Rules and regulations
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We are the statutory regulator for the optical professions in the UK and our powers are set out in the Opticians Act 1989.
The Opticians Act
The GOC was created by the Opticians Act 1958, and our current governing legislation is the Opticians Act 1989 (“the Act”).
The Act gives Council powers to make rules and regulations in specific areas, subject to approval by the Privy Council. These include rules concerning registrants’ continuing education and training, fitness to practise and registration.
GOC rules and regulations:
Optometrists with a registered independent prescribing specialty can prescribe certain medicines, within their scope of practice. Relevant requirements are contained in the Medicines Act 1968 and Human Medicines Regulations 2012.
Find out more about specialty qualifications
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UK legislation can be accessed from the legistlation.gov.uk website.
Criminal offences established by the Opticians Act
- Carrying out a sight test when not a registered optometrist or medical practitioner (an offence under section 24);
- Fitting contact lenses when not a registered optomestrist, dispensing optician or medical practitioner (an offence under section 25);
- Selling optical appliances (with specific exceptions) or zero powered contact lenses otherwise than under the supervision of a registered optometrist, dispensing optician or medical practitioner (an offence under section 27);
- Pretending to be a registered optometrist or dispensing optician, or an enrolled optical business, when not entitled (an offence under section 28).
If you suspect that an individual or corporate body may have committed a criminal offence by contravening one of the sections of the Opticians Act, find out how to make a complaint.
Other rules and regulations
- Continuing Professional Development Rules 2021
- Continuing Education and Training Rules (Amendment) Rules 2012
- Continuing Education and Training Rules (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2006
- Continuing Education and Training Rules 2005
- Committee Constitution Registration and FTP Coronavirus Rules 2020
- Committee Constitution (Amendment) Rules 2019
- Committee Constitution (Amendment) Rules 2008
- Committee Constitution Rules 2005
- Therapeutics and Contact Lens Specialties Rules 2008
- Fitness to Practise Rules 2013
- The General Optical Council (Constitution) Order 2009
- Registration Rules 2005
- Registration Appeals Rules 2005
- The General Optical Council (Injury or Disease of the Eye and Contact Lens (Qualifications)) (Amendment) Rules Order of Council 2005
- Rules Relating to Injury or Disease of the Eye 1999
- Testing of Sight by Persons Training as an Optometrist Rules 1993
- Contact Lens Specification Rules 1989
- Sight testing (examination and prescription) no.2 regulations 1989
- Contact Lens Qualifications Rules 1988
- Rules on the Fitting of Contact Lenses 1985
- Sale of Optical Appliances Order of Council 1984