Professional authority

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1*Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University, Eye- and Vision Center Optometrie Cagnolati GmbH

In a remarkable publication, the scientist Gemma Almond from Swansea University in Wales deals with the early beginnings of British ophthalmic optics and later optometry.1 The author describes the development of British opticians in the late 1890s from opticians to ophthalmic opticians and today's optometrists in great detail. This development is closely linked to the publication by F. C. Donders "On the refractive and accommodative state of the eye" in 1864 and the invention of the ophthalmoscope by Hermann von Helmholtz in 1851.

Whereas until the mid-nineteenth century, people with defective vision in Great Britain were provided with the "right" visual aid by trying out different types of spectacles under the guidance of a retailer, from then ophthalmologists claimed responsibility for the complex of refractive errors in the context of the more recent understanding of the physiology and pathology of the eye. This resulted in a decades-long process of professionalization of British opticians, also in discourse with British ophthalmologists, which ended in the first Optician Act in 1958 and clearly defined the position of the ophthalmic optician of that time and today's optometrist.

Following this historical process in Almond's publication, the reader recognizes the importance of the development of its own scientific and clinical knowledge, which was an important contribution to the professionalization of British optometry.

In this context, Efron et al. discuss in a recent paper the scientific significance of optometry journals in the context of the number of publications in which clinical and scientific papers from optometry journals were cited.2  This was based on an analysis of papers published in the Scopus database, which lists 18 optometry journals. The data analysis revealed that around 6,000 scientific publications from optometry journals are cited annually in other scientific and clinical papers. The four most important countries that refer to publications from optometry journals are the USA, UK, Australia and Germany. The highest number of cited papers from these journals were published in "Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science", "Ophthalmology" and "Vision Research". This demonstrates the high level of publications in optometry journals and their acceptance in the field of ophthalmology and vision science.

Adequate clinical and scientific training is a prerequisite for any healthcare profession and defines its professional authority. This is as true for optometry as it is for other healthcare professions.

With two contributions from optometry and two publications from ophthalmology, the current Optometry & Contact Lenses (OCL) once again makes every effort to present interesting articles for members of both eye care professions.

Wolfgang Cagnolati

[1] Almond, G. (2021). Vision Testing in Late Nineteenth- and Early TwentiethCentury Britain: Opticians, Medical Practitioners and the Battle for Professional Authority. Soc. Hist. Med., 35, 1, 237-258.

[2] Efron, N., Morgan, P. B., Jones, L. W., Nichols, J. J. (2023).Who cites optometry journals? J. Optom., 16, 296-304.