Getting the best out of optics

A 36-year-old’s first trip to the optometrist reveals the importance of talking about the scope of an eye examination

Tim Brough

When I first entered the world of optics, I was immediately struck by the level of exposure – or the lack of it – that this hard-working sector has in the minds of the public.

Much has been made of the work that pharmacy has carried out in its push to offer more frontline care for patients. Speaking to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) director for England, Robbie Turner, for OT’s June edition, he argued that the public is becoming more open to pharmacists delivering clinical services.

“Five years ago, we would never have seen the acceptance on the scale that we do now. I think that helps to demonstrate that patients are now seeing pharmacists in a different way,” he said.

Asked how this has been achieved, Mr Turner pointed towards the high-level support the RPS has received. NHS England has committed around £100m to support 1500 pharmacists to work in general practice by 2021, and the Government has also agreed to provide 60 full-time equivalent pharmacist positions in urgent call centres dealing with NHS 111 calls.

The work to promote the role of pharmacy to the public is set to continue, Mr Turner told OT, with public-facing campaigns focused on enhancing the public’s understanding of the role that pharmacists play.

“The main thing is helping [the public] recognise that if they have got any questions, concerns or worries about how to get the best out of their medicine, they should speak to their pharmacist first,” he explained.

In optics, one of the most basic challenges is encouraging patients to book an appointment to see an optometrist regularly – or at all.

Inspired by a conversation at 100% Optical, OT brought together optometrist and practice owner, Marcus Slater, and Tim Brough, a 36-year-old who had never had a sight test.

Mr Brough’s reasons for not booking a test are both candid and revealing. Citing convenience and a lack of time in a “very busy life schedule,” he also highlighted that he had a fear about what an eye test might uncover.

His feedback after the examination with Mr Slater – using words such as “impressed, surprised and incredible” – reiterate the work the sector needs to do to park its modesty and sell the great work it does every day.

The AOP Awards is a fantastic opportunity to meet this goal. Recognising businesses and individuals across the world of optics, new award categories this year include Locum Practitioner of the Year (sponsored by Johnson and Johnson Vision) and Audiology Practice of the Year. The closing date for nominations is 20 July. Please do get involved.