More patients would consult ‘optician’ first with eye problem

More than 2,000 people responded to 2021 survey

The latest public perceptions research from the General Optical Council (GOC) has revealed an 11 per cent increase in the number of respondents who would consult an ‘optician’ first if they woke up with an eye problem.

Published annually, the GOC public perceptions research seeks to understand the public’s views and experiences of opticians across the UK. The 2021 survey also revealed that more people than before considered opticians to be solely a healthcare service.

More than 2,000 members of the public responded to an online survey as part of the 2021 research.

Key findings include:

  • 96 per cent of respondents were satisfied with their last opticians visit overall
  • 94 per cent of respondents remained confident in the standard of care provided by opticians – higher than that for doctors, dentists and pharmacists
  • 97 per cent said they were satisfied with the measures that were in place during their last optician visit to protect them from coronavirus
  • A new high of 30 per cent of respondents said they would speak to an optician first if they woke up with an eye problem, representing an 11 percentage point increase since 2015
  • More than a third of respondents (35 per cent) said they perceived opticians to be solely a healthcare service, which has increased by four percentage points since 2019

Announcing the findings, the GOC explained that the term ‘opticians’ was used throughout the research “to avoid confusion on the assumption that the public do not clearly distinguish between ‘optometrists’ and ‘dispensing opticians’, although questions about the understanding of these terms were included as part of the research”.

Marcus Dye, GOC acting director of strategy, said: “We’re extremely pleased to see that confidence in the professions remains high, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. We’d like to thank our registrants for their hard work during these difficult times to ensure the public could still receive eyecare and feel safe doing so.

“It’s also positive to see that the perception of opticians as a healthcare service has increased to over a third, and more respondents than ever say they would speak to an optician first if they had an eye problem. We look forward to continuing to see these numbers increase and we hope registrants and the wider sector will find the report to be helpful in improving optical care practice.”

The research forms part of the GOC’s ‘Fit for the Future’ strategic plan for 2020-25, and will be used to inform its work in transforming customer service and future policy and research activities.

 The full report is available to download from the GOC website.