GOC opens consultation on draft contact lens specification statement

The consultation also seeks views on a definition of aftercare and is open for eight weeks

A close-up of a hand holding a white contact lens case in its palm with a contact lens balanced on one finger
Pexels/Nataliya Vaitkevich
The General Optical Council (GOC) has launched a consultation on its draft position statement covering the verification of contact lens specifications and the definition of aftercare

Formed following the call for evidence on the Opticians Act (1989), held in 2022, the GOC is now seeking views on its new draft statement to ensure there are no “unintended consequences of this statement, or risks that cannot be mitigated against.”

Contact lens specification verification

Section 27 of the Act currently specifies that an individual must have an in-date contact lens specification, issued following a fitting, in order to be supplied with prescription contact lenses. Where this is not provided, and the sale is being made under the general direction of a registrant or registered medical practitioner, a copy of the specification must be verified with the original provider.

The draft statement outlines an intention to not enforce the requirement to verify a copy of an in-date specification where a sale of prescription contact lenses is made under the general direction of a GOC registrant or registered medical practitioner, “provided that the copy of the specification is clear, does not contain any obvious errors and has not obviously been tampered with.”

Discussing feedback gained through last year’s call for evidence, Steve Brooker, director of regulatory strategy at the GOC, said stakeholders highlighted that it is commonplace for contact lens specifications to be provided as electronic copies, such as a scan of an original document, “which we believe should be accepted.”

“What’s more, it can be difficult to verify a specification with the exact person who signed it, which can create inefficiencies that are then passed on to patients as costs,” he added.

Where an individual has not provided either an original, or a copy of the specification, the GOC has confirmed that providers are still expected to verify the details of a contact lens specification.

Defining aftercare

The Act also requires that the individual selling contact lenses arranges for the buyer to receive aftercare but does not provide a definition.

The GOC has set out the draft definition of aftercare as including:

  • Instructions and information on the inserting, wearing and removing of the contact lenses
  • Instructions and information on the cleaning and storing of the contact lenses
  • Signs or symptoms the patient should look out for
  • Details of who to contact if the patient has problems with the contact lenses
  • The importance of having regular contact lens check-ups.

Stakeholder feedback emphasised that a definition of aftercare should include information on wear and care of contact lenses, as well as advice on identifying signs of infection and the steps to take in these circumstances, Brooker shared.

He explained: “In drawing up this definition, we also reviewed guidance by the professional bodies and used elements that we consider are proportionate and would deliver appropriate public protection.

“We believe our definition provides sufficient detail to ensure the public is protected and so that it is clear what sellers of contact lenses are obliged to do to meet their legal obligations.”

The GOC is seeking views on the draft statements, with the consultation closing on 26 October 2023.

Read more about the call for evidence in OT’s 2022 interview with Saqib Ahmad, AOP policy officer.