9 April 2021

Public perceptions survey shows confidence in optometrists

The General Optical Council (GOC) has published the results of its 2021 public perceptions research.

The GOC’s research showed very high levels of confidence in optometrists' standards of care and satisfaction with the measures put in place to protect them from COVID-19. The results showed that: 

  • 96% of respondents were satisfied with their last opticians* visit overall.
  • 94% of respondents remain confident in the standard of care provided by opticians* remains high, and is higher than that for doctors, dentists and pharmacists.
  • 97% 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% of respondents said they would speak to an optician* first if they woke up with an eye problem, representing an 11% increase since 2015.
  • Over a third of respondents (35%) said they perceive opticians* to be solely a healthcare service, which has increased by 4% since 2019.

The College’s guidance for optometrists ensures the highest professional standards and we have worked tirelessly to throughout the pandemic to enable our members to adapt their practice and provide essential and safe care for patients.  During this period, the College has led the sector to make sure eye health was high on the agenda of commissioners and policy makers, advocated for the recognition of the role and skills of optometrists in providing essential and urgent eye care and made the case for optometrists to be recognised as key workers, ensuring that they were included in national PPE guidance, and more recently working to secure the COVID-19 vaccine for all optical practice staff.

We provided timely guidance and resources for optometrists to adapt their practice to be able to continue to provide safe and effective patient care, and our public communications have informed and reassured patients.

The College’s guidance is supported by all UK health authorities, reaffirming the College’s clinical leadership and position in influencing national policy to ensure widespread and consistent good practice.

Note: *The term ‘opticians’ was used throughout the GOC 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.

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