The optometry industry is showing signs that it is committed to protecting the environment by adopting improved business practices, according to new research amongst UK optometrists.
The new research, carried out by Optegra Eye Health Care, reveals that 61 per cent of those surveyed are actively taking steps to reduce the impact of their optometry business on the environment. This raises to 82 per cent of optometrists in London.
Key measures they have put in place included increased participation in packaging recycling schemes (57 per cent) and going fully paperless in terms of patient communication (58 per cent).
This environmental commitment has been supported by advancing technology across the industry, with 57 per cent of UK optometrists stating that improved technology provides a welcome opportunity for virtual clinics (which reduces patient travel to and from clinics/hospitals) and also advanced treatment in eye health.
With millions of plastic contact lenses thrown away each year, forming microplastics which pollute oceans and harm marine life, the types of lenses being stocked at certain practices is also being carefully considered.
Over half (51 per cent) of optometrists surveyed said they are offering some eco-friendly contact lenses amongst their range whilst 47 per cent are only offering this type of lens.
Contact lenses are generally made from plastic-type materials, such as hydrogel or silicone hydrogels. It is possible to recycle contact lenses but due to their small size and limitations of local authority recycling collections special arrangements are available with various companies or optical practices to collate used soft contact lenses, the foil lids and plastic packaging.
Optegra’s advice is:
- not to throw used lenses in toilets or the sink
- dispose of cardboard packaging and solution bottles in household recycling bin
- Consider the manufacturer as some have reduced the packaging and introduced more recycled plastic into their processes
Furthermore, just over half (51 per cent) of optometrists state that they aim to become carbon neutral in the future by reducing their carbon footprint to zero via efficiency measures in-house and supporting external emission reduction projects.
These changes can be costly though, and over half (54 per cent) of British optometrists surveyed agree that they are concerned about keeping their practice open due to the cost-of-living crisis.
Reflecting on the research results, Clare O’Donnell, Head of Optometry at Optegra Eye Health Care said “We are delighted to see so many optometrists in the community making a pledge to reduce their impact on the environment.
“Here at Optegra, we have also reviewed all our processes and have launched a new ‘Open Eyes’ initiative with our commitment to go paperless from start to end of the patient journey. This includes enhancing care pathways so that we can best use a digitally connected healthcare delivery, for efficiency, accuracy and full visibility of the patient journey.
“The initiative also extends to online booking and screening for patients, online payments, complete view of theatre lists and integrated NHS reporting.
“In addition, we have committed to maintaining our e-clinics which were initially a necessity due to the pandemic, but have proven not only convenient and preferrable for patients as a first consultation, but also saves hundreds of patients each week travelling to and from our hospitals and clinics, thus improving their carbon footprint.”
Last year Optegra used 1.1 million sheets of paper to support the patient journey through its hospitals. In response, the hospital group has launched fully Digital Patient Records spanning across a number of platforms (OpenEyes, Compucare and Forum) but all connected together to provide seamless paper free experience:
- Booking – including online booking, virtual consultations, e-referrals
- Patient Portal – appointment management, letters, on-line payments
- Consultation – online clinic lists, patient imaging, online payments
- Surgery – including online theatre lists, full digital patient records, medicine labelling
- Follow-up care – including integrated NHS reporting, patient feedback, outcomes reporting, electronic discharge.
Optegra Eye Health Care is a specialist provider of ophthalmic services. Established in 2007, it has completed over one million eye procedures from its 31 eye hospitals and clinics across the UK, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.
Optegra brings together leading-edge research, medical expertise and state-of-the-art surgical equipment. It performs more than 120,000 treatments annually, both private and publicly funded. Its top ophthalmic surgeons are renowned for their areas of expertise, offering excellent clinical outcomes and great patient service.
Tel: 0800 077 3272