Press Release The Vision Technology Revolution hitting the high street
In a report commissioned by the Optical Confederation and the College of Optometrists, the Foresight Project Report launched today by Health Minister, the Rt. Hon. Alastair Burt MP, assesses the potential impact that technology will have on the optical sector over the next 15 years.
Researched and authored by social enterprise think tank 2020health, Foresight reveals a hospital eye health system stretched to breaking point, which is only set to worsen with a projected boom in the number of over 65 year olds in the population by 2030¹ and the accompanying levels of eye disease which will increase by up to 80% compared to 2010 levels². The report also indicates that developments in biomedical technology will be unable to reduce the prevalence of eye disease by the end of this 15 year period (2015-2030).
With this in mind, the role of optical professionals has never been so crucial, and the report makes some important suggestions as to how the workforce can adapt to this demand. The piece recommends that degree programmes in optometry find ways to adapt and reflect the exciting technologies available in the sector, and that more thought is given to the potential enhanced role in public health that technology will enable opticians to have.
In practice, the development of technology in the optical field will also promote the uptake of specialised practice, such as paediatric and geriatric care.
Alan Tinger, Foresight Project Chairman said: “The purpose of the Foresight Project is to ensure that the optical sector is better equipped to understand as much as it can where technology, ocular medical developments and demographics are leading to in the years ahead. With that knowledge it should inform debate as to how the sector can help shape and adapt to the challenges and opportunities.”
Julia Manning, Chief Executive of 2020health and co-author of the report said: “Vision technology is expanding massively and becoming available to the public as never before. We are really excited at some of the innovation which is life-changing for people with visual impairment, and mobile-based technology that will help everyone become more involved in their eye-health. The hope is that new equipment and tools will deliver an upskilled workforce that policy makers and commissioners will see is in a prime position to deliver more community eye services and take the burden off the hospital sector.”
¹ ONS, 2010
² Projection of partial sight and blindness (<6/12) by disease type, UK (people), 2010 to 2030 (Source: Access Economics 2009: 45-47)
Optometrists and opticians need to be able to deliver a service which ensures that patients have access to eye care, through the provider of their choice, whether in the community, in their own home (for the housebound) or in eye clinics. Working with partner organisations, the Confederation achieves these objectives by sharing information, aligning views, co-ordinating action wherever possible, based on a set of core values. Members stand for the delivery of high-quality services and products for all, on the basis of choice, delivered by open, fair and competitive markets. The Confederation will challenge anti-competitive behaviours wherever they occur.
The College of Optometrists
The College of Optometrists is the professional, scientific and examining body for optometry in the UK, working for the public benefit. Supporting its members in all aspects of professional development, the College provides pre-registration training and assessment, continuous professional development opportunities, and advice and guidance on professional conduct and standards, enabling our members to serve their patients well and contribute to the wellbeing of local communities.
Optics Foresight Project
Exponential growth of digital technology and fast-evolving demographics are altering the expectations and habits of consumers, businesses and NHS service providers. And yet, many of the practices and models of the optical professions have remained largely unchanged for decades. The purpose of the Foresight Project is to ensure that the optical sector is better equipped to understand as much as it can where technology, ocular medical developments and demographics are leading to in the years ahead. With that knowledge it should inform debate as to how the sector can help shape and adapt to the challenges and opportunities.