The College of Optometrists

Issuing prescriptions

Immediately following any NHS or private sight test you must issue:
  1. a prescription, or
  2. a statement indicating that no prescription is necessary.86 
If there is no clinically significant change in the prescription, you must issue the prescription and a statement saying that there is no clinical change.
You must include all the required information on the prescription as set out in the Sight Testing (Examination and Prescription) (No. 2) Regulations, paragraph 5.87
You should write prescriptions according to British Standards.88
You should clearly indicate on the prescription if the spectacles are only for specific purposes.
A prescription you issue to a child under 16 or a person who is registered as sight impaired or severely sight impaired can only legally be dispensed by, or under the supervision of, a registered: 
  1. optometrist
  2. dispensing optician, or
  3. doctor.
You remain responsible for any prescriptions you have issued, irrespective of where the patient chooses to buy their spectacles.  
When you give the patient their prescription, you should explain your findings and the type of lenses that you recommend. 
You should consider the patient’s risk of falling when advising on bifocal or varifocal use.89 
You should advise the patient if you think their prescription may change soon, for example if they are to undergo cataract surgery. The patient can then decide if they wish to have spectacles made in the meantime. 


86 Opticians Act 1989 s26(2)
87 Sight Testing (Examination and Prescription) (No 2) Regulations 1989
88  British Standards [College members only] [Accessed 27 Oct 2017]
89 College of Optometrists and British Geriatrics Society (2011) The importance of vision in preventing falls s3 (in Member resources) [Accessed 2 May 2017]

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