Christian French, AIO chairman, commented: “It has been a long-standing source of annoyance and frustration for our members to see the illegal sale of contact lenses taking place in outlets close to their practices as well as online.
“Whilst some have been proactive in reporting such instances, others have probably been unaware that the GOC has an effective investigation team in place.
“Joining up with BCLA, and providing the GOC with feedback to help maximise the effectiveness of their action, will be warmly welcomed by members. At the end of the day, it is all about protecting the public as well as representing members’ interests.”
Cheryl Donnelly, BCLA chief executive, said: “Whilst our members have reported illegal practice to the GOC for some years, we are pleased to be working with the AIO to help provide impetus and impact to the work of the GOC investigation team.
“By adopting a more centralised approach to this problem, we expect to make a real difference on the illegal sales of contact lenses for the benefit of the public and our members. It makes great sense for the BCLA to be involved in this initiative.”
Dionne Spence, GOC director of casework and resolutions, added: “Stopping illegal practice is important to protect the public. Contact lenses should only be supplied by qualified eyecare practitioners.
“We welcome this initiative from the AIO and BCLA and we look forward to working with them.”
The AIO and BCLA said that in the coming months, it would report on the impact that this initiative was having on stamping out illegal practice.