2023 archived consultation: Statement on verification of contact lens specifications and definition of aftercare
24 Oct 2023
29 Aug 2023
This consultation was previously hosted on our consultation hub. We have moved it here as part of archiving.
Delivering a commitment made following our call for evidence on the Opticians Act 1989 (‘the Act’) in 2022, we issued a draft statement for consultation setting out our view that:
· verification of a copy of a contact lens specification is no longer necessary, provided that the specification is clear, does not contain any obvious errors and has not obviously been tampered with; and
· a definition of aftercare should be provided that gives sufficient detail to ensure the public is protected.
We undertook a full public consultation on our proposed statement, which was open for eight weeks from 29 August to 24 October 2023. We asked respondents a range of questions, including whether they agreed with the content of the statement, whether they felt there was anything unclear or missing, any unintended consequences and what the impacts of the statement might be (particularly relating to discrimination).
We received 39 written consultation responses from a range of stakeholders including individual registrants and optical representative organisations. Overall, there was support for the statement from our stakeholders, although the optical professional/representative bodies were divided in their opinion about the need for a definition of aftercare and had concerns about aspects of this part of the statement. There were suggestions for additions and amendments, particularly from the optical professional/representative bodies.
Our GOC response to our consultation on statement on verification of contact lens specifications and definition of aftercare is available in the files section below, together with an updated impact assessment. We have published the verification statement here.
In summary, based on the feedback, we decided only to go ahead with the section of the statement that relates to verification of contact lens specifications. This reflects concerns expressed on the aftercare section of the statement and the availability of existing guidance from professional bodies on this issue.
In relation to verification, we made the following amendments to the statement based on feedback received during the consultation (see our response for more information):
· making it clear that ‘in-date’ means that the expiry date must not have passed and that a specification becomes invalid after its expiry date;
· making it clear that where the conditions in paragraph 3 of the statement are not met, verification is still required;
· removing the word ‘our’ from in front of the word ‘registrants’ in paragraph 5 of the statement (so that registered medical practitioners would not be excluded from co-operating with requests for verification); and
· clarifying the position in respect of zero powered contact lenses – the verification requirement does not apply to zero powered contact lenses and that zero powered contact lenses can be sold only by or under the supervision of a dispensing optician, optometrist or registered medical practitioner.
We decided to remove the 2006 statement on the sale and supply of optical appliances. We remain of the view that it is not required because the definition of supervision is already contained within our Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians which were published in 2006 (and are currently in the process of being reviewed) and the professional bodies produced guidance since this statement was published. We have since produced frequently asked questions on the contact lens legislation which we consider cover the points above regarding zero powered contact lenses, supervision and general direction.
· GOC response to our consultation on statement on verification of contact lens specifications and definition of aftercare (PDF Document)
· Updated impact assessment – verification and aftercare statement (PDF Document)
Where consent has been given to publish responses (either with or without names), we have collated the responses into one document (PDF Document).
Section 27 of the Opticians Act 1989 (‘the Act’) sets out the requirements for the sale and supply of prescription contact lenses. In order to be supplied with prescription contact lenses, a person must have an in-date contact lens specification which has been issued following a contact lens fitting. Where the sale is being made under the general direction (rather than supervision) of a registrant, and a copy (physical or electronic) of the contact lens specification is provided, section 27(3)(ii) of the Act requires the copy of the specification to be verified with the person who provided the original specification.
Section 27(3B) of the Act requires that the seller must make arrangements for the buyer “to receive aftercare in so far as, and for as long as, may be reasonable in his particular case” but does not provide a definition of aftercare.
Following a call for evidence on the Act in 2022, our view is that:
- verification of a copy of a contact lens specification is no longer necessary, provided that the specification is clear, does not contain any obvious errors and has not obviously been tampered with; and
- a definition of aftercare should be provided that gives sufficient detail to ensure the public is protected.
We have drafted a statement setting out our position. The draft statement, together with a draft impact assessment, is available in the ‘related’ section at the end of this page.
Why your views matter
This consultation will last for a period of eight weeks.
- Draft statement on verification of contact lens specifications and definition of aftercare (PDF document)
- Draft impact assessment - statement on verification of contact lens specifications and definition of aftercare (PDF document)
- Consultation document and questionnaire - statement on verification and aftercare (PDF document)