Number of dispensing opticians in the UK 2010-2019

In 2019, there were 5.7 thousand dispensing opticians in employment in the United Kingdom. This large decrease from the previous year when there were over ten thousand dispensing opticians. A dispensing optician is different from an optometrist as they do not test people’s eyesight but advise on and supply spectacles and other visual aids to those who need it.

Eye care in the UK

There were approximately 15 thousand ophthalmic opticians in employment in the UK in 2018. In contrast to the increasing number of dispensing opticians; the number of ophthalmic opticians has experienced more fluctuations over the same time period, but ultimately falling from a peak of 24 thousand in 2013.

Comparison to European countries

The UK has quite a low number of opticians per 10,000 population when compared to other European countries. In 2017, there were just over one optician per 10,000 people in the UK, while France had 5.34 per 10,000 which was the highest in Europe. Additionally, the UK had 1.11 optician retail outlets per 10,000 population which again ranks it low in comparison to the rest of Europe. Cyprus had the highest density of outlets at 2.54 per 10,000 population.

Annual number of dispensing opticians in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2010 to 2019

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Release date

October 2019


United Kingdom

Survey time period

2010 to 2019

Number of respondents


Special properties

UK households

Supplementary notes

Numbers rounded to the nearest hundred.

Annual population survey data relating to employees and self-employed health professionals by occupation group (based on Standard Occupation Classification 2010, code 3216).

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Statistics on "Optometry and optical industry in the UK"

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