Foresight Project Report

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A discussion of the potential impact of technology on the UK optical sector to 2030. 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.

“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.”

Julia Manning, Chief Executive of 20/20health and co-author of the report

There are no guarantees of who will be delivering what, and where, by 2030. But unless professionals and businesses adapt with the times, they risk becoming unviable. Arguably the optical sector, with its deep dependency on retail, will be the health sector to feel it first. Call it the second-machine age or our modern Gutenberg moment: many medical monopolies that have enjoyed supremacy for (quite literally) hundreds of years have now to work out how to evolve their offering, or be dismantled from the outside in. The optical practice, in whatever form, will need to give the public stronger reasons to enter its premises in the future. The impending fundamental and irreversible changes within the optical sector are many, but so are the opportunities to embrace them and move forward. Those who become agile, value relationships, learn how to harness the public’s interest and share expertise, will be the ones who flourish.

Commissioned by The Optical Confederation & The College of Optometrists
Principally funded by The Central Optical Fund

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