18 July 2022

The College submits its response to the GOC's review of the Opticians Act

Read our response to GOC's call for evidence to review the Opticians Act (1989).


We recently asked for your views on the GOC’s Call for Evidence on the Opticians Act, to inform the College’s response. Thank you for helping us to understand your views and concerns about the proposed changes to legislation and associated policies.

Based on our review of the evidence and your survey responses and interviews, the College has now submitted its response, which includes:

  • Testing of sight must remain a protected function of the Act that can only be performed by an optometrist or medical practitioner.
  • We strongly believe that refraction should not be separated from the eye health check, to protect the public from avoidable sight loss.
  • Refraction and the eye health check should be carried out by one individual, to ensure quality and safety of care, and therefore refraction should not be delegated.
  • We recommend better training to all members of staff within an optical practice to ensure people in vulnerable groups are supported to use their appliances effectively, instead of legally restricting the sale and supply of optical appliances to additional groups of vulnerable patients.
  • Selling optical appliances to children under 16 and those registered visually impaired should remain restricted to registrants.
  • Registered, competent optical professionals must remain in control of clinical decision-making as they use new technologies and innovations.
  • Standards of care provided remotely should be developed and be equivalent to those that apply to face-to-face care.

This is a vital opportunity for the College to help shape the future of safe, high quality eye care as well as the profession. We have highlighted that sight tests must remain a protected function of the Act and can only be performed by an optometrist or medical practitioner, and that eye health checks must remain a vital part of sight testing to protect against avoidable sight loss.

Sarah Cant PhD, Director of Policy & Strategy

Related further reading

It is rare for respiratory viruses to cause eye infections, writes Kim Thomas, but they may use the eye as a portal of entry. And what is the mechanism behind their travel to the respiratory system?

How do clinicians choose between generic and branded drugs, balancing the need for patient safety against cost? Kathy Oxtoby takes a look.

The College’s Clinical Editor, Jane Veys MCOptom, on the gaps that exist in practice and between people