Research into the marketing activities of the optical sector is extremely limited. The aim of this paper is redress this imbalance, and to examine and assess the role and relevance of marketing orientation to the independent optometrist. A national survey was undertaken using an adapted form of the MARKOR questionnaire, which sought to establish the level of marketing orientation of independent practitioners. This was supplemented by an in depth interview with a senior figure in an influential independent practitioner support organisation. The research shows that gaps exist in the market orientation activity of the independents. There is a lack of acceptance of the marketing function and practitioners score poorly on a number of aspects of marketing implementation. Whilst the response rate was good, those who completed the questionnaire represent a relatively small sample of optical practitioners and further research is required to validate the findings here. With the independent sector facing intensive competition and lacking in marketing orientation, a key recommendation is that the education and training of optometrists should incorporate a strong marketing and entrepreneurial element.