ABDO Response to the GOC Consultation on the Opticians Act
ABDO has published its response to the GOC’s call for evidence on how the Opticians Act should be amended to reflect developments in practice and society since the legislation was last reviewed. You can read the full response here.
ABDO emphasised the following key points in its response:
- The legislation should continue to protect the public by ensuring that the dispensing of spectacles to children and visually impaired people is carried out by or under the supervision of a dispensing optician or optometrist.
- The GOC should act on research highlighted by ABDO which showed significant concerns about the quality of paediatric dispensing. In a survey of almost 700 dispensing opticians and optometrists actively involved in dispensing spectacles, 30 per cent of respondents rated the overall fit of children’s spectacle frames as ‘poor’ or ‘dreadful’, with a further 46 per cent rating them as ‘average’.
- ABDO offered to work with the GOC and other sector bodies to achieve improvement in paediatric dispensing, pointing out that a child whose spectacles fit incorrectly will not receive the required visual correction, which can have a serious impact on:
- their wellbeing;
- the development of their visual pathways, leading to poorer lifelong visual acuity and precluding access to certain careers;
- their educational development;
- their ability to enjoy sport and other leisure pursuits; and
- their behaviour, with uncorrected vision making it harder to pick up social cues.
- ABDO supported the GOC’s proposal to allow dispensing opticians to carry out refraction as part of the sight test under the oversight of an optometrist. Under this proposal, an optometrist would still have overall responsibility for the sight test and patients would continue to benefit from an eye health examination at the same time as a refraction. We explained that dispensing opticians would be trained to flag up any concerns about pathology or binocular vision for the optometrist or medical practitioner to consider, building on the module on refractive management which already forms part of a dispensing opticians’ initial education. Therefore, enabling dispensing opticians to carry out refraction as part of the sight test would not present a risk to patients and we certainly cannot see how the GOC could justify continuing to allow optometrists to draw on the results of a refraction carried out by an auto-refractor but not a refraction carried out by an appropriately trained dispensing optician. This would also be out of step with the way in which sight tests increasingly involve various staff within an optical practice gathering data that is then reviewed by an optometrist.
- ABDO called on the GOC to seek legislative change to restrict to dispensing opticians and optometrists the dispensing of spectacles to adults with learning disabilities and people diagnosed with dementia. As with children, dispensing spectacles to these patient groups requires enhanced skills and knowledge, including expert dispensing skills, expert communication skills, an understanding of how medical conditions can affect vision and behaviour; and an ability to gauge a patient’s decision-making capacity and enable them to make their own decisions as far as possible.
- We highlighted the need for advice and treatment relating to myopia management to be restricted to registrants only, taking into account the fact that treatment for myopia management:
- has the potential to reduce the risk of eye disease later in life, as well as slowing the development of myopia;
- is long-term and potentially expensive;
- may be of value to patients who are over 16;
- where this involves spectacles or contact lenses, is likely to involve a significant period of adaptation and the need for extended wear; and
- in the case of spectacle treatment of myopia, successful treatment is dependent on a stable, well-fitting spectacle frame.
Read the full response here.