Optometry takes steps forward in Mexico

Optometry takes steps forward in Mexico

Parliamentary action abroad recently reinforced the importance of optometric education in improving access to quality eye care services.

"This is an important milestone for the profession of optometry in Mexico."

Article 79 of Mexico's Health Act was officially amended mid-March to include optometry among the list of health care professionals that require a university degree to practice. The law's ratification stems from years of work by Mexican optometrists with support from the international community.

Lack of recognition by the Health Act meant inadequately trained people were providing eye care services without any control. With the profession's formal recognition, Mexican optometrists can focus on regulation that supports and enhances doctors' ability to care for patients.

Mexico requires about 12,000 optometrists to satisfy the demand for eye care—about 43 percent of the population needs optometric services—and, currently, 15 universities offering an optometry degree graduate an average of 400 optometrists each year, according to the World Council of Optometry (WCO).

There were about 4,000 Mexican optometrists who had graduated with a university degree, as of February 2014.

AOA offers support abroad
Mitchell T. Munson, O.D., AOA immediate past president and a North American representative to WCO, says the AOA has penned letters of support for several countries, including Mexico, in the past, and Mexico's formal recognition of optometry is a crucial step in the right direction.

"This is an important milestone for the profession of optometry in Mexico. Clearly, there is an unmet need for primary eye care and this is a necessary step on the road to meeting that demand," Dr. Munson says.

This most recent international triumph for optometry comes about two years after AOA and members of WCO joined together to defeat legislation in Brazil that would restrict the ability of optometrists to independently treat patients.

April 24, 2015

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