Aside from sending many people to look at the status of their mortgages, last week’s Bank of England 0.5% interest rate rise announcement included the gloomy news that the United Kingdom’s economy was about to fall into a prolonged period of recession, lifting only in 2024. It is predicted that the slump might not be as steep as the 2008 global financial crisis, but the effects may last just as long.

I wasn’t working on Optician 14 years ago when things went south, so I thought I would have a look at the news and reaction from the time to see how the credit crunch and following recession reverberated within the sector.

A July 2008 YouGov survey reported that nearly half of the population were putting off a visit to the optometrist or dentist as a direct result of the credit crunch. Given the additional pressures on inflation and energy that patients are currently experiencing, this trend is sadly likely to be repeated. The issue prompted the International Glaucoma Association to urge the public not to skip eye tests as part of National Glaucoma Awareness Week. Hopefully, Glaucoma UK won’t have to do the same in 2022.

YouGov was once again the bearer of bad news in May 2009, with data showing that nearly one in four contact lens wearers over the age of 18 would consider switching products to save money and one in five would wear their lenses for longer periods than their chosen modality to cut costs. As patients run the rule over their monthly outgoings, hefty regular payments could end up being cut.

It was cost that fuelled demand for SelectSpecs’s aptly named ‘Super Cheap Specs’ range, claimed company owner David McMillan in October 2009. The glasses featured a full rim design, anti-scratch and anti-reflection lenses, and delivery included for £8.50. Although far from perfect, online eyewear retail is a completely different proposition today, and one that patients are highly likely to turn to.