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France to relax rules on prescription glasses, contact lenses

26/10/2021

France will soon allow people aged 16-42 who need to renew a prescription for glasses or contact lenses to do so without requiring a trip to an ophthalmologist. MPs voted in favour of the move, which is designed to reduce waiting times and, ultimately, afford a better service for patients, last Friday. Under the new rules, the scope of orthoptists’ work will increase and they will also be able to prescribe glasses and contact lenses. Supporters say it will make access to eyecare easier for the public and reduce waiting time but critics say it will reduce the quality of care. Up until now, anyone wishing to get a prescription for glasses in France needed to visit an ophthalmologist – a medical doctor and surgeon specialising in eye diseases and varied complaints. This is in contrast to countries such as the UK, where people can get a prescription for glasses and contact lenses by visiting a high street optician, instead of a doctor. In France, ophthalmologists are often based in hospitals. As a result, there can be delays getting appointments. In contrast, orthoptists are specialists in vision, eye movements, and how the eyes work together, and may not be based in a hospital. They are less likely to deal with urgent cases. *Image by Nicola Giordano from Pixabay 

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