The College of Optometrists

About the guidance

This guidance sets out what is expected of optometrists. It is relevant to you, whether you are an owner practitioner, partner, employee, locum, or pre-registration optometrist. It applies in all work environments including multiple, independent practice and hospital.

It ensures that you put your patients’ interests first, and work in partnership with them so they receive the best possible care.

Using the guidance, you are responsible for applying your professional judgement.  You must be able to justify your actions if a complaint is made against you.

The guidance is based on the General Optical Council’s (GOC’s) standards and is there to support you in putting them into practice. The GOC may take our guidance into account in its fitness to practise processes.


We use:

  • must where you have a legal or regulatory obligation to follow the guidance
  • should where we would normally expect you to follow that course of action. If you apply your professional judgement and decide to take a different action, you must be able to justify your action.

How the guidance is organised

The guidance is organised in four domains:

A.    Knowledge, skills and performance
B.    Safety and quality
C.    Communication, partnership and teamwork
D.    Maintaining trust.

Within each domain of the guidance are sections which include:

  • Key points
  • Detailed topic information
  • Useful information and links
  • References.

The search facility on the website will help you find the guidance you need.

Access to the old guidance

This version of the guidance was effective from 1 November 2014. If you would like access to previous versions, please contact our Clinical Advisers 020 7766 4372 or email, during office hours. To help you to know which chapters to request, download the contents page of the archived Code of ethics and guidelines for professional conduct.

When the guidance will be updated

We will update the guidance every three years. Only significant changes will be published in the interim. We will update the guidance on the website and advertise changes in our newsletters.

Further support for members

If you are a member you can get further support by contacting our clinical advice service You can also use our online training materials which are designed to help you apply the guidance to your everyday practice.

If you need a different format

All fully-qualified UK members will have received their copy of the Guidance for professional practice. If you would like further copies, these can be purchased at the member price of £45 or non-member price of £90. Please contact us on 020 7839 6000 or email to place your order.

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