Public perceptions survey results
General Optical Council eBulletin 35
December 2017

Public perceptions survey results

Our latest public perception survey has shown that the public are split on a possible future in which machines could replace optometrists in carrying out sight tests. Of the respondents 43 per cent of respondents said that they would be comfortable having a sight test conducted without an optician present, only using a machine. However 48 per cent of respondents stated that they would be uncomfortable with this.

An interesting aspect of our research found that age was a key determinate of weather a person was comfortable with an optician being present or not. 55 per cent of those aged 16-34 didn’t have an objection so a sight test being carried out without an optician present, compared with only 23 per cent of those aged over 75+.

Other findings from the survey include 72 per cent of respondents claiming that they have visited an optician in the last two years. In addition to this, 95 per cent of patients were satisfied with their overall experience when they had visited the opticians.

GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, Vicky McDermott, commenting on the research said,

“Optometry is one of the healthcare professions most challenged by the introduction of automation and Artificial Intelligence. This research shows that a large proportion of the public do not see significant issues with machines taking over some of the tasks of optical professionals. Other part of the population are not comfortable with the possible reduction in human interaction which automation may bring.

“Any transition towards a more automated future in the delivery of eye care therefore needs to be handled very carefully, particularly with an ageing population who have more complex needs and who are less likely to be comfortable with less human interaction.

“Where automation does replace the work currently undertaken by an optician this has the potential to free up the optician’s time to allow them to focus on managing more complex eye care conditions. We will continue to monitor technological developments in the eye care sector to identify any potential risks of harms to patients and the public.”

The full results from our research can be found on our website here.

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