Public perceptions research
General Optical Council eBulletin 24
July 2015

Public perceptions research


New independent research we commissioned has shown there is a high level of public satisfaction with opticians. Findings showed that 96 per cent of those who had been to the opticians in the past two years were either very satisfied or fairly satisfied with their overall experience of opticians.

A further 92 per cent of respondents were very or fairly confident of receiving a high standard of care from opticians. This was higher than for GPs (88 per cent) and dentists (87 per cent), but slightly lower than for pharmacists (94 per cent).

Public eye

This overall satisfaction with opticians is reflected in the fact that the vast majority – 92 per cent – said they have never had a reason to complain or consider complaining about an experience with an optician.

However, the research also showed that opticians are seen as playing a narrow role, with many associating their opticians with just testing sight rather than being their first port of call for any eye health problems.

Just 19 per cent said that they would consult an optician first if experiencing an eye health problem, such as a red eye or blurred vision, compared with 54 per cent who would turn to their GP. Ten per cent of respondents said they would consult a pharmacist, while five per cent said they would go to Accident and Emergency.

Public eye 2

The research did show a good understanding, however, of the importance of going to the optician regularly. 83 per cent of the public said they believed you should go to the optician every two years or less, although this figure stood at 73 per cent for those who actually had last visited their optician in this timeframe.

Of more concern, 11 per cent of respondents said they had never visited their optician, with one in ten of those with a personal or family history of diabetes saying that they had never been to see an optician.

GOC Director of Strategy, Alistair Bridge said: “It is very pleasing to see from our research that the public are confident of receiving a high standard of care from opticians and that the vast majority of people have never had a reason to complain.

“The survey also shows, however, a low level of public awareness of the role that opticians play in detecting eye health problems as opposed to correcting vision. With only around a third of people associating opticians with detecting eye health problems and less than one in five saying they would turn first to their optician with an acute eye problem, there is clearly a need to raise awareness of the roles that optometrists and dispensing opticians play in improving the UK’s eye health, and a need to address the barriers to them making a greater contribution in the future.”

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