What does the future hold for the eyecare profession?

Author: Staci Hearnshaw
Author: Staci Hearnshaw
Posting date: 12/01/2022

The eyecare industry is always changing. Over the years, we’ve seen the introduction of new eye care treatments and products in stores. The customer experience has become all the more important and at Vision Express, we’re always ready to adapt to any market changes to help us move forward. We spoke with one of our Divisional Ophthalmic Business Partners, Chris Froment. He shared his insights on the current state of the eyecare profession and what the future of the industry holds for Optometrists.

Today’s eyecare profession

“I think it’s in a good place. COVID has made us step back and look at our practices and decide what is necessary for us to do our job, and what we were doing because we thought we had to do it. I think the industry is changing a bit. We’re using lots of new products, like contact lenses for kids who might be short-sighted. We’ve never run with that before but that’s come up recently and we’re starting to put that into stores.

We’re also focusing on multi-focal contact lenses. There’s a lot of people who didn’t wear contact lenses before who are now interested in wearing contact lenses. We’re now becoming an industry where we talk to our customers more and we listen to what they want, and we often have products that can help to make their lives better – and make their vision a lot better.”

There’s no doubt, then, that the eyecare profession is shifting to focus on personalized care, and delivering products and services that are directly tailored to the patient’s needs. It’s a profession that is responding to the market and when asked about what the profession was like before COVID-19, Chris had this to say:

“I think there was a lot of desire to modernize the profession, but we were going at such a pace that we needed to take stock. I think weirdly, the break with COVID gave everyone the opportunity to look at where we want the profession to go. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry.”

Paving the way for the future of optoms

Despite some of the challenges in recent times, Vision Express has still been able to train and support our colleagues, especially our Optometrists. We’re always keen to support the ongoing success of our staff and provide rewarding career opportunities.

“The last couple of years have been strange as we haven’t been able to get in a room with people, but we’re doing far more conferences and we’re about to have a professional roadshow that’s going round in four different locations. It’s the first opportunity a lot of us will have had to get in a room together, and it’s nice to talk to our colleagues in Vision Express. Optoms and Optometrists are often very isolated. We’re in a room on our own, but actually, this is an opportunity to meet up and discuss how we want to work and do things.

While we spend most of our day in a room with our patients, Optometrists at Vision Express offer far more than just an eye test room. We regularly connect with our colleagues to create an engaging and memorable community. Our interactive CET portal keeps our professionals up to date with all the latest clinical developments and research, so they’re always well-informed. This helps our colleagues perform even better and provide better customer service.

“We’ve been doing training for when we bring in new products. We’ve been training for MiSight eye lenses, we have stores with OCT, so we’ve been doing a lot of training around that. We’ve also done quite a bit around optometry development and the different things we can offer, and one of the big things is optom Store Management. I’ve been an Optom Store Manager in the past, but it’s now something that is a recognised career path within Vision Express. The role offers you the chance to really look at your practice and the business, and see where you can improve things and the direction you want to take your practice. There’s a lot of thought around what we can offer our optoms that’s a little bit different and keeps them happy, and offers progression and support.”

Career development

As we move into the future and the demand for skilled Optometrists continues to rise, professionals in this industry will need to make sure they keep learning and take advantage of their network. At Vision Express, we’re hosting conferences and events to allow optoms to network with each other and to keep up-to-date with the industry. Speaking about our conferences, Chris said:

“We’re in four locations. There’s London, Manchester, Birmingham and Dublin. At those [conferences], optoms from around the regions close-by or nationally can go along and they’ve got a multitude of these career development points. It’s a really good opportunity to learn new things about the industry and what things are changing in the workplace. It’s also the chance to meet up with other optoms. We do peer discussion groups, so you’ll talk about different ways of working. It’s a great opportunity to learn and develop your professional skills.”

What’s next for the eyecare industry?

“I think opticians will still be really important. I think having someone that people can talk to, I don’t think will be replaced by robots very easily, but I think the role of technology is going to be really important in the future. There are some wonderful bits of equipment, but the human element of optometry is real. We need to make sure that we are still skilled and leading professionals, but I think the challenge is our opticians are very centred around different universities, and certain areas are struggling to fill optometry vacancies.

We need to be a bit smarter as an industry to get people where they need to be to support communities that need optometry. The big challenge is getting the right level of optometry around the country so people aren’t travelling miles and so they can get a really good eye test from their local optician without having to wait weeks to do it. We’re looking for different ways to improve the quality of optometry and bring that quality to the masses.”

At Vision Express, we’re always looking forward to the future and thinking about ways we can improve our customer service and products. We’re focused on giving the best eye care service to our customers and helping our Optometrists thrive.

Are you looking to drive your career forward?

We take great care of our optometrists and make sure they’re comfortable and feel supported at every stage of their careers. We always make sure we’re up-to-date with the latest changes in the eyecare profession to help us deliver an outstanding service. The future looks bright for the eyecare profession. If you’d like to find out more about our Optometrist roles, take a look at our jobs and contact us to find out more.