Eye care will always have a demand as people will continue to require vision correction, eye disease treatment, and optical products and services. Developments in the field of optometry along with shifts in consumer demand is likely to bring forth several changes in the industry.
Predictions are not guaranteed outcomes, but they are nevertheless formed after careful analysis of current trends. Here are top 5 predictions for optometry.
1. Increase in Specialty Care
The field of optometry is predicted to turn more specialized in future. Optometrists focusing on different conditions such as myopia management, dry eye care, and concussion therapy are likely to expand their practices.
A rise in specialty care may divert patients away from general optometry clinics that provide basic services such as refractive care and basic medical eye care. Prepare for this shift by building your expertise in a specific field to reap benefits in the future.
2. Surge in Myopia
Myopia, or short sightedness, is expected to increase substantially in the coming days. The importance of eye exams will rise as vision health will become a mounting concern.
According to the World Health Organization, at least 2.2 billion people suffer from a vision impairment or blindness. The reason stated for this upsurge is lack of eye care for conditions like short and far sightedness, cataract, and glaucoma. Optometry is expected to merge with mainstream medicine as myopia and other eye conditions become more common.
3. Rise of the Information Technology and Artificial Intelligence
Technology is expected to have a major role in optometry in the near future. Digitization will reduce paperwork and manage data more efficiently. Optometrists are likely to invest in computer systems that capture, handle, and exchange information in quickly and smoothly.
Processes requiring artificial intelligence (AI), such as imaging, have provided optometrists with a deeper understanding of eye disease. In 2017, a software was invented to track glaucoma progression, which led to improved treatment of glaucoma patients. Optometrists will need to adopt and accept AI for the profession of optometry to evolve.
4. Managed Care Companies
According to predictions for optometry, the managed care companies are projected to increase while solo practitioners are predicted to slowly decrease. Managed Care compares that have started to own their own optical shops as brick and mortar and online shops. The number of optometrists practicing in one premises will reduce overhead, increase hours of operation and broaden the ability to specialize.
There is likely to be a trend for managed care companies such as VSP to take over practices. Managed care demands stronger networks to perform efficiently. Optometrists may choose to collaborate with fellow optometrists (horizontal integration) or with ophthalmologists (vertical integration).
5. Focus on Primary Eye Care will narrow
The focus of optometry practices will narrow and they are likely to only serve as primary eye care providers. Optometry doctors will no longer be engaged in routine vision correction, such as standard contact lenses.
Optometrists are expected to conduct eye examination, fit contact lenses, and provide eye care for contact lens patients. According to predictions, patients will probably use a special form of credit card validated by the optometry doctor for a 6 month to 1 year supply to buy lenses from a vending machine or dispenser.
Like every other profession, optometry is also set to evolve with time. Predictions for optometry indicate that the products and services provided by optometrists are likely to become more specialized while the internet and artificial intelligence is set to improve workflow. We will start to see more ODs expand via medical optometry and increasing scope of practice will help optometry as optical sales will not be major source of income.