Introduction to the General Optical Council

About the General Optical Council

We are the regulator for the optical professions in the UK. We currently register around 30,000 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student optometrists and dispensing opticians, and optical businesses. We exist to protect the public by raising standards in the optical professions.

We have four core functions:

  • Setting standards for optical education and training, performance and conduct.
  • Approving qualifications leading to registration.
  • Maintaining a register of individuals who are qualified and fit to practise, train or carry on business as optometrists and dispensing opticians.
  • Investigating and acting where registrants’ fitness to practise, train or carry on business is impaired.

What are the registers?

The GOC register is the statutory list of the individual practitioners who are qualified and fit to practise optometry or dispensing optics in the UK. Optometrists and dispensing opticians must, by law, be registered with us to practise. Students training as either optometrists or dispensing opticians must also register, as must optical businesses (bodies corporate) conducting business in optometry or dispensing optics in the UK.

You can use the opticians registers to search for an individual practitioner (optometrist, dispensing optician or student) or a registered businesses (body corporate). All individuals and businesses registered with us are known as our registrants.

We set standards for training and professional competence, as well as standards of behaviour and conduct that every registrant must adhere to. 

If a person who is not registered with us carries out activities that only registrants are permitted to do (such as performing sight tests or providing spectacles to children aged under 16), we will take appropriate action.