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GOC publishes new statement on verification of contact lens specifications

GOC publishes new statement on verification of contact lens specifications

The General Optical Council (GOC) has published a new statement on the verification of contact lens specifications, following a consultation. The statement sets out the GOC’s position that it does not intend to pursue sellers who do not comply with contact lens specification verification requirements in relation to copies, so long as specific conditions are met.

Section 27 of the Opticians Act 1989 (‘the Act’) specifies that in order to be supplied with prescription contact lenses, an individual must have an in-date contact lens specification which has been issued following a contact lens fitting. Where the original specification is not provided, and the sale is being made under the general direction of a GOC registrant or registered medical practitioner, the Act requires a copy of the specification to be verified with the person who provided it originally.

The GOC’s new position statement says that it does not “consider that there is sufficient evidence of risk of harm to the public, or a wider public interest, in prosecuting sellers who do not verify a copy of a contact lens specification provided that the copy of the specification is in-date (i.e. has not passed its expiry date); clear; does not contain any obvious errors; and has not obviously been tampered with.”

Based on feedback received during the consultation, several changes were made to the statement. The new position statement provides further definition about what ‘in-date’ means, clarifies where verification is still required and what the position is in relation to zero powered contact lenses.

As part of the consultation, the GOC also sought views on a definition of aftercare in the context of the sale of contact lenses under general direction. However, following consultation feedback, the statement will no longer include a definition of aftercare.

The GOC will withdraw its 2006 statement on the sale and supply of optical appliances as it is no longer required.

Steve Brooker, GOC Director of Regulatory Strategy, said:

“We would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to our consultation on the verification of contact lens specifications and definition of aftercare statement. We hope the new statement clarifies our position in relation to what we consider to be an outdated requirement for copies of contact lens specifications, and lessens the inconvenience that original prescribers sometimes face when they have to verify copy specifications, creating delays that are passed on to patients as costs.

Opinion was more divided on our definition of aftercare, with professional bodies informing us that they already had detailed guidance on this issue. After further consideration, we determined that we could rely on our Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians and potentially any other relevant guidance if any fitness to practise cases were to arise on this matter in the future.

None of the points raised in the consultation convinced us that the 2006 statement on sale and supply of optical appliances was still required or that there would be any unintended consequences if it was withdrawn, so this will be removed.”

The consultation on the draft statement was open for 12 weeks from 29 August 2023 to 23 October 2023, and the GOC received 39 responses. The consultation delivered on a commitment the GOC made following its call for evidence on the Opticians Act 1989 which took place in 2022.

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