On the ground at the AOP

An explainer on… the member survey

In the first of a new series of insights from across the AOP, OT  hears from John White, communications director, on the results of the member survey

When we commissioned the project with research specialists Research by Design in 2022, the starting point was the AOP’s Five-Year Strategy, and our mission to ‘secure the present and shape the future of optometry’ for the benefit of our members and the people they serve.

To further this goal, we needed to explore members’ views, challenges and expectations for their careers and for the profession.

We will be focusing on the challenges identified by members


It was critical to us that the research we undertook was robust and included as many members as possible.

We conducted four preliminary focus groups with members in Autumn 2022, and launched two online surveys in January for practising members and student members respectively.

In total, we were delighted that over 2500 members completed the AOP’s member surveys. This result not only provides a rich bank of data to analyse, but also a strong mandate to act on the insights members have shared. We thank every member for taking part.

Perceptions of the profession

The research confirmed that practising members’ perceptions of the profession are mixed. Words chosen to describe optometry included being ‘interesting,’ ‘demanding,’ and ‘rewarding,’ but also featured ‘undervalued.’

Reasons cited for being an optometrist by members included the ability to help people, the versatility of career options and the ability to foster a good work-life balance. However, members raised concerns about being underpaid, and some are frustrated with the focus on commercial above clinical work.

Balancing clinical versus retail requirements, and the need to find a work-life balance, were also identified as challenges members face in their day-to-day roles, along with coping with stress effectively. While these issues are longstanding and the AOP is already committed to supporting members – including through our education programme and our Peer Support Line – we will be exploring further steps we can take to help members.

Future careers

Students told us that they are positive about their future careers in optometry, believing it is an evolving profession that provides then with a wide range of opportunities. This level of optimism is consistent across all years of study at university. Comments from students included: “Optometry is a career that can take you wherever you want to go, it is very open and gives opportunity to pursue your interests in the profession.”

When designing the surveys, we knew members’ views on what the future would and could look like would be essential. Members told us their career goals centre on improvement, be it in their skill set, extra qualifications or their performance in their current role. Members are also clear that additional support to help enhance their skill set and to progress their qualifications would be welcomed. Asked about areas of clinical development, myopia management was the most frequently selected area where more education is being sought.

AOP support

Overall, we are delighted that the results for the AOP from the member research are highly positive, with members agreeing that the support they receive from the AOP as a key reason for their positive feelings towards the organisation.

Most striking is how well the AOP compares to Research by Design’s membership normative data: 56% of members would highly recommend the AOP, producing an outstanding Net Promoter Score (NPS) of +41, which outperforms the RbD normative data of +2. The AOP has also improved the member approval rating since the 2018 member survey, when it scored +35.

The vast majority of members agreed that the AOP serves and protects them throughout their career, gives them peace of mind and resources they need, while also promoting the profession to the wider world.

On the back of the research, we will be focusing on the challenges identified by members. We know that we will need to provide targeted support based on members’ working circumstances. This work includes how we help practice-owning members who are struggling to achieve a suitable work-life balance, employed optometrists who need support coping with stress effectively, and our locum optometrist members who tell us they value assistance staying up to date with the latest CPD and industry developments.

Read the results of the member survey on the AOP website:

Coming up at the AOP

National Eye Health Week, 18–24 September 2023
Get in touch with OT to share your plans for the campaign at: [email protected]

Sight for SEN, Summer/Autumn 2023
The AOP will launch an update to its newly-released campaign promoting the importance of the Special Schools Eye Care Service:

Cost of living, Autumn 2023
The AOP continues to highlight how cost of living pressures can affect eye health. See campaign updates at: