Eye care sector too focused on sales rather than patients, according to optometrists

New research looking at the current state of the optometry profession has revealed that many optometrists believe the eye care sector should focus more on clinical services and less on the sale of commodity items. Optical Express, the UK’s only complete eye care provider, commissioned the new research to understand optometrists’ views on the eye care sector, their ambitions, and the challenges they face.

In a series of focus groups, optometrists currently practising at a range of independent and multiple providers from across the sector, said they felt their clinical skills were often undervalued. The research also found that optometrists feel changes are needed to the optometry degree course and the way it is currently taught at university. Concerns were raised about the lack of emphasis on practical skills, and students not gaining enough hands-on experience. This comes as universities are in the process of assessing changes to their course delivery in line with the General Optical Council’s Education Strategic Review.

The focus group participants told researchers that they felt the profession needs to move with the times, including the need to do more to address the industry’s environmental impact. Optometrists felt that most employers and businesses weren’t doing enough to address environmental issues and many professionals are unaware of the steps they can take to improve sustainability.

Optical Express CEO and Founder, David Moulsdale said, “This research should act as a stimulus to everyone in the profession. Optometrists do a fantastic job, but many feel their clinical skills are being undervalued, and that they’re not being supported to provide high quality eye care to patients. It is really valuable to hear the views of clinicians in practice so we can understand how to improve the profession as a whole and ensure that we apply this feedback. The survey is a promising step towards gaining further knowledge in order to focus our efforts in the right places.”

Optical Express is now launching a UK and Ireland-wide survey to build on the evidence from the focus groups and provide a well-rounded view on the challenges optometrists face in practice today.

Optical Express is calling on all clinicians in the optometry profession, whatever stage they are at in their career, to make their views heard by filling in the short survey. The results of the survey will provide the basis for change, and it will contribute to evidence on how to propel the profession into the future.

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