More than 75 percent of U.S. opticians consulted by the Vision Council said they were receiving some form of support from their suppliers in a survey conducted between April 8 and 11, up from 31 percent in a previous survey on March 24-27. Details about the kind of support could not be obtained, but we assume that they have been granted such benefits as delayed payment terms.
While the situation may have changed since then, with several states relaxing retail lockdowns, 48 percent of U.S. optical retailers had closed all their stores as of April 11 and 33 percent had closed some of their stores according to the Vision Council’s latest survey. Out of all the stores, 67 percent were keeping them open for a limited number of hours and 90 percent had reduced the personnel at the beginning of the month. By that time, the opticians responding to the survey had reported an average decline of 94 percent in the level of their activities as compared to a normal week, up from 83 percent in a previous survey conducted during the March 19-22 period.
By April 8, about 60 percent of opticians in the U.S. had suspended eye tests and other routines because of the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Vision Council’s surveys. By the end of March, 31 percent of U.S. adults had decided to suspend visits to opticians to for their own problems during the epidemic. More than 41 percent had decided to suspend them for their children. Among those who need new eyeglasses or contact lenses, 15.2 percent decided in March to purchase them online, 103 percent more than in February. More than half of them said they would just postpone their purchases.
The Vision Council pointed out that trend in eye exams is now much worse than when it declined during the 2007 recession, although they are likely to increase in coming months. Its survey indicated, on the other hand, that 24 percent of eye care professionals were using telehealth platforms to handle their patients’ problems at the beginning of April, and 29 percent were planning to make use of them.