The global demand for accessible eye care services has increased significantly in recent years. In the UK, ophthalmology services are the busiest outpatient speciality in secondary care, making up almost 10% of the entire waiting list. In response, the NHS has released new 2023 clinical guidance. This guidance claims that the constant evolution of medicine and technology could help free up vital clinical time and save taxpayers’ money, ensuring patients receive the most effective treatment in the most efficient manner possible.
What are these new developments that help make eye care more accessible to a broader population? From the rise of online platforms to the improvement of screening services, here are four key ways eye care is reaching more people.
The advent of online platforms has not only transformed the way we shop for eyewear but has also democratised the entire buying process. Cutting-edge tech features like virtual try-ons help make buying eyewear more convenient, with virtual and augmented reality allowing customers to try on different styles at home. This liberates shoppers from the confines of brick-and-mortar stores and can also mean fewer returns and higher engagement for retailers.
For instance, see how Ray-Ban’s Frame Advisor Technology meticulously analyses face shape, size, and features to curate a selection of styles based on your personal data. This not only enhances the shopping experience but also aids customers in making more informed choices tailored to their unique facial characteristics.
Home trial services
Recognising the diverse circumstances and preferences of shoppers, home trial services have emerged as a complementary offering in many online platforms. This service caters to individuals with unreliable devices or internet connections, as well as those who simply prefer a more hands-on and immersive shopping experience. The home trial of Glasses Direct, in particular, allows customers to try on glasses at home for free. Customers only need to visit the Glasses Direct website and select frames they are interested in before the chosen frames are shipped to their doorstep for a seven-day trial period.
During this period, customers can try on the frames, evaluate how they look and feel, and ask for insights from friends and family. After the trial period, customers can, therefore, make an informed decision about which frames suit them best and proceed with their purchase. This home trial service not only eliminates the need for multiple visits to physical stores but also ensures that individuals have ample time to make a confident and informed choice regarding their eyewear.
Affordable treatment plans
According to a 2023 survey by Vision Express, 22% of patients have delayed getting an eye test due to financial constraints. However, neglecting these check-ups can lead to the worsening of eye conditions and accumulating treatment costs over the long run.
Recognising this challenge, many optical stores offer eyewear plans. Besides a monthly payment plan, benefits include free eye tests alongside discounts on eyewear, lifetime servicing, and coverage for accidental breakage and loss. By offering a financing option, eyewear retailers can ease the financial burden associated with eye care, providing customers with peace of mind and ensuring they receive the best service without compromising their budget.
New digital imaging technology
Due to the poor sensitivity and specificity in previous tests, as many as half of suspected diabetic maculopathy cases referred to secondary care are false positives. Today, however, advancements in digital imaging technology are reshaping ophthalmology care. For instance, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) stands as a revolutionary tool in screening services, according to the NHS. This surpasses traditional 2D methods by capturing 3D retinal images.
By allowing for more accurate diagnoses, this innovation means patients can receive swifter referrals, expediting treatments like intravitreal injections. This not only enhances patient outcomes but also reduces unnecessary delays and optimises resource utilisation.
These developments collectively contribute to a future where eye care is not only a necessity but also an accessible and inclusive aspect of overall health and well-being. For more news on tech and fintech, check out our other guides on TechBullion.