Since qualifying as an optometrist in 2011, Naomi Barber, Director of Optometry at Specsavers Canada, has subscribed to the philosophy that quality eye care should be simple, accessible, and convenient. As a forward-thinking optometrist, she’s been part of the team advocating for technology that empowers optometrists to provide patient-centric care and takes health outcomes to the next level.

Most recently, she’s been meeting with her peers to understand their perspective on clinical excellence. We had the opportunity to speak with Barber to learn more about her conversations and discuss advanced eye care, diagnostic technology, and what this all mean for Canadians.

Q. What is Specsavers’ approach to eye care?

A. Our approach is simple – we focus on effectively meeting the needs of our patients. Globally, we’re seeing that the pandemic, coupled with ageing populations, are leading to increasing demands on optometrists’ expertise and time. Patient experience and health outcomes depend on a variety of factors including cost, access to service, and diagnostic equipment availability.

Our application of advanced technology aims to make quality optometry services more accessible and convenient. The result is patients who are more likely to engage in regular eye care and not just when they experience vision problems. This is important for preventative care which is what I’m thrilled we’re working towards.

Q. How are you partnering with optometrists in providing preventative healthcare?

A. What inspires me is the clinical curiosity at Specsavers. This is rooted in the fact we are the world’s largest optometrist-led business. We revolve around how we can best support optometrists because it translates to higher standards of patient care. Optometrists in Canada hold qualifications that enable them to step into frontline detection and referral with ease. We see this as an opportunity to advocate and drive a preventative approach to eye care here.

Q. Why is it important to equip your optometrists with the latest equipment and technology?

A. For us, our commitment to clinical technology is beyond investment. It’s to ensure it benefits every patient and supports consistency and efficiency of care. We’ve measured the impact of introducing optical coherence tomography (OCT) as part of standard care for patients and can confirm it substantially increases optometrists’ ability to identify and monitor eye disease.

In Australia and New Zealand, we observed detection rates of glaucoma double, with most patients detected before their vision was severely impeded. OCT is enabling our optometrists to make confident clinical decisions on when to monitor and when to refer to ophthalmology. This is exciting for a condition that is under-diagnosed. It shows the value of equipping our optometrists with the right technology and making it openly accessible to all patients, which we aim to replicate in Canada.

Q. What does transforming eye health mean to Specsavers?

A. We have an ultimate goal to transform eye health in a very real and measurable way. It means we must establish benchmarks for clinical care so we can chart our progress towards achieving better health outcomes. We take clinical excellence seriously, whether this is pioneering national public health initiatives or empowering independent optometrists to run their business effectively, it all matters to us.

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Connect with Naomi Barber, Director of Optometry at Specsavers Canada, at