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Principles of the eye examination or sight test

When conducting a sight test, which is defined in law,19  you must perform an internal and external examination and carry out such additional examinations as appear to be necessary to detect signs of injury, disease or abnormality in the eye or elsewhere 20 21.
When conducting an eye examination or sight test, the same optometrist should remain in control and responsible for performing the refraction, ocular health assessment and subsequent issuing of a prescription. Where it is not possible or in the patient's best interests to complete the episode of care on the same day, a transfer of care to another optometrist should be made.
You remain responsible for the interpretation and assimilation of all clinical findings required to conclude the eye examination or sight test. This includes utilising automated instruments such as, visual fields analysers, subjective and objective auto-refractors, and imaging devices - unless you have made a transfer of care to another optometrist. 
Sale and supply of spectacles or contact lenses must not be a condition for performing a sight test.
You should use your professional judgement and the minimum legal requirements to decide the format and content of the tests.
You should allow sufficient time to perform the examination.
There is a suggested equipment list at Annex 1.
You must record all clinical findings. You must do this legibly and at the time of the examination, or as soon as possible afterwards. If making retrospective additions, you must make it clear when (date and time) these were added, by whom and why.
FOOTNOTE: An episode of care in the context of an eye examination or sight test is a patient's entire care journey from the initial pre-test or triage, the performing of all tests and investigations deemed appropriate until the final prescription is issued. The patient should know when the episode of care starts and finishes, and who the responsible clinician is throughout.


19 Opticians Act 1989 s36(2) [Accessed 1 Nov 2023]
20 Opticians Act 1989 s26(1)(a) [Accessed 1 Nov 2023]
21 Sight Testing (Examination and Prescription) (No 2) Regulations 1989 SI 1230 s3(1)(a). [Accessed 1 Nov 2023]