Optical Confederation launches consultation on new standards for eye surgery 

2 February 2017

The public, patients, clinicians and providers are being asked to help shape new standards that will determine the way eye surgery to correct vision errors is delivered in the UK.

The Optical Confederation, which represents community eye care providers, has launched a consultation on new standards to promote best practice in the refractive surgery sector. The standards follow the adoption of the General Medical Council’s Guidance for doctors who offer cosmetic interventions, and give a framework for how this can be implemented in the refractive surgery sector.

Although refractive surgery is primarily a functional procedure and not a cosmetic one, the Optical Confederation standards will bring sector practice in line with the GMC’s guidance for doctors who offer cosmetic procedures, with which eye surgery in some cases bears some similarities.

The draft standards have been drawn up with extensive input from leading surgeons, optometrists and eye care professionals, as well as refractive surgery providers and patients. The standards reflect the latest ophthalmic research, are based on surgical outcome and patient satisfaction data, and are backed up by clinical evidence. The Optical Confederation is now seeking the views of the public, clinicians and others to help ensure that the standards are in the best interests of patients.

The new guidance is intentionally multi- not uni-disciplinary, focussing on the way refractive surgery is delivered by a variety of clinicians, each with different but compatible responsibilities, and working within teams to provide patients with the best possible care. The guidance also includes new checks and balances on the way a patient’s consent is sought for refractive procedures, and endorses multi-disciplinary teams working together to deliver high-quality care.

Lynda Oliver, Acting Chair of the Optical Confederation, said: 

“These new standards are designed to uphold high quality care and outcomes across the refractive eye surgery sector and to make sure all patients are given the care, treatment and support they need.

“Refractive surgery is a very safe form of surgery, but as with any other medical procedure, surgical vision correction does carry some risk and the new standards will help reduce that risk across the sector as well as providing confidence for patients and primary care professionals who are asked to recommend such procedures.

“The refractive eye surgery sector is expanding to meet patient demand and fair access to care is a key issue. This means working together to develop safe new models of care with greater use and greater flexibility over resources, skill mix and locations of care.”

The Optical Confederation is holding a consultation on its Multi-Disciplinary Professional Standards for Refractive Surgery Providers and Clinical Teams, and all interested parties are invited to give their feedback. The consultation is available to view and respond to here: http://www.opticalconfederation.org.uk/activities/oc-consultations

The deadline for responses is Friday 7 April 2017.