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Standards for optical businesses



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.

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.

Duty of candour

All healthcare professionals should be open and honest when things go wrong.  Patients should know what happened, be offered an apology and be informed of what action is being taken to put things right.  This is as much a responsibility for the healthcare business as it is for the indivual healthcare professional involved.  For further information, please read our joint statement on duty of candour which was produced with other regulators.


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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Standards of practice

Standards of practice

Our standards of practice explain what is expected of our registrants.  

What to expect

What to expect

What standards should patients be able to expect from their optician?