between hospital and community based professionals remains a problem.3 The issue of …

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