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Standards for optical businesses


We are currently consulting on new standards for optical businesses and would like to know your views. If you'd like to participate, please visit our new consultation platform at the GOC Consultation Hub. The deadline to complete the survey is 30 August 2018.



GOC code of conduct for business registrantsWe have a legal duty to set the standards expected of optical businesses which explain what we require of our business registrants. 

These include standards related to behaviour and performance.

Acrobat Reader icon Code of Conduct for business registrants




We also produce further guidance on complex areas of practice or the law to assist registrants in applying their professional judgement to meet the standards. Our list of guidance is provided below.

Candour and Consent 

Following consultation on our new standards last year, we have developed additional guidance relating to the professional duty of candour, and gaining valid consent. 

All healthcare professionals have a professional duty of candour. This is a professional responsibility to be open, honest and transparent with patients when things go wrong. It is also important for registrants to obtain valid consent before examining a patient or providing treatment.

New standards on candour and consent came into force in April 2016. 

Read supplementary guidance on the professional duty of candour

Supplementary candour guidance thumbnail

Online: Candour

Download (PDF):

For further information, please read our joint statement on duty of candour which was produced with other regulators.




Read supplementary guidance on obtaining valid consent

Supplementary consent guidance thumbnail

Online: Consent

Dowload: (PDF)






Other formats: If you would like our publication in Welsh, or in another format or language, please call us on 0207 307 3478 or email us at


Reporting concerns (whistleblowing)

All healthcare professionals have a duty to report concerns about patient safety and quality care.  This includes businesses and institutions working in healthcare.  Further information can be found in the Professional Standard's Authority cross-regulatory statement on whistleblowing below. 

  Acrobat Reader icon PSA whistleblowing statement

If you have concerns about the fitness to practise of an optometrist , dispensing optician or optical student, then you should report this to us - details of how to report can be found here.


Restricted Practice

Certain areas of practice are restricted by legislation and rules.  Listed below are the key areas that may affect the day to day running of your business.

  • Sight test
  • Sale and supply of optical appliances
  • Fitting of contact lenses
  • Cosmetic (zero-powered) contact lenses
  • Low vision aids
  • Fluorescein

Sight Test

The testing of sight is restricted to optometrists and doctors in the UK.  The compenents of the Sight Test are also defined by legislation and further details can be found in the following legislation:

Acrobat Reader icon Sight testing (examination and prescription) no.2 regulations 1989 .

Optometry students may also test sight in certain circumstances as part of their training course and this is defined under the following legislation:  

Acrobat Reader icon Testing of sight by persons training as an optometrist rules 1993

Sale and supply of optical appliances

The sale and supply of optical appliances is limited to certain groups of people and businesses.  Please read our statement here:

Acrobat Reader icon Statement on sale and supply of optical appliances

Fitting of contact lenses

The fitting of contact lenses is restricted to certain groups of registrants and requires specific qualifications and continuing education and training (CET).  Further information can be found in the following legislation:

Acrobat Reader icon Rules on the fitting of contact lenses 1985

Cosmetic (zero-powered) contact lenses

The sale of cosmetic or zero-powered contact lenses is governed by legislation.  For further details of this, please read our statement here:

Acrobat Reader icon Cosmetic or zero-powered contact lenses guidance

Low vision aids

Low vision aids are restricted by legislation.  Please read our statement here:

Acrobat Reader icon Statement on low vision aids


We issued a statement clarifying the circumstances in which optometrists and contact lens opticians can use CE-marked fluorescein ophthalmic strips:

Acrobat Reader icon Statement on Fluorescein


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