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The Vision Council has released the results of the February 2021 Eyecare Provider Insights Survey. The Vision Council fielded the survey to the organization’s panel of more than 1,700 eyecare providers during the last week of February. The survey, which launched in March 2020 and is being conducted on an ongoing basis to track the state of the optical market, asked respondents to provide insight about how business conditions—including number of eye exams and eye exam scheduling and follow-through, capture rate, revenue, and staffing—compare to a typical month, pre-pandemic. The survey also asked respondents for their insights on their economic outlook for 2021 and included a special section on issues specifically relating to COVID-19, including vaccinations, safety precautions, and business assistance.
To download the February 2021 Eyecare Provider Insights Report, visit The Vision Council’s Research Download Center,  here.
“The February results closely follow what we saw in January, with over half of optometry practices and optical retailers reporting reductions in business compared to a typical month. While low patient volume has continued, the capture rate remains high. Practice owners report that they have sought and received support to supplement their lost business revenue, with 72% applying for some sort of assistance,” said Alysse Henkel, Director of Research Data and Analytics.
“The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was a common source of support, with nearly all owners reporting receiving PPP funds after they applied. Overall, government and private assistance programs have provided much-needed funds equal to about 10% of practices’ typical annual revenue. The most promising news in this report is about vaccinations: eyecare providers reported a very high vaccination rate (70%). However, most respondents said there was some hesitancy to receive the COVID vaccine among at least a few of their co-workers.”

Key takeaways from the report include:
• Eyecare providers are getting vaccinated at a much higher rate than the general public: 70% of providers reported being fully or partially vaccinated by the last week of February.
• Patient volume (exam counts) remains below normal: 58% of providers report the number of exams as below normal, consistent with the recent trends of the last three months.
• Capture rate continues to be strong: 58% of providers report their capture rate is normal or better than a typical February.
• Practice owners have taken advantage of government assistance programs: 96% of owners who sought assistance reported applying for federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds.
• Overall, practices are still suffering the effects of the pandemic: 59% of providers report revenue is down compared to a typical January and 23% of owners report a reduction in staff from last month, but respondents show signs of hope for the future with 47% of owners believe business conditions will get better in 3–6 months.