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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 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.
Throughout the review, ABDO will work closely with all our stakeholders to maintain a rigorous and integrated approach to education delivery and assessment. Subsequently, we will be seeking the approval of the General Optical Council (GOC) to provide the updated FBDO qualification under its new system of education.
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 and other specialist optical appliances, based on their prescription, facial characteristics and visual, lifestyle and vocational needs.
Dispensing opticians play a particularly important role in dispensing spectacles to children and in dispensing spectacles and low vision aids to patients who are living with sight loss. The dispensing of specialist optical appliances, including spectacles and low vision aids, to children and people with visual impairment 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, including providing clinical advice in new areas 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 increasing prevalence 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. There will be opportunities for dispensing opticians to develop their skills and knowledge in a variety of different ways and this could involve gaining further qualifications.
In future, such qualifications could take the form of ‘building blocks’ that enable practitioners to build on their FBDO qualification by undertaking further blocks of study in specialist areas, in order to suit their particular practice and areas of interest.
Developing the FBDO syllabus
Based on our analysis of the opportunities that are likely to be available to dispensing opticians in the future, some sections of the syllabus that could potentially be covered in greater depth, namely:
There are also areas that do not have specific sections in the syllabus which could be added or covered in more depth, namely:
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 or covered in more depth, we are also seeking views on areas that could be covered in less depth or potentially no longer be covered at all.
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. As well as enabling the development of the FBDO syllabus, your feedback will inform our thinking about further qualifications and which ‘building blocks’ it might be useful for us to develop in future.
The consultation runs for 10 weeks and will close on 12 July 2021 and we look forward to hearing from you.