Optometry and optical industry in Europe - Statistics & Facts

Optometry and optics are linked professions with the roles of both varying in different countries of the EU. An optician is responsible for assembling and dispensing eyeglasses or contact lenses, whereas ophthalmologists or optometrists are the primary healthcare practitioners of the eye with responsibility for providing comprehensive eye care, including diagnosing and managing disease and dispensing prescriptions. The scope of practice varies between countries as a result of the education system, the law and the organization of the profession.

France employs the largest number of opticians, with a rate of 5.34 per 10,000 population employed in 2017. However, Cyprus had the largest number of optician retail outlets, with a recorded 2.54 outlets per 10,000 population in 2017. In Spain and several Nordic countries, the optometry and optics professions are combined, which explains the large numbers of optometrists employed in these countries compared to the number of opticians.

Over recent years the eyewear market in Western and Eastern Europe has increased in value as a result of the range of lens and spectacle options available. An increasing number of individuals are turning towards wearing contact lenses only or in conjunction with spectacles. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the market value of contact lenses increased to over 220 million British pounds in the last 3 years. The versatility and durability of contact lenses mean individuals can use them as everyday wear, for sport or for improving their appearance. The share of individuals who wear eyeglasses varies across Europe, with an average of 48 percent of European citizens wearing spectacles in 2017.

In the United Kingdom it is recommended that individuals receive an eye test every two years, or earlier if there are any problems. This is considered standard practice across the European Union with eye tests conducted by ophthalmologists or optometrists in specialized settings. In many European countries, eye tests are free or subsidized for children and the elderly.

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Optometry and optical industry in the UK

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