AIO’s position of where the independent sector fits into optometry has evolved over recent times, in a significant and meaningful way.

For a number of years there has been a somewhat negative and defensive dialogue from independent practitioners about the relentless march of the multiples and how they have decimated the independent sector, and adversely affected optometry as a whole. While this is understandable, as a mindset it is unhelpful to the sector.

AIO is now about a very different dialogue; about how great it is to be in independent practice, focusing on promoting the many positive aspects about having control of your own destiny. Independents can decide for themselves the extent of their clinical services and how long patients will spend in the consultancy chair. They have the flexibility to change how they operate and can source equipment and eyewear products from wherever they want. Independent businesses are far better placed to adapt to local needs quickly.

AIO members enjoy what they do and are passionate about optometry. And they are aware of how vital it is to get this message out to all practitioners – that independent practice is a great place to be. As the optometry market as a whole is beginning to focus more on clinical services, which is welcomed, the independent sector has had this focus for generations.

A key objective for AIO in 2018 is to get the message across to the profession, and importantly to the general public; that independent practice is a great place for patient eye care.

Our message to those wanting to run their own practice is quite simple – come join us, we are here to help you get started and watch your practice grow. The independent sector is thriving.