Rules and regulations

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.

The Opticians Act 1989

GOC rules and regulations:

Prescribing legislation

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 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