New research shows high levels of public satisfaction and trust in optical professions

The General Optical Council (GOC) has published its 2023 public perceptions research, which seeks to understand the public’s views and practical experiences of using eyecare services.  

The results show that public satisfaction remains high, with 94 per cent of respondents who had a sight test / eye examination in the last two years satisfied with the optometrist who carried it out, the same figure as last year.  

For the first time, opticians / optometrist practices are now the initial port of call for people with an eye problem. This year, 36 per cent of respondents said they would visit an opticians / optometrist practice first if they woke up with an eye problem, ahead of 33 per cent who said they would visit a GP practice /surgery. This figure has steadily grown since 2015, when 19 per cent reported they would go to an optician’s first. However, there are differences between the nations: 49 per cent in Northern Ireland and 46 per cent in Scotland said they would visit an opticians / optometrist practice first, compared to 39 per cent in Wales and 30 per cent in England.  

Other key findings include: 

  • 77 per cent of respondents said they had been for a sight test / eye examination in the last two years, with those that say they have never been dropping from 14 per cent in 2015 to 3 per cent this year. 
  • 92 per cent of respondents were confident about receiving a high standard of care from an opticians / optometrist practice. This compares with 85 per cent from a pharmacy, 81 per cent from a dental practice / surgery and 79 per cent from a GP practice / surgery. 
  • 13 per cent had experienced a situation where something went wrong with the care or service they received when visiting an opticians / optometrist practice. Of these, 56 per cent said that they received an apology, but 42 per cent did not.
  • Only around one in five (21 per cent) shopped around to compare different opticians / optometrist practices before picking which one to go to. Just over one in ten (15 per cent) were not aware glasses or contact lenses could be purchased from a different opticians / optometrist practice to where they had their sight test / eye examination / contact lens fitting. 

Steve Brooker, Director of Regulatory Strategy, said: “The profession should be proud that public satisfaction and trust levels remain high, and I would like to thank all our registrants for their continued hard work and commitment.  

An important milestone is that for the first time since we began this research in 2015, more people would first visit an opticians or optometrist practice with an eye problem than a GP practice or surgery. However, there are differences between nations, and it will be interesting to see if this trend accelerates in future as registrants become better equipped to meet a wider range of eye health needs. 

We will use insights from this research to inform our review of our standards of practice for optometrists and dispensing opticians and standards for students. We hope registrants and other stakeholders will also find information from this report valuable to help them continue to deliver high-quality optical care.”

The research was carried out by M·E·L Research, interviewing a representative sample of 2,020 people in the UK between 27 January and 13 February 2023. 

Read the full 2023 public perceptions research.