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GOC statement on adjustable focus spectacles

5 Dec 2017

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In May, the GOC published a statement on one brand of adjustable focus spectacles. We have since then been contacted about other similar products, and we are issuing this statement to clarify that we will take the same approach to all such products.

The Opticians Act does not explicitly authorise the unsupervised supply of adjustable focus spectacles within any adjustment range. However, although there are features that do not fall within the terms of the Act’s exemption for ‘ready readers’1 we do not, on the basis of the information currently available, consider that there is sufficient evidence of risk of harm to the public, or a wider public interest, in prosecuting unsupervised sellers of adjustable focus spectacles within the adjustment range 0 to +4 dioptres.

We are therefore treating such products as benefitting from the ready reader exemption in the Opticians Act. However we reserve the right to prosecute unsupervised sellers of any products within this range in the future if evidence of risk of harm or public interest emerges, in line with our Protocol for the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences.

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.

 

1 'Ready readers’ are those spectacles which have two single vision lenses of the same positive spherical power not exceeding four dioptres. By way of clarification, the GOC considers that adjustable focus spectacles do not contain lenses “of the same positive spherical power”, even if they are adjusted to the same focus at the time of sale, as the point of adjustable focus lenses is that their focus can be subsequently adjusted by the user.

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