Association of Schools and College of Optometry (ASCO) - India - was formed under the aegis of the World Council of Optometry. In 2003, the idea for the formation of ASCO was proposed by World leaders in Optometry with an aim to establish Optometry as a health care profession in India - to participate in prevention of blindness campaigns and to contribute to the eradication of preventable blindness in India.
Establishment and Registration:
ASCO - India was modeled on the ASCOs in USA and Australia and its main objective was to standardize and develop Optometry education in India. Optometry educators from leading schools of Optometry and their founders like Mr. Vivek Mendonsa, Mr. Amod Gogate from Bharati Vidyapeeth’s School of Optometry, Mrs. Prema K Chande, Lotus College of Optometry came together to devise the initial working committee for registering ASCO - India under Bombay Public Trust and Societies Act. The association was eventually registered in 2006. Initial few years were focused on bringing all optometry schools under the organization.
ASCO - India was formed as an initiative by World Council of Optometry.
The Association was registered under Bombay Public Trust and Societies’ Act and was established with an objective to support and standardize curriculum in schools and colleges of optometry.
Year 2007 - 2009
Development of Common Minimum Optometry Curriculum (CMOC).
Heads of a few optometry schools formed a committee and worked towards curriculum development.
A standardized four-year B.Optom and M.optom curriculum were developed. Currently, this syllabus is being followed by most universities across India.
Indian Entry Level Optometrists Competency Standard (IELOCS) document was developed to standardize competencies of practicing optometrists for eye care service delivery.
To train the teachers from various optometry schools, ASCO developed a training program with Manipal University’s medical education department. This program was held at multiple locations across India. Participants from 20 Optometry schools benefited immensely from this program.
World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. A massive initiative was taken pan India for service delivery in eye care to mark this occasion, ASCO member Schools, along with other leading institutions including multinational companies like Essilor organized several eye camps at various government and government aided schools across India. By doing this ASCO contributed to the noble cause of eradicating blindness in the country in addition to creating awareness and standardizing Optometry education. ASCO – India has been celebrating WSD every year with its members.
Year 2012 – 2014
Low vision clinics development:
ASCO - India in collaboration with Lotus College of optometry and Sightsavers, trained 46 optometry educators across India and developed Low Vision clinics in 30 optometry schools.
To further strengthen optometry education, Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) conceptualized the fellowship program called Fellow of the Association of Schools and colleges of Optometry (FASCO). FASCO is a blended learning program that combines didactic lectures, hands-on and personal contact programs with mentors in different subject specialties. The process encourages continuous learning and culminates in an evaluation that clearly demonstrates advanced skill, deeper understanding of concepts and competency in the chosen specialty.
First batch of 5 fellows graduated in 2015.
To date, 24 fellows have graduated.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare proposed an Allied and Health Care Council of India to legislate various health care professions; optometry being one of them. A task force committee was established by the ministry which included some of the ASCO board members. A national curriculum was developed on the basis of CMOC and, was subsequently released in 2015.
ASCO E-learning portal was established
OCCULUS project initiated
Introduction of CMEs and revamping of the Fellowship – FASCO Participation in the WCO conference
10 CMEs were organised as of October 2018 across the country – Mumbai, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Bangalore and Palghat (Kerala).