Adjustable focus spectacles
We were contacted in 2014 by Adlens Ltd who had approached Government to request a change in the Opticians Act 1989 to allow for the sale of adjustable focus spectacles over the counter without a prescription. We have been in discussions with Adlens and the Department of Health about the potential consequences of over the counter sale of adjustable focus spectacles, following a report produced by Adlens provided to us in March 2015.
To help inform the Department of Health in considering this matter further we commissioned an independent report from Professor William Neil Charman, to give a view on whether the paper produced by Adlens provided sufficient evidence to assure that the public’s health and safety would not be adversely affected if there was a change in the law to allow for the sale of adjustable focus spectacles over the counter. We also asked what further evidence might be required if the case was not sufficiently made.
We also sought the views of our Standards Committee in October 2015, asking for their views on any benefits that adjustable focus spectacles might bring and any adverse effects that these products might have on the public’s health and safety if they were to be made available over the counter without a prescription.
We provided the Department of Health with Professor Charman’s report and the views of our Standards Committee in October 2015. We note that some stakeholders have called for legislative change to permit the unsupervised sale of all adjustable focus spectacles. Such a change in the law would be a matter for the Government not the GOC.
Our view is that, before considering a change to the law, the Government should consult openly and carry out a regulatory impact assessment in order to identify the full range of likely impacts and avoid unintended consequences.