Use and supply of drugs

Use and supply of drugs

C 2.1.1 Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians are reminded that Tropicamide and other pupil dilating drugs are prescription only medicines (POMs). As such the supply of these drugs is controlled by law and optometrists (and OMPs), are the only members of the practice team who legally are responsible for the instillation of these POMs.

C 2.2.1 Registered Dispensing Opticians may order a limited list of POMs [see below] including these drugs for use in the practice. The use of pupil dilating eye drops should always, therefore, be done under the direction and supervision of an optometrist (or doctor/OMP).

  • Amethocaine hydrochloride
  • Chloramphenicol
  • Cyclopentolate hydrochloride
  • Fusidic acid
  • Lignocaine hydrochloride
  • Oxybuprocaine hydrochloride
  • Proxymetacaine hydrochloride
  • Tropicamide

C 2.3.1 Contact Lens Opticians may now instil a limited range of anaesthetics [see below] in the course of appropriate contact lens fitting. The Association recommends that this should only be used for complex fittings where it is needed to achieve a satisfactory result.

  • Lignocaine hydrochloride
  • Oxybuprocaine hydrochloride
  • Proxymetacaine hydrochloride


C2.3.2 Explicit and informed consent must be obtained and noted before administration of any topical preparations. Particular care should be taken in the case of pregnant or breastfeeding patients. Further information may be found here (from Dispensing Optics journal October 2019).

C 2.4.1 In the case of acute bacterial conjunctivitis ONLY, the sale and supply of 0.5% Chloramphenicol drops [1% ointment] may now be instigated by all Dispensing Opticians. The restrictions of the pharmacy classification limit the supply to;

  • a maximum pack size of 10ml[ drops]/4gms[ointment]
  • only in adults and children over 2 years of age
  • for a maximum of 5 days.

All actions and advice should be noted on the patient’s record.
For diagnosis of acute bacterial conjunctivitis and further advice

C 2.4.2 See Dispensing Optics – Special Educational Supplement

C2.5.1 Practices should have Standard Operating Procedures to ensure that drugs are managed in accordance with the legislation.

C2 .6.1 Optometrists are referred to paragraphs K1.25 & K1.26 and chapter A6 (Delegation) of the College’s Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Professional Conduct. If they are in any doubt about what to do in their particular circumstances they are advised to contact their professional and/or defence body for advice.  

C2 .6.2 For further information see


This page was last updated in July 2020 and will be reviewed in July 2022. Changes due to updates in legislation, advances in clinical knowledge, or extensions to scope of practice will be incorporated as they happen.