AOP publishes response to the Opticians Act call for evidence

Member responses provide a “clear mandate” on future regulation, says AOP chief executive, Adam Sampson

working on a laptop

The AOP has published its response to the General Optical Council’s (GOC) call for evidence reviewing the Opticians Act 1989

The response covers eight sections and draws on the findings of the AOP’s recent survey of 2445 members, as well as responses through its community forum, and engagement with the AOP’s Policy committee, Council and Board. This is in addition to sector body and UK country organisation engagement.


members responded to the AOP’s survey on the call for evidence, the largest number of any survey the AOP has recently conducted

The AOP survey particularly focused on four key areas of the consultation: the separation of the refraction and eye examination elements of the sight test, delegation of elements of the sight test, the requirement to verify a contact lens prescription with the original prescriber, and the requirement to have a prescription less than two years-old before contact lenses are fitted or re-fitted.

Member feedback particularly highlighted the importance of maintaining appropriate legal restrictions on sight testing, with nearly nine in 10 respondents stating that it is not possible to safely separate the refractive and eye health elements of the sight test. 

Adam Sampson, chief executive of the AOP, remarked on the “outstanding level of engagement” from members who “leave no doubt that the optometrist must remain in control of the clinical care throughout the sight test to protect patients.”

With the AOP supporting over 82% of practising optometrists on the GOC register, Sampson highlighted: “This is a significant proportion of the GOC’s registrants, providing a clear mandate on how the sight test should be regulated in the future, and it is vital the regulator listens carefully.”

Closing the call for evidence this week, the GOC noted it had received “high interest” from across the profession, with approximately 350 stakeholders – including patients, the public, registrants, sector bodies and employers – contributing to the review.

Responses will be collated and analysed, the GOC confirmed, to assess the impact of proposed changes, or of making no change. Analysis will also consider any gaps in evidence that would require further research.

Thanking all those who contributed to the review, Leonie Milliner, GOC chief executive and registrar, said: “The high interest in the call for evidence was very encouraging to see and we will carefully assess all the feedback.”

Recommendations around proposals for additional work, and a timetable, will be made to the GOC Council in September. The GOC will also publish a full response in due course, to summarise the findings and set out next steps.

Any legislative reform to the Act is not expected to be implemented for several years, the GOC has said. This is in line with the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) timetable for planned reforms to regulators’ legislation.