Go back to article: Rather unspectacular: design choices in National Health Service glasses

End of the scheme

In 1982 the government took the unusual measure of changing the range of health service glasses available by introducing the first new frame style to the range, the ladies plastic two-tone frame with pattern number 924. This was the first of many significant changes which sounded the death knell of the National Health Service frames range. This again had a huge impact on patients, and on the optician business. On 1 April 1985 some more wide-ranging changes entirely affected the way opticians did their business. They were allowed to advertise, price their frames, and enter a free marketplace. Relaxation of rules came with some changes in the NHS eye service administration; a voucher system was introduced for those who were entitled to aid. This extended the principle of means testing for patients. Further opportunities were available for an optician in business terms, and within a year over one thousand new optical shops opened, offering wider choice to the consumer and triggering the beginning of fierce high street competition (The Times, 1986). The position of opticians and their businesses had widely changed, and brought a new era of opportunity for patients. This also opened up the market, giving the opportunity for a much wider influence by fashion and designers.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/170703/011