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We are the statutory regulator for the optical professions in the UK. Our powers were given to us by Parliament, under the Opticians Act 1958.

This legislation was consolidated to form the 1989 Act which includes all subsequent amending legislation. In 2005, a number of changes were made to the legislation. These included the introduction of mandatory Continuing Education and Training (CET) for full registrants, and the introduction of registration for student optometrists and dispensing opticians.

The Opticians Act gives the Council powers to make orders, rules and regulations in relevant areas, subject to approval by the Privy Council .

You can download the legislation in pdf format.
The Opticians Act 1989
GOC rules and regulations

Prescribing legislation

Some optometrists with additional speciality qualifications are able to prescribe medicines, within their scope of practice, for ocular conditions. The sale, use and production of medicines are covered in legislation, including the Medicines Act 1968 and Human Medicines Regulations 2012.

Can't find what you're looking for?
Other UK legislation can be accessed from the Office of Public Sector Information website.

Criminal offences established by the Opticians Act

  • Testing of sight while unregistered (section 24)
  • Fitting of contact lenses while unregistered (section 25)
  • Sales of optical appliances (eg spectacles or contact lenses) which do not meet the requirements set out in the Opticians Act and/or the Sale of Optical Appliances Order of Council (section 27)
  • Use of a protected title while unregistered (section 28)

If you suspect that an individual or corporate body may have committed a criminal offence by contravening one of the sections of the Opticians Act, find out how to make a complaint.


Content Panels

Search our registers

Search our registers

Find a registered individual practitioner or business.


Information about our upcoming fitness to practise hearings.

Our Council

Our Council

The General Optical Council is composed of 12 members

Working for us

Working for us

Healthcare regulation in the UK is currently undergoing reform and modernisation – so this is an exciting time to join us.