8 December 2023

Updated Guidance for Professional Practice published

The College has published updated Guidance for Professional Practice for optometrists, including four new sections.

The Guidance is the College of Optometrists’ view of good practice. Based on the General Optical Council’s Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, it sets out what is expected of optometrists and supports them in putting the GOC standards into practice.

Each section of the Guidance is evidence-based and reflects current legislation, to provide optometrists with the up-to-date assistance needed to make good clinical decisions and ensure patient care is always paramount. 

It is relevant to owner-practitioners, partners, employees and locums, pre-registration optometrists and students; and is applicable in all work environments, including multiple practices, independent practices and hospitals, and to both NHS and privately funded services.

The updated 2023 edition, ‘Good Practice Better Care’, is the 4th edition of the Guidance. It contains four completely new sections, covering:

  • Remote consultations and the delivery of virtual care
  • Assessing and managing children with myopia 
  • Collaborative care pathways
  • Visual field and retinal structural terms (Annex 2).

Significant updates have also been made to several pre-existing sections. These include:

  • Instilling eyedrops
  • Principles of the routine eye examination
  • Ethical research
  • Equipment list for the routine eye examination (Annex 1).

The creation of the updated 2023 version was overseen by an Expert Review Group from across the UK and was subject to a six-week public consultation prior to publication.

Eilidh Thomson MCOptom

Vice Chair of Optometry Scotland

“The launch of the new Guidance for Professional Practice has been a truly collaborative approach from all four nations. 

“The review group have applied lessons learned from the pandemic and beyond to provide robust guidance which should provide every practitioner clarity and confidence moving forward in their clinical practice for years to come.”

Dr David Hill MCOptom

Council member, Eastern

“With the huge increase in myopia management awareness in primary care, the new myopia section will help the practitioner balance their enthusiasm with the need for extra care in conversations and follow up plans."

“For many practitioners, work can be isolated, due to working on their own or just being too busy. The guidance reflects what is expected to keep everyone safe and delivering the appropriate level of care. Now it is easier to access with embedded links to further information."

Sharon Beatty

Clinical Advisor, Optometry Wales

“Optometry Wales was delighted to be part of the Review Group to provide input into the revised Guidance for Professional Practice alongside our UK partners. The addition of the new section around Collaborative Care Pathways is extremely timely for practitioners in Wales. 

“Recent Optometry Contract Reform in Wales will significantly increase the number of shared care pathways and collaborative working between Optometry and Ophthalmology. This section and all the updates will continue to provide an invaluable source of guidance for use by practitioners on a daily basis in our rapidly evolving profession”.

The 2023 updated Guidance is open access and available to all optometrists, healthcare professionals and the public on the College of Optometrists’ website. College members also have access to it via an app and supporting materials. 

Webinar - Innovation in eyecare: Guidance update - 11 January 2024

The College is also hosting a webinar for members on Thursday 11 January 2024, where the College Clinical Advisers will sign-post users to the 2023 changes, and participants can ask any questions they have. 

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney MBE FCOptom

Lead Clinical Adviser at The College of Optometrists

“The 4th edition has many updates and contains new sections that enable optometrists to innovate the ways eye care can be delivered, whilst still ensuring good practice and protecting the public. 

“The review process has been a collaborative endeavour, with representatives from all nations, stakeholders, individual experts, clinicians and patients represented. 

“Finally, the guidance will be published digitally on our website, on our member app and in PDF for expert witnesses, making the 4th edition the most collaborative and sustainable guidance update that the College has published.”

Hear from some of the members of our Guidance for Professional Practice review group as they provide their perspective on the changes in the 4th edition themed ‘Good Practice Better Care’.