November 29, 2021

From now on, orthoptists will be able to prescribe glasses without the opinion of ophthalmologists

Despite strong opposition from the opposition, the National Assembly voted on Friday evening for the expansion of activities for orthoptists.

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No more consultation with an ophthalmologist, orthoptists will now be able to prescribe glasses to their patients themselves. The National Assembly voted on Friday, October 22, in favor of expanded activities for these eye rehabilitation professionals.

The measure in article 40 of the 2022 budget of the Social Security is at the origin of a strike since Friday and until October 31 of the ophthalmos, mobilized at the call of their main union, the Snof, against this that they see as a “degradation of the quality of care” with direct access to these paramedical professionals.

Conversely, the government defends a measure capable of facilitating access to visual care for the French, given the waiting times for appointments with the ophthalmologist. Average waiting times were 80 days in 2018, with significant regional differences, according to government figures. But the Snof advances a more recent study showing delays in clear reduction.

“The consultation (with the profession) has taken place since the end of March” and “we will be precise in the decree” of application on the age groups concerned (16 to 42 years a priori) or the prescription of corrective glasses or lenses authorized for orthoptists, assured Minister Brigitte Bourguignon to the deputies.

But almost all opposition groups had tabled amendments to delete the article, which will prevent or delay screening for eye diseases, they fear. “The goal is laudable” but this may lead to “two-tier medicine”, depending on whether you go to the orthoptist or the ophthalmologist, argued Thibault Bazin (LR), who instead suggested to “promote installation” ophthalmos in poorly endowed areas.

The proposed measure “does not resolve territorial inequalities”, also advanced the Communist Pierre Dharréville, while the establishment of the two professions is often identical. On the proposal of the general rapporteur Thomas Mesnier (LREM), the deputies adopted a modification, so that orthoptists can only adapt or renew their first prescription if the patient has consulted an ophthalmologist, within a period which will be specified by decree.