Reviewing the FBDO syllabus
ABDO is reviewing the syllabus for its Level 6 Diploma in Ophthalmic Dispensing, commonly referred to as the FBDO (Fellowship Diploma of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians) qualification. The FBDO degree-level qualification enables students to register with the General Optical Council (GOC) and practise using the protected title of ‘dispensing optician’. The syllabus for the qualification shows which areas students study and the depth and breadth of what they study in each area.
ABDO is seeking views on how the FBDO syllabus should evolve. Following the review, we will be seeking the approval of the General Optical Council (GOC) to provide the FBDO qualification under the new system of education which it is introducing. In doing so, ABDO will continue to work closely with education providers to ensure a rigorous and integrated approach to education delivery and assessment.
Evolving roles of dispensing opticians
Dispensing opticians provide patients with expert eye care by advising on, fitting and supplying them with the most appropriate spectacle frames and lenses, based on their prescription, facial characteristics and their visual, lifestyle and vocational needs.
Dispensing opticians play a particularly important role in dispensing spectacles to children to correct a refractive error and in dispensing spectacles and low vision aids to patients who are living with sight loss caused by an eye disease. The dispensing of optical appliances, including spectacles and low vision aids to children and visually impaired people can be carried out only by, or the under supervision of, a dispensing optician or optometrist registered with the GOC.
In recent years there have been a number of developments in the practice of dispensing opticians, with greater involvement in providing clinical advice and the use of technology to support patient care. Looking ahead there are various trends which are likely to have a bearing on the roles which dispensing opticians will play on qualifying. These include the growing number of older people in the UK, the growth of childhood myopia, increased delivery of eye care in community practice rather than in hospital, the opportunity for dispensing opticians to carry out the refraction element of a sight test, the increasing use of technology in community practice and the growing focus on preventative healthcare.
Supporting continuing professional development
This consultation relates only to the development of the FBDO syllabus, but as part of this review we need to ensure that the FBDO qualification continues to provide dispensing opticians with a good platform for continuing professional development after they qualify.
Dispensing opticians are able to develop their expertise in a range of clinical areas, as well as specialising in dispensing spectacles to particular patient groups, such as people with additional needs.
Dispensing opticians can specialise in low vision, which might involve working in community practice or in a hospital setting. To support professional development in this area, ABDO offers a Level 6 Honours Diploma in Low Vision.
ABDO also offers a Level 6 Certificate in Contact Lens Practice. This enables dispensing opticians to register with the GOC as a contact lens optician and fit contact lenses. The expertise they gain in relation to the anterior (front of the) eye means they are able to provide additional clinical services, such as acute eye conditions services, glaucoma repeat measures (measuring the intraocular pressures and visual fields), providing elements of pre and post-cataract check-ups, treating dry eye disease and myopia management via the fitting of specialist contact lenses.
Dispensing opticians can also develop their management and leadership skills, become involved in managing a practice and use their expertise to supervise the dispensing of spectacles and resolve any issues which arise. ABDO offers a Level 5 diploma and a range of Level 5 certificates in management and leadership, which are accredited by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).
To support students’ longer-term career development, therefore, the FBDO syllabus needs to provide an appropriate grounding in particular clinical areas of practice, such as low vision and contact lenses, and in management and leadership. It also needs to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to adapt as practice changes and develop their interest in new areas. For example, it is likely to become increasingly important to be technologically literate and able to review and critique evidence.
Developing the FBDO syllabus
Based on our analysis of the opportunities that are likely to be available to dispensing opticians in the future, we have identified a number of areas that should potentially be added to the FBDO syllabus or to the extent that they are covered already, covered in greater depth, namely:
caring for vulnerable adults, including patients with dementia
clinical imaging and interpretation
dispensing spectacles to people with additional needs, including people with learning disabilities
extended services, such as acute or minor eye conditions
management and leadership
public health, including obesity, nutrition, smoking cessation, falls prevention, blood pressure and glucose monitoring
the role of technology in optics
There is a limit to how much material can be covered during a three-year programme, so as well as considering which areas should be added to the syllabus, we are seeking views on areas that should no longer be covered or which should be covered less broadly or in less depth.
Listening to stakeholders
We would like to hear your views on how the roles of dispensing opticians are likely to evolve over the next two to five years and how the FBDO syllabus should change as a result.
The consultation runs for 12 weeks until Thursday 1 July 2021 and we look forward to hearing from you.